On my last night in London, I and thousand of others, hailing from vastly different backgrounds, gathered in an open aired theatre called the Globe. Maybe you've heard of it? If you are like me, your high school teacher showed your diagrams of what it looked like when you were learning about Shakespeare.
Yep. Shakespeare, that guy high school English teachers fan girl (or fanboy) over, but whose esteem and literary genius remains unclear for a lot of students. I will be the first to tell you that although I loved literature class, I wasn't a huge fan of Shakespeare in high school, and I am now an English major. The language can be frustratingly difficult for us, all the names can sound alike, and the background in history required for some of the plays can be daunting. There are numerous reasons why students find Shakespeare (it pains me to say) outdated.
But why would thousands of people crowd into a wooden, open aired performance space, and why would I choose to spend my last night in one of the most beautiful cities in the world watching The Merchant of Venice?
Since coming to college, I have realized that my high school teacher was right about Shakespeare. He truly is a brilliant writer. Shakespeare's works demonstrate an astounding use of the English language. At the time he was writing, English was at its most malleable, allowing Shakespeare to invent and experiment. Ever heard someone say, " What's done is done?" That comes from Macbeth. How about "too much of a good thing?" Shakespeare wrote that in As You Like It. Shakespeare even coined new words like "eyeball" in the Tempest, or changed the meaning of words like "glow" or "to gossip" in ways that we still use today.
Beyond Shakespeare's innovative use of language, Shakespeare appeals to our common humanity. We all know how it feels to be hurt, to be jealous, to mourn. On that night in London, the entire audience laughed together. We mourned together. We shared what it means to be human, and that was all thanks to...Shakespeare.
All this to say, if you have written off Shakespeare, you should give him another chance. One of the best ways to experience Shakespeare's plays is to actually watch them. Starting today, the MC Communication Department will be performing Twelfth Night.