As I have often said, I see Shakespeare differently.
The Shakespeare I see is very entertaining, very edgy, and will do just about anything to make you laugh. And he loves bawdy humor!
The versions of Hamlet, Richard III and The Merchant of Venice that I have written show you the vision of Shakespeare that I have.
They make reading Shakespeare fun, and very easy to understand. If you have ever thought that Shakespeare was dull and difficult, then you are in for a great surprise.
As far as who I am, there really is not much to say about me, until about 6 years ago. That's when Shakespeare changed my life.
I have always loved Shakespeare's plays, but found myself confused sometimes. Like many people I know, it seemed like you had to do a lot of work to understand Shakespeare. I would occasionally read a play, or see a play performed live, and I have watched just about every film version ever made, but I just didn't get it.
I went to high school, read some of the plays, and came away with more questions than answers.
I didn't read any of them during college.
But during college in New York City, I saw several productions of the plays, all with stars like Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Kevin Kline, etc. I loved going but since I was not really studying the plays, I came away with little to no appreciation of what I had just seen.
It was during college however that I became interested in world religions. I would eventually major in Religious Studies.
One of my favorite courses was studying the New Testament. This exegetical study of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was fascinating. What is written in each gospel that matches or doesn't match the other gospel really opened my eyes to the fact that even these most sacred of texts are living and breathing. The meaning of the gospels is still being debated.
The same is true of history, of course. There are so many questions about our past, and I learned that while we may not come to find concrete answers or proof, we may discover better questions.
I also took a class in Etymology, the study of the history of words. Looking at the history of words made me excited but also a little seasick. The more you study them, the more you feel like you are going down a rabbit hole and may never return.
Especially the contronyms like "cleave." It means to stick together. But it also means to split or divide!
"Bad" means both bad and good.
I had a professor who inspired me to write fiction, which I did, under his supervision for two semesters. My writing was terrible, but the process was rewarding, and I fell in love with telling stories.
I also had another professor of literature who described my paper as having a true "empathy" for the writer we were studying.
I liked that, and I have always remembered that. I think of it frequently when I read fiction, non-fiction, and Shakespeare for that matter. I don't have difficulty putting myself in someone else's shoes, and it has helped me understand who Shakespeare was.
As the years have gone by, I lived a normal life like most people, but I would also write.
First it was like a hobby, sometimes it was more like a passion, and as time passed, it became a very important part of my life.
I have always considered writing, and my artistic process, to be "wrestling with angels."
I saw Paul Gauguin's painting of Jacob wrestling an angel a long time ago and it stuck in my mind. I like the contradiction in the description. It's not wrestling with demons, or devils that's hard. It's wrestling with angels, something that is good and something that you like -- that's the hard part.
For me, writing is difficult but good work. Pleasurable but challenging. I have never had writer's block, believe it or not. Of course, sometimes what I write is good, and a lot of it is bad. So, I keep writing until enough of the good writing rises to the top. And it has always been more about the journey than the destination.
I think artists, whether they are writers, painters, musicians, or dancers will get what I'm saying. What I don't like is not writing, not creating. That's the worst.
About 5 years ago I watched The Merchant of Venice and it changed my life. I could see a different version of the play buried underneath the melodramatic version I was watching. The version that I could see underneath was very funny, very modern and unlike any Shakespeare anyone has probably ever known.
When Steve Jobs passed away recently, I watched that commencement speech he gave at Stanford University. He said that when you look at life, sometimes there are dots that you were connecting. He took a calligraphy class in college for no reason other than the fact that it was fascinating.
Later that would become one of the most important elements in the original Apple computers -- the rich choice of fonts.
I don't know why exactly I took classes in the New Testament, or Etymology, and I really didn't know what I was doing when I wrote my first stories.
But now, looking back, I completely understand what Steve Jobs was saying.
I have always loved language. I have always tried to ask better questions, and I'm not one who accepts someone's answer just because. This helped me develop a very critical eye when I read Shakespeare. I have put myself in his shoes, and walked a lot of miles in them!
I can sense when he was happy in his writing, and when the angels were getting the better of him.
In the case of The Merchant of Venice, where everyone has been seeing a tragic drama, I saw a comedy -- and boy is it bawdy!
Shakespeare did not write his plays for us. He wrote them for his audience.
My new versions of these plays transport us back in time to see the plays as they were first performed.
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