Monday, October 26, 2015


"I think that's probably why we prefer the lies, Miss Remington," Mick continued, "and we do, don't
we?  Everyone says they want the truth, but secretly they just want to find some reassurance for the lies because they are always so much more beautiful."  He moved in closer to her yet again, like a moth to the flame, "And they sure smell a hell of a lot sweeter..."  His touch was so intimate, she knew it was meant to set her off balance, and it did.  "So tell me the lie, again, Miss Remington," his voice was now just above a whisper, interrupting the whirl of confusing thoughts and desires that were making her dizzy.  "Look at me now and tell me that you love me...just one more time..." (Caraway, Palooka)

George Washington couldn't tell one.  Pinocchio's nose grew each time he did.  There are white ones, and scarlet ones; little ones and big whoppers, and, as Mick O'Shaughnessy describes in the above quote, sweet ones that we choose to believe.

Lies.  We write songs about them.  We punish them.  We sigh in relief when we manage to tell one without getting caught.  Another day to save face.  Another day to keep our mask in place.  For the criminal, they are a mainstay.  For those with a conscience, they are the things that torture and haunt us.  They are everywhere--a part of our world and who we are.  Much as we try to escape being told one or being known as one who does, they are a part of every culture on the planet and they infect us from our earliest moments of communication.

Why do we lie?  There are as many reasons as there are scenarios.  We don't want to get caught.  We want to keep up our perfect image.  We want revenge.  We want to protect ourselves.  We want power and political gain.

What can we say?  Mick has a point... the easy to swallow lie is more appealing than the
ugly truth, time and time again.

When it comes to our world leaders and politicians, we have come to expect the lies--in all shapes and sizes, with all degrees of consequences.  Many voters say they go to the polls merely to choose the lesser of two evils; we choose our leaders based on their degrees of lying.  After all, we dare not expect that our leaders would completely refrain from it--that they would ever be stupid enough to choose integrity over self-preservation.

That, alone begs the question:  How did we get to a place where we are willing to put our trust and hope in our most powerful figures without expecting truth from them in return?  How did we get this far?  Adolf Hitler once said, "If you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."  Is that it then?  We just commit to the lies wholeheartedly until they become our new definition of "truth?"

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Every violation of truth is not only a sort of suicide in the liar, but a stab at the health of human society."  If Emerson is right, I wonder:  what is the state of society's health today?

This course is a study in communication, and unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your position) lying is a part of communication in just about every realm of society.  Perhaps it is naive not to expect to be lied to--even by the brightest and best--but is it wrong to yearn for truth, no matter what the cost?  Is it wrong to believe that there is true freedom to be found in it?

Maybe Mick is wrong.  Yes, I know, I wrote him, he is my character, but maybe he is.  The truth may hurt sometimes, but is it possible that over time, the lies hurt a whole lot more?  What is the cost in the end?

Below, is a link to a blog that explores the cultural tradition of lying.  Read it carefully, then I would love to hear your thoughts...


My favorite song of all time about honesty (and was playing as I wrote this for inspiration)

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Each year, the English Speaking Union invites students and their teachers/directors to participate in their National Shakespeare Competition.  It all starts in the classroom.  Schools all over the country conduct in house, school wide Shakespeare competitions in which scholars present a memorized monologue of no more than 20 lines.  After the school selects a winner, they are sent along with other scholars across their state, to compete at the branch level.  This time, they present their monologue and one of Shakespeare's sonnets.

The lucky scholar selected at the branch level is then flown out for a week long trip to New York City, where they are dined, entertained, and have the opportunity to mingle with other branch winners and students of the infamous Julliard School.  The grand finale, however, is that each student gets to perform his/her monologue, sonnet and a cold read on the stage at Lincoln Center in the National competition.

The competition is stiff.  Every scholar brings with him or her a uniquely brilliant interpretation of
the Great Bard.  The judges no doubt agonize over their decision, but only one lucky scholar will be chosen as the grand prize winner.  This scholar will win an all expenses paid trip in the summer to study at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.  A second place scholar at competition is awarded a scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center's Theater Camp in Staunton, Virginia, including tuition, transportation, food, and accommodations.  The third place scholar wins a $500 scholarship from The Shakespeare Society of New York City.

This year, Odyssey Institute will be participating in the competition, and I personally could not be more excited.  I would like nothing more than to see one of our scholars take their bow at Lincoln Center as a finalist, or dare I say, board a flight to London to study at The Royal Academy!  Just for fun, here are two videos.  The first is the National winner from Hawaii, and the second is the Branch winner from Arizona who was sent to compete in New York.  I am happy to say he did place in the top ten.

Watch the two videos and then please share your insights, evaluations, and comments.  It brings me great joy to share these amazing performances with you!