Commemorating Shakespeare 401

Just a quick post from me. It seems that even with a year to prepare I yet again failed to meet a selfimposed deadline to try and join in (late) with Piyusha’s Shakespeare celebration idea. Apologies for that – I got tangled in research and lost in the diversion of learning about Ben Johnson – he was England’s first Poet Laureate and there’s an intriguing sense of mystery entwined between those two individual histories. Not that I unravelled anything there, more like became intrigued and fascinated and so losing focus from the task that was to hand in the beginning.

“To be,or not to be…” perhaps believing that today is the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday. It is certainly the day that his birth is celebrated as post-humous cultural capital.

Informally – and colloquially – there’s an interesting old wives tale about how the word ‘bard’ came into existence. I won’t go into that here but I’m sure you can imagine a bad language word with a couple of apostrophes… that’s more a ‘ye olde english pubbe’ story than old wives… I’d better behave better when representing ‘goode olde’ fashioned Englishness in an international arena, no doubt.

I’m approaching fifty in another many enough months and times and tales of tradition have certainly changed since the information superhighway and rise of tourism. Products of cultural capital change the course of our histories through the adaptation of those stories we once learnt as if fact. We are forced – or encouraged – to relearn our histories back from the viewpoints of others who have learnt it from one book or another and then in the perpetual retellings and cementings of fable and fiction obligingly accept the matter of the facts. Or is that matters of the fact. My grammar can be dreadful. Anyway…

i was very fortunate during my schooldays to visit Stratford-upon-Avon with my classmates when we were about eleven or maybe twelve. Back then we were taught by the Stratford Theatre educational team that there was no sure way of knowing who Shakespeare was, that he was believed to be a man of foreign origin and looked nothing like any of the images in our books. It was believed that the writings of Shakespeare were collaboratively produced during improvisational excercises and practice plays. Learned scholars would write down the actions and dialogues/monologues and these became our revered works of English literature known as the work of William Shakespeare…

Every conservative government has ruined England every time they seize political power. it’s difficult to keep politics out of discusssions around Shakespeare or his tales as I’m sure you’re aware if you’ve enjoyed anything of those works. Developments in educational provision and curriculum standardisation meant that within a couple more years or so of that Stratford visit we were being directed to believe the facts of those matters differently. Never mind. Parrot fashion learning to rote might achieve points in exams, but might fail to flex our early learning mindsets. Sometimes.

Of course, I wouldn’t wish to ruin anyone’s idea of who Shakespeare was, or might have been. His writings speak to every reader/listener in their own unique way so we may all have our own moments with the Bard to feel and assume and to reason any which way we will. His history is elusive and perhaps that’s how he wished it to be for himself. Another day I might make a better post of this adhoc freewriting and share better from previous research efforts (I bought the book ‘Shakespeare for Dummies’ especially – recycled book reading challenge – so that I could quick-scan reference points and refresh. But right now my research is all in a tangle and I’ve read none properly for thirty or so years. So i leave with this ‘much ado about nothing’ in its’ stead.

So, anytime between now and next April’s anniversary could be as good a time as any to celebrate the life and the works of Will Shakespeare just… well, ‘as you like it’, or whatever (just to add a modern touch!)

[Sorry Piyush’, 2k fictional words is too much for me even not in a hurry but I still think those were some great ideas and I would have loved to have seen some of the responses but must have some how missed them at the time.]