I adore Shakespeare’s plays.  I love to see them performed but I also enjoy reading them.  I’ve had a copy of his complete works since high school.  Much like my writing and other preferred reading, I am a character-driven person.  My favorite plays have great character interaction, like Much Ado About Nothing and The Twelfth Night. I will also freely admit that I like the comedies best; I am a sucker for a happy ending.

One thing you have to keep in mind with Shakespeare is context.  Most of his plays are set in a different time period than they were written, but the time when they were first performed says as much about the play as the setting.  Because of this there are things (besides the language) that become hard for us to understand.

A friend of mine is a tutor and she told me a story today about working on Romeo and Juliet with a teenage boy.  He couldn’t get past the (to him) ridiculous details.  “Isn’t she 13?”  “Didn’t she just meet the guy two hours ago?”  “What?! They were kissing without even knowing each other’s names?”   These are things that seem silly to a modern teenager but were not so foreign or difficult to the original audiences for the plays.

My favorite take on these modern-disconnect scenarios is the series of YouTube videos done by Second City called “Sassy Gay Friend.”  The premise is that Shakespeare’s women often went a bit overboard in their reactions, and if there had been someone around to call them on it, they may not have died.

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