All the World's a Stage

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

- William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

In this excerpt from one of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues, the author draws attention to ways in which life is a performance. Over the course of a lifetime, one person will play many roles: that of child, sibling, mother, father; friend, acquaintance, lover, enemy; student, teacher, judge, and jury. Additionally, we all perform for each other on a daily basis, whether deliberately or unintentionally. The way we dress, the way we talk, the way we walk — these routine actions not only reflect who we are but who we want to be. Unlike the roles performed by professional actors on stage, these are performed in reality. No matter where these performances are enacted, however, they demonstrate how individual identities are fluid, how personas are malleable, how makeup, masks and clothing can influence one’s behavior and other’s perceptions. All of the works on display touch upon the notion of performance, whether literal or metaphorical, reminding us that, indeed, all the world is a stage.

Heather N. Cammarata-Seale, Curatorial Associate, Modern & Contemporary Art

  • Interior of the Gankirō Tea House (Butterfly Opera)
    Meiji period, 1868–1912
    Japanese
    Utagawa Kunisada 歌川国貞, 1786–1865 | and Hashimoto Sadahide 橋本貞秀, 1807–1873
    Interior of the Gankirō Tea House (Butterfly Opera), 1861
    2006-61 a-c
  • Iphigenie
    Joseph Beuys, German, 1921–1986 | Printed by Editions Staeck | Published by Multiples, Inc. and | Published by Marian Goodman Gallery
    Iphigenie, 1973
    2006-169
  • Mlle. Bécat at the Café Ambassadeurs (Aux Ambassadeurs: Mlle. Bécat)
    Edgar Degas, French, 1834–1917
    Mlle. Bécat at the Café Ambassadeurs (Aux Ambassadeurs: Mlle. Bécat), ca. 1875
    x1946-197
  • Noctes Ambrosianae (Middlesex Music Hall, Drury Lane)
    Walter Richard Sickert, British, 1860–1942
    Noctes Ambrosianae (Middlesex Music Hall, Drury Lane), ca. 1906–08
    2007-14
  • Elmwood, New Jersey
    Hiroshi Sugimoto 杉本博司, Japanese, born 1948
    Elmwood, New Jersey, 1977, printed ca. 1992
    2008-69
  • Untitled, from the series "Theatre du Monde"
    William G. Larson, American, born 1942
    Untitled, from the series "Theatre du Monde", 1993
    1998-26
  • Vaux-Hall
    Francis Jukes, British, 1745–1812 | after Thomas Rowlandson, British, 1756/57–1827 | Engraved by Robert Pollard I, British, 1755–1838 | Published by John Raphael Smith, British, 1752–1812
    Vaux-Hall, published 1785
    x1946-341
  • Box Lobby Loungers
    Thomas Rowlandson, British, 1756/57–1827 | after Henry Wigstead, British, ca. 1745–ca. 1800 | Published by John Raphael Smith, British, 1752–1812
    Box Lobby Loungers, 1785
    x1953-52
  • Tenth Anniversary Benefit for the Kitchen
    Robert Longo, American, born 1953 | Published by The Kitchen, American, founded 1971
    Tenth Anniversary Benefit for the Kitchen, 1981
    2004-82
  • Dancer in Motion
    Abraham Walkowitz, American, 1878–1965
    Dancer in Motion, 1911
    x1947-54
  • Dancer in Motion
    Abraham Walkowitz, American, 1878–1965
    Dancer in Motion, 1911
    x1947-55
  • Miss Loie Fuller
    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French, 1864–1901
    Miss Loie Fuller, 1893
    x1946-360