I love to read-almost to the point that it's not healthy- but literature proper has always been a struggle. I like to read for the pleasure of reading, not always as interested in the meaning behind what I'm reading as I probably should be. I never seem to get the same message or enjoyment out of some stories and poems that my teachers did, and my opinion or thoughts never seemed to be "right". So, I suffered through literature classes. My grades were always good, but I don't think I gave any hope to my teachers as to my future with the written word. I took AP English as a Senior in high school. It was a whole year of analyzing literature in different forms. Ms. McGovern was the teacher and I'm sure she was no more impressed than any of my other teachers.
Plays are kind of near the bottom of my favorite things to read, and Shakespeare has pretty much occupied the bottom-most spot for most of my life. I remember studying Hamlet with Ms. McGovern. Ugh!! And, lucky class that we were, we got to follow up the reading and analyzing with the movie. It was a very long unit for me.
Just to cement my feelings towards Shakespeare, the choir I was in attended a festival or something at NAU in Flagstaff that same year. I remember it being an overnight trip. The "highlight" of the evening were tickets for the entire choir to attend the NAU presentation of "The Marriage of Figaro"- another Shakespeare event in my life. I didn't exactly enter the performance with great anticipation and my enthusiasm went down from there. Most of the words sounded foreign to me and I struggled to follow the dialogue and storyline. Dying from boredom seemed pretty much assured. I must have been sitting near the back, because I remember somehow sneaking out the back for a little while to get a break. Please don't tell Mr. Perry, the choir director!
I avoided Shakespeare for several years. Then, in college, Greg took me to see Henry V and the latest movie version of Hamlet. I went because I wanted to spend time with Greg. He really liked them. I'm pretty sure I didn't, but I don't have any memories, other than both movies starting. I decided Shakespeare was not ever going to be one of "my things". I wasn't saddened by that thought at all.
So, fast forward a few years to tonight. A friend called this afternoon. She, her husband and another couple had season tickets to the Hale Theater in Orem. Their tickets were for tonight, but the other couple was out of town. Would Greg and I be interested in attending Shakespeare's "As You Like It" with them? My first reaction was not one of over excitement, but I thought a night of culture would be good for me. Besides, it would be fun to have a date with Greg and good friends. So, I said yes and looked forward to the night out.
I was amazed. The play was fabulous. Who ever knew that Shakespeare could not only be understandable, but funny?! The costumes were great, the acting wonderful, the props very creative. This production was so helpful as to give a brief, written summary in the program and then a verbal introduction/recap at the beginning and then again after intermission. The actors seemed to speak more English than I remember hearing in previous encounters. I laughed. I followed most of the dialogue. I wanted more. In short, I did something I thought was impossible- experienced Shakespeare and lived to tell the tale.