400 years ago today, William Shakespeare died. Without question, he is the most influential writer of all time in the English language. His plays are still performed today, his sonnets still considered some of the finest poetry ever written, and even the many words he invented continue to be a part of the English language, four centuries after his death.
I am a huge Shakespeare fan. My particular favorites being Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. This past spring, I directed A Midsummer Night's Dream in our new blackbox, putting my own spin on this classic tale.
When I first visited London, a friend took me to the roof of St. Paul's. We looked out over the city, and saw a massive construction project at the South Bank. We didn't know what it was, but later learned that they were building a replica of the Globe Theatre. Today, after tourning Shakespeare in 197 countries, RSC performed for President Obama at the Globe.
I've been asked in several intervews if I could go back in history and meet one person, who would it be, and the answer I give is always Shakespeare. I sometimes wonder what his life and plays would be like, had he written today. Shakespeare's greatest achivement is that his plays are not lines meant to be analyzed in an English classroom, but living works, to be performed and interpreted on a stage. The Midsummer Night's Dream I directed was different from the version I performed in, or the productions I've seen. Each play takes an unique flavor, even if every word is kept the same, in the hands of a different director, designer and production team. The plays have a life of their own, and subsequently an immortality the rest of us writers shall likely never know.
What is your favorite Shakespeare play or sonnet? Leave a comment below and share!