I am a bad actor. Not in the sense that I have difficulty memorizing lines, can’t move onstage, or am Nicolas Cage. I am a bad actor in the sense that I hate William Shakespeare. In the sacred halls of the theater, admitting a dislike for Shakespeare is like telling your girlfriend that you used to jack off while looking at the dog. The relationship may continue, but the perception of you is changed forever.
Shakespeare is dead. More dead, in fact, than most dead people. Over the centuries, countless performances in every language and time period have robbed any kind of artistic merit that may remain. Shakespeare has nothing new to offer us. Yet, strangely, he’s produced onstage more than any author. Across the country, hundreds upon hundreds of people are onstage spouting his outdated and frou-frou flowery prose having no idea what in god’s fuck they’re saying.
It’s not even the most riveting stuff in the world. Shakespeare doesn’t enthrall me like it does the devoted. His plays tend to shift one of four ways:
The Tragedies: Someone falls victim to an act of betrayal. This begins a cycle of lying, betrayal and swordfights until everyone is dead.
The Comedies: Someone is dressed up like a man/woman/donkey/tree/fucking something and tricks someone else into doing something but eventually it all works out and someone is probably drunk every other scene.
The Histories: People that look like Thor screaming battle cries and having intense fight choreography. Unless it’s Richard III and then someone is limping.
It’s a different generation now. We’re not all born with the understanding and respect that people in the past did for beautiful poetry and the richness of his language. This is is why from here until eternity, junior high English classes will always giggle when Lord Capulet says “Bring me my long sword, ho!” I understand. He wrote some poignant stuff. “To be or not to be.” Shit’s heavy. But guess what, if I wanna watch the trials and tribulations of a young man set against the burdens and difficult choices of life, I’ll watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.