Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Shakespeare Appreciation Post

400 years ago today, William Shakespeare died. I'm wearing appropriate footgear.


In 2008, my mom signed me up for a Shakespeare class. Being twelve, I was still of the opinion that Shakespeare (and literature in general) was boring and hard to understand. Also, I was extremely shy and didn't want to be involved in a class where I had no friends. Thankfully, my best friend joined the class, too, so I wasn't alone.
In preparation for Shakespeare class, my mom and I listened to A Midsummer's Night Dream on audiobook and I was surprised to find that not only did I understand it, but I also enjoyed it. A get-to-know-you party introduced me and my friend to our classmates so that we weren't complete strangers.
The first semester of Shakespeare class included reading a play and discussing it in class (we did The Merchant of Venice that year), writing opinion papers, and playing acting games.
On the first day of class, our teacher walked around with an invisible bag and told each of us to pull our inhibitions, fears, and shyness from wherever we kept them (in our pocket? In our ear? In our socks?) and put them in the invisible bag. Then, she tied up the bag and threw it out. Now we were free to be ourselves and to make fools of ourselves without worrying that someone would judge us for it. This was the first step I took on the long path to shedding the shyness that had been with me since I was a toddler.
The second semester of Shakespeare class included auditioning, practicing, and performing a Shakespeare play. We did Twelfth Night, a tale of mistaken identity and hilarity. I played the role of Antonio, a ship captain who rescues one of the major characters. Antonio's character inspired me to write my first novel, After the Twelfth Night (also a tale of hilarity, but completely historically and "Shakespeare-cally" inaccurate).

Twelve-year-old Abbey as Antonio the Red-eyed Sailor.
Here is a clip from the play:

video

In 2010, I took Shakespeare class again. This time, we studied Julius Caesar. When the second semester began, it was rumored that Much Ado About Nothing would be our play. We were overjoyed to find our guess correct! Now fourteen, I earned a lead role: Beatrice.

My mom sewed my beautiful costume.
Here is a clip:

video

Since Shakespeare class, William Shakespeare has remained close to my heart. I've gone to see several plays over the years. When we visited London, I made sure that we visited the Globe Theater.


A few weekends ago, a First Folio of Shakespeare's works was displayed at the Seattle Public Library and me and my friend (the same one that was in Shakespeare class with me) went to see it.
(For the unaware, a First Folio is the first printing of Shakespeare's collected works. Some of his friends published it in 1623, seven years after his death, and, currently, 233 copies have been found. Without the First Folio, eighteen of Shakespeare's plays could have been lost, including Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Twelfth Night.)

The First Folio. They also had a Third Folio on display, which is even rarer than a First Folio because many of the Third Folios were destroyed in one of London's fires.

Because of Shakespeare class, I started to shed my shell of shyness. The class allowed me to be as silly as I wanted in acting games and to express my opinions when we had discussions. It allowed me to use my imagination and to make new friends.
If I had not taken Shakespeare class, I would not be Confidant Abbey who can talk to (almost) anyone; I would still be Shy Abbey who is petrified to speak to anyone who isn't family or a close friends.
If I had not gotten involved in Shakespeare, I never would have played Antonio in Twelfth Night and his storyline never would have inspired my first book. I found NaNoWriMo through writing Antonio's story. If I hadn't taken Shakespeare class, I may not have participated in NaNoWriMo. I may not be a writer right now.

I would not be the person I am today without William Shakespeare. He has shaped my personality, my writing, and now my fashion (refer back to the first picture in this post).

"Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow."
-Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene ii.

10 comments:

  1. That dress is beautiful! And it was fun seeing the clips from the play, you're a good actress. :)

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  2. Aww, what a lovely tribute to the Bard.

    I love Shakespeare so much!

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  3. How cool that a step towards something uncomfortable led you to some unexpected changes. I don't remember seeing that dress.. its beautiful. The pic looks like a scene from a Bronte novel. Luke is studying Macbeth at the moment.

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    1. It's cool to look back on the experience and see exactly that: how something uncomfortable led to who I am today.
      Macbeth is a cool play. Tolkien based the part in Lord of the Rings where Eowyn kills the Lord of the Nazgul (who can't be killed by a man; hence, Eowyn, a woman, killing him) on the part in Macbeth where someone tells Macbeth that he can't be killed by anyone until the woods stand up and walk over the hill (or something like that).

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  4. Such a wonderful tribute to the Bard's work. I've been in a couple of Shakespeare plays myself and read many more of them. I wish I had known about this momentous date, I might have written up a post myself.

    The clips are wonderful. You've got such a strong stage voice. Bravo! And I love the influence Shakespeare has had on your writing career. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. I think the whole month of April has been a celebration of Shakespeare (I keep seeing posts about him show up in my Twitter feed), so you're not too late if you still want to write something!
      Thank you. :)

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