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Shakespeare Sucks

I started out in theatre as a stage manager for a company founded on strict Renaissance principles. This meant two lighting cues every show (lights up at the start, lights down at the end), and actors speaking at so many words per minute to make a five act play fit into two hours.

When I say strict, I mean according to the theories of the artistic director. They might have been accepted as doctrine in academic circles, or not. I didn’t care. When you’re in the role of stage manager, you learn to ignore such trivia so you can serve the larger task of not having actors kill each other.

However, the odd thing (even for me in my then great naivete about all things theatrical) was that the artistic director hated Shakespeare. Not enough to not program him into his seasons, but get him in private? Johnson, yes, Marlowe, yes, Middleton, yes, Rowley, yes, but Shakespeare?

Untalented hack. Overrated. And so on.

However, being exposed to a rep season of Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, I could tell, even with my limited knowledge, that Shakespeare was the better writer. Not that I didn’t enjoy The Spanish Tragedy, but it was melodramatic, and characters in it were about as deep as they needed to be for a melodrama. The Shakespeare characters, on the other hand, came across as real people.

So yes, for some people, Shakespeare sucks. Not me, though! Happy Birthday Shakespeare!