Who are you?
William Shakespeare. The greatest writer in the History of the English Language. I’m a poet, a playwright, an historian, an activist, and a mysterious figure whose biography, according to guys like Bill Bryson, “has long been a thicket of wild supposition arranged around scant facts.” And this whole Anonymous movie experiment isn’t helping to underscore the fact that, yes, I was a real person and, yes, I was – and still am – an amazing literary figure. I mean, check this out:
Will my ancestors be seeing any royalties from this film? Probably not. So please trust me when I say that this interview is all about defending my legacy as a real person and not at all a clever publicity stunt.
What do you do for fun?
Write, write and write some more. I also enjoy mead and tongue-in-cheek criticism of power-thirsty monarchies. When performed, my work allows for entertaining spaces of autonomy for peoples of all ages, shapes, sizes, and socio-economic backgrounds. Oh, and I also like fancy hats and parades!
What is your favourite community? Why?
High school English classes. Watching you kids engage with my texts is a standing joke for we writers here in the afterlife. You haven’t gotten anything wrong, per se, but you haven’t not gotten anything wrong, either.
What is your superpower?
How do you use it to build community?
For over 400 years this rhythmic writing style has inspired students, scholars, poets, thinkers, innovators, and creatives the world over. My comedic, tragic, historical, and romantic tropes have stood the test of time and, many have argued, are responsible for a range of narratives that include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Every love poem
- The Harry Potter series
- Star Wars
- Everything written by Stephen Greenblatt
My Three Favourite Things about William Shakespeare Are…
1. He makes reading and writing fun! Whether it’s Bard on the Beach or this cool project or me reciting the Balcony Scene from Romeo and Juliet to Kurt’s sister during a hilarious evening in the summer of 2003, it’s hard to not have fun with so many fantastic examples of poetry, prose and plays.
2. He’s an Historian! True story. I even wrote a paper in grad school about it; so it must be true. With an incredible bias that favoured the narrative of England’s ruling family, the Tudors, Billy Shakes chronicled English history with subjective pomp and pageantry that gentlemen like Niall Ferguson emulate even to this day.
3. Mystery, controversy and passionate debate surround him! Did the Early of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson actually anonymously pen all of Shakespeares 37 plays and 100+ sonnets? Was there a conspiracy to cover this up? Was William Shakespeare actually a soldier from the future sent back in time to protect Queen Elizabeth I from a terminator? There are many great theories out there that answer these questions. And they are all passionately debated, thus sustaining – and even growing – the relevance of this literary figure centuries after his (alleged) passing. Clearly, in the words we write and others read forever we become truly immortal!
Masthead photo courtesy of Hashmil