You may have heard the rumor that I have been on vacation. In Greece.
While the purpose of my trip was solely for rest and relaxation, I spent the last two days before coming home exploring the ruins of the Acropolis in Athens. This included the Theatre of Dionysus, which, is, in essence, the birthplace of theatre.
I remember sitting in first-year theatre history class in university and learning about the Dithyramb—a spring-time ritual that consisted of a chorus of 50 men or boys dancing around a massive phallus. This was all in honour of the god Dionysus, who was the god of fertility and wine. This was all taking place centuries before Christ.
Here in North America, we live in a culturally young place. Our country, at less than 150 years old, is still developing its cultural identity. One of the things I love about the theatre is that sense of cultural connection. Not just to the past, but to the present, to the brotherhood of actors and directors and writers.
Seven years ago, I traveled through the UK. My trip ended at Stratford-upon-Avon, and I remember feeling totally overwhelmed by the history of the place. As I walked the path by the river between the theatre and Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried, I thought “Shakespeare maybe walked this very path.” And I was overcome by emotion at his grave, where I sat for fully a half hour.
I was overcome by that same emotion at the Theatre of Dionysus. We come from a rich cultural background that ties us together, past to present.