All the world's a stage, and all the politicians merely players

[Brought to you by Big Tobacco]

Chris Moody
Yahoo News

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Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif) dress up for Will on the Hill. (Photo: Shakespeare Theatre Company)

Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif) dress up for Will on the Hill. (Photo: Shakespeare Theatre …

Members of Congress dressed in ill-fitting costumes gathered in Washington on Tuesday, where they dramatically recited lines someone else wrote for them in front of an audience that struggled at times to understand the meaning of their words.

Then, when they finished their normal day’s work at the Capitol Building, 16 of them hoofed it to a nearby theater and performed a little Shakespeare.

House lawmakers joined a group of journalists on Tuesday night at Sidney Harman Hall for the annual “Will on the Hill” charity play, where aspiring thespians displayed the acting skills they have so carefully honed during their careers on Capitol Hill.

Their performance combined lines from Shakespeare with a modern political storyline, complete with characters who played journalists, NSA agents, candidates, “concerned citizens,” super PAC founders, a blogger and even one “tweeter.”

But aye, here’s the rub: Much like the politicians themselves, the event was underwritten by a host of corporate sponsors and lobbyists who paid for the lawmakers' evening show. The sponsors included Deloitte, a multibillion-dollar financial consultancy ($1.77 million spent on lobbying last year); McDermott Will & Emery, an international law firm and lobbyist shop ($5.66 million earned from clients for lobbying); Altria, the parent company of America’s largest tobacco companies, ($10.1 million spent on lobbying); Hogan Lovells, another lobbying firm ($12.3 million charged for lobbying fees); Humana, the health insurance provider ($1.4 million on lobbying); and others.

I say put money in thy purse!

Of course, the money that paid for the event — and the politicians’ participation that drew a crowd of admission-paying groundlings— went to a good cause that supports the arts. But the display of lawmakers reciting lines on a stage paid for by a small group of powerful corporations is, shall we say, rich.

And next week, they’ll do it all again for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, where Democrats and Republicans will face off at National Park. Brought to you in part by the oil-rich government of Qatar.

Strange bedfellows indeed, Trinculo.

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Lawmakers perform in last year's Will on the Hill charity event. (Photo: Shakespeare Theatre Company)

Lawmakers perform in last year's Will on the Hill charity event. (Photo: Shakespeare Theatre Company)

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