All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Trevor sighed. Who on earth would write a ballad to his mistress’ eyebrow? But what a wonderful idea, being so besotted that even her eyebrow would seem worth a poem or a song.
He sighed again. Why was he the only one on board the SS Enterprise who seemed to understand that Shakespeare had captured so much of the human condition and presented it to provide entertainment? Certainly the plain and patterned walls of the starship were not woods and fields and castles, but these people had no romance in their souls.
His teacher had referred him to the holo-deck where he could play any part in any Shakespeare play. But he was there alone, all other parts played by the holographic images. He even had his own “Globe Theatre” a rather small place really, and the wood creaked alarmingly in some spots, but it was the one place he really felt ALIVE.
In the Globe he walked under Juliet’s balcony once again, and saw her sigh for her love, now and then that creeper he climbed up had thorns – he bore the tiny scars they had seemed so real. He bestrode the dark castle walls, waiting for the ghost, hardly appreciating that the stars in the sky above were exactly those seen from the northern hemisphere of Earth. He stood, his back convincingly crooked and demanded a horse; he thought Richard had been misunderstood, his twisted body more a metaphor for a twisted soul than an actual physical deformity. He stood proudly asking if as a Jew he too did not bleed if pricked. Actually the first time he played the Merchant he ended up in the infirmary, with a dose of the shakes. He hadn’t even finished the play, but the mere thought of someone cutting out his flesh with nothing but a crude knife and no pain-blockers was just too much for him.
He had had to see the psychologist after that. Taking fantasy too seriously was something people on a starship had to avoid. Plain solid people were needed to run the ship for years and years together. A knowledge of space-time-distance-direction mathematics was regarded as a necessity, imagination was regarded as a handicap.
His parents had been worried, they realised his chosen career would not fall into any of the spaceship specialties, his interests being what they were. His fatal personal interest would condemn him after this trip to a life lived only on crowded Earth.
Off the holo-deck and back in the exercise room with his classmates, he realised they were all rather boisterous today. The instructor seemed unable to find an exercise that would keep them focused.
“Guys” he shouted, “who wants to learn to fight with swords?” The instructor looked horrified as the youngsters crowded around Trevor. Trevor did have the best physique of all he had to admit; so maybe he had an idea that could be useful to keep these youngsters fit and focused. The dual exercise of body and mind was most important for these teenagers.
Worriedly the instructor trooped after the youngsters into the holo-deck. Trevor activated a program, and suddenly they were all in a courtyard, tall stone walls surrounding them, sandy somewhat dusty underfoot. There was Trevor, carrying a slim rapier, standing facing off a man, dressed rather unusually, who bore his rapier as though it was an extension of his arm. They saluted each other, the man’s cape swirling behind him, showing ripples in the red velvet.
What followed was one of the most focused exercises the instructor had seen. When Trevor’s opponent admitted he had been outfought and knelt in defeat, the gang of youngsters crowded round Trevor, each clamouring to learn the skill.
The scheduled one hour session stretched on into three hours. The boys were all late for supper, talking excitedly of their afternoon.
The instructor went worriedly to report to the captain of his failure. Fighting on board was seen as a serious offense.