It’s been a fantastic, busy summer. I set a while ago to try and see the entire Shakespearean canon before I died, and I managed to knock quite a few of them off my list this year. I’ve been to Boulder and San Diego, Cedar City, Utah, and finally landed in Ashland, Oregon. Among it all I had the pleasure of taking my god daughter to her first play.
As I watch, as I listen, I start to find themes in the plays that reflect my own life or my own writing. That’s the point of it all, isn’t it? Shakespeare was written for the masses. The struggles of his characters, particularly in love and matters of station, would have resonated with his audience.
When I compare it Young Adult literature, I can’t help but see how writers do the same: first love is a constant, though after a summer filled with reading YA, I’m getting a little weary of triangles involving the good boy, the bad boy, and a female lead that can’t see past this struggle to more important matters. Still, it’s an old story. There’s even a jealous triangle in King Lear, and it works destruction on all its members.
It’s easy to note Shakespeare’s influence on literature. For me, I didn’t really discover the point until I started college, with a professor who made me read Hamlet so closely that she tested us on footnotes. Even with her encouragement, and even with my love of reading, I’ve never been good at reading plays. I have to hear them, to see them. I don’t think I really fell in love with a Midsummer’s Night Dream until I saw it in Ashland, done in the new style that’s as multimedia and lively as possible. Now I’m fairly obsessed with it.
I arrived in Ashland so stressed out from my day job that I was nearly in tears, after one of the worst days of travel I’ve ever experienced. Now I’m renewed, at least enough to blog again, and hopefully with lots of great plot tangles to ponder and unwind. If great literature has a point for me, a purpose, it’s that it can help us escape our troubles, and help us sort some things out while we’re gone.