This is not the blog post I set out to write, but thanks to interventions from Siri then here goes. Today I want to celebrate the sheer beauty and power of language, as this is a day all about words.
Today is English Language Day, not to mention Shakespeare’s birthday and the anniversary of his death.
To top it off it’s also World Book Night.
There’s no smart action plan for you from this post. Nothing to do other than to think about the power of the words you use every day.
I love the power of stories and language. I love what they can make people feel and what they make people want to do. The power of words to make us laugh, to make us cry, to make us love, to make us angry, to make us forgive.
There’s the laughter that language brings that we should also celebrate. Siri gives me frequent moments of laughter. I love the way it mangles the words I think I’m saying when I get it to take a note while I’m out walking. It regularly produces something very different to the words I think I have said.
Siri intervened in today’s post, just by making me laugh. Today, Siri didn’t want me to say that I loved Shakespeare. It said that I love Seattle.
I’ve never been to Seattle.
I might love it.
But I do love Shakespeare.
What I really love about Shakespeare is how great theatre directors and actors and all the others involved in productions can take these words from over 400 years ago and turn them into something that we can still see the relevance of today. That can still make us laugh. And still make some of us cry.
Here are two examples of working with those incredible words and making them into something for today.
Make the expected unexpected
One of my highlights of last year was seeing Romeo and Juliet at the Globe. With my teenage daughter who is studying it for GCSE. She hates the text with a passion. Because, to her, it’s a dumb story.
What Emma Rice and the team at the Globe did was make it relevant to her. Emo Romeo eating Doritos. Gender fluidity. And then that moment when the whole cast and audience broke into YMCA.
I’d have paid to see people’s faces on the South Bank trying to work out what the hell was going on inside!
But it’s the only version of Romeo and Juliet that has ever made me cry. By shaking up my expectations, I had to get into the play. Even when I knew what happened next, I had no idea how it would happen.
And that was exciting, and engaging, and moving. I’d have paid to see it again straight after.
Mess around with it
Why should Shakespeare’s text be a holy cow, only ever delivered one way? I think the first example shows that shouldn’t be the case. And then there’s this piece, with some of our best actors (and some other bloke) all playing with just one line.
Personally, I think Shakespeare would probably have loved this. I know I did. I am incredibly lucky in that I was in the audience for this fantastic event. This was a moment of shock, awe, and huge belly laughs. I share it for no reason other than it’s Monday and it still makes me laugh now.
And to encourage you to mess around with words. There is no one way of getting them right for your business. Whatever language you use today, I’d only encourage you to use it for good, or laughter. Make the most of it!