I lived in Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare, for thirteen years. It’s a tiny town where the local industry is all things Shakespearean. I got to know him well during that time and was thrilled when he agreed to this exclusive interview to celebrate his 450th birthday. He is currently in LA pitching a remake of Coriolanus so we agreed to meet at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
I joined him at a corner table where he sat resplendent in a black-laced doublet, starched white shirt and ruff. His earring caught the light as he turned his head to greet me. I wished him a happy birthday and while we waited for our lunch I asked about his wife Ann and the kids. He told me they were all great and that one of the twins was planning on being an actor. I agreed it was hardly surprising.
“Mr. Shakespeare…” I began, eager to begin the interview once he had finished his quails eggs.
“Wench more ale.” He yelled, signaling the waitress and sinking back into the cushions. “A dish fit for the gods.” He said, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his shirt.
“Pray call me ‘Will’ fair Lady… shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temporate.”
This threw me quite a bit, so I swiftly pulled out my iPad, grateful I had questions prepared in advance.
“Will, you’ve written thirty-eight plays, one hundred and fifty-four sonnets and you don’t even own a laptop. You’re married with eight children. You’re also an actor. How do you fit it all in?”
‘All the world’s a stage and one man in his time plays many parts.’ He answered thoughtfully.
“There are rumors of an affair. Do you deny them?”
‘I am one who loved not wisely but too well. Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. I am a man more sinned against than sinning. We have seen better days.’ He added.
“What would be your advice to aspiring writers?”
‘This above all, to thine own self be true.’
“And hard work? That’s important too?”
‘Nothing will come of nothing think again.’
“And fame, is that for us all?”
‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. By the way I love your blog.’
“Thank you. So Will tell me who do you think will win the forthcoming election?”
He sighed. ‘Now is the winter of our discontent… to be or not to be, that is the question. I come to bury Caesar not to praise him. By the way do you know anywhere round here where I can but some new hose? I’m looking for something with a bit of stretch, these don’t have any lycra in them.’ He added pointing to his stocking leg.
I took this as the signal to end my interview. I felt it had gone well. There was definitely enough in there to interest my subscribers. Shakespeare had never discussed his marriage or his political views before.
“I’m thinking Burberry.” I said standing up. “Why don’t we nip across to Rodeo Drive. They’ll be delighted to kit you out”.
‘Once more unto the breach.’ He murmured dragging himself out of the chair. ‘Pray tell my Lady, how goeth your knight? I hear he has a new book out.’