Me and Shakespeare...

...Or, to be grammatically correct, Shakespeare and I,
 are old friends.

We first became friends when I was quite small. I can't remember being introduced to Will. I just always knew him.

I would go to Ludlow and see the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) perform Shakespeare's plays outside in Ludlow castles' ruins.

I am told that when we went to see Macbeth I kept a tally of the murdered characters, I was quite a dark child.

I remember that the plays always started in the daylight and ended up in the dark. It must have been a lighting nightmare for the lighting designer, but the actors would leap around the ramparts and use every piece of the ruins to interpret whichever play they were performing.

We would take blankets, a picnic, umbrella's and soup in flasks for later. It was a lovely evening out.

As a result, I have always enjoyed Shakespeare and never really struggled with the language.

I took my kids to see the Tempest recently, they really enjoyed it, then whilst on holiday they saw The Rivals by RB Sheridan.

I was concerned I had left it too late as they are (10 and 14), but no, they totally absorbed the language and understood what was happening in the plays.

My eldest has said that she is 'OK with Shakespeare' which, for her means, it is not the mystery it is to many of her classmates. I am reassured.

I still haven't taken my kids to an RSC production, this is largely down to cost. I looked at booking some dubious side seats in the circle at Stratford-Upon-Avon and it would have cost £170.

So much for making Shakespeare accessible to all. In fact going to the theatre to see anything at all is ridiculously costly.

I looked at going to see the Birmingham Ballet's production of Aladdin - It was £212 to sit at the back of the stalls. Similarly, to go Birmingham Reps, main house it is about £55 per person.

I grew up going to the theatre regularly, now the prices are so exorbitant that only the upper middle classes and above can afford it.

And yet all the theatre's are looking for donations in addition to the ticket prices to support them,  I can't help but think where on earth is all the money going? Are they being taxed hugely by the government? I am baffled.

I honestly believe, my love of the English language, theatre and my academic achievements (I have a degree in Drama and English Literature) are largely to do with the amount of theatre I was exposed to as a child (I also read. A lot).

He has helped me get some of the Shakespeare questions right on University Challenge (they are the only questions I do get right).

He has helped me understand love, tragedy, comedy and joy.

I have favourite soliloquy's and sonnets.

I do have an issue with his history plays, they just never sat well with me.

I am gutted that Will won't be my children's BFF, but it's just one of those things.

I think JK Rowling may be my eldest's Shakespeare, at least this gets her reading, and in this day and age of technology, that has to be a good thing? Right?


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