Tea & Soda Pop with Shakespeare?, A Playwright’s Perspective on the Working Will is one of my projects for this year of our Lord 2016, a year which will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s final exit, stage left.
Tea with Shakespeare certainly sounds appropriate, don’t you think? So very British, eh what? However, you wouldn’t have had tea with Will because tea didn’t even begin to get a leaf-hold in England until the mid-1660s and wasn’t really popular there until the mid-18th Century. Surprised?
So, with Will ~ who left our stage in 1616 ~ it would most likely have been ale. Or gin. Certainly not water. (London water could be deadly.) Tea was not in the cupboard, or on the tavern menu, but would be popular in coffee houses by 1700. If that’s the case, why would I choose such a tea-sipping title for a playwright’s perspective on Shakespeare? Because it’s an easy assumption to make if you are not equipped with the basic facts of history. (I wasn’t either, but I dug a little and learned a lot.) The “tea with Will” serves as a symbol of the myths that have grown like weeds across the centuries in the garden of all things Shakespearean. A part of my project will be to lay before you the work of excellent scholars and help them do some myth busting, in a very family-friendly presentation.
A Family-Friendly Playwright Helps the Whole Family Discover the Great Bard
Why the soda pop? True, they are not the healthiest of drinks, but they communicate “young” and “informally friendly” in two words. As a family-friendly, youth-oriented playwright, I write to entertain a broad age range, and so my intentions with this project are the same. Tea skews older, soda pop skews younger, inviting my “whole-family” audience. If economy and power are two aspects of poetry, then our title is poetic! (As is our subject.)
So, let’s cut right to the popular chase, shall we? Are you wondering whether Shakespeare truly wrote Shakespeare? Our time together should intrigue and inform you, and equip you to answer that question quite satisfactorily for yourself! Are you a fan of the Bard’s works on the page or the stage? Our discussion should please you. Have not a clue about Shakespeare and wonder what all the fuss is about? Keep an eye on this site for updates and information regarding this upcoming series.
Since I write family-friendly plays and books, I will introduce you to the most culturally relevant aspects of the man and his works, leaving the portions of 16th- and 17th-Century bawdy humor and raw grit to deeper studies under parental and/or individual discretion.
The “whole family” approach is in the spirit of those times when “every schoolboy” (and later, also girl) dutifully memorized and recited many of the Great Bard’s most thought-provoking, insightful, beautiful, and powerful soliloquies and passages, featured in such sources as the McGuffey Readers. The English Bible and various works of Shakespeare, both found in some form in almost every cabin across the American frontier, were both freely taught in every schoolroom from the urban center to the prairie hamlet.
Why not gather family and friends and have a little fun and fellowship getting to know that amazing man from Stratford. And,… why not do our own duty to impart and reinforce some important aspects of our American history and heritage to our younger generations. They face a challenging incarnation of the “brave new world,” and they need to know that it was Shakespeare who gave them that oft-quoted description!