To be… or not to be… Nearly every person in the civilized realm is familiar with this and other famous lines from the phenomenal works of William Shakespeare. Such eloquence is mostly missing from modern speak. But the flowing phrases of the ‘Bard of Avon’ live on to this day, across the stages of the world, including here in Tahoe. Cruising along Highway 28 with the sun dancing on the calm Lake grants the promise of a lovely sunset - a glowing backdrop for the stage at Sand Harbor. Is it a Midsummer Night’s Dream? Perhaps!
William Shakespeare (who apparently did not spell his name that way) is credited with adding over 3000 words to the English language! Beyond that, his vocabulary is reported to have exceeded 20,000 words. (OMG...?) That’s more than most people today will use in their entire life! Try texting over 50 words... And his wordy works are not limited to English either. Of the 80 or so translations his plays have received, 2 of them are even in Klingon. Can you picture pseudo-aliens performing Hamlet?
For anyone who’s ever dabbled in Drama Club, Shakespeare is the staple go to for learning the ropes for writing, directing, and acting. Modern Actress Anne Hathaway shares the name of his wife so you can guess what her parents were thinking… Ironic if you know that, in the 1500’s, when his plays were originally presented, it was illegal for women to perform in the theatre. The roles of women were played by (gulp) men. I’m picturing some very dubious-looking women on those early stages. And it does beg the question, Why? And Who thought it was necessary to dress guys up to act like girls – when there were plenty of them to fill the parts? Different days. Nowadays of course, we get to see the real thing. That has not stemmed the copious application of makeup all that much... But I’ll wager most patrons agree with this progression toward appropriate representation. Regardless of who plays whom, the message related by those original tales - remains consistent.
It has been supposed that William Shakespeare was simply a figurehead and a famous name to attach to a collection of plays assembled by ghost writers. If you look at his body of work, it is quite staggering. In 24 years, he is supposed to have written 37 plays and 154 sonnets, not to mention the whispered tales of 20 (or so) odd missing plays lost to the ether that were never copied for posterity. OMG – how could anyone have been so… prolific… and stuff like that? There was even a movie about this scandalous claim (Anonymous 2010) portraying our poor starving artist as anxious to grasp at any straw that would save him from his lot. In steps a rich patron of the arts who also happens to be an amazing writer? Hmm. History does show our hero died quite rich, and even before he was famous, had a great mind for business. So, that debate still rages on, and depends which school you believe. I do find it a bit incredible that he wrote such a massive amount of (OMG) great stuff. Midas touch if you think about it! But people are capable of doing great things. It probably happens around you all the time. You just have to be open to seeing it.
A rose by any other name? To this lengthy achievement of stamina, I will offer my own impression, that his works have reached a certain level of immortality beyond compare. William Shakespeare is one of the most quoted humans ever to exist (if he did exist that is)! Okay, his words are among the most quoted. There’s NO denying that. Whoever wrote all these inspiring stories is still making our hearts and minds move - toward those feelings that deepen our significance… as human. And that’s a good thing. This kind of emotional tie doesn’t translate well into a 2 word text – even if you’re sending another abbreviated form of ‘I Love You’ to someone special. Actions always seem to trump words, but we can have both! Oh, Romeo!
This is why I regularly attend, and highly recommend, an evening with Shakespeare. Go without fear... It's just around the bend... (Okay, Will I'm not, but I'm willing...) Wherever you live, there is bound to be a performance of one or more of his legendary romances. Here in Tahoe, of course we have one of the longest running Shakespeare Festivals anywhere (43 years to date!). So, they're pretty darn good at it! Comedy and Tragedy at its finest come to you on a nearby stage with a stunning vista behind it all. It is a rather unique theatre and definitely one of my favorites, and once you see a production here, it may become yours as well? There’s great culinary opportunity on site if you feel that way. Or, like me, you can pack up some fancy snacks and wine to share, grab your favorite person(s) by the hand (and heart!) and enjoy the pleasure of rekindling the touching sensation that good writing can make you feel. It’s good it is to be alive, isn’t it? To be!