Watch videos of “my Shakespeare story” and tell us yours

For our yearlong celebration of Shakespeare in 2016, we’ve been inviting the world to share videos about personal connections and experiences with Shakespeare, with the hashtag #MySHX400. The results are varied, unexpected, and interesting. Enjoy some of those Shakespeare stories here and tell us your own, too.

Washington photographer Lloyd Wolf recalls that one of his first encounters with Shakespeare was hearing “to be or not to be” in German from his father, who had fled Nazi Germany:

Actress Holly Twyford first connected with Shakespeare when a classroom teacher asked everyone to “get up and read” a scene on their feet. Director Aaron Posner and actor Simon Russell Beale also recall favorite teachers who drew them to the plays.

Actor Wayne Carr fell in love with Shakespeare when he saw The Tempest on stage, with Vanessa Redgrave as Prospera:

Among the many stories are some one-of-a-kind Shakespeare experiences. In one of several videos, director Joss Whedon recalls his chance to film Much Ado About Nothing during a vacation after working on The Avengers:

Reading takes center stage in the videos, too. An author whose Shakespeare-themed young adult novel will be published this fall first enjoyed Shakespeare by reading Hamlet on her commute by train to community college. Folger poetry coordinator Teri Cross Davis notes a parallel between a passage from Richard III and a poem by Terrance Hayes.

In other stories, Shakespeare’s language is the focus. Actor Matthew Boston talks about our common humanity and how we need “a great interpreter” to put it into words. Old Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein describes his surprisingly simple favorite line from Shakespeare.

As for what Shakespeare means to her, one of the Folger’s McKee High School Fellows talks about Shakespeare as “a way to see the world differently.”

What’s the most memorable production you’ve ever seen? Actress Maren Bush recalls a performance of Hamlet that was so improvisational and fresh that she realized “this is what live theater can be!”

In a previous blog post, we shared other Shakespeare experiences from the Wonder of Will Live event, hosted at the Folger on April 23 and broadcast on C-SPAN, with stories from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, actor Kal Penn, and many others. You can see all of those videos, those in this blog post, and many more at our #MySHX400 playlist.

But what about your story?

Share your Shakespeare story!


Join the conversation! Check out our “share your Shakespeare story” for simple tips on creating the video and questions that may inspire a great Shakespeare story from you. We can’t wait to see it.


  • My first experience was probably the the 1935 movie production of Midsummer Night’s Dream that I saw on TV when I was a child in the 50s. I didn’t understand most of it but it was magical. Next was through the backdoor – Romeo and Juliet by way of West Side Story when I was an early teen. And then, in 10th grade, we took the conspirators to court after we read Julius Caesar (1964) and I was hooked. Now we regularly go the Ashland, OR for the plays and I always make sure we see the Shakespeare.

  • My first Shakespeare experience was in Minnesota in the late seventies. I watched the BBC production of Pericles on a little black and white TV in the kitchen. I was thrilled that I understood the language.

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