April Brings A Month of Shakespeare

wpid-wp-1424525891884Like a lot of people who studied Shakespeare in high school I didn’t have the best appreciation for it. I remember being in primary school and being fascinated and saddened that he died on his birthday, but that was as far as my childhood Shakespeare experience went. My distaste in high school initially was because the texts we had to study weren’t that interesting and of course how it was taught to us wasn’t that engaging. In Year 9 we studied Romeo and Juliet as well as Richard III. I remember sitting in class while my teacher had a tape player on her desk of someone reading Richard III aloud and I promise you it was as boring as it sounds. We also watched a movie adaptation which wasn’t great either. Because of this I have not read Richard III since because of my first impression. I have though found it interesting discovering just how false a lot of it is and how inaccurate Shakespeare was and why, but still that isn’t enough to make me read it again.

Jump forward to Year 11 and 12 when we studied Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello. While not as engaging lesson wise, I found that I loved the play Othello; Iago was interesting and everyone seemed so overly dramatic about everything so it was entertaining. The BBC film we watched was emotional and intense and it was my favourite play for a while there.

I did quite a few Shakespeare classes at Uni, courses that looked at original plays, modern adaptations, and classic movies. I chose Shakespeare on Film as one and I loved seeing the different ways the texts had come to life on screen. Granted in that class I had to read Henry V, as boring if not worse than Richard III (and also avoided since), but I also fell in love with so many great stories like Hamlet and Macbeth and got to see so many played out in film. In another class I studied The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream which was firmly cemented as a new favourite with the beautiful story of Theseus and Hippolyta, not to mention Oberon, Titania, and Puck. A love reinforced by the stunning 1935 film we watched with Mickey Rooney, if you get a chance to see it I strongly recommend it.

In other courses I got to experience Macbeth in a new and fascinating manner and discovered there were so many ways to tell the story of the Bard. I’d grown up of course watching Romeo + Juliet, a classic modern retelling, as well as 10 Things I Hate About You, but the Macbeth adaptation was something entirely different. I plan to write a post later this month devoted entirely to adaptations so I won’t carry on about it too much yet.

Since leaving high school and uni I became more and more fascinated with Shakespeare, not just the movie adaptations, but also the man himself, his creativity, his lasting language and creation of new words. There is something grand about this playwright from the 16th century, and if you look at his work and understand its meaning, it really is not as pompous as people assume it is. A popular rumour which I’m still unsure whether it’s entirely true, though the evidence is convincing, is that the famous line from Twelfth Night, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them” is in fact a discussion about genitals. There are also so many instances of humour and jokes inside Shakespeare’s plays, they are not really quite as high brow as they first appear.

If that astounds you than I have a month long series of posts that look at just how versatile, creative, and hidden Shakespeare is. He is everywhere and influences so much. I have always tried to participate in Shakespeare Week each year and post a range of fun Shakespeare-related things in Twitter and Facebook, but being the 400th anniversary it’s time to go bigger. I want to share with you all the fun and quirky things about Shakespeare that make him much more exciting than the stuffy playwright people may perceive him to be. Over the coming weeks I will be posting about Shakespeare’s language, looking at and reviewing some of his famous and less popular plays, his beautiful sonnets, and taking a lighter look with songs, musicals, and infographs (the best kind of graphs), as well by sharing with you all the myriad of fascinating facts and figures about the Bard and his influence and affect over the centuries since his death. Bring on April, and bring on the start of celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare (even if it is, quite morbidly, his death).

Shakespeare Owl

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