A Rebellion

Resisting, reimagining, and reclaiming words.
Taking ownership of our stories.

Candy Bowers

All the world’s her stage

A reimagining of
William Shakespeare's
All the world’s a stage

I chose to rewrite Shakespeare’s ‘All the world’s a stage’ because I grew up doting on Shakespeare. I was a theatre and poetry nerd throughout high school and I was absolutely gaga for William. My Australian education taught me that SHAKESPEARE IS UNIVERSAL. As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to see how sexist and often racist the text can be, and I’ve found myself wanting to adapt and shift it so that I can see myself in it. I love using this soliloquy with students because they can each write their own unique and personal version—a sort of future eulogy. ‘All the world’s her stage’ is my version, and there could be as many versions of it as there are female-identifying poets out there to re-create it.

–Candy Bowers

The Rebellion

All the world’s her stage
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exits and their entrances
And one woman in her time plays many parts,
Her acts being seven ages. At first the baby
Screaming in her mother’s arms
Then the chattering schoolgirl, with her school bag
And cheeky morning face, dancing on toe tip
Eagerly to school gate. And then the Lover,
Consumed and crazed, cursed and wet
Hurt from being worshipped and left. Then a student
Full of favourite neo-philosophers’ opinions and theoretical ideas on
capitalism, intersectionality, music, sex, art, wholefoods and religion
Seeking soulful connections
Even in the dealer’s pipe. And then the professional,
Sitting more comfortably in her hips now,
Contemplating children and how she’d fair
Her personal currency versus whether to bear
Surprised when a small one comes, her soul snared
And so she plays her part. The sixth age shifts
Into the soft and slippered Aunty,
With spectacles on nose and stately walking stick,
Her figure sways, pillowed out and cute
Her warm womanly voice,
Turning again toward girlish tones, without sense, flutes
And tickles the air. Her last scene of all,
That ends this, strange and eventful story
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans heart, sans soul, sans mind, sans everything

The Original Text

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’s eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances.
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.