Real Lives – Real Shakespeare – Episode 1

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This series will explore people’s personal stories about their enjoyment of Shakespeare. We begin with Donavan Wilson who we met on our twitter account @ShakespeareBT . Wilson has his own blog and explains that this year he is rediscovering his passion for Shakespeare’s work, and English history.  He is currently living in the Washington, D.C. area, USA and this is his story… If you would like to contribute your story to blogging Shakespeare please get in touch


Why I Am Shakespearean

D. Wilson - from Washington DC

Most Americans encounter Shakespeare’s literature in school. Some students dread the sixteenth century English in the Bard’s plays and sonnets. The “thou and arts” are so confusing. Fortunately, the time I have spent reading the King James Bible helps me with the language of Shakespeare.

Speaking of reactions to the language, I remember the first time I read Romeo and Juliet in the sixth grade. As a middle school student, I glossed over the words. However, as an adult, I now truly understand the power and creativity that emanate from Shakespeare‘s plays.

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s (FSL) recent open house commemorated the Bard’s birthday. Gail Kern Paster and Barbara Mowat discussed the importance of the language in Shakespeare work. Paster currently serves as the director of FSL. Mowat is Paster’s predecessor there, and they used Romeo and Juliet as an example of the Bard’s craftsmanship.

For instance, “See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek,” a quotation from Romeo and Juliet, conveys so much of Romeo’s deep passion and need for Juliet’s love. The very essence of truth and love abounds in Shakespeare’s work. Everyone wants the romance that the two great characters, Romeo and Juliet, have in their relationship. The FSL open house discussion reignited my imagination.

Shakespeare’s impact on English has been so strong that we take his influence for granted. The Bard’s inspiration reveals itself in so many well-known words and phrases. There are several examples below:

  • Ÿ  I will wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello).
  • Ÿ  There is a method to my madness (Hamlet).
  • Ÿ  As dead as a doornail (Henry VI).
  • Ÿ  A laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor).
  • Ÿ  Mum’s the word (Henry VI Part 2).

Shakespeare is humanitys’ masterful storyteller. His work covers major themes, such as democracy, leadership, family, loyalty, love and power. Regardless of your interests or your station in life, the Bard’s work probably resonates with you.

There is nothing like watching live performances of Shakespeare’s plays. The Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) presents a series of free Shakespeare performances called Free for All. The 2010 Free for All featured a production of Twelfth Night, with Philip Goodwin as Malvolio and Floyd King as Feste, offering stellar performances. Both actors and the rest of the cast brought the Bard’s text to life.

The performance offered by STC reawakened my passion for Shakespeare. Because of my background reading of Shakespeare, his unique contribution to the English language, and his wide-ranging themes that touch everyone, I believe strongly that I am so fortunate to be a Shakespearean spectator in the nation’s capital. No other writer can capture the essence of life and humanity like Shakespeare. The Bard provides a Promethean reawakening of our minds and imaginations.


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Author:Liz Dollimore

Someone who loves listening to people talk about Shakespeare Liz tweets at @shakespeareBT
  • Anonymous

    Great to hear of an interest in Shakespeare being reignited partly by a discussion of his language.

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