Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXI: Let Shakespeare entertain you. Let him make you smile.

I talked to an angry author a couple of weeks ago, who was irritated that his “important” play had not attracted a wider audience.  I tried to explain in the nicest of all possible ways, but like his play, I also failed.  Then I stumbled upon this quote from Robert Greene’s book that summed it up so much better than I ever could.

“Shakespeare is the most famous writer in history because, as a dramatist for the popular stage, he opened himself up to the masses, making his work accessible to people no matter what their education and taste.”

It’s like a comedy of errors that Shakespeare is considered one of the great geniuses in the history of the written word, when his primary objective was to entertain. Obviously his work went way beyond making people laugh, cry and get angry, but he never let any message get in the way of the entertainment.  His plays are like a perfect cake – with delicious and beautiful frosting on the outside, but underneath is where the real buttery goodness begins.

Writers today who forget why people go to the theater in the first place and put message first run the risk of having less people hear their voice.  There’s nothing wrong with that style, of course.  It’s the choice of the artist.  But you can’t complain when no one comes.

The quote also made me wonder . . . 500 years from now, who will be considered a Shakespeare?  Stoppard?  Sorkin?  Stephen King?

What writers today will be remembered tomorrow for their “baking” ability?


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.