Tableu-ing Together


Stratford-upon-Avon is a favourite place of mine.

It was there, back in 2001, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) – another favourite place of mine – that I nearly missed checking one off one of the items on my bucket-list-before-I-go-deaf.

If you’d like to know why I said ‘nearly missed’, see Still Emily.

Recently, I was at the RST again, to see a performance of Antony & Cleopatra (I recommend it).

I took my seat and was pleased to note that the screen displaying captions (text of speech) was directly opposite me on the other side of the stage.

I’d have a perfect view of the captions and the actors.

And so I did.

Until scenery rose up from the stage and blocked my view of the screen.

Well, half my view of it.

I could see half the words, but playing ‘fill in the blank’ when it comes to Shakespeare is a bit beyond me…

Thankfully, there was another screen.  It was behind and to one side of me, so involved me craning my neck to see;

but I could see.

During the interval, I mentioned to one of the ushers that in future perhaps they should not allocate my seat to people who need to see the captions.

She decided that ‘in future’ should be now and set about finding alternative seating for the second half.

This seat was in a much better location and the screen was only occasionally (and fleetingly) obliterated by scenery or actors.

Overall it was fine and I was able to enjoy the performance.

The RST ‘fixed’ what they could – moving seats – but, when they couldn’t fix it (the fact that I’d had to crane my neck to see the screen couldn’t be changed), they still stayed around.

They discussed it with me.

Despite the fact that they couldn’t change what had happened.

Maybe next time I go and see a play, I’ll be able to see it all easily.

I think so, because people took time to stop.

Took time to try and understand.


Another theatre trip springs to mind:

It was years ago and I was not planning to attend the performance.

I was planning to stay home alone, nursing my pain-filled and (at the time) sight-less eyes.

But, at the last minute, I felt the sofa move as my Mum sat down beside me….

‘What are you doing?’ I asked. ‘You’ll be late.’

‘I’m not going,’ she spelled on to my hand.

’What?! Why not?’

‘Because I want to stay here with you.’

’But why? There’s no point.  I’m just going to be sitting here.  You might as well go.  There’s nothing you can do to sort this.  You can’t help me.’

‘Well,’ she said. ‘I am staying anyway.’

And she did.

She didn’t change anything.

She didn’t fix anything.

She just stayed.

As she sat beside me, I realised that I had spoken the truth when I said that she couldn’t sort my eyes out.

They remained sore and unseeing.

I also realised that nothing could have been further from the truth than my words,

‘There’s nothing you can do to help me’.

(Taken from Still Emily)

A moment of pausing,

a time of just being there,

a ‘tableau-ing together’ in the midst of life

speaks volumes…

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