The first time I ever read Shakespeare was in sixth grade. I knew that I would have to start reading it for my seventh grade advanced English class and I wanted a head start. I checked out Romeo and Juliet from the local library and fell in love within three days, just like the star-crossed pair. The second I put the book down, I immediately begged my parents to buy me the No Fear Shakespeare copies of all of the stories. I read them at home so as not to be a show-off. I started through the tragedies and kept going until I read every one of them.I took them everywhere – vacations to Arizona, Colorado, Washington D.C, and more. After I picked up the unusual language, I wanted my own copy of the true works. I stumbled across the Complete Oxford Shakespeare collection, which has been my go-to ever since. They’re quite old but I love the columns, spacing, and the aesthetic of the book. I have reread the stories countless times, and challenged my English teachers to trivia battles about the Bard. By the time seventh grade came around, I lent half of the class my No Fear copies and revised their Shakespeare essays. We saw Macbeth at the Chicago Shakespeare Company and I realized that Shakespeare had to be seen and not read. Lanise Antoine Shelley portrayed Lady Macbeth beautifully and inspired me to seek out acting in Shakespeare at every opportunity. I have had the pleasure of acting as Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing, as well as Helena and Mustardseed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Over the summer, I went to the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. I went on a backstage tour of their stages and saw their costumes, props, and Shakespearean-era artifacts. I also took a tour of the town, which included places like his school, birthplace, death place, houses, and his favourite spots to write. I went on a tour of the recreated Shakespeare’s Globe in London. I loved hearing about the mishaps during shows or how it was originally presented to audiences. Seeing what I’ve been studying for so long come to life was incredible. I could spend hours analyzing his clever motifs, his unimaginable skill over the English language, or his fascinating stories. Shakespeare’s work has influenced me in every sense of the word, just as he has for the rest of the world. His work is timeless and ever changing through different renditions. Every time I see a black Lady Macbeth or lesbian Romeo and Juliet, my heart bursts at the seams with happiness. There are truly endless possibilities for writing and acting. I am grateful for the works of William Shakespeare and all those who have contributed to them since his death for showing me that.

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