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22

 

art, not its slave and not the slave of instinct . . . it belongs to the realm of Baba's real existence."

 

Anyone who has seen a really great artist will know how true these remarks are. Eleonora Duse had this perfection of technique coupled with a luminous spiritual quality. Pavlova and a host of other great names come to mind, especially Nijinsky who was intoxicated with God. Anna Pavlova, when asked, "How do you understand the problems of your art?" replied, "I try to express by dancing what the composer puts into his music, what the painter expresses with his colour and brushes, the actor with spoken word. I try to express this with my body and my spirit, that most universal of all languages. An artist always attempts to express life in its most hidden depths — and my dance is also stripped of its accidental and irrelevant covering."

 

I do not think Baba ever saw a Shakespearian play* but he did see the wooing scene from The Taming of the Shrew in an entertainment got up for His pleasure at the little Q Theatre at the foot of Kew Bridge. This was one of the best and most professional shows we devised for Baba. He had put a group of us to live together for several months; we were in a house at Ealing and we rehearsed this show, made and hired costumes and produced it for Baba and an invited audience. There were sketches, recitations, dancing end ensembles. Baba especially liked a hunting scene to the music of "John Peel"; the Shakespeare sketch was amongst them.

 

William Shakespeare must have been an advanced initiate. He was the greatest name in all literature. He understood the theatre and ran his own companies. He wrote thirty-seven plays of great diversity and created characters that subsequently actors would feel it an achievement to play, to name just a few, — Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Falstaff, Juliet, Portia, Ophelia and Desdemona.

 

It is impossible to convey his great genius by a few extracts, but the following two show many spiritual qualities and fit in with things Baba said in Hollywood. In the trial scene from The Merchant of Venice Shylock demands his pound of flesh and Portia pleads with him to be merciful. Portia says,

 

 

The Quality of Mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power.
The attribute to awe and majesty.
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this scept'rd sway
It is enthroned in the heart of things,
It is an attribute to God Himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew
Though justice be thy plea, consider this
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy
And that same prayer cloth teach us all to render
The deeds of Mercy.

 

The other speech taken from Hamlet is the advice given by Polonius to his son Laertes who is about to start out on a journey:

 

*He saw "A Midsummer Nights Dream" puppet play, August, 1956.

 

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