Sunday, June 4, 2017

Student Arrest

By Stephen Wilson
Moscow, Russia -- 'All the world's a stage' declares a character from the play of Shakespeare : 'As You Like it '. Well this is not entirely true. As this was the harsh brutal truth thrust into a boy by policemen who practically pounced on him dragging him
away without any explanation or polite inquiry . In fact , they were as tactful as
sledgehammers. What great offence had the boy committed ? He had been loudly reciting Hamlet in the Arbatskaya district of Moscow, an area notorious for attracting buskers of all sorts.

Noticing the shocked look on the boy, a woman who had been looking after him
intervened and attempted to stop the police. It never occurred to the police that
it might be more appropriate to ask the logical question : "Why are you reciting
Hamlet in the Arbatskaya ?" And this was in deed the main question which people
began to ask themselves . What is a ten year old boy doing reading poetry ? Was
he being used by parents to boost their income ? Was he a homeless boy attempting
to get by ? Or maybe he simply adored William Shakespeare !
The last explanation might not be so absurd. I have met many Russian school students
who love to quote Hamlet or have been asked to perform in school plays .
Russian affection for the poet is no secret. Boris Pasternak did great translations of his
works and a Russian Philosopher called Leon Shestov took the trouble to write a
book : 'Shakespeare and his critic Brandes. ' Shestov stated that the poet was his : "His
first master in philosophy". But that is not how the police saw Shakespeare ! Hearing
him being recited loudly evidently got on their nerves.

Although the boy was later released , the woman , Christina Skvronski has been charged
with obstructing the police from carrying out their legal duties.

When I told one of my school students of what had happened , Roman expressed disbelief:
"You are joking. How can anyone be arrested for reciting a poet? " Street musicians who
witnessed the incident see nothing wrong with the boy performing in public. In fact, the that allegations he was illegally begging do not stand up to scrutiny. Just because he
may have had an empty hat or box nearby is not suffice for him to face charges. You need
to openly ask for money to be accused of begging. The police can check or make an
investigation if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion .
The father of the boy ,who declines to be named, stated ;"The boy has problems with
his speech and can't pronounce several letters . So psychologists advised him to
recite poetry in public ". Whether the psychologists had reciting poetry in public in mind
is another matter.
This author could be arrested. I once recited a story by Chaucer in the Park of Sculpture.
However , it was done more discreetly in a garden . However , I am not ten years old. But it is strange to think that while most teachers are struggling to inspire their children with a
lively interest in Shakespeare one young boy was arrested for enthusiasm . He at least
deserves a medal!

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