Before we get started, I guess I should explain how we (or, I, rather) came to be here.
The long story short: it was a happy accident.
As an English major, I’d spent a good deal of time studying the works of Shakespeare. If I’m being completely honest, I was largely unimpressed. That is, until I took a class with Prof. Thomas Olsen in grad school. Perhaps I’d just gained some necessary maturity by that point, but I like to think there was something about Olsen’s approach that finally made Shakespeare accessible to me. In contrast to the instruction I’d received previously, there was no pretention surrounding “The Bard” and his works. Shakespeare was not to be reserved for the intellectuals. Quite the contrary, in fact! While the Early Modern English may seem lofty now, in Elizabethan England it was just the common language. The most extraordinary thing about the themes presented in Shakespeare’s plays was the fact that there was nothing quite extraordinary about them. These were stories created for the common man. That made me sit up and take notice.
For at least the past year, I’ve been periodically glancing at the Collected Works (both the Norton and Riverside editions) sitting on my bookshelf, meaning to revisit the plays that I studied a decade ago. Unfortunately, I never managed to make the time. I suppose it just wasn’t a priority then.
My passion for Shakespeare was more recently re-ignited due to an entirely different sort of “passion”–a bit of giddy fangirling over Tom Hiddleston. Now, before you sigh and roll your eyes, bear with me for a moment. Things might get a bit meta, here, so hang on. You see, Tom is a bit of a fanboy, himself. I knew that he’d had some background in Shakespearean drama, taking roles as a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and portraying Prince Hal/Henry V in the BBC’s 2012 miniseries “The Hollow Crown“. I knew that he was in preparations for his current role, starring in a production of Coriolanus at London’s Donmar Warehouse. But what really got me was this:
Yes, yes, I found myself nerding out over Tom Hiddleston nerding out over Shakespeare’s First Folio. Can you even imagine what it must feel like to be in the same room as that book (nevermind to hold it in your hands)?! I was reminded of all of the things I loved about Shakespeare to begin with–the beauty of the language, the depth of the characters, the way that his writing captured the very timeless essence of human nature.
And because I can’t help myself, there was this, as well:
There was a spark, indeed, but it merely smoldered in the back of my mind, with the constant threat of being snuffed out by the trappings of daily life.
That is, until I got a message from a friend a couple days ago. It said (appropriately enough), “You showed me yours. Here’s mine.”–referring to blogs (eyes up here, minds out of the gutter, kids!), with a link to A Year of Shakespeare. I knew immediately that I needed to join in on this endeavor, and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve never been so excited about a project in my entire life. That excitement only multiplied when I learned that I was jumping in just in time to start on Titus Andronicus, my absolute favorite play (By the way, if you happen to be in the NYC area this weekend, you should definitely check out these FREE performances of Titus Andronicus at The Schapiro Theatre on W. 115th St!–I’ll post the details at the end of this post for the linkaphobes). Serendipity.
So here we are. Here I am. I’m intending to use this blog to record my various thoughts and experiences as I re-discover Shakespeare. This may also be considered a “companion blog” to A Year of Shakespeare. Another voice in the conversation, if you will. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I’m so looking forward to it!
The Schapiro Theatre
605 W. 115th Street, New York, NY 10027
Take the 1 Train to 116th Street
DATEs & TIMEs
Friday, January 10 at 7:30pm (First Course)
Saturday, January 11 at 7pm (Second Course)
Saturday, January 11 at 10pm (Late Night Special)
Sunday, January 12 at 3pm (Dessert)
ADMISSION IS FREE
KICKSTARTER (Please share!!)
directed by Matt Minnicino
assistant directed and choreographed by Julia Sears
produced by Gracie Terzian and Emily Macleod
stage management by Rose Bochner
production management by Jill Woodward
lighting by Mike McGee
costume consultation by Noel Grisanti
props by Dianne Nora
featuring performances by
Keith Michael Pinault
& Paul Thomas Truitt