Here is a purr of fortune’s, sir, or of fortune’s cat — but not a musk-cat — that has fallen into the unclean fishpond of her displeasure, and, as he says, is muddied withal: pray you, sir, use the carp as you may; for he looks like a poor, decayed, ingenious, foolish, rascally knave. I do pity his distress in my similes of comfort and leave him to your lordship.
— Clown, All’s Well That Ends Well
It has truly been a fortunate year. From my brother’s wedding to a brilliant research trip tp the Huntington Library, not to mention a relatively dry and warm fall and winter in Portland, I am sure I’m at the zenith of Fortune’s Wheel, and so steady myself for rougher waters ahead. In reflection on a great deal of good news and satisfying work, this post cobbles together a few year-end notes.
And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet
— Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1.1
Walking into the Armory Theatre last night, home of Portland Center Stage, everything except for the play was unknown. I had not yet seen an Anonymous Theatre Company production, which in earlier years was by special invite. A regular fixture in the Portland theatre calendar, their one-night-a-year productions advertise only the director(s) and the play title, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The cast isn’t known to us, or even to one another. Last night, the night of the show, was the first they saw the stage, said these words in public, formed these relationships within the world of the play. The actors were come in amongst us, having taken their seats in the audience to wait out their cue—one even so long as act five. In a play about unexpected transformations, the added level of secrecy and coordinated reveals left me wondering to what extent I rely on the affect of surprise to buoy me through a theatrical experience.