Friday, January 13, 2012

Jerusalem Notes

Why is the play named Jerusalem? 

Jerusalem is a hymn based on William Blake’s poem And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time.
The hymn serves as an unofficial British National Anthem, similar to the role of America the Beautiful in the USA.

The last verse goes like this:

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

Even though “green and pleasant land” is pretty bland compared to “purple mountains’ majesty,” the “chariot of fire” line gets bonus points.

Reading the program notes for Jerusalem:
The Mark Rylance character, Rooster, is “a post-modern Puck, a dangerous spirit of the old world and the new, leading the children astray, telling them stories, a story himself.”

The Rooster character (Rylance) is compared to the ancient traveling storytellers, gleomen or scopmen as they were known.