Book DescriptionBob Smith grew up in a town named for Shakespeare?s birthplace, Stratford, Connecticut. His troubled childhood was spent in a struggle to help his devastated parents care for his severely retarded sister. But at age ten, Smith stumbled onto a line from The Merchant of Venice and found a window through which to view the world.
A few years later, the American Shakespeare Festival moved into Stratford, and Smith became Hamlet?s dresser. As he watched the plays from backstage, his life?s passion took shape. He left home to travel with the Shakespeare Festival, and in the decades since, without a college credit to his name, he has taught the plays in universities and acting schools and prisons. For the past several years, he has probed the texts with thousands of the elderly in senior centers all over Manhattan.
Here, in gorgeous, tender, and lyrical prose, Smith tells the story of a life shaped by poetry. Melding tragedy and comedy, he gracefully weaves together the stories of his bittersweet childhood, struggling to help his parents care for his severely retarded sister, his early experience as Hamlet?s dresser for the Shakespeare festival, his poignant experiences teaching Shakespeare to seniors, and dozens of illuminating scenes from Shakespeare?s plays.