We enjoy the Bard. We like his plays, and we like his sonnets, and we think he is funny. And his people feel real.
We found out recently that there is a Brit in our area that goes around impersonating the great man and teaching about his life. This past week was Shakespeare's birthday, and when the kids and I learned that a local British grocery store was giving him a birthday party, complete with an appearance by Mr. Shakespeare himself, of course we had to go.
Triss and Mariel begged to be allowed to wear costumes.
Cornflower, who prefers to fly under the radar, did not dress up, but her two sisters went as Beatrice and Hero, and we got there a half hour early, thinking that with Mr. Shakespeare himself making an appearance, we would need that edge in order to get a close seat.
Surprisingly, not everyone in our metropolitan area felt the same eager enthusiasm to meet Mr. Shakespeare, and we were the first ones there. Aside from the store owners, of course, who were very friendly. We used the time to browse through the store looking at everything. Quite fun it was, too.
Finally, Mr. Shakespeare came out. A very nice man, he quizzed us on the location and date of his birth (1564 at Stratford-Upon-Avon), the name of his theater (the Globe), its location (it was south of the Thames in London). He showed us the church record of his baptism (a copy). He entertained us with a few quotes and some facts. The girls were enchanted. (We don't get many opportunities to hear Shakespeare quoted in a British accent.) They clutched their Complete Plays of William Shakespeare and eagerly attempted to answer his questions.
By this time a few other people had arrived. Some of the folks hurried up to him as soon as his presentation was done and asked him to sign his autograph, which he gladly did. These folks were teenagers. "How nice!" I thought, "That all these teens are so interested in such a great playwright." I beamed with pride for North Texas.
Then one of the kids said, "We need your autograph for extra credit in a class," and the entire group walked out, never to return. As they left, one of the moms said brightly, "Well, that was fun! And you learned some facts!"
I began to grieve a little within myself.
The girls had questions, and Mr. Shakespeare talked with us some more, about Hamlet and writing plays, and Shakespeare memorabilia, and the best Shakespeare purchases to make, and what his (the actor's) life was like when he lived in England, and what made him move to Texas.
He flattered me at one point, saying, "So you've taught them everything they know about Shakespeare, wow!"
I didn't know what to say then. Because all we do is read his plays. I think Shakespeare teaches them more about Shakespeare than I do.
We had a great time visiting-- everyone was very friendly. There was tea, biscuits, and a birthday cake, and we took the opportunity to purchase some British food for a tea party at home(marmalade, packets of blancmange mix, Devon cream and Eccles cakes).
He made another little presentation after a bit, which we missed because we had wandered outside to stretch our legs. But when we came back, he obligingly went through it again. He talked to us about the play, Richard II (which we are currently reading), and the Earl of Essex and Elizabeth I. He then recited a sonnet, and we thought it was very well done.
We finally left, but not before I realized something. We are real geeks. Shakespeare geeks. And I like it that way.