During the performance, the audience is silent and attentive. While Kirsten and Sayid play out the scene they rehearsed when they first arrived at St. Debora by the Water, we learn biographical details of Shakespeare’s life, notably that the play was written in 1594, the year theatres reopened after the plague in London. We also learn that all three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled with its name, but the lead caravan is painted with the additional line: “because survival is insufficient.”
Even in the strange town, the audience is captivated by theatre, which makes sense given the decimation of most art in the collapse. Theatre, through, requires no technology and has existed for millennia, and the parallels between Shakespeare’s time and the post-collapse world seem to make the performance of his plays even more fitting. The Symphony’s motto blends survival with art thematically and introduces the important idea that for humans, just surviving isn’t enough. Merely staying alive in the post-collapse world is insufficient for humanity, and so the Symphony provides art, music, and theatre as a means for doing more than just living and maintaining a connection with our humanity.