Happy Birthday, Mr. Shakespeare

A belated Happy Birthday to Mr. Shakespeare.

A few Facebook posts came around about all of the words and phrases and sayings whomever this person was added to the English language.  There are quite a few.

I majored in English in college and read Shakespeare quite a lot, yet when it came down to actually taking a class devoted exclusively to the works, I struggled.  The professor was one of those who sat in front of the classroom and just talked and talked and talked.  The best part of that class was the two people I met and knew casually for a while.  One was a young, local politician and one substitute taught with me for a couple of years after college.  I haven’t seen either of them in years.

It was only recently that a local expert on the subject of Shakespeare had classes at a local library and I went as much as I could.  The classes moved a few years ago and I haven’t had the chance to go since.  For a much better deal than my college class, I learned a lot about Shakespeare and came to appreciate the works more.  Was part of it being older?  I’m not sure.  I have copies of the plays I read in college floating around and once in a while I will pick one up and go through it.  I also have a complete works copy which I have jotted notes in.

In my area Shakespeare is hot and there are many performance venues nearby over the summer that perform some of the plays.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a popular one.  I can get my Shakespeare fix for a while.

One thing I take away from these plays is that humanity is humanity and conflict never ceases. It is how the conflict is dealt with. Last summer I saw Hamlet three times and it never got old.  I’ve seen it many times before, yet it struck a cord with me. Before I began to appreciate what I was reading, I did find Shakespeare easier to comprehend watching a performance.  Yet even in a performance, it is someone’s interpretation, and something can be missed.  I recently saw a version of Richard III.  The theme was Steampunk but the play was Shakespeare.  The actor playing Richard had a bald head and came out with a crown of thorns on his head for the majority of the play.  I was so shocked by this I was distracted from the dialogue for a few minutes.  

Sometimes as much as I have seen Shakespeare’s works performed, there is still something I didn’t notice before: a line, a nuance. To my view of the world, this is what makes Shakespeare cool: there is always something to be found, learned, seen, grasped, pondered.  I know people complain because of the language but it can be comprehended if one is willing to sit back and go along for the ride.


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