“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night…”
– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
I recently memorized a speech by Shakespeare and that was an excerpt from it. However, I think I owe you all a little explanation.
I often mention in comments and such that I am very busy. That is quite true. My full time job as a high school student takes up the majority of my day, and I definitely don’t waste what is left over. When I was in middle school, I participated in a Shakespeare Recitation competition. I enjoyed that very very much. In this competition you are required to memorize a sonnet and a speech from any Shakespeare play no less than 30 lines. Those who are in the top 5 of the district go and compete with other districts, all the way up to Nationals. I lived and breathed Shakespeare for those 6 months that we practiced for the competition! I never actually made it to the finals, but those 3 years gave me so much more than just a fancy certificate with my name on it.
Sadly, my high school has yet to have a Shakespeare club and therefore does not compete in competitions. This is horrible. So many people are missing out on a great cultural experience!
So how do I fulfill my craving for the works of Shakespeare? Why I volunteer at my old middle school’s Shakespeare Recitation club of course! Every day, Monday through Thursday, at 2:15 when my school lets out I go over to my old middle school (luckily they are only within a block of each other, and within two blocks of my house) and help out for about an hour! My role there is basically a combination of supervisor/helper/tutor/stand-in-counselor-for-their-issues/give Shakespeare performance advice/make-sure-the-kids-don’t-eat-each-other-alive woman. I love this. It is very fulfilling, almost more so than being in the competition myself because I get to root for them ALL! This Shakespeare competition happens to be tomorrow, and I am taking a day off of school (and let it be known that I NEVER skip, I got permission from my school and everything) to go with them! If any of them are reading this, or anyone else across the country who happens to be part of this is reading I wish you GOOD LUCK! 😀
The reason I have said that Shakespeare opens new worlds is because through this volunteering experience, I have been able to see firsthand the amazing affect that it can have on kids. I have seen a bad kid turn into someone who cares about integrity and literature and all of a sudden is willing to commit themselves to a half-year long project. (which in all honesty is tough for good kids!) I have seen a young girl who has trouble at home find comfort in the timeless words and life lessons within his books. I have seen kids’ grades, attendance, and behavior improve. An amazing friendship forms when people bond over love of a similar thing, Shakespeare included. As C. S. Lewis says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What? You too! I thought I was the only one!” Good kids have had their eyes opened to the size of the world and how real it is, something that can only be described by something as magnificent as a book. For me, Shakespeare brought me a whole new respect for old English literature, and an appreciation ( which perhaps turned into something more like an obsession) for centuries old romance novels.
So, folks, have I convinced you yet?
Shakespeare opens eyes, it opens hearts, it opens minds, and it most definitely opens new worlds.
“If music be the food of love, play on.”