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A Message for Snobs Only

Shakespeare himself was not an elitist. He wrote his plays for all strata of society, and he portrayed all strata of society in his plays.

But over the past 400 years he has been turned into an elitist by elitists, both those in the theater and in the study. A testament to his genius is how his works remain so popular despite a debilitating co-opting by scholars, directors, and cultured snobs who think that Shakespeare should be the sole domain of theirs and their kind.

They shudder to think that nonsophisticates might find these great plays simply good-time fun, that great Shakespeare is played on Peachtree Street as well as on Broadway, that a troupe of twelve actors can stage more epic epics on a bare stage in a tiny Appalachian town than a cast of (seemingly) thousands can in a multimillion-dollar arts center in one of the world's great metropolises. This is not to denigrate New York and the Stratfords (who do great work); this is not even to elevate anybody else (whose work is elevation enough). This is to put everybody on a common Shakespearean plane.

I am not an elitist, but I am a snob—about snobs. I don't like snobs. I truly look down my nose at those who dismiss any Shakespeare other than that which they've worshiped themselves at the high altars of theater. I curl my lip ever so slightly at those who smirk at an understanding of the plays that differs from theirs. To those who hold forth with much earnest show of intellect and volume about their particular deistic Shakespeare before, during, and after shows, I especially, cringingly, turn up my nose. Give me, instead, the 10-something little girl who gaped with indignity at Rosalind's diss of women during a production of As You Like It in Staunton, Virginia. I have no idea how many plays she's seen or read, if any, nor does it matter; her spontaneous reaction was that of somebody just so into that Shakespearean moment that it pleased her, and, in turn, it pleased those who saw her pleased, including Rosalind. I bow to you, unknown little girl.

This website should be approached with that in mind. I come not to bury Shakespeare in hubris; I come to dig this dude and his plays and anybody—actually, everybody—who provides me the opportunities to do that, from Boise to Brooklyn, from the River Thames to the Red River.

I am no erudite scholar on the subject of Shakespeare or his literary genius. I just like good writing, good action, good stories, and good characters, and Shakespeare is the best and most prolific ever at achieving all four. You will find me a man who simply enjoys watching and reading Shakespeare and wants to share his passion for experiencing Shakespeare. Plus, the more I read and watch his works, the more I appreciate Shakespeare's universal relevance to what we as individuals and societies must wade through to achieve redemption.

So, my comments, reviews, interviews, and essays on this site may contain keen insights and contribute to the further scholastic understanding and performances of this great playwright. Yippee if that happens. Just as likely, though, my writing will be frivolous and personal, as my main intent is to contribute to modern appreciation of Shakespeare's works and to have fun. Shakespeare was said to be a man not of an age but for all time. But I'm a man of this age, and it is in my age (some would say my dotage) that I find my Shakespeareances.

Eric Minton