O Shakespeare, Shakespeare! Wherefore art thou Shakespeare

Every opportunity I get, or can afford rather, I jump at the chance to venture to something new for us.  Last week we visited Fonthill Castle, this week, Shakespeare.

I love literature and any classic written works, but sometimes they are intimidating to me.  It’s likely because I attempted my first go at a Charles Dickens classic when I was twelve.  I couldn’t get through the first chapter and it really gave me anxiety to pursue any scholarly type works.  In my mind, I had the idea that if there are entire programs dedicated to particularly authors or pieces of writing at Harvard, I probably wouldn’t understand it.  I know this negative mindset is not healthy and crushes ones’ ego, but in all honesty, that’s how I felt.

Needless to say, I always wanted to learn more about Shakespeare.  Tonight jumpstarted this because even though it’s the most typical play in his collection, the opportunity to see Romeo and Juliet half-price made my wallet wince less than my “I’m an individual” persona.  It was a classic version set in a very small theater in Philadelphia, call the Lantern, down an alley and behind an old stone Church.  The actors were convincing and I am still amazed that the dialogue flowed from their mouths so easily, despite the fact the style of speech is so far off from how we speak today.  I realize this is what classically trained actors do, but I am not one, so I’m impressed.

I had the same fear when it first began that it would go over my head, but it didn’t.  I had a laugh here and there and I understood the anguish of young love, and the dynamics of each relationship.  And really, teenagers aren’t any different today than when Shakespeare adapted the play in late 16th century.  I remember feeling that broken hearted, and that was without death and dueling families.  The only thing they could argue about was whether Italian food was better than Irish or German food.  And really, it doesn’t matter, because we have better beer.

Back on track.  I’m glad to have gotten a good experience of a classic.  It was neither cheesy or a mockery of something so poignant.  I’m not sure I will buy Shakespeare’s entire catalog this weekend, but I will certainly entertain his work and take in what has lingered and remained relevant in the arts and literature for hundreds of years.  I’ve seen some dumb people quote it, I’ll be damned if I keep putting myself in a category below that.

Photos courtesy of wikipedia and culturemob.com

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4 thoughts on “O Shakespeare, Shakespeare! Wherefore art thou Shakespeare

  1. I bought Shakespeare’s unabridged works many, many years ago and only managed to read The Tempest from beginning to end. That was an interesting read. The others put me to sleep every time. Odd enough, I actually enjoy them when I see them acted out on stage. Especially if it is an outdoor theater.

    • Thanks so much for your feedback. I will give The Tempest a shot and definately get the unabridged version. I think seeing it performing does make it more enjoyable, but one of these rainy days, a good read will do.

  2. A good teacher could make Shakespeare so much easier to understand; there are words we don’t use any longer, references that are unfamiliar to us… Unfortunately, I suspect most teachers aren’t that much more knowledgeable about his era and language than we are, so they just make it an ordeal. I’m glad you enjoyed R&J and hope you find more in the future. Just take it a play at a time. If you find a book with good footnotes it’ll help a lot.

    • Good to see you! Thank you for your note by the way.
      I think you are right, I think a lot of teachers I had felt like Shakespeare was an ordeal for them to teach and it did not translate well as a student. Always time to learn though, I’m going to give this a shot.
      Hope you’re having a great weekend Bliss.

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