G is for Gaze

| May 1, 2014

I once saw a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream wherein a metatheatrical moment occurred that I would never forget. Strangely, I saw this production twice, primarily on account of aspired plans that did not come to fruition upon the second occasion. First I went alone; second I went with my friend “Dan.”

Subsequent to my first experience of seeing Midsummer, where I intimately engaged with its issues and actors. I left feeling thoroughly satisfied with the experience, the sublimity and elation therein. Seeing the issues, which I have studied and discussed with professors, come to life on stage provided me with another lens through which to analyze Shakespeare. (I really need to see more than Shakespearean productions.) But okay, the strange moment I mentioned before.

Seeing the same play twice is rather weird.

During my second experience of seeing Midsummer, I found myself analyzing the play differently. While I certainly paid attention to the performers’ body language during my first viewing, doing so on my second held relative primacy. Theseus’s wife, Hippolyta, particularly fascinated me for her presence during the conclusion of Act 1 suggested what I have analyzed: her silencing. She stood at the corner of the stage, only a few feet from me. During this moment, I stared at her a lot. I watched her mannerisms, how she silently acquiesced—how she silently gazed at her husband.

My gaze, strangely, attracted her attention somehow. While gazing, she glanced at me for a second—or even a millisecond—to see my eyes set on her, observing and pondering her emotional, mental, and physical state. What does she think as she looks at Theseus? When she looks at me? Was her glance at me intentional?

Regardless of her intention, this metatheatrical moment has stuck with me because of its intimacy. She knew that I gazed at her, and her glance acknowledged how my presence affected her—inasmuch as hers affected mine.

Perhaps we both, in our own ways, reciprocally emancipated each other. Hm.