All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women, merely players – William Shakespeare, As You Like It
In high school, I was one of the very few people who actually wanted to take Shakespeare as an English elective. Although reading the Bard’s works was often confusing and hard to follow (comes thou hither, what?), I enjoyed getting lost in the prose/verse. Many others get lost in Shakespeare, but more so because they just don’t understand it.
When you really think about it, reading Shakespeare really isn’t the best way to get to know the Bard and his works. Shakespeare didn’t write books, he wrote plays. What he wrote was intended for people to hear and see, not read. For this reason, I stopped reading Shakespeare in high school, and decided to best way to experience his works was to see them with my own eyes.
In just a few very short years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see:
- As You Like It
- All’s Well That Ends Well
- Romeo and Juliet
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Twelfth Night
(As You Like It, July 2010, as performed at Shakespeare in the Park)
All of these were performed live on stage, with 4 of them being performed outside. This includes As You Like It, which I saw last night performed at the local Shakespeare in the Park. I think the only thing better than seeing Shakespeare’s works performed outside would be to see them performed at the Globe Theatre in England.
Obviously, Shakespeare is not for everyone. But if you gave up on Shakespeare after reading play after play in high school, I suggest you give it another try. This time, see one of this plays with your own eyes. And when you do see his works performed, you may very well have a new-found appreciation for Shakespeare or at least understand it a little better than before.