Today’s supposed to be the day where we talk about what Shakespeare means to us. Honestly I find that a bit overly simplified. I talk about what Shakespeare means to be every day (feel free to flip through my 2000 posts over 6 years to convince yourself), and I’m in the midst of a marathon that demonstrates the lengths to which I’ll go. I can’t simply write a single post on that subject, much less squeeze it down into a single tweet.
What I can do, though, is talk about my “mission”. No, not my kids. I’ve talked about them enough. My kids are really and truly at the point where they make references to Shakespeare at will, and I love it. All of them. Somewhere amid the sea of posts you’ll see today you’ll find a reference to my 5yr old son recognizing portraits of Hamlet and Yorick in stained glass windows, and my two daughters, 7 and 9yr olds, both grabbing for books on Shakespeare’s sonnets when given the freedom to pick something from the gift shop. Heck, just the other night for dinner I’d broken out some decorative kids’ plates in the shape of animals – a cow, a horse, a donkey. My 9yr old got the donkey. “Look,” she said, “It’s Bottom.”
With the primary plan well underway, let’s talk about the secondary plan. Because there’s a whole bunch of the world out there that is not my kids. All I’ve done with them is plant a seed that may take generations to truly change the world. That’s only the beginning of what I hope to accomplish.
What happens to me now on a regular basis is that friends and coworkers come up to me and say, “I saw a Shakespeare thing the other day and thought of you.” Sometimes it is Shakespeare’s name specifically that they heard. Sometimes a movie reference, or a quote. It’s not important what they saw, because it’s always something different.
What’s important is that they *recognized* it. Before these people met me I’m quite positive that Shakespeare references were coming and going all around them, in one ear and out the other. You can’t help it. Chances are very good that the Saturday morning cartoons you grew up on were sneaking in the occasional Shakespeare reference on you. They’re ubiquitous.
And now, everybody that knows me can see them. Where they were previously blind, now they see. Not only does something in their brain click and say, “Hey! Shakespeare! I should tell Duane about that.” Know what happens next? They actually *listen*, because they want to know how to repeat it to me. That’s the next step. If you hear it, and you pay attention to it, maybe you actually remember it. And then you’ve learned something.
But guess what? It gets even better. Because when these friends and coworkers (some of whom I barely exchange anything but casual greetings with) come up to me with their found Shakespeare references, sometimes they want to discuss it. They want to discuss it. They want to discuss it. How many times can I say that to have the point sink in how cool that is? None of the people that I’m talking about are theatre people, or academics. They’re just regular folk who, because they happen to have stumbled into my social circle, have rejuvenated that long dormant high school knowledge of the Montagues and the Capulets, of To be or Not To Be. And in me they’ve found someone who will talk with them, ever so patiently, for as long as they want.
That’s the big picture. Every single time somebody comes up to me, in person or by mailing me a link, that starts with “Saw this Shakespeare thing and thought of you …” the plan is working.
What’s your mission? Why do you do this? Tell us.
This posting marathon, in celebration of Shakespeare Day, is brought to you by nothing but my time, my resources, and my love for the subject. While we’ll always be the original Shakespeare blog, it takes a significant amount of effort to make us the best in the digital universe. If you’ve not yet seen how you can show your support, now’s a great opportunity. If you’ve already done so, thanks very much!