I have never particularly been a fan of Shakespeare.
At least, not a fan in the sense that most people are fans. Most people are baseball fans, basketball fans, fangirls, boy band fans, fans of a hobby, and fans of a person. They speculate and they imagine the outcome of the game or what the celebrity might do next. According to Wikipedia “a fan, or fanatic, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person who is enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody, such as a band, a sports team, a genre, a book, a movie or an entertainer.”
I would not say that I am devoted to Shakespeare, his plays, or his sonnets, therefore I am not a fan.
I enjoy reading his work, however, I have never done so unless it was an assignment. I have never googled a YouTube video the tell me about Shakespeare or to make a skit out of one of his works, but I have seen them as someone else has shown me. I cannot quote Shakespeare on demand, yet I found out today that I actually use a lot of his quotes in my everyday language. I carefully look for excuses to bring up his plays such as Titus Andronicus and the Tempest because I actually sound like a have a good education as I recite lessons I learned from my British Literature teacher in high school, but if the conversation goes anywhere other than brutality and forgiveness I quickly change the subject back to something less intelligent (like the whether or cheese or something.)
No, I am not a fan.
Visiting Stratford upon Avon today, I didn’t stop to gawk at the quotes on the wall or the dated bedroom that may or may not have been Shakespeare’s, honestly, I didn’t stay long enough to find out.
But what I did do was tread lightly on the floor that was over 500 years old, the floor that William Shakespeare did walk on. My eyes did widen as I read the graffiti window and knew Alfred Tennyson’s name was somewhere on there even though it was scribbled over. And, I did imagine sitting down at a desk and looking out a window with my fingers just hovering above the keys of a laptop and imagined a story that could some day be the only memory of me.
I imagined leaving and then writing about the place from memory – the crowded streets filled with tourist, the small bakery’s with delicious Mac & Cheese, the cobblestone streets and sidewalks, and the quaint little houses spotting the outskirts of the river Avon. I imagined what it would have been like to stay instead of come back to London, and then I realized, Shakespeare probably had the exact same thought.
His father was a wealthy man, Shakespeare easily could have followed in his footsteps and just stayed in Stratford, but he didn’t. Kind of just like I did by leaving home for college. I considered staying a lot and sometimes I still consider going back. Although it was over 450 years ago, I bet young William thought about it, too.
But just because I can relate to him does NOT make me a fan.
I now sit at my computer and imagine what it would be like if people still read about me and visited my home in 450 years. I imagine what little old Athens, Illinois would be like if they made my house a monument and put up a “Bohannan Centre” next to it filled with quotes from my work and artwork that people did of me. I imagine what stories I might have to write to become like that.
And just because I would like to write like he did doesn’t make me a fan either.
In the modern day, some authors are just as famous as their books, and the actors that perform and bring their stories to life on the big screen. I can only believe that Shakespeare would be looked upon in the same way.
His stories where so captivating because of their originality and tragic endings that people flocked to the theatres. I would compare it to the recent Star Wars hype over the new movies.
Shakespeare is a universal name to know because you don’t have to read one of his works to see his plays. The Lion King II is a spin off of Romeo and Juliet, as is Warm Bodies which is a zombie movie.
And just because I LOVE those movies does not make me a fan.
Shakespeare is unavoidable. He had such ground-breaking ideas and stories, they are still referenced today. He’s the J. K. Rowling of the 1600s!
I absolutely loved visiting his birthplace, seeing his hometown, and learning more about him. I enjoyed the artwork that the Shakespeare Centre included of him and I enjoyed talking about the plays I had read, the sonnets I had recited, and the YouTube videos I had watched as I walked around his home. This incredible day has been something I never thought I would do. Not only did I get to pretend to be a princess at Warwick castle, but I visited where a legend was born. I practically walked in his footsteps. I recited sonnets in my head as I read quotes on magnets in the gift shops. I totally bragged about where I had been on the bus ride back as my family asked me where I had been today.
But, I’m not a fan….. Right?