Happy Birthday to the Bard
Today, April 23rd, 2014, marks William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. If he had lived that long, of course.
For a lot of people, this day will come and go much like any other. But for me, Shakespeare means something. Shakespeare’s plays are timeless; some are funny, others are tragic, most are a bit of both, and all are widely respected. I first studied Shakespearean literature as a 6th grader, when I read The Comedy of Errors. I thought it was funny to read and then I thought it was funny to watch. I’ve seen probably a half dozen incarnations of the show, and loved each and every one for a variety of reasons.
Over the past decade or so, I’ve read almost half of the Shakespearean canon, and seen more plays than that. At some point in high school, watching all of his 36 plays made its way onto my bucket list. A few years later, reading them all showed up on my bucket list too. If I had money to burn, I would see every Shakespeare show put on at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival every summer, because those are often amazing. My favorite Shakespeare show ever was Julius Caesar there, in a black box theater and a stripped down stage and an atmosphere that made you question every ruler in every nation and every time period. Some of my favorite memories are at Shakespeare plays, like when Erin and I went to see Shakespeare in the Park 45 minutes away, and had wonderful conversations in the car there and back. Or that every single time I read in bed (aka, often!) I think about the weekend trip I took with Shalini and Emma and Vicky to Ashland.
One of my favorite shows under the sun is The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, in which all of Shakespeare’s plays are presented in two hours and one intermission.
I love that you run across Shakespeare references everywhere – in movies, in literature, in music, in life – and it is always fun to recognize them. I love that I can look at posters here in Prague and learn new words (like Midsummer) because I know the plays’ titles well enough to figure them out.
So anyway, Happy Birthday, Shakespeare. See you around.