There is another program going on at RADA at the same time we're working. It is an eight week Shakespeare course and at the end, they put on on a full-length play, which we were invited to watch. Thursday's performance was The Two Noble Kinsmen, which was the last play that Shakespeare wrote, attributed as a co-write between him and John Fletcher. It is listed as a "romance" rather than a comedy, but doesn't have the HEA, as we say in the industry (Happily Ever After) one would expect, and delves into that human experience of getting what you want at a terrible cost. My mood was reflective as I left the theatre, and going to sit in my hot little dorm room was suddenly too cramped and too small.
So, instead, I strapped on my walking shoes and headed out into Regent's Park, which is just around the corner. You know how it takes leaving your city to actually see your city? It is happening as I stay here for these many weeks. The pressure to see everything has turned into a lull of, "I'll do that later, when there isn't so much to do now..." I had a moment as I wandered into the gates where I wondered why I hadn't been taking advantage of this park, which is just a few short blocks from where I'm staying. I should have been there every morning.
The night was cool. There were large groups of picnickers everywhere: laying on blankets and talking and playing frisbee. The carefully cultivated gardens were in full bloom - spiraling topiaries, concrete urns spilling over with bright pink and yellow flowers, expanses of green lawns, and crunchy gravel paths. I was struck by the history, how I was traveling along the same walks people had trod for hundreds of years. I had come to Regent's Park my very first trip to London in April 2013. Then it had been bitter cold. Every step was a message to turn back and go back to my warm hotel room. I found the little coffee spot that had been an oasis that trip. It wasn't so far this time. The sky was gentle pinks and purples. I stepped out of the park and onto a wide boulevard. The fading dusk was pricked by the light of black, Victorian streetlamps (fitted with eco-friendly LEDs). Large hedges flanked the sidewalk. On the other side of the road were these massive buildings with roman columns and statues of the gods. There was a stone, gothic church, every rock worn by time and the elements. None of these were visible from inside the park and I would have missed them if I had not ventured outside.
And I guess the message that I literally walked away with that evening was that yes, dear Mr. Shakespeare, you are right. You can be so focused on the prize that you miss the treasures around you and one should be cautious about pursuing a goal with such single minded focus. What is that old saying? If you aren't grateful for what you have, you won't be grateful for what you get? Stop and smell the roses? Don't fight your cousin in a duel to the death, because you'll be bummed out if he is thrown from his horse and breaks his neck and you end up getting the girl both of you were fighting over but lose him? Something like that.