Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mirror . . . mirror . . .

Have you been to The Old Vic theatre in Bristol? If not, you've missed a treat. As I've told you, I was with the BBC in Bristol for several years so I enjoyed going to The Old Vic.
This memory came to mind yesterday when I was listening to the radio, they were talking about the considerable fuss that has arisen over plans to close the theatre for refurbishment. Apparently they are definitely closing, but there are no definite plans for re-opening. The theatrical world is up in arms. Every actor loves and venerates The Old Vic.

All this furore reminded me of my outstanding memory of the theatre - which, surprisingly enough, has nothing to do with plays or players.
As I remember it (and my memory could be playing tricks with precise details), as you entered the historic foyer of the theatre, there, on the left was a large, gilt-framed mirror. It was a beautiful, tall mirror which immediately captured your attention. Underneath the mirror, on a small, embossed notice, were the words:

"This mirror only reflects what is true and beautiful."

It was fascinating to watch the reactions of the theatregoers as they read this notice. They would laugh rather nervously, try to pretend that it was all a bit of a joke, but, when they finally looked into the mirror, it was with genuine trepidation. No-one seemed to have the confidence to expect to see their own reflection. Surely, they seemed to say, I can't really be considered true and beautiful? There was real relief, quickly masked with a joke, when they saw their own, rather anxious, faces reflected in the glass.

Why are we all like this? Why can we accept that all of creation is beautiful, truthful, and wondrous in every way . . . except for us?