Not really that long before my time, 77 miles away from Cambridge, lived a great man whose talent is still widely celebrated all over the world today. His name brings into mind famous lines from his work and is associated with the best ever written theatre works there have ever been. His name William Shakespeare. Shakespeare, whose birthday is unknown, grew up in Stratford upon Avon and at a quite young age began a successful career in London as an actor and writer. My dad liked to call him a ‘theatre scientist’ as he managed to change the theatre and its course forever. Some of his most famous works include, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, Richard III etc. Despite having produced his work in the 16th century, his plays remain both widely popular and contemporary, they are considered masterpieces of classic literature and his plot lines are the most commonly referred to theatre plot lines in history.
I was around 8 when my father took me to see one of his plays for the first time. It was a comedy as I remember, called A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My God it was such an experience, I will never forget it. People were shouting, they were loud, they were throwing flowers at the girls and were whistling when they went on stage. I remember being initially afraid and intimidated by watching such a passionate crowd and I was holding my father’s hand unable to let go. As soon as I started noticing the play though I remember being gradually swept away by Shakespeare’s words (what I could understand given my young age) and found myself clapping or laughing out loud with my fellow audience members. I never threw anything towards the stage but even when that happened the actors did not seem to take it personally. On the contrary, it was as if they welcomed the overzealous crowd’s criticism and responded to it.
Afterwards, attending whichever touring theatre company was in town, became a sort of habit for me and my father. Of course, as you can imagine due to the means of the time, it wasn’t easy or often that you would get a production in your local theatre. Still, each time there was one, me and my father attended. My all time favorite and one that I will definitely never forget was Romeo and Juliet. What a tragic love story. Because of the nature of the play that is full of actions and fights between the two lovers’ families, there was so much active participation from the crowd. We were all in a state of frenzy. And of course, I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday the tears that I suddenly felt on my face and realizing that the audience had gone dead quiet and you could feel every single person in the room holding their breath, when towards the end of the play, you realize that love doesn’t always conquer all. It was a night when my father had try hard to cheer me up on our way home from the theatre. Still, it is so interesting to see how different the audience reacts nowadays compared to how intense things used to be back then. My dear fellow Virtus citizens, as you know there is a current production of Romeo and Juliet in our city. Trust me when I say you shouldn’t miss it! You might not be able to cheer or disturb the actors but I promise you, you’ll hear some of the most beautiful lines about love ever written.
Until next time.