Monday, September 19, 2016


The Utah Shakespeare Festival is one of my favorite summer getaways. Short of purchasing a ticket across the pond, there's no better way to dip your toes in Shakespeare and/or get thoroughly #Shakepeared.
This summer, Henry V, wasn't enough. It wet my appetite but didn't satisfy. A thick volume in the gift shop called The Friendly Shakespeare piqued my interest and set me on the path to discovery. 

As a source for inspiration, there nothing better than Shakespeare. The plays, from comedy to history, are a superb mix of drama and humor, truth and fiction, prose and poetry, romance and tragedy. Reading or viewing Shakespeare will expose you to:

Heroes who act like villains and villains who act heroically. Prince Hal from Henry IV exemplifies debauchery and heroism as he treads the path from from ale house to throne and prince to king.

So when this loose behavior I throw off,
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My refomation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.

Real emotion woven throughout the tales make hundreds of years old feel familiar and relatable. Jealousy, fierce loyalty, true love, infatuation, self-interest, humility, hopelessness. Duke Orsino from Twelfth Night drowns in melancholy due to unrequited love, and like many of us, he wallow in it.

If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die...

Relationships of all types--both healthy and unhealthy--are explored. Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, husbands and wives, sovereigns and subjects, siblings, and the best and worst of friends. Prospero, the magician and one time duke in The Tempest, does much to ensure the happiness of his daughter Miranda.

I have done nothing but in care of thee,
Of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter, who
Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing
Of whence I am, nor that I am more better
Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell,
And thy no greater father.

Some of the most delicious banter ever written. Like a tennis match where each hit is efficiently lobbed back. Petruchio and Catherine in The Taming of the Shrew and Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing come to mind. I'd love to gift my lovers such wonderful dialogue.

Beatrice: I wonder you will still be talking, Signor 
Benedick, nobody marks you.
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is it possible disdain should die while she hath 
such meet food to feed as Signor Benedick?

Shakespeare is timeless. His plots, intrigues, epic romances, and tragedies draw us into another world. From Romeo, Romeo to Out damned spot! he captures our imaginations and feeds our need for both beautiful language and wonderful storytelling.
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If you need a bit o' inspiration, there's always some new interpretation to explore. Here are a few of my new and old favorites (complete with links to Amazon):
The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard, by Norrie Esptein.
The Tempest, featuring Helen Mirren as Prospera
The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series, featuring Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal/Henry V
Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Kenneth Branagh
A Midsummer Night's Dream, featuring Rupert Everett as Oberon & Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania
Twelfth Night, featuring Imogen Stubbs & Helena Bonham Carter
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What are your favorites? Leave me a comment and tell me your true feelings about the Bard. (Be warned that if you loathe him entirely, there may be mocking...) I've also embedded links to my own posts on being #Shakespeared through the post. Happy clicking!