Mystical Transformation

This is from David Torkington, a well known Catholic writer on Mystical Theology:

When the Bishop slipped and broke his nose, Henry_V_of_England_-_Illustration_from_Cassell's_History_of_England_-_Century_Edition_-_published_circa_1902he cancelled his pilgrimage to Lourdes and decided to grace our school with his presence for ‘speech day’ instead. It was customary to put on some sort of entertainment when he was presiding over the proceedings, but nothing had been prepared, so it was decided, to produce a Shakespearean anthology at the last minute.

It would comprise two comic scenes sandwiched between three serious ones. There were no budding actors in my class so we all drew lots to decide who would play the part of Henry the fifth, – and the lot fell on me. Day after day I practised extravagant gestures in front of my mothers’ full-length mirror, as I recited his famous speech before the final assault on Harfleur – “Once more into the breach dear friends once more…” At the dress rehearsal I got far more laughs than the grave digger from Hamlet and the porter from Macbeth put together. I put it down to the dramatic tension that I had been able to generate. Had they never seen great Shakespearean acting before?

Time was short, so the English master said nothing until a matter of moments before I stepped on stage. Then he took me by the arm and said. “Now listen here, Torkington, forget about that pathetic little performance last night. If you act like that today, Reverend Mother will take you back to the convent school and make you head girl! You’re supposed to be a warrior king not a fairy queen! This isn’t a stage it’s a battlefield. They’re not fifth formers, they’re your men who are tired and exhausted. They’ve been storming the town all day, and they’ve got nowhere. They’ve seen their friends falling at their side, they’ve heard the cries of the wounded, the screeching of the horses and they’re all but defeated. Get out there, rouse them up, and rally them for one more attack before it’s too late.”

Read the rest of the article here

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