::WARNING — YOU WILL READ MORE THAN JUST A QUOTE IN THIS POST, AND IT WILL TAKE YOU LONGER THAN AN INSTAGRAM VIDEO’S LENGTH. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK::
The first time I read Shakespeare as a child I was drawn to it instantly. I didn’t quite understand the work or know anything about it – but that’s what I loved. The words, the cadence, the imagery, the not-knowing, the bleak, the fantasy.
I remember feeling like if I learned about Shakespeare or his work I would be smarter, sophisticated, people would respect me, and I wouldn’t be just some knucklehead Hispanic kid.
I never did though – learn all about him, or read/act in one of his plays, but still feel he and his approach to language was a big inspiration to me and my writings.
Years later in 2006, after performing my first one-man show “Insanity Isn’t”, Justin Macdonnell, a great man I have immense respect for, came up to me and said, in his Australian accent, “You, young sir, are amazing – and a Shakespearian actor at that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing I saw you in was King Lear!”
I didn’t know what or who or when King Lear was, but I didn’t care. I never had the privilege of going to school for theater, performance, ensemble, improvisation, acting, writing etc – and throughout the years have had a hard time calling myself a practitioner of any of those crafts because of it. So, Justin saying this to me was a big deal. I felt accepted, sophisticated, respected.
But, after 11 years of experience in the theater, numerous shows under my belt, 3 of those being my own one-man shows, I still had never been in or performed a Shakespearian pl ay/monologue. Until this past weekend when my Shakespearian cherry was popped by some of my best friends, friends, and new friends – and I couldn’t have asked for a better first time.
One of my best friends, Tarell Alvin McCraney just happens to be one of the best playwrights in the land. Don’t know him? You’re stupid.
And he casted me in the first play I ever saw from Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.
And I got to play Tybalt, who was my favorite character from the Baz Luhrmann movie version, because I was a John Leguizamo fan as a kid.
And I got to perform it in Miami.
Under the sunset.
Under the stars.
In the round. (To the hip hop heads, that means in a cypher, yo).
And I got to perform it with the most fucking talented cast ever.
Like fuck! Serious.
It didn’t rain.
700 plus people showed up.
People were touched.
And I got my Shakespearian on for the first time ever.
So thank you.
Thank you for trusting me.
Thank you for being you.
Thank you for letting me be me with you.
Pardon my monkey thumbs,