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William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, leaving behind a legacy that enriched our universal culture. Even today, four hundred years after his passing away, he is still considered one of the most brilliant minds in literary history, and his works are subjects of study across the world.
How one author can maintain his freshness over the course of several centuries is difficult to claim, but historians and experts have a few reasons why Shakespeare is still loved nowadays.
The “Bard of Avon,” as he was fondly called reimagined new styles of dramatization and increased the level of depth for dramatic characters. Shakespeare is credited for dragging literature and theater out of the Middle Ages and into a new era of storytelling, anticipating centuries of evolution. In fact, literary experts believe that without Shakespeare's innovational spirit, it would have taken at least half of millennia for literature to reach its contemporary status.
William Shakespeare has invented many of the words we use today. Common sayings like addiction, eyeball, mimic, outbreak and worthless are among the 1700 words that Shakespeare is credited to have created.
His literary flux was based on changing the nature of well-established nouns into verbs and vice-versa. Shakespeare has also added suffixes and prefixes to words to come up with new adverbs and adjectives. The 17th-century grammar purists were not happy with his modifications of the English language, but today we can only regret he did not add more to the already rich vocabulary.
One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, “Romeo and Juliet” has become the paradigm of the ideal romance. Before the Bard of Avon, most love stories would end with the classical, "and then they lived happily ever after" epilog, which was typical to fairy tales, but unrealistic to say the least.
Shakespeare believed that the perfect love and the ultimate tragedy go hand in hand, and you cannot have one without the other. For the perfect romance to exist, one or both protagonists had to encounter global opposition and untimely death, similar to the fates of the two famous teenagers.
Nowadays, "Romeo and Juliet" still serves as inspiration for literary works, movies, songs and other artistic representations. The play still gives sold-out representations, and its symbolism is studied in universities and schools worldwide.
Before Shakespeare, most authors avoided treating their characters as multi-layered personalities who acted differently depending on their psychological nature. William Shakespeare got rid of the "God controls your mind and heart" convention and breathed life into his characters.
The people we meet in Shakespeare's works go through serious life impasses and struggle with moral issues. Characters like Hamlet and Macbeth have to solve painful, almost mind-numbing puzzles of righteousness, and figures like Othello and Julius Caesar fall victims to their human instinct of trusting the ones blindly around them. These deep analyses of the human mind have helped the evolution of other sciences like psychology, psychiatry, and philosophy we know them today.
Nowadays, most people prefer a night at the movies than attending the representation of a classic play in a theater. It could be the popcorn, the sound surround system, the 3D glasses or the CGI that attracts more audiences to the movie halls than to the theaters.
Unfortunately, many viewers disregard the actual qualities of live performing artists in comparison with the heavily edited performances of onscreen actors. Here are a few aspects that you can only enjoy by watching a live play in a classic theater:
A stage actor has to be at the top of his theatric ability all the time. Regardless of the role, he has to give his best every time he gets on stage. To play a character, one must leave behind his real persona. Health problems, relationship issues, and even a life crisis belong in the backstage for a truly committed performer. On the other hand, movie actors can delay a few days of shooting or give a mediocre performance without worrying about an immediate response from their audiences.
A great performing artist has to catch the eye of the audience. This is the reason why one of his most important traits is the appeal, which translates as a form of pleasure and addiction that the viewer gets every time the actor is on stage. Some of the best performers do not even need dialogue to express themselves and can become a public's favorite simply by using his mimic and his tremendous charisma.
When a casting director is setting up the line-up for performance, he focuses on the flexibility of the actors that audition for the roles. It is highly important that the performer brings the character to life from his point of view and not by only reading the lines or waiting for the feedback. The more originality it brings to the literary figure, the bigger is the chance of landing the role.
It is easy for most stage actors to leave fame go to their heads, and become arrogant or ungrateful. A great performing artist has the utmost respect for everything and everyone in his line of work. An intelligent performer knows that there is something more to learn from older actors and new ways of expanding their playing style. A gratified artist is also aware of the influence he has on others, especially on younger artists, and tries to support and teach them tips on performing better.
Not all the actors have the gift of innate talent, which is a natural predisposition for performing arts. However, one can become a great performer if he invests a lot of time and hard work into his skills. In the end, a talent is just a form of continuous exercise. The more you practice, the better are the odds of becoming one of the best performers in the circuit. Many famous artists have found their calling simply by working every single day on their abilities until their qualities became undisputable.
With the impending advance of modern technology, it's hard to find the relevance of classic arts in modern society. Other forms of entertainment slowly but surely overtake performing arts like theater. The moving pictures, the television and the internet have arguably larger audiences than show halls, but the importance of the latter is still indisputable at the break of the 21st century.
Ever since its early beginnings, the theater played a significant educational role in society. Ancient plays debated and caricaturized poor morals along with stringent political themes. Medieval theater compositions depicted a broad range of contemporary events for their times, and they were the primary form of entertainment for centuries in a row.
The modern theater has not lost its purpose, and it educates masses of people around the world through most of its comedies and dramas. Going to play nowadays can open your perspective on social issues, psychological problems, and cultural discrepancies.
The theater is an all-welcoming temple for artists of various crafts. Besides the obvious presence of actors, actresses and directors, a broad range of top-quality performers can practice their skills in the preparation of play. Set designers, painters, musicians and visual artists are just some of the few craftsmen that have their well-established roles on and around the stage.
Theater also helps you see the world differently and inspires you to create more art. A good play can boost your creative capacity and bring to the surface a stream of innovation that you never knew you had before. It is this fantastic chain of artistic performances that has enabled artists to inspire each other over time, and which can bring out the craftsman in you.
One might read a play by Shakespeare nowadays and relate to its subject immediately, even if it has been written over four hundred years ago. The great thing about classic theater is that it debates problems like social inequity, sexual discrimination, immigration and racial prejudice. Unfortunately, all of these themes seem to be contemporary with every generation, but by showcasing them on an open stage, we can make small steps towards their resolution.
The theater is quite simple: an author wants to display his vision on an issue, so he hires a handful of artists to give life to his words in front of a community. In some societies, and especially in the small ones, this type of presentation has a huge impact. People can see the consequences of corruption, betrayal or sin, and also the benefits of having an ethical behavior towards their fellow men.
Many communities experience a “come-together” feeling after attending a classic theater play. Humans have the natural need for acceptance, belonging and approval. By witnessing the debating of a moral issue together, most of the members feel these requirements satisfied and enriched. Therefore, theater maintains its importance in the 21st century, even if most of the people are hooked to their smartphones and TVs.
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages."