If you followed me on Instagram at all in 2014, you probably noticed that I was reading through all of Shakespeare’s Works. I am happy to say that I completed that goal in November, almost exactly a year after I started(with the exception of The Two Noble Kinsmen, which was not included in the edition I was using). As I was reading through the works, roughly in the chronological order in which they were written, I went on a fascinating journey with him. I watched as his stories and characters grew in complexity. His themes matured with his age and I was comforted by the fact that not all of his plays were genius hits! He wrote for royalty and paupers; inspired by life and (often) a paycheck. As we know, his stories and works have stood the test of time and still relate to audiences today.
Words, words, words… Well, you’ve all heard this before. What’s the point? Shakespeare inspired me as little girl. My aunt tells the story of the first time I attended a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and I was on the edge of my seat. I was four years old. I never felt that Shakespeare was confusing or unintelligible because I was exposed to people who spoke the words as if they were their own. The first of Shakespeare’s characters that I played was the widow in The Taming of the Shrew— at the age of 9. The next year I played Phebe in As You Like It. Since then I have played Portia(Julius Caesar), Margaret(Much Ado About Nothing), a Witch(Macbeth), and performed monologues and scenes of Beatrice(Much Ado About Nothing), Joan of Arc(Henry VI, Part 1), Helena(A Midsummer Nights Dream), Malvolio(Twelfth Night), and more. As long as the company and director were quality, knowledgeable people, I would say “Yes!” to doing Shakespeare over anything else.
I started reading through Shakespeare’s Works for multiple reasons. First, I was ashamed that, as a lover of Shakespeare, there were at least a third of his plays which I had never read or seen performed. Secondly, there are so many roles that I want to play which I will (most likely) never be able to play due to my being a woman; and others I could play, but I’m tired of waiting for permission to play them. Having served the purpose of the first reason, I am now working on a remedy for the second. A few weeks ago, I started meeting with two of my childhood friends — friends that I met doing As You Like It all those years ago — to write a script inspired by all his plays. At the very least, I am having so much fun discussing and nerding out with these two. More than that though, I can’t wait to bring this idea to fruition. Stay tuned for this work in progress!