Hi, I’m Tulip. If you don’t know me, get to know me – I’m friendly. And if you already do know me, you know how completely enamored I am with the life and works of William Shakespeare. Despite my humble status as a math major at Lawrence University, do not be deceived: from comedies to tragedies to the second biggest house in Stratford, I am a walking Shakespearean encyclopedia. My obsession with the Bard began thanks to my cousin Maggie, a techie alum of the program, and a riot of a show called The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged. My charming brother and I adored the hilarity of the desensitized version of The Man’s works so much that we began to study their true forms when we were in middle school. Before you knew it, we were both soliloquizing and reciting Shakespeare’s biography to our uninterested classmates.
Of course, with this self-professed love for Shakespeare (do you believe me yet?), it is only natural that I somehow ended up in Ron Parker’s happy little troupe of Shakespeare addicts. I began my involvement with Summer Shakespeare Theatre two years ago in the stifling summertime heat of 2016. After my small stature and big attitude scored me the role of Hermia in Midsummer, I spent my summer making new friendships and making the discovery of Parker’s birthday. Clearly my hunger for Shakespeare had not been satisfied, for I was back again the next summer as a graduated senior of Appleton West and the Renaissance School for the Arts in Hamlet. Parker must have wanted the world to see the craziness he sees in me every day, and my role of Ophelia kept me on my toes (and on my knees and on the floor screaming), along with an off-night privilege of the esteemed sole survivor, Horatia. Now I’m back once more with Much Ado About Nothing to boss everyone around and to try to make the kiddos love Shakespeare as much as I.
For me, one of the most interesting things about this assistant directing is the switch from actor to director. There are, I’m learning, pros and cons to both. I found audition day significantly more pleasant when I did not have the pressure of auditioning and happily was not greeted by a swarm of butterflies in my stomach when the cast list was announced – wow, what a freeing experience! However, seeing my friends onstage and rehearsing makes me wish I could join them once more. Alas, the plague of old age has gripped me, and I am no longer permitted to perform in this program (however, you never know who is who in a Masquerade…).
“Alright, we get it,” you are saying to yourself, “you’re obsessed with a 454-year-old dead guy who wrote 154 sonnets and 38-ish plays and lies buried in the church at Stratford but is missing his skull. But why? Why do you like this guy so much?” Well, there are many reasons why I like him so much, but one of my favorites is the universally accredited timelessness to Shakespeare. Shakespeare was beloved in his own time as well as he is now; 400 years and still going strong. The thing that makes Shakespeare special is how he wrote about the human condition. We may think that the year 1598 (the year our very Much Ado was written) is so far removed from us that we cannot understand the story or the characters, but this could not be more untrue. People laughed in Shakespeare’s day. People cried in Shakespeare’s day. People wished for better lives and fought with their siblings and wanted revenge and got betrayed and fell in love. Humans have always been humans, and that is what The Man understood and wrote about.
Shakespeare has always been something I can come back to, with his timeless qualities being somewhat of a comfort to me. After a whole year of college, I come back to Shakespeare this summer and he is still the same. After countless calculations and Calculus assignments, he is still the same. After sitting alone in the cafeteria, falling asleep on my dorm room floor, learning how to play the harp, reading The Bhagavad-Gita, working in a museum, and completing three whole trimesters, I come back to Summer Shakespeare and the Bard has not changed. So I think, perhaps, neither have I. Perhaps I have always been the happy Shakespearean heroine with iambic pentameter on her lips, a little-but-fierce reckoning in her soul, and a glow in her heart for he who truly is “not of an age, but for all time.”