Ben Keenan: Genius of the Bard draws me back time and time again

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My favourite author is William Shakespeare. Ever since I was first introduced to his work I’ve considered it the absolute pinnacle of heartfelt genius and am one of only a handful of my peers who are as passionate about his work today as I was in my school days when we were forced to study him!

Last week, my wife Jen and I returned from a short break to Stratford upon Avon or Shakespeare County as the signs advertise. It’s a trip we try to take once a year but as life seems to be set on permanent fast forward, we haven’t been for a couple of years. The planning, the journey, the hotel we stay at and the food we eat are always of vital importance but the focus has always centred on Shakespeare. We visit his birthplace, his wife’s cottage and his mother’s working farm, spend hours before the curtain goes up in the theatre which celebrates his genius seven days a week and do everything we can think of to soak up the palpable sense of wonder that you can actually feel in the Warwickshire air. Every day at Waterstone’s somebody will buy a book about the bard, either the complete works, a specific play or a scholarly work about his life and, as I put it in a bag, I think back to the remarkable memories I have associated with Will. I think about myself as a teenager, clutching my programme and shivering with excitement in the dark before my first show at the RSC Theatre, to planning what delicious things to put in Jen’s brand new picnic hamper when we see A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in the Abbey Gardens in August. No matter where I am, I often remind myself that some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them but only one is the absolute genius that is Shakespeare.