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1. Shakespeare's Shylock Solved 2. Shakespeare's Othello Finally Identified 3. Shakespeare In Love Sequel Solved 4. The Real Romeo and Juliet 5. Shakespeare's Malvolio Solved 6. Shakespeare's Real Petruchio

Friday, October 13, 2017

Shakespeare and Harvey Weinstein



One of the most powerful and influential producers in the history of world cinema is having an unprecedented fall from grace.

Harvey Weinstein, film producer and studio chief, has been accused of many cases, going back 30 years, of predatory sexual assault — including rape.

The allegations against him are so specific, so widespread, and so persuasive, that I find it hard to imagine that he is innocent.

It has all the makings of a Shakespeare tragedy.

Macbeth’s “vaulting ambition” and his “black and deep desires” made him run headlong towards disaster and death.

King Lear’s test of love and turned his “crawl toward death” into another dash towards insanity and death.

Perhaps Angelo from Measure for Measure is the most appropriate figure from Shakespeare, to represent the predatory sexual power politics that Harvey Weinstein seems to have employed for decades.

Angelo offers Isabella, a novice nun, to spare the life of her brother if she has sex with him.

By the end of the play, Angelo is punished, but the punishment does not fit the crime — perhaps a caution to us today, that we should not let the Angelos of the world get away with their criminal acts and abuses of power.

There is an irony in the fact that this film producer who made the most popular and most beloved film about Shakespeare, and who produced and/or distributed other film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, is himself destroyed by desires that Shakespeare recognized so well.

Mr. Weinstein produced and/or distributed Prospero’s Books starring John Gielgud, Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke, Love’s Labour’s Lost by Kenneth Branagh, and Coriolanus by Ralph Fiennes.

Arguably the most enduringly popular film he ever produced is Shakespeare In Love, which of course he also shepherded to the stage as a play.

I have a love/hate relationship with that film. I enjoy it as entertainment, as a romantic film fantasy of Shakespeare.

But I hate the fact that it is has such a dominant and outsize influence on our understanding of Shakespeare.

It is a great film. But it is terrible Shakespeare.

And as much as I dislike the film, I do think that a sequel should in fact be made.

Mr. Weinstein announced in late 2013 that a sequel was planned. But now, what with this growing scandal, and the possible dissolution of Mr. Weinstein’s company, I doubt that a sequel will ever be made.

That is horrible. Another film should be made, regardless of whether he is involved or not.

Ultimately, I think Mr. Weinstein did not heed the Bard’s most basic lesson of, which Shakespeare adopted primarily from the Bible — if you test God, you will suffer the consequences.

The Macbeths, the Lears, and the Angelos of this world all put their own ambition, and gluttonous desires ahead of God. 

Shakespeare knew that when King Saul, King David, for example, put their desires ahead of God, they would face ruin.

Shakespeare knew that Aeschylus’ character Orestes got more than he bargained for, when his one and only ambition was to commit a crime against a woman — he wanted to murder his own mother!

But the Greek gods gave Orestes more than he bargained for. 

Vengeful spirits, the Furies, chase him off stage and spend the next few years hunting him, until he is brought to justice.

Mr. Weinstein spent much of his career building power and influence, and apparently used that as a weapon.

He tempted fate. He tested God. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and apparently Mr. Weinstein scorned many many women.

In a 2015 survey of the acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards, Harvey Weinstein was thanked more times than God.

God was in sixth place. 

Meryl Streep accepted an award and joked that Harvey Weinstein was “God” — and he laughed. 

If Mr. Weinstein is punished, as anyone should be for such depravity, I suspect the rest of his life will be an endless torment of lawsuits and jail sentences.

It looks like the Furies will chase him off stage, and hunt him for years, until he faces justice.

David B. Schajer


Friday, October 6, 2017

Anthony Hopkins as King Lear



I just heard the great news about Anthony Hopkins as King Lear — how exciting!

I can’t wait to see it. Directed by Richard Eyre, it is filming soon, and will be broadcast for BBC2 and Amazon in 2018.

It is not every day that an actor of his magnitude and talent takes on Shakespeare.

Anthony Hopkins
at the Tuscana Sun Festival, 2009
Wikimedia Commons

The list of other cast members is very impressive.

Emma Thompson will play Goneril, Emily Watson will play Regan, and Florence Pugh will play Cordelia.

Jim Broadbent will play Gloucester, with Andrew Scott as his son Edgar. 

Jim Carter will play Kent, and Christopher Eccleston will play Oswald.

I am mostly pleased with the cast, especially Hopkins as Lear, Broadbent as Gloucester, and Jim Carter as Kent. Those are truly inspired choices!

I am eager to see Andrew Scott and Emily Watson. They are great actors, and I am excited to see them do some Shakespeare.

However, my biggest disappointment is Emma Thompson. 

I once admired her as an actress, especially her work with Kenneth Branagh in Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing. Her writing and acting in Sense and Sensibility was just incredible.

But since then, I have grown less and less enamored of her as an actress.

And her hatred of England really bothers me. 

Last year, she referred to England as a “tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe, I mean really, a cake-filled, misery laden, grey old island.”

I don’t get involved in politics, or political debate. I don’t hate “luvvies” — but to insult England like that is just unacceptable.

I think the fact that she does not appreciate England, has had an impact on her career. I can’t remember the last time I saw her in a role where she really shined.

What also concerns me about this production is the creative choice to set the play “in a fictional version of the present day, with Sir Anthony's Lear presiding over a totalitarian military dictatorship in England.”

Ugh.

Not only is this a uninspired choice, and a sure way to make the play even more depressing than it already can be, but it is also plain wrong.

To make the England in the time of King Lear like a totalitarian state is to fundamentally misinterpret the play.

It is a complete mistake to portray King Lear as a tyrant.

If you want to set Macbeth in a Scotland that resembles a militaristic dictatorship, that makes sense. Ralph Fiennes made Coriolanus in a similar setting. That makes sense.

You could even set Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet in a totalitarian state.

But King Lear? It makes no sense.

Last year, I saw Simon Russell Beale as King Lear, directed by Sam Mendes, for the National Theatre. It also set the play in an England that resembled Nicolae CeauČ™escu’s Romania.

That production depicted King Lear like a tyrant from the very beginning.

I wrote a review of that production -- here.

The problem with depicting Lear as a tyrant from the start is that it destroys the entire tragedy of the play.

The tragedy of the play is the fact that King Lear was a good man, a good king, for the entirety of his reign — until that fateful decision to divide England between his daughters.

He was good enough to raise at least one truly good daughter, Cordelia, who does truly love him.

He was not good enough to have kept his other daughters from becoming monsters. But can we really lay the blame for his bad daughters solely at his feet? No, we can’t.

King Lear was so good that he even got a man like Kent, a truly good man and a truly faithful servant, to serve him and love him.

I could go on, but you get the point.

If the character of Lear starts the play as a tyrant, then it robs Cordelia and Kent, and others, of their responses and their plotlines.

The whole play centers around the fact that King Lear, a great king, has made a very bad and short-sighted decision, and stubbornly does not understand that the kingdom he worked so hard to create and command, can become very rotten, very fast.

King Lear misunderstands power. It is elusive. He had it, and as soon as he tried to divide it, it explodes. The more he tries to correct his mistake, he makes matters worse.

He is a great king who has made the worst decision in his reign — and once it is made, everything falls apart.

As I wrote in my review of the National Theatre’s version last year: “If Lear is a tyrant, then it turns the entire play upside down and turns it inside out. It makes Lear a bad guy, and everyone who was bad is now good.”

If Lear is a tyrant, a military dictator, then we should be rooting for Goneril and Regan! We should hope that King Lear dies as soon as possible!

We should hate Cordelia for loving him, and we should hope that she will die, too!

If Lear is bad, then we should hope that Kent never gets to him, and helps him. We should hope that Kent fails.

All of those characters, Kent, Gloucester, Edgar and Edmund etc. -- all of them become an incredible waste of our time, when we are impatient to see Lear the tyrant die. 

If Lear is depicted as a bad or as a dictator, then it is no longer a tragedy — it is theatre of the absurd.

If the purpose of this new King Lear, directed by Richard Eyre, is to score some political points against England, England as it is today, then I won’t watch more than five minutes of this new production.

England was great. England is great. I expect it to be great for a very long time.

England is not only great in spite of bad monarchs, but also because of them. For every bad monarch, there were men and women who fought back, and defied them.

Without that push and pull, we would not have so many of the freedoms we enjoy today.

England has survived so much turmoil, from within and from without, that it has created such a vibrant and incredible culture -- and the culture that emerged from England has become the world's dominant culture. 

I think this TV production should make it lavishly colorful and sumptuously designed, in an England as heart-breakingly beautiful as possible. 

It would demonstrate that England’s remarkable, important, and proud history of the monarchy was not always glorious, did not always have a happy ending, and that even the best of monarchs can damage what was so good about it.

That would be a fairer and far more accurate depiction of England’s history. 

It would also hew much closer to what Shakespeare was really after, when he originally wrote this play.

A TV production like that would be remembered, and treasured forever.

It would be a real shame if this production was as dark and as gloomy as it appears it might be. 

It would be a shame to waste so much great talent, and so much effort, to make a dreary and cold King Lear. 

If it is a joyless and political scolding, I doubt it will be remembered for long.


David B. Schajer


Friday, September 29, 2017

Shakespeare and Women



Is Taming of the Shrew an anti-feminist play?

Was Shakespeare a sexist? A misogynist?

Samantha Spiro and Simon Paisley Day
Shakespeare Globe 2012

A new production in Chicago seeks to “save” the play by performing it with an all-female cast.

The play is “certainly anti-feminist” according to the female director of this particular production. 

She has set the play in 1919, in order to include the suffragette movement, and the vote to allow women to vote.

If you read the Wikipedia entry on the play, you get a summary of the feminist criticism of the play, and the question of misogyny in the play.

George Bernard Shaw (whom some consider to be England’s greatest playwright, after Shakespeare) found the play “altogether disgusting to modern sensibility.”

There has been a great deal of critical writing about Shakespeare from a feminist point of view.

It would be impossible to evaluate all of it, especially in a blog post.

I would just like to ask some questions.

Was Shakespeare a sexist — did he discriminate against women, or diminish them in his plays, as if women were inferior to men?

Worse, was he a misogynist? Did he hate women?

A case could be made for sexism or misogyny across all of his plays. 

But if it he was so rampantly and clearly discriminating against, and hating women, I doubt the plays would have endured for as long as they have.

In the abovementioned article about the Chicago production, it mentions how by the middle of the 19th century, there were women’s theatre groups performing Shakespeare’s plays. By the 1940s, there were three of them in Chicago alone: the Hull House Shakespeare Club, Argyle Park Portia Club and Shakespeare Club of Chicago.

I doubt those women’s groups would have existed at all, had any of the women truly believed that Shakespeare was prejudiced against, or hated, women.

Is Hamlet a sexist or misogynistic play? Macbeth? King Lear? Midsummer? As You Like It?

All of those plays have powerful, important and significant female characters.

I can’t imagine those plays without Queen Gertrude, Lady Macbeth, Cordelia, Helena and Titania, Rosalind — and many more.

I don’t think Shakespeare could have imagined those plays without those female roles — roles that are as significant and integral to the story as the male roles.

All of those female characters are strong and capable women — but all of them also possess flaws. All of them suffer in some way. Some of them even die because of their faults.

The exact same thing can be said of the male characters. The men are flawed, too. Some of them die because of their faults.

So, how could Shakespeare have written so many complex, fascinating, and all-too-human female characters — and then somehow have made Kate an insult to women?

How did he succeed so often, with over 30 plays, and then failed so miserably with this one single play?



Or did he really fail with Taming of the Shrew?

Is it possible that we don’t understand the play? 

We could be excused for doing so. His plays are very old. 

After re-opening the theatres (which were closed from 1649-1660) Shakespeare’s plays were considered “old-fashioned” and “dull” — and the language was considered “dated.”

So, within 60 years of their original performances, the plays had lost their original meaning.

How much meaning have they lost in 400 years?

What if our understanding of Taming of the Shrew is so inhibited by our modern thinking that we can’t appreciate what Shakespeare was really trying to express?

After all, Shaw said that the play was “altogether disgusting to modern sensibility.” 

He was seeing the play 300 years after it was written, and judging it against plays that were written in London circa 1900.

For what it’s worth, I think there is a lot more to Shaw’s views on Shakespeare. 

I think Shaw was intensely frustrated by his lack of insight regarding Shakespeare, and was forever feeling diminished by Shakespeare’s greatness.

Shaw even wrote a short puppet play in which he and Shakespeare box each other! Truth is stranger than fiction.



What if we are too modern to understand Shakespeare?

If we are presumably so much more superior to him and his contemporaries — as far as our social and sexual mores — then why do we return to his plays over and over again?

Why do so many actresses aspire to perform Cleopatra, Ophelia, Juliet, etc?

It begs the question — are we truly superior to him? Or do we return to him and his work because he does in fact still have so much to teach us?

Does anyone seriously think that the roles written for women today, for stage and screen, are superior to the roles that Shakespeare wrote for women?

Jonathan Pryce as Shylock
Shakespeare Globe 2016

What I have discovered as I study Shakespeare, was that he was famous for defying expectations. 

He wrote a play about a Jewish moneylender at a time when Englishmen reviled Jews, who were mostly exiled from England.

But for some reason, Shakespeare made Shylock the most compelling character in the play. Shylock is the hero!

Not long ago, I established that Shakespeare created the Jewish moneylender to represent himself, William Shakespeare.

Yes, Shakespeare = Shylock.

David Harewood as Othello
National Theatre 1997

He also wrote a play about a Moorish general at a time when Englishmen reviled and feared such Moors, Africans, non-whites, and non-Christians — or any such aliens.

But for some reason, Shakespeare made Othello the hero! The villain is a white Christian man!

Why would Shakespeare present Iago, who resembled the men in Shakespeare’s audience, as a villain? Why was he alienating his male audience? 

Because that was the whole reason for the play — he was making his audience feel sympathy for Othello, the alien.

Shakespeare loved such baiting and switching. He loved challenging the pre-conceived notions and prejudices of his audience. He did it all the time.

Was an Elizabethan audience really expecting to see a teenage girl on stage as eloquent, as moving, and as self-possessed as Juliet? 

Ellie Kendrick as Juliet
Adetomiwa Edun as Romeo
Shakespeare Globe 2009

I think it is far likelier that Shakespeare’s original audiences expected to see a teenage girl who foolishly fell in love, and faced tragic consequences.

As such, the play (that the audience expected) would have been a cautionary tale, a stern lesson to all young women not to behave foolishly.

But Juliet, as Shakespeare wrote her, is no one’s fool.

In fact, it is Romeo who proclaims that he is “fortune’s fool!”

Shakespeare’s original audience probably was quite surprised to see this Juliet. They related to her even more, precisely because she was a headstrong and smart girl who was not entirely responsible for falling in love.

If and when you fall in love, whose fault is it? 

Therefore, since we can't blame her for falling in love, how can we blame her as entirely responsible for her death?

Shakespeare’s presented a Juliet who was as human and as fallible as we all are. Therefore, before we judge Juliet or blame her for her flaws, we should first take a good look in a mirror.



What if he wrote Taming of the Shrew, and hoped to get an audience full of misogynists — only to pull the rug out from under them?

What if his precise motive, in writing the play, was to make women-hating men change their mind, and treat the women in their lives better?

Also, what if he was actually endorsing shrews? What if he was saying that there is a greatness in being a shrew? 

What if Shakespeare liked strong women, the stronger the better? What if he was encouraging women in the audience to speak their minds with more force and clarity?

What if Taming of the Shrew is not an aberration — what if it is not the one fully sexist and misogynistic play in Shakespeare’s otherwise unblemished career?

What if it is a celebration of strong women?

What if, in order to demonstrate how strong Kate is, she needs an opponent who is worthy of her?

Yes, Kate and Petruchio fight. But is it a fair fight?

No one likes an uneven match. We don’t hope to see two weaklings in a boxing ring. Does anyone watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians hoping to see them all get along — or do we hope to see them squabble?

Occasionally, we all like knock-down, drag-out fights — especially when the opponents are evenly matched, and equally formidable.

Petruchio may be a sexist pig — but by the end of the play, he is as much tamed as she is.

After all, they do end up married. They are the most happily married of all the characters in the play.

Also, what if Kate has become a shrew because there are no good men in Padua?

What if, with all his faults, Petruchio is actually the only decent man among them — and the only man worthy of Kate’s kiss?

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, 1967

I urge you to read the play again, and see another production of the play. The Shakespeare Globe version is excellent and even-handed.

As we read it again, or see it again, instead of judging the play on our own modern terms, why don’t we give Shakespeare the benefit of the doubt?

It is entirely possible that Shakespeare was a sexist, and even a misogynist. 

But what if his plays were his way of rising above his own faults, and transcending the prejudice of his day?

Cheers,

David B. Schajer




Friday, September 22, 2017

Shakespeare DVD & Blu-ray


I don’t think I have ever ranted here on my blog. I am not a ranter by nature.

But I am sick and tired of Shakespeare productions around the world that don’t get filmed.

Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet
(photos by Johan Persson)

Why are actors as acclaimed and influential as Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and many others, not making DVD and Blu-ray versions of their plays?

It’s insulting.

How is it possible that Tom Hiddleston as Hamlet, directed by Branagh, will only be seen by about 3000 people in its three week run?

There is no plan to extend the production, or film it for a wider audience.

So in a world of more than 7 billion people — only 3000 get to see it?

You have got to be kidding me!




How is it possible that Kevin Spacey traveled the world playing Richard III, directed by Sam Mendes, and it is not released on film?

I would love to see Andrew Scott as Hamlet. I would like to own a Blu-ray disc of that production. I would pay good money for it. And I would treasure it forever.

But no. That is not possible.

Why don’t we have a filmed version of Daniel Day-Lewis as Hamlet -- co-starring the incomparable Judi Dench?

Where are the filmed versions of Ralph Fiennes in his many Shakespeare productions? What about Ben Kingsley? Ian McKellen? And so many more.

Many of the greatest actors of all time, performing the greatest plays of all time, are not preserved for history. That’s shameful.

Ralph Fiennes as Prospero

Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis in Hamlet

There are probably good reasons why these productions don’t get filmed. I am sure there are all sorts of rules and regulations.

I don’t care what the reasons are — these productions must be preserved.

Somehow Shakespeare’s Globe theatre created filmed versions of many of their plays, from 2007 to 2015. I bought almost all of them.

Somehow the Royal Shakespeare Company filmed many productions, going back almost 30 years! I bought almost all of them.

I saw Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet. He was brilliant. I had to go to a theatre to see it broadcast. I went twice, it was so good.

I want to see it again. Today. But no. I can’t. 

That’s insulting.

I think that if you are a global star, a Tom Hiddleston, or a Martin Freeman, you have an obligation to preserve this work, and have a mass audience see it, enjoy it, and treasure it.

Anything less is unacceptable.

If you don’t preserve them, then why do them in the first place? Why wouldn’t you want as wide an audience as possible?

It is quite possible that William Shakespeare himself knew that his plays might survive long after his death, and have a global appeal. 

That might very well be the reason he and his fellow actors named their new theatre The Globe in 1599.

Well, it is 2017 now. Actors, directors, and theatres should realize how much of a global demand there is for Shakespeare.

I would love to find someone out there who could create a Shakespeare Channel — a 24-hour channel that plays taped productions from around the world, by famous and not-so-famous acting companies.

There could even be anchor-men and anchor-women, who could host discussions, and interview artists about their Shakespeare projects.

I think the appetite for such a channel would be enormous. I see this demand through my blog, with its analytics and global insights. The world wants Shakespeare, all the time, and forever. Especially countries like Tunisia in particular, and the Middle East in general.

But until that day, at the very least, I don’t think it is too much to expect actors, directors, and theatres to create taped versions of their Shakespeare productions for DVD and Blu-ray.

I don’t go out of my way to invite you to add comments to any of my blog posts — but here is one time where I would love your feedback.

Who knows — perhaps your responses will inspire these great artists to finally film the productions they make.

Cheers,





Friday, September 15, 2017

No Shakespeare?



I love counterfactual history questions.

What if Germany had won World War II?

What if we had not gone into space, or not landed on the moon?



And the biggest question regarding Shakespeare, to me, is what if Shakespeare had not existed?

What if he had never been born, or had not survived childhood?

The closer you look at his biography, the more you realize that he could have died very young, or in his youth.

He had siblings who died, and he was born during a time of plague.

There was never a guarantee that he would survive for long, or at all.

I do not believe, had he not existed, that someone else would have done what he did, and create the poetry and plays he did.

When you look at his rival playwrights — Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Dekker, Robert Greene, and the others — not one of them rises to the level of Shakespeare.

They were all very talented artists, but none of them could capture the imagination of their Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences they way that Shakespeare did.

I think the biggest reason why Shakespeare was so unusually successful, and why his plays have endured, was because Marlowe and the other playwrights were writing for the London elite. 

They did not write for the public, for the people.

Shakespeare, on the other hand, was the people’s playwright.

It is often noted that Shakespeare did not attend university, as the others had. The point seems to be that his education was not as good as Christopher Marlowe’s, who went to Cambridge.

I am convinced that Shakespeare’s lack of a university education actually benefited him. It made him far more ambitious than the others, and the life lessons he learned were far more valuable than anything in their lectures at Oxford and Cambridge.

Shakespeare’s success was accidental, it was unexpected. He was off everyone’s radar.

Had he gone to university, his home-spun and folksy wisdom, and his priceless and real-world sense of humor would have been beaten out of him. He would have been expected to conform, to fit it, at university. 

Writing plays for the public, and making them laugh, cry, and close their eyes from the horror — none of that was on a university curriculum.

But Shakespeare was a misfit. That is his brilliance, his charm, his greatness.

His greatest artistic creations are characters who don’t conform, who don’t follow the rules, and who always draw outside of the lines — for better or for worse.

Falstaff is the patron saint of misfits. 

Hamlet should be strong and heroic, decisive and brave. But he just can’t. He can’t live up to what we expect him to be. He just can’t be the Prince he should be.

Cleopatra should be regal, composed, divine, and above mundane human and earthly matters. But Antony shatters all of that. She simply loves him way too much for her to behave like a proper divine ruler should.

Even Macbeth. In the beginning, he seems like a competent vassal lord to King Duncan. Then he becomes consumed with ambition, and it leads him on a path of murder and insanity.

All of the great characters are all too human.

Shakespeare was all too human. He embraced it, rather than run from it.

All of the other playwrights ran from their humanity, and wrote plays that were less inspired than his.

And today, as Shakespeare’s plays continue to be performed, and interpreted around the world, the plays of his rivals are relatively forgotten.

Had Shakespeare not existed, it is very likely that theatre in the time of Queen Elizabeth would have suffered terribly. As the other playwrights were dying out, from poverty, from drinking too much, from disease, the theatres would have died out, too.

The Queen enjoyed theatre, but preferred animal baiting matches. 

It is doubtful that she would have allowed theatre to prosper had it not been for the popular appeal and success of Shakespeare — and Shakespeare alone.

By the time that King James succeeded Elizabeth, he might have dissolved the playing companies. He preferred masques anyway, and he arguably would have brought theatre into the royal court — and closed up The Globe and other venues.

But they could not close the theatres, because Shakespeare had already changed the game on them.

Not only were most of Shakespeare’s rivals too busy drinking and partying to bother with making a body of work, none of them organized the theatre into anything resembling an industry. 

Shakespeare, with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, organized themselves as sharers in the profits and responsibilities of running a playing company as a for-profit company — not just as a band of actors who served for the benefit of a royal patron.

They made a business out of it. That successful business created competition — and in short order, a theatre industry was born. As far as I know, that was unprecedented in world history.

Queen Elizabeth tried to put the theatres under control. But it only made them more popular.

By the middle of the 1590s, it is doubtful that she could have closed theatres without sparking a city-wide riot. 

By the time that King James arrived in London, in 1603, it was far too late to shut them all down.

Yes, the theatres were shut from 1642 to 1660. But that can’t be attributed one way or the other to Shakespeare, who died 1616.

But, I would argue that if Shakespeare had not so successfully established, and firmly planted theatre in London, over the course of his almost 25 year long stage career, then the theatres would not have reopened in 1660, or at all.

Once the theatres were re-opened, they began to perform Shakespeare’s plays again. It was as if London, and England for that matter, could not live without him.

It was as if once the light of Shakespeare was lit, it could not be snuffed out.

In the decades and centuries since, I think the world as a whole would have been far worse without him, and England in particular would have been far weaker than it turned out to be.

I think even today, the world would be far darker than it already is.

Why? Because he was one of those unlikely miracles that comes along in history. He shined a light on the world and on men and women, in order to teach us more about ourselves than we knew before.

Shakespeare helped shine a light that helped guide England through some of the darkest times in history — not the least of which was the potential invasion by Germany during World War II. 

Sir Laurence Olivier as King Henry the Fifth was one of the greatest symbols of English pride and defiance in the face of Hitler and Nazi oppression.



We are very fortunate that the light that is Shakespeare is still shining today, and he has become a source of light that illuminates and unifies the whole world. 

There are not enough people or things that truly unite us in our humanity. 

His plays and poetry do.

I like to think that he somehow knew that his work would live on long after his death, and what he was doing would have a global impact — especially since he named his theatre The Globe.

I like to think that he chose that name for the theatre because he could, in his vast and brilliant mind, imagine a future world where people were far more free and happy than the one in which he lived — and that he would play some small, but critical, part in helping it get there.


Cheers,

David B. Schajer