What would Shakespeare think of us: Dan Poole & Giles Terera at TEDxMadrid


Transcriber: David DeRuwe
Reviewer: Leonardo Silva (Video) [Shake-spism] Giles Terera: Shakespism. Dan Poole: Shakespism. GT: Have you had Shakespism?
DP: Um … GT: Are you suffering from Shakespism now?
DP: Many suffer from it in their lives. GT: Shakespism is …
DP: Um … GT: You know when you –
DP: It can destroy people. GT: It’s a bit like being constipated. DP: My mum suffered
from Shakespism for many years. GT: It can be like indigestion,
only with Shakespeare. DP: We’ve all suffered from it,
one of those difficult things to explain – school, secondary school,
university, teachers, kids, adults. GT: The OED definition is: “an extreme and irrational,
highly infectious aversion to Shakespeare and his works.” DP: Uh. GT: On the bus,
you pass the theater, it says, “Shakespeare, Richard III, Shakespeare.” It’s that feeling.
That feeling you had then. DP: The problem with Shakespism
is it can be contracted. It’s an irrational response. I can literally pass it on
to somebody else. GT: I first found out that I was suffering
from Shakespism when I was about 16. Our teacher said, “Next term,
we’re going to be doing Macbeth.” All of a sudden, I just felt really sick. This went on the whole term. We started to read the play. I went to the doctor who said,
“You’ve just got Shakespism.” So then, I felt fine. DP: Two people in the room –
four, you’ve got four people. One likes Shakespeare.
That’s why Shakespism’s bad. It becomes about class … GT: Tell people about it,
they need to know. DP: Shakespism’s something
that we can solve. Um … Shakespism will kill you
if you let it, so don’t. GT: You could be 2 years old
or 80 years old, and you could suffer from it. It’s the silent killer. DP: We can conquer it together. GT: If I say the word to you now – Shakespeare – there that’s that,
that feeling, that’s Shakespism. [shakespearefilm.com] (End of video) (Applause) GT: Gracias. (Applause) Now, first of all, we’ve got to say
that we also didn’t fly here, we didn’t take the plane either. GT and DP: We drove. GT: At least, we didn’t take the plane. Vale! So gracias, gracias. (Laughter) Now, a long time ago,
in a country far, far away, (Laughter) William Shakespeare got up one morning,
young William Shakespeare, 20 years old, and he decided he wanted to leave
his nice quiet home in the countryside, and he wanted to go to London
because he wanted to become an actor. DP: 400 years later,
we did exactly the same thing. (Laughter) Now, Shakespeare was a man … He was a man that wrote great plays, unless you choose
to believe that, you know, someone else helped him write,
but that’s not important to us. What is important to us is to say
he shouldn’t be put on a pedestal. He’s not a god. He is a man that wrote great stories,
and I love a good story. GT: I love a good story. We all do. DP: We all love a good story: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet in love,
dangerous Macbeth. And that’s where our story started – with a story. And I grew up in the north of England
in a small mining village. GT: And I grew up in the south. DP: And Shakespeare
was sort of somewhere over here. And, when I was younger,
I had quite a few issues with Shakespeare. When I was 11, I was studying
Romeo and Juliet, and I didn’t really
understand it, you know. I sort of got, at the end,
that the two lovers, they die, and I got that there was a sword fight, but the other stuff, I didn’t really
understand, and I didn’t get it. And I felt that – actually let
me explain – if I’d go back. My English lessons when I was 11 years old normally started off
with me being punched in the face. I was very bullied by a guy. Every week, on a Wednesday,
he’d punch me in the face. So we’ve read the play.
This day, we’re going to watch the film. So my teacher says, “Go get it,
Dan, go and get the TV,” so already I’m kind of like,
“Well, when’s the punch coming?” So I go into the TV room, get the TV,
and bang, straight in the face. So the first 15 minutes
of Romeo and Juliet on film, I kind of missed, to be honest, but when we then started watching it, it felt like this gray outdated film
that wasn’t really about me. It was a 1960s or a 1970s
BBC version of the film which had been filmed
like a theatrical performance. So it didn’t speak to me. It was cold, it was stoic,
and you know, that’s the thing, it’s like, if you’re going to do it,
don’t teach someone Shakespeare that way. And also, don’t ever tell someone
that if you’re not clever, you won’t understand Shakespeare. GT: Those are pretty bad ideas,
but the reason that we’re all here today – us, you, and we’ve come here
to this beautiful building, we’ve driven all this way – is because of TED. Now, the motto of TED
is “Ideas Worth Spreading.” “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Now, we think that’s great, but we also think that there’s some ideas
that are not worth spreading. (Laughter) For instance, when we were about to finish
our drama training to become actors in London, this big director came
into our drama school … DP: Gordo! GT: He was huge. (Laughter) to help us with our audition practice. The idea was we would do
our audition speech, and he would give us advice. Now, I had just discovered Hamlet,
and I loved Hamlet. I really understood Hamlet.
I think I understood Hamlet. He was young and he was angry
and he was missing his father and he didn’t trust anyone around him. So I did my speech, “To be or not to be,” and when I finished, the big director
stopped me, and he said … DP: “OK, OK, I think
we should just stop there … ” GT: Wait, wait, wait there.
He was Scottish. DP: Oh yeah, (Laughter) GT: Go ahead. DP (With Irish brogue): “OK, OK,
I think we should stop right there. Ah, you’re never going to play Hamlet.
In fact, it’s just not your casting.” GT: I’m never going to play Hamlet.
He said I’m never going to play Hamlet. I loved Hamlet, but as I left the room, I started to think
maybe the big director was right, maybe I shouldn’t play Hamlet, and this little idea
started to work its way up my arm and onto my shoulder
and whisper into my ear, this little worm of an idea,
a head worm we call them, that whispers in your ear
and says, “Psst. Psst. You can’t do Shakespeare. Shakespeare isn’t for you.
Shakespeare is for someone else. You can’t be Hamlet. Hamlet isn’t black, estúpido.” (Laughter) DP: What! He’s not black? GT: Eh. (Applause) And this director
had infected me with his idea. It was Shakespism at its worst. And I was listening
to this head worm and believing it, and I knew that if I didn’t get rid
of this idea immediately, it was going to work its way
into my brain and eat me. So I remembered something,
a line that Hamlet says in the play, and we thought of this line this summer
when we were watching the Olympics, those incredible athletes in London. Hamlet does not say,
“What a piece of work is a white man.” DP: And he does not say,
“What a piece of work is a poor man.” GT: “What a piece of work is a rich man.”
DP: “What a piece of work is a big man.” GT: “What a piece of work
is an old man or a young man.” He says, “What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason.
How infinite in faculty. In form and moving,
how express and admirable. DP: In action, how like an angel.
In admiration, how like a dog.” GT: Those are ideas worth spreading.
Those are ideas worth spreading. DP: So, school, drama school. What happens when you leave? You’re down a job if you’re lucky, and some of us were lucky,
and some of us did work, but what’s interesting is, if you never get an opportunity
to study Shakespeare in performance after you’ve left, it becomes this thing. The Shakespism thing becomes a big deal,
like an elephant in the room. Can I do it? Can I not do it?
Am I being haunted by – Does Shakespeare maketh the actor?
Does Shakespeare maketh the man? And, you know, I was in a position where I wasn’t really fortunate
to get opportunities. So, I’m there, going,
“Can I do it? Am I good enough? Should I be speaking Shakespeare?
Should I even be here on the stage? What can I – ” GT: You’re fine, you’re doing well. (Laughter) This is what TED’s all about,
ideas worth sharing, DP: (Hoots) (Laughter) Without him, I am nothing. GT: Ah, without him, I’m nothing. DP: So what do you do? OK, we decided we need
to look at why people are scared, why people are intimidated
and put off by the language. And the interesting thing is
when you live your life, anything that happens to you
emotionally, physically, psychologically happens to all
of Shakespeare’s characters. They’ve lived it before us.
It’s there for you. So, we decided we’d make a film. Now, it sounds a really easy thing to say, and it was actually easy to say, but the actual fact of making
a film is fraught with problems, like money for a start. How do you make a film
when you’ve never made a film? And we decided, actually,
we’d just get out there and do it. And there’s a line that Macbeth
says to Lady Macbeth. He says, “And if we fail?” And she says, GT: “We fail … ” (Laughter) “but screw your courage
to the sticking place and we’ll not fail.” DP: Well, that’s what we needed. So we screwed our courage
to the sticking place, and off we went. GT: Now, that was Macbeth, but you could apply that to any
single situation that you can think of. Screw your courage to the sticking place, and we’ll not fail. Shakespeare is universal. Ben Johnson, the famous English writer –
he was Shakespeare’s amigo – said … When Shakespeare died, he said, “Shakespeare was not
of an age, but for all time,” and we’d like to think that Shakespeare
was not just for a few people, but he was for all the world. Because we’ve all been young,
we’ve all been in love, right? Yeah, right? Sí, sí, sí! We’ve all been in love. We’ve all wanted what someone else had.
We’ve all questioned life. We’ve all wanted to murder someone. DP: What? (Laughter) GT: Sí, sí, sí! We’ve all wanted to murder someone. DP: I haven’t, actually,
wanted to murder anyone. GT: Oh please! You’re telling me, on all our adventures,
you haven’t wanted to kill me once? DP: Oh, oh look, yeah you – yeah, yeah. GT: One or two. Muhammad Ali said, (GT shadow-boxing) Grr, grr, grr. “I’m the Shakespeare of the boxing world.” And JFK said, “Ask not
what your country can do for you.” And Nelson Mandela, when he was in prison for those 27 years
on Robben Island in South Africa, kept one line of Julius Caesar as his motto. You know what that line was? “Cowards die many times
before their deaths. The valiant never taste
of death but once.” Charlie Chaplin – that’s true. (Applause) GT: Ah, hola. (Applause) DP: Hola! GT: Charlie Chaplin dreamt,
he dreamt of playing Hamlet. Can you imagine what
a great film that would be? You see, the thing is
that Shakespeare knew that an artist is able to illustrate exactly what it is
that you’re feeling and thinking. Cervantes could do it. Bob Dylan could do it. Michael Jackson could do it. And Shakespeare could do it
better than anyone else. And so everyone came
to see Shakespeare’s plays. The King and the Queen
came to see the plays, and the thieves and the beggars
and the prostitutes came to see his plays, and everyone in between
came to see his plays, and they’re still coming to see his plays. In New York or in the UK or in Japan,
in Paris, in Madrid, everyone comes to see Shakespeare’s plays. In fact, we were thinking this morning, “What would Shakespeare think if he could see us, all of us now,
here, this afternoon, talking about his plays,
talking about his life, talking about his words,
his characters, his work?” We think it would blow
his little bald head. (Laughter) DP: Bald? (Laughter) GT: Sí. Bald, bald. Shakespeare was bald. DP: He wasn’t bald. GT: He didn’t have hair. DP: No, he had it all here.
It’s almost, it’s just – GT: No, no, no,
this is the bald bit, this is – Let’s move on, let’s move on. Vale! DP: Anyway, anyway, what we did was
we got in our car, we got our camera, and we traveled the world. We spent five years,
and we’ve been to nine countries, and we’ve been to prisons,
we’ve been to schools, GT: universities, colleges. DP: We’ve spoken to lots of people, actors from Jude Law to Ewan McGregor
to Sir Ian McKellen to young people who are studying
to the person on the street to the person that fills
your car up with gas. We’ve spoken to everybody. And what’s fascinating to me,
in this five-year journey, is just one core piece of information which is … well, we can’t really tell you right now
because our film isn’t finished, but what we can share with you
are four key points which have informed the rest of the film. GT: The young man that we met in prison – There’s a Shakespeare company
that takes Shakespeare into prisons, and we went with the company, and we met this young man who spoke a piece of Shakespeare
so beautifully to us, and we thought it incredible, but everyone else in the prison was amazed
because, up until that moment, that young man had not spoken
one word in five years. DP: And then we spoke to Ewan McGregor, who had just finished working
on Othello, playing Iago, and he sat down and candidly spoke to us
and told us how difficult he found it, how very difficult he’d found it, and the fact that he actually had to go
and have hypnotherapy to deal with his fear. He was suffering from Shakespism. GT: There was a woman
that we met in Denmark, and there was a production of Hamlet. She was going to see
this production of Hamlet, and what she thought was so moving
and profound about the play Hamlet was that Shakespeare had managed –
he was an Englishman – and he’d managed to encapsulate perfectly
the Danish spirit and mindset. DP: We spoke to Mark Rylance. Mark Rylance is the founding artistic
director of the Globe Theatre in London, and Mark spoke about fear, and about the idea of Shakespeare
being surrounded by fear, and the issue for us, really,
was that, what was spoken about was this idea that,
if you can’t teach it well enough, in a way that doesn’t scare people away, you shouldn’t teach it at all. So from that, we had this wonderful idea, and we felt like the universal ideals which we’d spoken about
with all these people belonged somewhere. Can you just roll the video for us please? (Video playing while onstage speakers
quote lines from Henry V: Act 2 Prologue) (Dramatic music) DP: “Now all the youth
of England are on fire, And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies. Now thrive the armorers,
and honor’s thought Reigns solely in the breast of every man. They sell the pasture now
to buy the horse, Following the mirror
of all Christian kings With wingèd heels, as English Mercurys. For now sits Expectation in the air” GT: “O England, model
to thy inward greatness, Like little body with a mighty heart, What might’st thou do,
that honor would thee do, Were all thy children kind and natural!” (Video ends) Now the interesting thing about this was when the BBC
and all the news reporters asked those young people why
they were doing what they were doing – “Why are you doing it?
Why are you doing it?” – they all said the same thing, “Because our voices are not being heard. All we want is our voices to be heard.” So when people turn around and say to you
that you can’t feel something or you shouldn’t think something
or enjoy something or love something, whether it’s Shakespeare
or whether it’s anything else, we think that you should be
the ones to decide that. That’s your choice. DP: And when we went into prisons, we went in with a guy
called Dr. Bruce Wall, and he does a lot of rehabilitation
with young prisoners and prisoners across the board,
across the whole world, and one thing that he gives them
and makes them repeat is, “We have the tools” –
what’s the phrase again? GT: “Give us the tools
and we will do the job.” DP: “Give us the tools
and we will do the job.” And that for us is everything about it. If you give the tools to the right people, you’ll have people who understand, people who connect to the world
in a very, very different way. You know, Shakespeare
definitely isn’t for everybody. Of course, we understand that, but for those who want
to find out about him and know about him,
it should be accessible. He was just a man, after all. GT: Gracias. DP and GT: Muchas Gracias. (Applause)

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