Here I am, a woman living in the 21st century, majoring in English. I can list a dozen or so theatres in my surrounding area. I have long been a lover of theatre so have observed what was playing, wishing I had enough money to buy a ticket to my favorites. One thing I have noticed, the plays by the master known as Shakespeare are no where to be seen. With thanks to Kenneth Branagh there are many I can watch in film format, but I hardly think that is the same as seeing the sweat on the actors’ faces as they play their roles beneath the stage lights.
So, why the lack of Shakespeare in local theatres? Has it come to pass that the only people who have a need for Shakespeare are English fanatics?
I recall hearing a song in junior high in which the oh-so-clever lyricist/singer sang with the attitude of brilliant rebellion, “we don’t need to read Billy Shakespeare….” Even then, my thoughts were thus, “what a twit.” When did Shakespeare start becoming redundant?
In Utah there is the grand Shakespearean Festival, which is quite a big deal to many people across the country. But, one festival hardly makes up for the lack of Shakespeare on stages in my immediate area. I can study books all I want, but Shakespeare’s plays were written to be seen. Reading Hamlet say, “I loved Ophelia.” cannot even begin to compare to seeing the emotion on his crazed and devastated face as the actor shouts the line with agony.
Perhaps I will gather up my English cohorts and create a Shakespearean band of actors. I have no talent in acting, so I’d prefer to leave it to the true actors. But, if this century is to be the death of Shakespeare on local stages, perhaps I’ll stand up and do my best.