by Jez Bond
I have been thinking for some time about a theatre motto. Richmond Theatre has Alexander Pope’s beautiful and very apt “to wake the soul by tender strokes of art” inscribed above the proscenium. The original Globe had “totus mundus agit histrionem” engraved above the door. This latin phrase, literally meaning “all the world’s a playhouse”, was rephrased by Shakespeare as the now more well known “all the world’s a stage” in his play ‘As You Like It’. There is something powerful about a motto – certainly about one that is in some way ingrained to the fabric of a building. I have been very interested in creating a modern take on this. Although I’m not sure exactly what form this would take I have come across a quote which is currently my top choice for the wording. It comes from Renaissance Italy…
Derived from Leon Battista Alberti (1404 – 1472) who was a poet, architect, artist, priest, linguist, philosopher and cryptographer (and, one would imagine, a rather good cook and an all round DIY enthusiast) the term Renaissance Man was, and still is, used to describe someone who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields. Alberti considered man to be empowered, limitless in his capacities for development, and this led to the notion that people should embrace all knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible. Thus the gifted men of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments and in the arts.
As Renaissance Man Alberti so eloquently put it:
“A man can do all things if he will.”
For me, this encapsulates so much. The Park Theatre is nothing if not a triumph to the testimony that great things can be achieved with passion, determination and hard work – and that anything is possible, both on stage and off. There must be no limits.
I’m not sure where exactly this quote would be located – or whether we will have stumbled across something even more apt by the time we open. I say stumble as I don’t believe a motto is something you should look for in a book; it’s something that finds you – which is another reason I like this one so much. But keep your eyes open when you visit in 2012 and perhaps high in the atrium, or across the bar, or along a wall in the main house, something might just catch your eye…