Okay, show of hands … who has read Shakespeare OUTSIDE of school required reading? Do you watch the plays? How about movies? Do you love him? Think he’s overrated?
Honestly, no, I don’t think I have, but not because I’m not interested. I’ve talked about my massive reading list before, and basically, I haven’t gotten to lots of Shakespeare because of that, aside from maybe a few sonnets. That said, I did take a Shakespeare class in college and our textbook had I believe his full, collected works, and I actually kept it after the semester ended to go back to and read later. That’s one of the perks of getting an English degree–sometimes, your textbooks and required reading are things you enjoy and use to flesh out your book collection anyway.
I haven’t seen a full Shakespeare play, and typically, they’re shortened anyway because the dramas especially can be quite long. But I am a big fan of Shakespeare in the Park, and I’ve gone the past couple of years. It’s look like I’m gonna miss it this year, though, for lack of time. I’ve seen a few of the movies and want to see more, but my favorites are the Baz Luhrman Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, even though that’s my least favorite play, and Much Ado About Nothing with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, and whoever the hell else is in that movie. Much Ado is probably my favorite Shakespeare play. The plot is fun, and the humor is great, and I really, desperately need to see Joss Whedon’s take on it. I hope he didn’t take some creative liberties and kill off everyone I love like he always does in his movies and TV shows.
By the way, Shakespeare is full of dirty jokes, and if you’re in college or preparing for college, I highly recommend taking a Shakespeare class, especially if the professor is one who’s likely to be pretty honest with you about the content. Including the fact that a good chunk of Shakespeare’s sonnets were written for men.
Now, I obviously like Shakespeare, but I wouldn’t say that I love him or call him a favorite. That said, I do think it’s crucial to recognize his talent and importance. We owe a lot to him. And I think people who dismiss Shakespeare’s works as being written by multiple writers are silly conspiracy theorists who can’t handle that someone was talented, successful, and timeless. And while I understand why some people don’t like him or might find the material difficult or inaccessible, it’s really worth giving a chance, even if it’s in film format, which does tend to make things a little easier to keep track of–especially that modernized Romeo and Juliet.