Like the magnolias, petunias and daisies
that bloom in Florida
this time of year
Shakespeare’s birthday pops up in my head,
an annual occurrence,
probably a carryover from teaching
Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear.
Like rosemary for remembrance, the date April 23
never passes by un-noticed in my mind,
the Bard’s birthday and death date.
Now the Bard’s gift of words helps returning soldiers recover from PTSD and even thrive in civilian life. The April 2018 Guideposts issue describes how the organization Shakespeare With Veterans helps heal modern warriors.
Deployed to Iraq in 2003, veteran Cassie Boblitt appeared to adjust well to civilian life, earning an MBA, securing a job in hotel management, buying a nice house. But along the way a domestic dispute “shattered her sense of security and brought back unsettling memories of combat” and her life unraveled. She connected to Shakespeare With Veterans and met “best friends” who helped her dig into Shakespeare’s texts and talk about “things we had lost or won or fought for . . . “ Now she leads yoga workshops at the vet center.
Veteran Darryl suffered from general malaise, hanging out in his “basement all the time, watching YouTube videos.” He was invited to attend the program and was exposed to Shakespeare. At first he stuck to non-speaking roles. He liked being Julius Caesar “post-assassination, because he got to lie down.” Then Amy [the director] had him play Caesar in Act I, warning Mark Antony about Cassius, a part he thrived in. “Inspired by the Shakespeare group, Darryl took a writing course at the vet center. His story about a little girl he met in Vietnam was published in two books.”
Lines They Learned
Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act 5, Scene 2 “I will right myself like a soldier … “
Henry V, the St. Crispin’s Day speech:
“But we in it shall be remembered– / We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; / For he today that sheds his blood with me / shall be my brother …” (Act IV, scene iii)
Shakespeare works wonders with athletes and actors too. Just ask Denzel Washington.
Award-winning actor Denzel Washington’s English teacher guided him, fearful and unsure, into playing Hamlet and Othello in student productions. This Guideposts story illustrates how a teacher lit a fire in his young life, inspiring him to play key characters.
* * *
The celebrated Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Prince William and Princess Kate, leave London’s St. Mary’s Hospital with their third child decked out in a white lace shawl and matching cap. Although he is not aware of it, the newborn prince will forever share a birthday (April 23) with Sir William Shakespeare. His birthday also coincides with that of England’s patron Saint George.
Every year I remember April 23 with no particular prompting. Do you remember certain dates or special numbers outside the norm of family/friend events?
What other lines from Shakespeare came to mind as you read this post?
Any comments about the royal prince? Do you know his name?
No extra charge for this seen on Facebook recently: