Happy Birthday, Will Shakespeare

Being local to Stratford-upon-Avon as I grew up, there was no escaping the tourists.  Summer journeys home from school could take triple the time to get through the town on the bus.  People drifted gently along the streets, stepping off pavements backwards with their cameras.  They made learning to drive in the town a huge adventure – I particularly remember the lesson where I met a car coming the wrong way round the traffic island at the top of Bridge Street.

All because of Shakespeare.  I’m lucky.  My introduction to Shakespeare was as theatre, not as an English lesson.  I learned that if you listen, even at the age of six, you can understand what is happening.  It was my birthday treat – we didn’t have much money, but my trip to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was an annual highlight.  It was an opportunity to see into several different worlds.  There was the world of the story Shakespeare told – a complex woven cloth of life.  There was the world of the theatre, of world class actors, of aspiration and achievement.  There was the world of the literary aficionado, the theatregoer, the person who looked for different viewpoints, varied insights.

So Shakespeare changed me – those early visits helped me lift my view of the world, discover possibilities that I’d never have seen otherwise, and inspired me.

“All the world’s a stage…” 


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