Director Melinda Hall has been working on a documentary on the subject of How Shakespeare Changed My Life. The promo clip featuring F. Murray Abraham, Sir Ben Kingsley, Stacy Keach, Michael Kahn and other noted Shakespeareans is currently circulating on the web. The most inspirational segment for me was Earle Hyman (whom I remember as Bill Cosby’s dad on the Cosby Show) telling of how he grew up in North Carolina without a library that was open to African Americans- until one day a community center opened and when he finally had access to books, he asked for the largest one in the library. Behold he was given The Complete Works of Shakespeare and it changed his life.
I was introduced to Othello in my high school drama class, where we then performed at the Folger Secondary Festival. An absolutely life changing experience for me, along with my current husband (then boyfriend) giving me my own copy of the Complete Works the year he attended the festival before me. Both experiences have forever changed the course of my life and fueled my love affair with words. It has been a personal triumph to be able to offer the students we work with the opportunity to have life altering experiences through exposure to Shakespeare.
When asked to describe how he felt about learning Shakespeare, one of the 3rd grade DCPS students in our elementary program said, “I learned that you can make a difference in your life. …Now I am addicted to Shakespeare. And you feel like you can do anything and you will want to do it more.”
How has Shakespeare changed your life – and the lives of your students?