Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, October 04, 2004  

Old Will and me were raised the same
If childhood is in a name . . .

I have had a long love affair with Shakespeare's plays. I immersed myself in them in my twenties, took part in one, studied them in college with field trips to Ashland,OR to see them, watched the movies, read the plays anc countless books of criticism and literary history surrounding them.

At one time, I sought to deconstruct Shakespeare's genius to its simplest, most basic template and basis. What I discovered was that when you boiled Shakespeare down to bare essentials of plot, his histories and tragedies were melodramas. Elizabethan soap operas.

It briefly shocked me that the Bard's serious plays were not as great and grand as Greek tragedy. Until I began to understand that all dramatic storytelling is melodramatic. The Greek tragedies and Hebrew Bible stories have little melodrama which is explicitly illustrated, whereas Elizabethan drama tends to have a larger amount and range of emotional characterization.

It's not that Shakespeare isn't melodramatic, but it's what he does with it that counts.

But not according to the contemporary filmmaking genius, Billy Bob Thornton:

He said: “I think Shakespeare’s overrated. It’s bulls**t. I’d never go and see a Shakespeare play. Who’d want to see me in Hamlet?

“Who cares? I don’t know why actors do it. Shakespeare is just a bunch of soap operas.

“It’s not that I don’t understand it. But people think if you speak with an English accent it somehow makes you smarter.

“I don’t believe in all the flowery language — all of his plays are just a series of soap operas.”

You just can't pay for quotes like these. The reporter must have felt he hit a rich vein.

Cost: Priceless.

Oh yes, that title at the top? I once wrote a poem about Will and me since I grew up as a boy in Stratford, too. Connecticut, that is. On the Housatonic. (There's a Shakespeare festival and playhouse there, also.)

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:03 PM |