OPINION: Strategies for surviving Shakespeare

Last summer I saw an outdoor production of Romeo and Juliet. What great fun! The evening was pleasantly cool, a welcomed contrast to the oppressive humidity that had afflicted the area and my hair for several weeks.

Prior to the performance, a group of musicians enticed the audience with an array of happy Elizabethan tunes. And all was well with the world until I caught the look. The look that actors, musicians, magicians, and comedians give when they are looking for that special kind of stage prop: audience participation.

“Oh no. Please, no,” I pleaded to the universe as one of the performers stepped forth from the group and with a conspiring smile began scanning the audience for a willing participant.

Now, I love to dance and have no qualms about being the first out on the dance floor. However, this unabashed willingness to set foot on the dance floor does not seem to transfer over to setting foot on a theatrical stage.

Ask me to take on an acting role, and all you will get is my interpretation of a rooted log. If the Screen Actors Guild Awards ever adds a category for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Role of an Inanimate Object, then I am sure to take home the prize. Until then, I leave acting to the experts.

Back at the play, I watched with growing dismay as the actor’s gaze settled upon my general direction. And so I did what any other reasonable person would do in a similar situation: I panicked, activating my survival instincts.

First, I froze and tried to make like a chameleon and blend in with my surroundings. Unfortunately, my surroundings included a blue and white plaid lawn chair on which I was now sitting.

Therefore, unless I was somehow able to miraculously acquire the ability to rearrange and reflect light waves so as to take on the desired tartan pattern of my lawn chair, the bright pink T-shirt that I was wearing advertised my location better than any Broadway sign.

Note to self: Must either invest in a solid colored lawn chair or begin wearing plaid.

When camouflage did not work, I moved on to Plan B: flight. I frantically looked around for an escape route as the actor made her way toward the area where I was sitting.

Tragically or comically, a sea of theater goers, picnic baskets, and blankets blocked any possible escape.

And then, she was upon me. So I resorted to Plan C: Avoid eye contact at all cost.

Suddenly, I found myself enthralled with a particular blade of grass growing just so by my foot. Thankfully, the performer directed her attention to a friend who was sitting next to me and who happened to enjoy acting and being on stage.

Once I realized that I had avoided debuting an acting career as a log, I let out my breath, sat back on my plaid lawn chair, and enjoyed an evening of Shakespeare under the stars.