Story telling from Australia
It’s Shakespeare’s birthday this Sunday, as well as the day he died. He was 52.
On Wednesday we joined an audience crammed into a small room above The Toxteth pub in Glebe, to eagerly drink in words written hundreds of years ago.
It was right that we were crammed in. The original Globe Theatre had a pit jammed full of people standing cheek by jowl (and that’s the name of a great theatre company, whose current production of Winter’s Tale can be streamed until May 7.)
Once you get past some of the archaic language, Shakespeare’s words hit you with the force of a thunderclap. He wrote with passion, guts, honesty and extraordinary insight into human nature. His words still resonate today, and the Players in the Pub reading of sonnets and extracts from his plays – some famous, some not so – was a tour de force.
But you don’t need to be a professional actor to enjoy reading Shakespeare.
Three weeks ago we drove out of Broken Hill for a creek bed barbecue. When the wind dropped and the leaping flames had settled into burning embers, we sat in a circle and read extracts from that magical play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The characters of Puck, Titania, Demetrius, Lysander, Bottom, Helen, Hermia (not Hernia as one wit would have had it) and others sprang into life in that small circle of light in a way that truly honoured Shakespeare’s genius.
So wherever he might be performed – pub, theatre or creek bed – Happy Birthday to the Bard this weekend.
PS And happy birthday to my nephew, born on the same day.
‘A Daniel…a Daniel!’ (Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Sc I)