" There, Shakespeare, on whose forehead climb
The crowns o' the world.
Oh, eyes sublime
With tears and laughter for all time"
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, A Vision of Poets
Miranda Cosgrove - Shakespeare
Well today, 23 April 2014, has been a day filled with a gross amount of hype surrounding that great playwright and poet, William Shakespeare. Why today? If you haven’t already noticed, most scholars guesstimate that his birthdate was 23 April 1564. The basis of this is the fact that most babies of the period were christened within three days of their birth. The parish records from Strafford-upon-Avon have young Will being baptised on 26 April 1564. So “to be, or not to be” this is the date that the venerable Bard’s birthday is celebrated.
Most of us have a love/hate relationship having been first introduced to his plays as school children, forced to study various school selected plays that had to be read and analysed in great detail, causing many of us great amounts of misery. Well the tragedies at least. The comedies are debatable. I have to admit I did enjoy the comedies.
I have learnt to appreciate the plays so much more as I have gotten older, though I do need to confess there are some plays I just can’t warm too. I remember attending a rather bad performance of “Othello” as a school kid. I was not partial to the play to start with. The cast was comprised of various members of an Australian made soap opera of the 70s call “The Young Doctors”. Despite trying to get out of attending due to a near incapacitating bout of the flu, I was forced by the school to go and encouraged by my dear beloved parent to attend as well. The performance was so bad that due to the fatigue of being sick, I feel asleep in the first act, not waking until the second act. Put me off the play for years and still find some performances particularly difficult to deal with.
Of course I have seen appreciatively better performances of the Bard of Avon’s plays since and suspect I will see more in the years to come. My favourite play I think will always be “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. I think this probably steams from the fact is such a fun bawdy frolic and I have seen a number of superb performances. The best of which will always be the two performances I attended at the Sydney Botanical Gardens, out in the open, on balmy summer evenings, with rugs, picnic baskets and in the company of good friends.
I have also enjoy Henry V, the movie versions. Both Lawrence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh’s performances in their respective movies were brilliant. Among my other favourites , I count “Titus Andronicus”, “The Taming of the Shrew”, “Twelfth Night”, “Macbeth”, "Merry Wives of Windsor" and “Measure for Measure”.
So where has that bought me in this ramble – ah yes – whether you love or hate, all or some of Shakespeare’s works for whatever reason, you can’t deny that the 450th birthday of the little boy, made good, from Strafford-upon-Avon is worth celebrating. I am not going into the pros and cons of his works or into the “did he or didn't he” actually write the works. Enough has been said and done on those subjects. These are the poor remembrances of the once school girl, who as an adult has come to love most of Shakespeare works.
Happy Birthday Bill Shakespeare!
Horrible Histories William Shakespeare & The Quills
YouTube Channel - gazza6359
Shakespeare: Original pronunciation
YouTube Channel - ouLearn on YouTube
" This is the short and the long of it"
Merry Wives of Windsor