Month 5: Steps Backward and Steps Forward


Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC on a sunny winter day. The welcome sign is to the right, the northern facade leads down to some shrubs. The sky is blue, and to the left are branches without leaves and a brick sidewalk.

Cultural Event: As You Like It

Last month took me to another theater. I finally paid a visit to the Folger Shakespeare Library which, in addition to having the world’s largest Shakespeare Collection, presents month-long productions of numerous Shakespeare works every season.

My exposure to Shakespeare has been limited to the works I studied in high school.  While enjoyed learning about them, I still would consider myself a newcomer. And incidentally, seeing As You Like It brought me into the same world that so many classical music patrons experience. This was a good reminder for me.

If I’m being completely honest here, I didn’t catch all the jokes. There were stretches of scenes where I wasn’t able to follow the language; if I hadn’t read the synopsis, I wouldn’t have gotten the gist. My mind drifted away at times, thinking about things like chores I had to do when I get home. Towards the end, I caught myself wondering how much time was left until it finished.

But I powered through. And although attending this performance was a challenge, the pay-off was magnificent. The actors were extremely exceptional. It was satisfying to see the story from start to finish. I really had been taken into a different world that evening. Yes I had my difficulties, but I want to go back and see another.

The next time someone is discouraged and feels on the outside of a work of classical music, I hope I’m able to use this experience to empathize and encourage him/her to dive in.

Woman with red hat and brown hair holding a white sign with colorful lettering that says "Girls Just Want to Have Fun-Damental Rights". Standing outside on a brick sidewalk with a lampost behind her on her right.

Labor Event: The Women’s March on Washington

On January 21st, more than 5 million people around the world united in support of human rights. Over 500,000 gathered in Washington, DC for what became known as the Women’s March on Washington.

These assemblies were a collective response to the inauguration of the incoming President of the United States and his administration. Due to ideology, remarks, and actions dating as far back as decades before the 2016 campaign, many are unsure whether or not the country will see social progress during this presidency.

The primary focus of the Women’s March on Washington was gender equality. So while labor rights might not have been the first thing on everybody’s minds, labor rights are undoubtedly woven into the fabric of justice. Women should be paid equal to their male counterparts.Women should be given fair consideration in hiring and promotion processes. Women should have complete respect in the workplace.

Labor rights are human rights; women’s rights are human rights. It is our duty to defend this by any peaceful means available to us.

About Doug Rosenthal

No one told Douglas Rosenthal to give up playing music. Not even his patient siblings, who endured many early-morning practice sessions; even they encouraged their brother to follow his passion. As the years passed, that passion evolved from simply playing music to advocating for music, musicians, and music-lovers. Douglas is based in Washington, DC. He is the Assistant Principal Trombonist of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra/Washington National Opera Orchestra. He currently makes his home on Capitol Hill in DC with a pug named Jake, who serves as a constant reminder to relax, eat well, and sleep plentifully.

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4 thoughts on “Month 5: Steps Backward and Steps Forward”

  1. The moment I “got” Shakespeare was in 8th grade when we were reading “Romeo and Juliet.” Our English teacher assigned the class to see the new movie of the play that had just arrived at our city’s movie theater. A bunch of us went together one evening. I was astounded. What had made no sense to me on the page suddenly came alive in front of my eyes. The language + action made the story move and also made more sense that what I’d read. I couldn’t believe it was the same play. In fact, I raced home afterward to re-read the play, and sure enough, the words were all the same as in the movie. I’ve been hooked on Shakespeare ever since. I’m going to see “King Lear” at the Guthrie Theater this Sunday — the third time I’ve seen this play on stage. Can’t wait!

    Considering what the new government in Washington has been doing for the past month — or really, what they have NOT been doing — I fear for the arts in this country. I fear for women’s rights and for all the progress that has been made up to this point. It astounds me that in the 21st century we still must remind those in power in America that women’s rights are human rights.

    • We’re in troubled times, but we’re not going down without a fight. Have a great time at the Guthrie. “Timon of Athens” is the next production at Folger, have you read/seen it?


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