Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shakespeare in the Crow’s Nest: a Burning Man Story

2018 was my sixth year at Burning Man. Early in the week, I had an unforgettable experience that, for me, captures what the burn is all about.

I was riding back to camp on Monday night when I came across a giant tower of cars. I was too exhausted to attempt the climb, but vowed to return. 

The next morning I woke up for sunrise and, after a morning ride to deep playa, a yoga class and a cup of coffee, I returned. As I approached, I saw the GRIM REAPER holding a giant scythe and staring, unmoving, at the people going up and down the tower.

As I ascended, I overheard people saying that the tower would soon be closed because it was too dangerous. 

The climb was tricky. I had to climb through windows, or slide out onto the hood of a car, and then pull my body up onto the next car. 

When I finally got to the RV at the top, the bar was empty, save for some empty bottles and books strewn about. One was a copy of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Delighted, I began leafing through its pages. A girl in the RV asked me to read, so I began to recite lines - bouncing around the book - before giving a long recital to the witches’ spell in Macbeth. I was so loud and clear from that high point that people on the ground began shouting their acclaim. 

Inspired, I determined to make my way to the crow’s nest to continue my recital. The climb was so scary, however, that there was no way to bring the book. I gathered my courage and made the steep, final climb. 

Once at the top, I filled my lungs up and recited from memory - in my most theatrical British accent - the following:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps at this petty pace from day to day
Until the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.
Out, out brief candle!
Life is but a walking shadow,
A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.
It is a tale told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
signifying nothing. 

As I exclaimed this monologue from Macbeth, people from all across the playa began walking and biking toward the tower. By the end, several dozen burners had assembled, and upon my completion, they erupted in enthusiastic applause.

By the time I made it down to the ground, the Grim Reaper had moved on. I showed him!

1 comment:

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