Impossible Courage

As a tribute not only to the Bard, but to Christopher Nolan’s recent inspired film Dunkirk, we offer an edited version of the powerful “St. Crispin’s Day” speech from Henry V. In this monologue, King Henry rallies the English troops – greatly outnumbered by their enemy – before his invasion of France. Exploring still another facet of national history, Nolan’s film captures the miraculous rescue of British troops by civilians in World War II – highlighting their impossible courage in a time of turmoil. Bound by shared humanity, those heroes are – as Shakespeare’s Henry would declare – a “band of brothers.”

Though in obviously vastly different circumstances, the cast and crew of any production share a parallel sense of purpose. Certainly this came to the fore in a Shakespeare For Our Children performance at Salem Montessori in which a young man named Alexander revealed his own impossible courage: performing the St. Crispin’s Day speech in its entirety – rousing his fellow performers, as well as the audience, in a stirring rendition of the speech. It was not only Shakespeare’s words that were so powerful, or even the excellence of Alexander’s interpretation; it was the bravery that the 12-year old showed in tackling the epic speech.