Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why William Shakespeare Rocks!

Blame your English teacher!
If you are reading this, chances are, you had were taught by someone who got William Shakespeare and passed on his genius.

I was 13 years old when I was introduced to Puck and Helena and Hermia and that dips**t Lysander. 14 when I met Shylock (who remains my most admired hero - If you prick us, do we not bleed?

15 when, one winter's day (which meant rain and rain and rain in Northland in June), in the school hall, I watched Zeffrelli's Romeo and Juliet and fell in love with love and decided then and there that Romeo was a dick (a view I have never shifted from).

16 when I discovered Ms Herbert in the toilets during half time of the court theatre's production of Macbeth and realized even an adult felt - FELT - what I did: despair and sadness.

The only 'Shakespeare' I did at university was Antony and Cleopatra. Thought both characters idiots - confirmed when, in the early 2000s I put on a production at my local school. The only characters redeemable were the servants. The best line of the play which I quote often now in my dotage: my salad days, when I was green in judgement.

I began teaching in 1989. Since then I've directed so many productions of Shakespeare's plays (including the 15 minute versions of mine and Tom Stoppard's making) I've lost count.

From a declle two school to a decile ten school, I've done it. The kids get him. They get him if you reveal him in a way they can see him. And, when they do - they love him.

This year, my 13 year olds produced A Midsummer Night's Dream (as much in the 1950s as we could); In previous years, with various schools, I have directed said play set in the Cook Islands in the 19th Century; The Merchant of Venice in Wall STreet, 12th Night in the roaring 20s, Macbeth in a shearing shed....

And it is not just his plays but his poetry which nabs our teens. Sonnet 18. Shall I compare thee et al...

Hamlet. Othello. Lear. Richard the third. Much Ado..... I could go on but it doesn't matter because he covered it better than I ever could.

The man was a genius.

4 comments:

jtwebster books said...

I totally agree with you - he rocks!!

Melinda Szymanik said...

Romeo is a dick but I still cried when he and Juliet died in Zeferelli's version. Love Henry V and The Taming of the Shrew is probably my favourite, but some of the speeches and soliliquoys in Macbeth and Othello are sublime and then there's "Full fathom five they father lies" ... from the Tempest and, and , and...sigh

Kim Fifield said...

Loved your plays, think I was Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet in about 1991 and some sort of crazy medium in another which you may have written yourself I can't remember. You were a fantastic drama/teacher back then :)

TK Roxborogh said...

Thanks Kim. It was because of you guys at Westlake that I really got started with the writing proper so that we could have some more interesting plays to perform.

Hope you are well. Down here in Dunedin where I live now there is a street I pass almost every day and it's called Fifield street and it always reminds me of you.