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.