Is This Cool, or What?

Guerilla Shakespeare in the Toronto subway? By teen and twentysomething theater kids who simply thought it was a good idea? You bet your ass it’s cool.

“We all know Shakespeare. We read it in high school. But Shakespeare really needs to be heard to be understood and appreciated. We’re making it accessible,” said director and collective co-founder Victoria Urquhart. 

This is exactly the spirit I’m writing My Year with Shakespeare to encourage. Ms. Urquhart is taking exactly the right approach to Shakespeare. Shakespeare accessible to everyone means Shakespeare everywhere!

And yes, I am ashamed but not surprised by the reactions of my fellow Torontonians recorded in the article. (Well, okay, I am surprised that Ms. Jullian was only kicked and not tripped.) Do they sound way less cool than New Yorkers look in the celebrated Star Wars in the NYC subway video? There is no better way to explode the myth of Canadian politeness than to spend rush hour on the Toronto subway. I do it ten times a week, so boy do I know whereof I speak. Don’t get me started on Toronto subway riders, who are by far the rudest in my experience, which, I remind you, includes almost 25 years in New York City; it’s a subject for a different blog.

Instead, kudos to the Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective! There’s just one thing about you kids that pisses me off. Why does your last performance have to be tomorrow at 12:30, when I’ll be at work? Starting from my home station, no less. I’d have bitten the head off a chicken to see you perform while I was riding to or from work. True, there’s no way you’d have had room to do anything during rush hour, given Torontonians’ refusal to take an empty seat when they could stand, and their insistence on rushing the door a whole stop from their exit, but hey, a guy can dream. I’d say “Break a leg!” to you all, but judging from the story that’s all too literal a danger. Just have a great time.

Update: Here is the Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare Collective’s Facebook page (I knew they’d have one). And their web page. Both well worth a look.

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