There is a marvelous recurring phrase in the movie Shakespeare in Love. It's an exchange of dialogue.
Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery
This exchange caused me great mirth when I first saw the movie because it is so true. I can absolutely imagine the real Henslowe saying something very much like this, because I have said something much like this both before I saw the movie, and after.
In working on the Scottish play in 2008, I sent up prayers for the intervention of theater magic. And, in spite of numerous insurmountable obstacles and clear sightings of imminent disaster during this famously "unlucky" play, it, strangely enough, turned out well.
And again, when working on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, insurmountable obstacles of serious illness and mishap in my own family seemed to place the play directly on the road to imminent disaster. Strangely enough, it turned out well.
Then, working on Twelfth Night, set in the 1890s, more insurmountable obstacles, and again, strangely, it all turned out well.
Why? As the man said, ultimately, it is a mystery. We call it theater magic. We know some of the ingredients: passion, commitment to each other and to the play.
Somewhere in the recipe there is fear as the opening night approaches; excitement as costumes, set and props are added.
I am convinced that food-- pizza or pot-luck, it doesn't matter-- the sharing of a meal together in the midst of the work-- this is also a critical ingredient.
But the process, the means by which all of these come together to solve the unsolvable, heal the unhealable, surmount the insurmountable--
Well, it's a mystery.
A mystery to which I am grateful, once again.