“So you love… Shakespeare, right?”
It’s something you get asked a lot when people find out you majored in English. It’s the one thing every single one of us was forced to read in high school/college and honestly my opinion is… reading Shakespeare is the worst.
It really is.
I read a bunch of plays in high school, didn’t like them, and tried to avoid all Shakespeare in college.
Shakespeare is hard to read. Without reading SparkNotes and at least understanding some of what is going on? I think it’s almost impossible for kids to decipher/understand the language.
And that’s a shame. Because Shakespeare can be hilarious. And moving. Many (not all) of the plays are full of beauty.
How did I learn this? I saw the plays. I saw the plays onstage, how they’re meant to be consumed.
I took a Shakespeare in London class when I studied abroad and I was blown away by Hamlet, which I saw in a tiny, black-box theater with only twenty-five other people. I could see the veins pop in the actor’s face when he gave Hamlet’s famous soliloquy.
And I suddenly understood.
Shakespeare could be great.
I saw Henry the Fifth, Henry the Fourth (both parts) and many others. And I liked what I saw.
Watching the plays onstage gave me the ability to see what was happening. I could understand the jokes, the language, the emotion. The actors themselves made Shakespeare come alive for me.
Hated Shakespeare your whole life? Me too.
Now, go see the plays and you might just change your mind.