I used to have a Complete Works of Shakespeare. It was a gift from when I was in Grade 12 or 13. It saw me through my four year, Honours degree in English and History from the University of Western Ontario. It contained a pressed flower from my bridal bouquet, marking the passage from Hamlet that was the basis for my wedding invitation. Somehow, inexplicably, it was placed in a donate box and lost forever. I made this revelation about 4 years ago when this idea began percolating in my brain.
I am a Stratford Festival junkie. I have been going to Stratford since the eighth grade. I have a great fondness for a number of Shakespeare’s plays particularly those staged at the Festival. Taming of the Shrew was the first play I saw with the amazing Colm Feore (and my first writing gig as the theatre critic for the Western Gazette). Measure for Measure was the first play I saw with my husband on his first visit to the Festival. King Lear is my very favourite play. I think I’ve seen every staging of Lear since the eighth grade. I had always worshiped at the altar of William Hutt; then Plummer brought it to life and then my old favourite Colm Feore lent his hand.
My husband and I had gone to the Stratford Festival to see Christopher Plummer do his one-man show, “A Word.” You have to understand my deep and unwavering passion for Christopher Plummer. I don’t give a shit that he is in his 80’s. He is one of the sexiest most compelling men in the world. This largely has to do with his unbelievable command of Shakespeare (and Colonel von Trapp). I have a tendency to read my favourite plays repeatedly (it is a wonder I can’t recite Lear from start to finish by heart based on how many times I’ve read it) and when I realized that I hadn’t even read Othello (which I also saw at the Festival a few years ago), I thought it was time to branch out.
I decided I wanted to go back to my English major roots and read ALL of Shakespeare’s plays. So, my husband finally clued in and bought me my new complete works for my birthday. This is not just any collection. He did his research and I was thrilled to unwrap and see before me the definitive collection: The Oxford Shakespeare Complete Works Second Edition.
That was two years ago.
I'm over the halfway mark and still going. I've read almost nothing else during this time. I know, a bit obsessive but so much fun! I made it through all the sonnets, the poems and a particularly hard to read Sir Thomas More but I really feel like I'm in the home stretch now.