Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, as in revenge, have sucked up from the sea contagious fogs.…” Pestilential, a note in the text explains, next to the word contagious, in Kirsten’s favorite of the three versions of the text that the Symphony carries. Shakespeare was the third born to his parents, but the first to survive infancy. Four of his siblings died young. His son, Hamnet, died at eleven and left behind a twin. Plague closed the theaters again and again, death flickering over the landscape. And now in a twilight once more lit by candles, the age of electricity having come and gone, Titania turns to face her fairy king. “Therefore the moon, the governess of floods, pale in her anger, washes all the air, that rheumatic diseases do abound.” Oberon watches her with his entourage of fairies. Titania speaks as if to herself now, Oberon forgotten. Her voice carries high and clear over the silent audience, over the string section waiting for their cue on stage left. “And through this distemperature, we see the seasons alter.” All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text: Because survival is insufficient.
Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven)