Thursday, June 11, 2015

"For you, in my respect, are all the world."

"Then how can it be said I am alone // When all the world is here to look on me?"
- A Midsummer Night's Dream

I just finished taking an online Shakespeare class. It was through Coursera, and was a free four-week massive open course in which we read four Shakespeare plays and discussed them, and watched clips from the movies that have been made about them.

Video "lecture." This format is pretty awesome.

I really enjoyed the class. I had read two of the plays before (Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream), but I hadn't picked up any Shakespeare since high school, so it was like re-discovering something and seeing it with whole new eyes. The other two plays were The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing, and I was especially looking forward to the latter, as it had been on my to-read list for quite some time. (I didn't end up liking The Tempest much. It was really confusing to me, but I really liked Much Ado. And then I watched the Emma Thompson/Denzel Washington version of the movie, and it was also really good, and Matt even enjoyed it once he figured out what was happening.)

Though can I tell you something about A Midsummer Night's Dream? I think it was my sophomore year of high school, our theater department put on that play. I've looked for photographic evidence, but unfortunately I found none.

Before I started re-reading the play, I could not for the life of me remember the name of the character I played, nor what the play was actually about.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is about a wedding, and actors that are to perform a play during the wedding festivities, and a terrible love triangle (square?) in which a woman, Hermia is engaged to a man named Demetrius, though she's in love with another man, Lysander, and her best friend Helena is in love with Demetrius but he thinks that Helena is horrible. It makes for some very amusing poetry.

Reading it brought back so many memories from high school. I was cast as Hermia, and I was horrified when this boy that I thought was icky (no idea why, now) was cast as Lysander. Though I never had to, I was terrified that I might have to kiss him. (I had never kissed anyone, and didn't want Ickface to be my first.) Especially because I was totally head over heels for this guy that lived down the street from me, who was also in the play. Creepily enough, he got cast as Hermia's dad, Egeus, but it was like, the highlight of my life at the time to get to spend rehearsals with him, though nothing ever happened between us. (High School Allie pretty much only had unrequited crushes, until she went to Homecoming with High School Matt senior year.)

Your turn: tell me about your high school self! What were you involved in? Who did you have a massive crush on? (Or, if you'd rather, have you read Shakespeare? What is your favorite play?)


  1. That's so awesome that you did a Coursera class! I've heard about them and thought about doing it when my boys are older and I have more time. In college, I had to take two different Shakespeare classes for my English degree, and the book we used was like 20 pounds. I had to lug that thing all over campus, but it was a good workout! I love _Much Ado About Nothing_ and thought the movie version with Emma Thompson was so good. Robert Sean Leonard was in it, and I had a crush on him from _Swing Kids_.

  2. love that you're taking time to learn/explore shakespeare on your own. i too always wanted to learn more in college/high school, but never really had the opportunity. if it weren't for needing to acquire a diverse range of credits, i'd probably just have taken art/literature courses :) as for high school, i dated the boy that lived next door for a good 4 years :)

  3. Thankfully I got the Complete Works of Shakespeare on my Kindle, and that made it much easier! I think they have it on Amazon for like, $3, which is kind of insane.

  4. Aw! I ended up minoring in literature because I loved my first two English classes, and then I didn't really like the ones I ended up taking after that! I'm glad there's always more opportunities to learn. (Rumor has it there's a learning-about-wine class at the university here; if it's true, I want to look into auditing it!)