As a longtime reader of ancestral histories and journals, I never cease to be amazed at the number of mentions of Shakespeare plays that were presented and attended by my miner ancestors and the other men in their society.
Shakespeare? Yes, I know that many of the miners came from the East Coast of America and other urban locations from around the world but did they all love Shakespeare based on the plays they ‘had’ to attend in their youth?
Ophelia. Shakespeare’s play, Ophelia seems to have an inordinately large mention in the journal pages.
Did these men who mostly lived in tents, smelled of sweat and dirt, enjoy watching the story of a young noblewoman of Denmark and potential wife of Prince Hamlet in Shakespearian prose?
Maybe some did, but I suspect that the visage of the beautiful woman portraying her and the concept of love were the primary attractants, closely followed by a drink and the chance enjoy a brief change in environment from the grueling hard scrabble of daily life.
The cost of the play script was certainly right ….. free. The storyline was oft-repeated enough that at least the ‘drift’ of the story made its way through the audience if they didn’t necessarily enjoy the play for its words alone.
I wish there were snippets of those plays and the faces and thoughts of the miners attending them on YouTube. Did they listen with rapt attention? Where they enthralled by the scenes if not by the words? Are any of the scenes of these events in Hollywood movies even in the ballpark of the reality of what actually happened at the viewings of these plays?
Whatever the case in those dust filled days, I hope grandpa enjoyed the show and that he and his fellow miners got the down time and relaxation that they needed.