Shakespeare is everywhere | Christopher Gaze | TEDxVancouver


Translator: Elisabeth Buffard
Reviewer: Tatjana Jevdjic Hello. You’ve been eating Pop-Tarts. (Laughter) I resisted. It looks fantastic though. Well now, what a day we’re having,
absolutely inspirational, fantastic. I saw Romeo Dallaire remark
on these geese earlier on, and I considered these geese,
Canada geese. They’re all over the world, you know. (Laughter) They’re taking over the world.
A bit like Shakespeare. Shakespeare surrounds us. The Shakespeare we’re enormously familiar with, but the Shakespeare
that we know and we don’t know. And of course, every day, we’re quoting
Shakespeare but we don’t know it. Shakespeare –
We don’t know a great deal about the man. What we know about him
is generally through his works. He was a man, just like you and me, he lived his life, felt great joy
and great sadness, tremendous success and great tragedy. In Canada – talk about
Shakespeare surrounding us – we have the Stratford Shakespeare Festival
in Ontario, that’s the biggest theatre festival,
I might add, in North America. We have… that’s right! (Applause) We have Bard on the Beach Shakespeare
here in Vancouver. We’ve got Shakespeare festivals in between.
In America, Americans love their Shakespeare, they have Ashland, Oregon, lots of Shakespeare’s festivals through America. You have The Globe in London, and, of course, The Royal Shakespeare Company
in Stratford-upon-Avon. So, Shakespeare is alive and well, but
since you leapt out of bed this morning, and you’ve had this wonderful day here, I’m sure most of you are very much unaware that you’ve been quoting Shakespeare all day. Let me give you a bunch of examples. First of all, I want you to do something
for a change. When I point at you and beckon you on, I want you to say,
“Quoting Shakespeare”. Now, come on,
with all that energy from the Pop-Tarts, give it a go. Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! That’s pretty good.
Once more, even louder Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! If you cannot understand my argument
and declare, “It’s Greek to me”, you are… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! If you claim to be,
“More sinned against than sinning”, you are… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! If you,
“Recall your salad days”, you are… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! If you act more in sorrow than in anger,
if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished
into thin air, you are… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! If you’ve ever refused to budge an inch
or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you’ve been played fast and loose,
been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows,
made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance
on your lord and master, laughed yourself into stitches,
had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing. If you’ve seen better days
or lived in a fool’s paradise, why, be that as it may,
the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion
that you are, as good luck would have it… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! If you think it is early days
and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and the short of it,
if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves
your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom
because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge
at one fell swoop without rhyme or reason, then, to give the devil his due, if the truth were known — for surely you have
a tongue in your head, you are… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! Even if you bid me good riddance
and send me packing, if you wish I was as dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock,
the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded
or a blinking idiot, then, by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! For goodness’ sake!
What the dickens! But me no buts –
it’s all one to me, for you are… Audience: Quoting Shakespeare! There you are. (Applause) So, Shakespeare surrounds us. Let’s look at the private man
that I alluded to a moment ago. The private man, the playwright in London,
the producer, the actor. There’s a gorgeous little sonnet.
A sonnet is a 14 line poem, and Shakespeare wrote over 150 of those. And this particular one – it’s perhaps
one of the best known pieces of poetry, I think, probably in the world – “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day”. Now generally this little piece of poetry is said, or recited, or written down,
for great occasions, weddings, birthdays, celebrations. But there’s a theory that in fact,
nestling inside this poetry, if you think of it another way, Shakespeare,
we didn’t know, and the mystery that surrounds all that, that in fact,
this little sonnet was a eulogy. Shakespeare had 3 children,
one of them was a son. His little boy was called Hamnet, not Hamlet, this one is H-A-M-N-E-T. The other one H-A-M-L-E-T
is a very good play he wrote. (Laughter) But his son was called Hamnet and he got word,
when he was working away in London, that Hamnet was very sick. Now, here’s the man,
the man like you and me, living his life and now crisis hits. And of course he has to go.
He has to go from London. If we were to drive from central London
to Stratford-upon-Avon now, where his family were, that would probably take us,
if we had a good run, a little over 90 minutes. But in those days, it was 3 days! So, Shakespeare took off
and he got there, and when he got to Stratford, he was met by his family and he found out
that his son was dead, buried. There was nothing left to do. But, what could he do
apart from comfort his family? But to survive it,
what was he going to do? You imagine the heartache. I like to imagine that perhaps,
after everyone had gone to bed, he stayed up, with a candle and his quill pen. And he wrote and he did
what Shakespeare could do best of all. Through words,
he could express his feelings. And I like to think he wrote this little poem
“Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day”, and he talks about eternity in the poem, and as long as men can breathe
and eyes can see, this lives forever. That this froze little Hamnet
in time in his mind, to be an immortal in Shakespeare’s lifetime. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do break the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, Nor shall Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. A eulogy? I don’t know. It’s beautiful. There’s a mystery about it, as there is
about so much of Shakespeare, and I think that’s part of the magic of it all. Now is the winter of our discontent. How is the winter of our discontent? My goodness gracious!
Look at Europe right now. Occupy Wall Street,
occupy everywhere else… (Laughter) Well, it sounds positively Shakespearean, but in times like this, when there’s so much going on
in the world, and it’s all so deeply complicated, this is a time, I think, that if we could skip back,
skip forward 400 years that Shakespeare would thrive. This is a time for great initiative,
great inspiration, great leadership. This is time for heroes, I think,
to help to show us the way. Shakespeare was rich in heroes too. Look at Henry V –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Wonderful stuff. And then, “Now is the winter of our discontent.”
Who was that? Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
It’s the opening line of Richard III. Richard III, what does he want? He wants trouble.
He wants trouble and he doesn’t care. He’s willing to risk everything.
Talk about being bold! His elder brother is the king,
there’s another brother in between. The king, he has two prince sons.
So Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the younger brother,
is never going to be king! Not unless something fantastic happens. But he’s gonna force that.
And he tells us all about it. of the top of Richard III,
malevolent, dangerous, but nevertheless, we as an audience, he seduces us, we become complicit
in his dreadful plans. And it’s the most extraordinary feeling,
sitting in the audience watching him, Richard, lay waste to all these people,
and sitting there thinking, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
It’s an awful feeling. (Laughter) Richard III, deformed, as he calls himself. The traditional withered left side,
the crook back, “Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this son of York; And all the clouds that low’r’d upon our house. In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front; And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber To the lascivious pleasings of a lute. But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass; I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days. It has been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog!
(Laughter) It’s been a hard day’s night and I should be sleeping like a log! But when I get home to you,
I find the things that you do will make me feel alright. (Laughter) (Applause) So that, perhaps, was the Shakespeare
you did not know. (Laughter) Tweet that! (Laughter) Thank you very much! (Applause)

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