The words are Shakespeare's, not mine, but I am putting them to work in a new fabric work. The theme for the show I am going to submit it to is something inspired by poetry or a quote. The words don't need to be on the work itself, but I decided I wanted them there.
It is, in large part, a remembrance of the thirteen years we spent living in Ashland, Oregon, the home of the Oregon Shakespearean Festival. Not a particularly well-versed scholar of Shakespeare when we arrived in Ashland, I got a job there as the buyer/manager for the Festival gift and book shop, The Tudor Guild. I loved being there, among the cast and crew of this well-oiled machine of a theatre organization. And I learned to love the words of Shakespeare, not from a page of print, but joyously spoken by actors, on a stage, under a starry sky— as Shakespeare himself intended!
I could have (should have?) chosen a shorter quote. There are plenty. But these are the words that I most love in the remembering of that time. The sewing of these letters is slow work. I cut them, arranged them, fused them and now I am stitching down each letter, clipping threads and cleaning up frays at their edges. I know that when I start quilting around them it will be equally slow. This will take time, with no guarantee anyone will even notice all the effort.
Each year, at the end of September in Ashland, the final outdoor performance brings the Shakespeare stage season to a close. At the end of the last performance, one of the actors steps forward and recites this beautiful speech from The Tempest. Then the lights slowly dim and the spirits of that, and all the previous years, are "melted into air, into thin air.." The magic fades until a new season begins.
'Our revels now are ended'
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1