Open Air’s 2019 Dream is Woke But Not Funny


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—by Bill Watkins 7/15/2019


I appreciate interpretation.

We all interpret, digest, form-fit everything we see into bite size pieces and in a way that makes sense or is fun for us.  William Shakespeare’s work has been interpreted and changed to fit opinions, palates and fill theaters for hundreds of years, and God bless all who give entertainment on stage a go!

But for me, sadly, Dominic Hill’s new presentation of Shakespeare’s hilarious A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Regent’s Park’s Open Air Theatre failed to be hilarious despite its very woke changes to format.  Having seen the play at the beautiful Open Air Theatre in 1994 created a high bar very difficult to reach or surpass, and in the end: I walked out of the 2019 production last Tuesday night two-thirds in, hopeful to find more laughs at my youth hostel before bed.

Nick Bottom is a man.  Played as a man, the donkey he becomes man-like and mannish, with a man’s voice, and supposed even to be a heterosexual man when Titania the fairy queen doth make him nervous by her overt attentions in Act III.  His nerves made me laugh in 1994, so much so my stomach began to hurt!  But Dominic Hill’s cast of professionals failed to tickle me thus—not because they were unprofessional or untalented, but because the needed heterosexual tension was missing from the woman-on-woman Titania/Bottom scenes in his version, as he chose a woman for the role of Nick Bottom.

Very Woke and #MeToo of Dominic, but not very funny, in this traveler’s opinion.  I’ll give it even Cute, but I did not pay money to see a show my last night in London before turning back to stolen Native American land in the States to smile… I paid to laugh!!

Kieran Hill’s Theseus/Oberon was engaging, the theatre setting as beautiful and enchanting as ever, and Susan Wokoma’s Bottom was funny enough in initial scenes, but failed to create for me the heterosexual tension needed to be funny with Titania in that magical, Shakespeare-created forest of wonder and mischief.

Myra McFadyen’s Puck was odd and robotic, but could have been overcome with a straighter interpretation of a funny as-written play.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”—even if your change is “woke and with it!!!”




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Fictions the moment we write,
words changing what is at least
a little.

Occasionally we come close to
the mark, a smile catching us off
guard, songs…

We say an unexpected thing, and
someone laughs, call out evil,

Devil!  I see you, get thee behind.
Police guns, lives on the run, clichés
doing, doing

Over and over again the tempted
tempt placing tents on walkways,
calling it

all “Homeless,” so off we go in our
suits and SUV’s writing checks,

Hah!  Try to get a camper camping
for free under stars to go into your
Section 8,

Isn’t it great, God relieve us of the
bondage of self, ignorance never bliss

God grant our words Truth, grant our
minds hope, give this song value,
moving pieces,

Games of Chess.

E=mc2 because Einstein was blessed,
we crack a theory, return to earth,
get undressed.  Finish… Eternal
never calls out “Next!!!!!”

We place the cards where boys and
girls can follow then rest

Killing is Not Defense


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We brought the guns from
Europe to America, lorded
them over the native people,
were careful to hit when we shot,

Part of scaring the people
into submission and stealing land.

We needed guns, or so we thought,
crammed together in close
quarters—England, France, Germany
and others within stone’s throw.

We looked all around, and best
weapons of war seemed to win.

We brought the disease across
the sea, that with our bibles
to justify treatment and dismissal
of a people clearly not Christian.

The Virginia Charter of 1606 clear,
calling all in armor sent across for the

…propagating of Christian religion to
suche people as yet live in darkeness
and miserable ignorance of the true
knoweledge and worshippe of God…

The descendants of Chief Luther
Standing Bear of the Lakota Sioux
from Wakan Tanka, the Great spirit
living among the kinship “with all

creatures of the earth, sky and water…
all of one blood, made by the same hand,
and filled with the essence of the
Great Mystery… The Lakota never

enslaved an animal, and spared all life
that was not needed for food and clothing.”

No cursing, no swearing, no loud guns
until we came here pushing our loud,
violent way as better.

And we tout a military that kills,
police that learn to kill, shooting for
the torso on the firing range, selling
our soul so often over the years,

All normalized and baked in the cake,
America the Beautiful shot in the heart,
helicopters overhead “keeping the peace?”

Killing is not defense, nor can it ever be.

Killing is offense, weapons of war, instruments
of fear—“all creatures hate them,” says
Lao Tzu, but what can one do?  Jesus said
“Live by the sword, die by the sword,”

So we as humans get to choose.  But if
your goal is to stop an attacker,
do so moderately short of stopping
his or her heart—

and the reward will be peace, and
perhaps a converted bad actor
given a second chance to be what
Wakan Tanka wants us to be.

Flying Away from Truth


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We came up somewhere;
our cells, our “blood” from rivers,
mountains and streams…

We move here, we move there;
our ancestors thought it wise,
or forced out by war,

Picked up our things, set sail,
replanted across a sea in new land,
Don’t be shy!!!

Then we or someone else…
hatched a very big lie.
We were “white,” therefore better.

“We were white, therefore
deserved slaves…”  Add to that
“We were Christian,”

Believed what the Bible said.
Anyone not white or Christian
were to us better off dead.

We kept up the colony, laying
waste to the indigenous dream;
nature to be soiled and used

Not loved and thanked, we went
from flower to flower, killing power,
left our mark in the sand.

We planted Europe’s flag down,
adopted laws we mocked there.
Ethnocentric all from fear…

Gun powder from alchemy
to bombs to guns to “win”
un-winnable wars.

Peace selected by few, scoffed
at by the masses in a peer-like
pressure of exploding gas!

Don’t just trudge up the road,
look back occasionally, take
in the past!!

There we might find a clue
to bettering our current step.
Have we paused enough?

Are we wise to stop more, pray
or think real deep on next
steps like cars, flying machines

loud dreams with lots of
bells and whistles that sell
themselves but

can make the birds, coyote
and deer scream?  The merry-
go-round is still denial,

un-checked the officer will leave
the ground today, make war
on folks determined “bad.”

Judge not lest ye be judged
was spoken well and true.
Ye without sin, go ahead

Fly away from truth.

Truth in American Policing


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Police Aviation -- 1934 image1

—by Bill Watkins
Los Angeles, 5/11/2019

Native Americans had quite a message for us, so far unheeded or followed very much.

They lived at one with nature, took and used what they needed, in harmony and without loud intrusions like guns.

Europeans brought guns with their bibles, an arms race close quarters and over-populating seemed to bring in the Old World.  A good life to a European person was different from the good life a Native person found in America.  Book reading, elaborate clothing, and aforementioned guns—loud and nature-defying—were seen as marks of a better society than found when Columbus and other explorers began to conquer this land.

The British and Spanish cited lack of Christianity as a justification to kill, enslave and remove native people here, in a long war to replace their culture and presence with ours.  Now, guns are commonplace, noise meeting little resistance, police forces an extension of those first European thoughts that the un-Christian should be dominated and controlled.

A militant start has yielded militancy, and I have seen first-hand the violence at the heart of modern American governing.  Violence.  Judgment of others.  Justifications for noise and war.  Scapegoating people to separate us, from “gangs” to “terrorists”—groups we create with political corruption, greed and un-checked imperialization and colonization.

Guns do not make a culture better, but louder.  More violent.

Helicopters the same.

When will we stop, listen to the native Great Spirit?  When will we hear God in peace?  When will we stop taking so much money in leadership, while communities suffer and seek to protect themselves in what judgmental circles call those darned “gangs?”

We made the gangs with our neglect.  Now go punish them with our guns?  Now go invade privacy and disturb the peace with helicopters and sirens day and night?

The greatest enemy to peace in the city of Los Angeles is the greed at City Hall combined with a violent paramilitary force protecting the status quo of neglectful suits claiming to serve under-served neighborhoods.  Those under-served communities suffer, while councilmen make $178,000/year, the mayor about $232,000 and the Chief of Police around 300K.

I’m writing to plead with the real criminals of Los Angeles to change our ways, take less, and finally start serving communities we turned into problems years ago by kicking peace out to make way for our war.  Our war on nature.  Our war on people without bibles.  Our war on people who peacefully lived in a spot we coveted.  We displace and displace, neglect and neglect, drive around in our suits and bloated salaries.  Join me and end this criminal cycle!

Emoji Kiss


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Emoji Kiss

We are forgiven the moment
we ask for it;

but we cannot be relieved of
burden, until

we admit the problem.

We stole land in the fifteenth,
sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries because our weapons
were harder and bigger,

because we had a book we loved
and could justify stealing gold
and land with the idea that
bringing brown, naked, natural
people our book would surely
save their lives.

Hell is what you make of it,
heaven, too!

Sometimes there’s nothing left
to do in life on stolen land but
to do!

Kiss your enemy, invite them back
to the table.

Ask forgiveness, admit our faults

Kiss your wife or friend when
the two of you have a bad day.

“Change your stars,” like William
did in that weird, anachronistic
movie with knights and Queen

Slap the CIA an emoji kiss,
and forgive mass murder and lies;

no one I know tries to do wrong;
they at least try to find the right
book to their crimes justify.

The Horrible Sound of Helicopters


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War is what the British waged,
came here for…

The Spanish from below and around
“west,” thumping bibles

and native skulls.

“Forgive them, Father; they know
not what they do” was written
in the book we thumped, as we
thumped the land’s caretakers.

No harm intended, harm done,
we rise and fall today not unlike
the stars and light, a dance of day
before we stretch into night.

I love the hope that is in a post-rain ‘bow;
the dream of age dies in sagging
parts not up for the challenge
of defeating God, faith and prayer.

Where is the truth?

In a bible?  A book?  A waterfall?
A stream?  A coat, given to me by
native tribes, so I would not starve
and die.

The first winter after our 1607
arrival, honoring the king and
the devil himself by ignoring the
pulse, love, soul and culture of
a vibrant, talented, loving, breathing
native people.

They were brown, naked and natural,
and in our books we wrote them down.

“The king will have us tame them;
and when we do, the riches below
their feet will be ours.”

“What of the Treaties?  The Peace?”

All is fair in love and war, and
we who usurp are just cursed, nothing

just as the Jews who asked Samuel
for a king;

we are cursed like a Viking thing.

The Tender Kiss


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We peeshaw, as we age
sometimes, the best and most
tender side.

We develop defenses against
abuse, harden to survive.

The baby opens to a kiss,
a smile is from God.

Love and life renews, the earth
spinning around the sun jumps;

it all connects and makes sense,
Love the grease—

moments of bliss decorate the
stars that shadow the face,

Gods and Creator myths smooth
and become real, the water
bending, not breaking around
the rock as palms too weather
the storm.

Fearlessly we kiss; we love and
say thanks!

Then we meet the hard edge,
the stone itself, the back of a hand,
rejection and sarcasm tearing flesh
and ideas of what it all means.

We see a large mass of people
going one way as they age—

It seems “cool” not to love…

Life, what a mess.  Sometimes to
figure it out you gotta be Elliot
Ness, wear a cross on your chest
and love your enemy.

Heaven may be a peace of mind,
eternal lines to time growing,
a cosmic energy you put out
that was positive,

the Karma of that regenerative,
gods and myths blending into one
tender kiss on the mouth of faith.

You can love hate away with belief
and well-placed kisses;

You may be killed in that eternal
embrace, self-will dying in the
ashpit of truth as we take up the
cross that is loving in all conditions,
a default perfection.

Love is one thing.  Its detractor
sleeps next to it, needing your
words to separate it and keep it
at bay as we grow up tempted to
act as old as we are.

Good teachings challenge us to
discard the untruth of age, stay
young, forget our pain and hurts—

land that kiss on Daddy’s mouth
to honor God and forgive his and all
our sins.

The Spirit World


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Hold your tongue, they say,
and we listen as far as our cells
report it’s good;

gong go the seasons, one, two,
three and four—gone when the
dance ends.

Come, friends.  Let’s see if there
is a surprise with me at the

you’re free to disagree with
anything, the country is the
world, the

world a word and words, like
Borges said, are fictions, Lao
Tzu warning

against the false Tao, but then
he wrote eighty-one poems
anyway!  Come,

read to me some poem, some
Longfellow-like lullaby to truth
in rhyme, meter

or free to decorate a page or
brains, the imaginary road to
realms near,

far, wondering what we are, until
we unite in song.  This is not
surprising, so…

We trek on, and on, and on until
there is a fact in the grass, the
sweetest dream

known by labor, Robert Frost failing
as farmer as his pen and types did

Truth is a beautiful weed.

There—we may have surprised in
that one!  Up goes the crowd,
as the Olympian

crosses the threshold where pain
becomes a second wind; he or she

to a higher place as they round
the final corner!  Look at him go,

on the rise, coming to the top,
restrictions fall being good to
us all;

those in control will not be someday,
so they hold and hold and hold
‘long as they can.

Truth dawns after the rain in colors,
the drench like a fire in reverse
getting us wet

and cleared of doubt.

We cannot deny the facts, now,
Donald, Ricky, Bobby and Mike;
if you do,

tell her you like.  God or Higher
Power, or Native Great Spirit,
this morning shower—

be with us, fill us with the dream
that is a co-opted walk, a lonely
trail joined by shadows until

There’s another surprise, the wind
bringing change which is the hope
over pain.

We let all seasons pass until at
one with the difference, we egg on

in the sunshine that was the sad
storm of previous clouds, blocks
and ignorance.

We cannot know until we know,
which is why an appeal to spirit

If reading and unsure, stop now.
Shhh.  Pray.

There you are.



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Flag Wall

The skill so grand of mine
to be gloriously born on
American soil!

Never mind I never learned
much law, graduated high
school a drunk.

I belched and laid my first
significant cry right here
in the USA!!

Never mind we skipped over
civics, waltzed around in
a haze of privilege.

I live on stolen Native American
land, hail from immigrants
but am not one!

Never mind the Bible;
Christianity cool when convened
as a wall.

Wide is this path to destroy,
so here we are finding ways
to hate them—

the “immigrant,” figuring ways
to differentiate them from our
fathers, grandfathers—

mothers, too.

Make America white again,
MAGA hats worn by absurd

if keeping score, forgive them—
the land belongs not to man
but God,

Good Orderly Direction, Great
Spirit beyond the divide of

National leaders, a unity bound
on native blood, slave sweat, tears—
Kennedy murdered

by lies, perfidy and deceit, the
ruse of cloaks, daggers, and CIA
cold war sleet.

Peace is the rainbow following
rain on the other side.  The baby

en route to my city, my home;
no skill in birth, yet I came out

they documented another way
to protect the apparent privilege
of the scared elite.