Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why We Do This : Your Turn

During my Shakespeare Day Marathon I posted 25 different items for people to talk about, ranging from links I'd queued up over the weekend, to information about Shakespeare and the Presidents, the Booth family ... leading up to actual images from my invited trip through Folger Shakespeare Library vault and culminating in pictures of Folio #1, The Most Beautiful Book In The World.

And yet the post that got the most clicks that day was my ... rant? diatribe? plea? ... entitled "Why I Do This : The Big Picture" (I'll give you a hint, it's not about my kids).  I don't know why that happened, exactly (I would have thought the pictures would generate more interest), but I'm glad it did.  That post, albeit a little over the top, was my reaction to the yearly Shakespeare's Birthday flood of attention where people come out of the woodwork to say how much Shakespeare means to them, in one or two nice little 140character tweets.

Prove it.

I don't want to hear what Shakespeare means to you.  I want you to show us what it means to you, and show us what you do about it.  Do you perform him, research him, teach him?  What about all those out there who, like me, can't claim to be doing this as any more than a hobby?

If Shakespeare means something to you, then you should consider yourself obligated to return the favor and do something for him.  For every post about "I love his poetry, his words sing to me!" I'll show you dozens upon hundreds of posts claiming he's not relevant anymore, shouldn't be taught, speaks a different language, banned from schools, too hard, too boring...  What are you doing about it?

Here's your call to action.  If you've got a place to post something, then post it there and link it here.   If you don't, then tell us in the comments what you're doing to bring your love of Shakespeare to the rest of the world.


Reynaldo Makefoil said...

Did you just ask us to spam your blog with self-promotional links? I think you did.

I wrote The Tragedie of Prince Hamlet and the Philosopher's Stone, or, A Will Most Incorrect To Heaven for many reasons. One of them is that there are a lot of people in my nerdier circles who dismiss Shakespeare entirely as one more thing that people only like because it's old. And the thing is, I agree with that principle! People do overvalue old literature, for sentimental reasons, as a way of signaling sophistication, and because the fandoms are bigger. But Shakespeare is way better than a 400-year-old has any right to be. So this way, I got to write a nerdy bit of fiction that you have to read Hamlet in order to truly appreciate, which will hopefully suck some new people in.

Duane Morin said...

Yes, Reynaldo, I did. With a very specific purpose in mind, as you know. I don't mind at all sharing the link love as long as people are on topic. Thanks for your contribution!

Cass said...

Hee! Well, if you insist that we spam for a good cause. ;)

Shakespeare is literally my whole livelihood, so I live and breath it every day, and the entire focus of my career is spreading that joy to others. It's pretty awesome -- I work with everyone from elementary schoolers to octogenarians, high school and college students to lawyers and businesspeople, renowned Shakespeare scholars and general audience enthusiasts -- sometimes all in the same week! There is such a thrill in watching someone go from zero engagement to total comprehension, just by getting into the text and exploring it. It's awesome.

So. My money where my mouth is? I work for the American Shakespeare Center Education Department, writing study guides, leading workshops, working with our summer camps (both youth and adult), and doing a lot of our social media work: writing for the main Education Dept Blog, moderating our Interns' Blog, recording and posting our Podcasts, tweeting as myself in my capacity as an education professional and as the company, and assisting with our Facebook page maintenance and promotions.

So, in short... Yeah, I think I do my part! ;)

PS: Come visit us the next time you feel like taking a trip southward, Duane! We're just another 2.5 hrs past DC. :D

Duane Morin said...

Thanks Cass :)

The idea, by the way, was to encourage people to write their own content on their own sites (about the "Why I Do This" topic), and then link that :). More people see it that way. By only posting in the comments you're limited to the audience of who comes in and reads them, but if you've got your own promotional vehicle as well the audience expands accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I like this challenge. I'm a high school English teacher in NZ where Shakespeare is being erroded out of the curriculum. Luckily, I'm the Head of the Department so I can agitate for change, and I say: Shakespeare stays! At the moment though, I'm also on a kind of sabbtical and I'm writing my Masters thesis. You guessed it, in Shakespeare. I like to practise what I preach.

JM said...

"(I would have thought the pictures would generate more interest)"

--That's why.

Duane Morin said...

I don't understand what you mean, J.

JM said...

To our great detriment, we are a visually oriented society. We don't care about words anymore. Words are used against us by those who know how to manipulate us. The usefulness of rhetoric has been co-opted by those who know how to use it to mainly sell us something--ideas being the most dangerous item on the menu. Our ability to communicate with one another effectively has been severely damaged.
Shakespeare is all about the effective use of words; about the beauty and necessity of interaction with one another. This, aside from the *art and beauty* of it all, is my focus in teaching Shakespeare. It's about the words and the ability to take back possession of our greatest means of communication, confidence-building, and awareness. Shakespeare is a way to focus on that. If you can do his words, the rest is simple.

Ophelia said...

I like to think that (my friends and) I are breaking the stereotype of kids/teens who hate schoolwork. This applies to Shakespeare among many other categories. My homeschool co-op puts on a Shakespeare play every year. (I'm also from a family of English teachers, so I've watched Shakespeare performances and heard Shakespeare stories since I was rather small. I started performing Shakespeare when I was about 8.) Anyway, we all break the stereotype by watching 'She's the Man' and discussing the 'Twelfth Night' references; by obsessing over our annual plays; by talking about Midsummer Night's Dream when we're bored; by voluntarily going to Shakespeare Camp in the summer sometimes; by quoting Hamlet, like, all the time.
And that's how I prove what Shakespeare means to me.

JM said...

I just noticed something in your post.
Do you really see what you're doing as no more than a Shakespeare-related 'hobby'? Aren't you now in the business of Shakespeare?

Duane Morin said...

Honestly J, I do, and I'll tell you why. I can't point to a business model and say "Because I do X, I expect "my business" to being in revenue of $Y." If I could do that, then I could have a budget. I could go to conferences. I could purchase marketing materials. I could feel like the amount of time that I put into the project has a measurable return.

That doesn't happen. I make a few bucks from ads, enough to keep the site running. But if I had an idea where I suddenly had to shell out real money? Like maybe to have some high quality shirts designed or something like that? I'd have to see that as money coming out of my pocket, with small likelihood of return - thus, I'm basically spending it for my own enjoyment. Hence, hobby.

If I had something to attach a model to - be in merchandise, or a book of some sort, or teaching - something that people would pay for in a non-trivial (and repeatable / predictable) way, this would be a business. Until then, it's a hobby.

Duane Morin said...

"to being in revenue"? to *bring* in revenue. Bugger.

JM said...

Whatever floats your boat in terms of how you want to feel about it ----BUT. The reality is:

If you're doing something to make a profit, whether or not that profit is realized, immediately or by drips and drabs, or some wished-for "windfall" future, you're in business--particularly if it's meant to be ongoing and progressive.
When I've produced something, win or lose, break even or otherwise, I'm in the business of play production. I can't rationalize it any other way without trying to re-write the dictionary.
"...that which we call a Rose
By any other Word..."

Anonymous said...

I tell my friends about Shakespeare and (like you mention in a previous post) they try to understand it and connect to me. They'll do their best to quote Shakespeare or tell me facts they learned (basic ones, like his birthday.) Once I even explained to them that NO, the death of Hamnet did not create Hamlet. I forced my family to see Shakespeare plays, and they love them. I convinced my sister to go to a Shakespeare camp and be on a High School Shakespeare company with me. Now a lot of my friends say that Shakespeare is on their list of stuff to read. And this is quite a feat considering last year (when I started reading Shakespeare) quite a few of my friends thought that I was weird for awhile.

Brian Paterson said...

A great question and important conversation.

I'm arriving late to this party, but here is my contribution of what I do and why: