There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who think reading and watching anything that Shakespeare wrote is boring to the point of being excruciatingly painful. And those, like myself, who hang on ever word and action. Who can randomly quote soliloquies and find reading one of his plays on a Sunday morning one of the most enjoyable things in life.
If you are one of the former, but desire to be the later, I usually suggest that people who don’t “get” Shakespeare have to remember to read or listen to it like poetry. The Bard is not quick and to the point like Mamet, his words are filled with beautiful descriptions, allusions and metaphors. No other writer has had such an effect on this planet. And still going strong 400 years later!
April 23rd marks the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. And for those of you who don’t remember from school, it also marks the date of his death. Man, he must have partied really hard! He was also born and died in the same town Stratford-Upon-Avon.
He wasn’t very well-educated and never traveled further than Stratford or London. This adds fuel to the fire of one of the greatest conspiracy theories of all times, that William Shakespeare was not the author of his plays. Personally, I believe William Shakespeare was a literary genius or epic proportions, the likes of which we’ll never see again. He could imagine more than the experience.
It’s amazing how many modern words originated from Shakespeare’s plays. You’d think a doctor would come up with the word eyeball but no, it was the Bard. From eventful assassinations to auspicious belongings to baseless scuffles, the dictionary is filled with Willie’s words. And where would late night TV product commercials be without the word bedazzled?
On top of that, many of the common phrases that have been embedded into our brains since childhood came out of the quill pen of Shakespeare. For as many times as you’ve tried to “break the ice” with a cute girl or boy, Shakespeare was chiseling away at it in Taming of the Shrew. For us fans of Shakespeare, we agree with his famous “you can’t have too much of a good thing.” And for those who aren’t, you couldn’t wait to say “Good riddance!” to English class.
But we are here to praise Shakespeare through Shakespeare t-shirts, not to bury him. He has given the world some of the greatest stories. Granted, most were based on classic tales, legends and histories. But he re-booted them and made them his own. Though he only wrote three styles: tragedies, comedies and histories, his work provokes a vast array of emotions.
The star-crossed romance of Romeo & Juliet breaks our hearts if it’s either told traditionally or with Puerto Rican gangs dancing in the streets.
Hamlet is a full-on angst-filled Goth boy. Dressed all in black, debating suicide, having an affinity for skulls… The story makes you want to scream at the stage or screen: “Kill him already!” But it pays off with one of Shakespeare’s highest body counts.
My personal favorite is McBeth. It’s got everything. Witches! Murders! Ghosts! Crazy women! Jokes about urination! A play that to this day is feared by theater folks around the world. Uttering the word McBeth in a theater is said to curse the current production. Instead, they call it The Scottish Play.
You know all the great biggies like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Julius Ceaser and The Taming of the Shrew. But some of his lesser known plays have just as much to offer. A Comedy of Errors may be his funnies. Coriolanus is a great political thriller. And Titus Andronicus may be more disturbing than most Stephen King.
Each of Shakespeare’s plays is a treasure chest of marvelous quotes. Every time I read one of his plays I rediscover the many great and famous lines they contain. So many that there are just tons of t-shirts on them. So I’ll shut up here and let Shakespeare’s plays do the rest of the talking.
All’s well that ends well.