That is the title of an excellent essay at The Higher Education (where else?) by Matthew Reisz and the answer, for me, at any rate, is a resounding 'YES'! Well, to be both honest and precise, actually I, personally, do not have anything new to say about him or his works because I am not an original thinker, merely a rather large sheet of blotting paper which soaks up information and insights from true scholars and students. As an occasional director of Shakespeare's plays I am always deeply grateful to these learn-ed men and women even if sometimes I have the temerity to disagree with their conclusions.
That mad old King Lear is beginning to loom again on my theatrical horizon. There is a possibility, only slight but enough to get me working again, of me directing a production, perhaps in 2015 - 'I should live so long, my life already!' This morning I ordered from Amazon a copy (second-hand, of course) of the third (the latest) Arden edition. For me, the Ardens are always the foundation upon which I build my production. Their scholorship is usually sound, by which I mean that the best of the editors are honest and scrupulous enough to indicate their own doubts and hesitations on various points. However, some of the earlier editions now feel a bit dry and fusty, where-as the later ones have a fresher appeal - for instance in detailing the playing history they now include film and TV productions, and as some of the new editors are American, they also provide details of American and Canadian productions.
Apart from reading Mr. Reisz's excellent essay today, I also read some of the comments by Amazon readers of the third edition Arden and even there I mined one or two pieces of gold. It is quite amazing how different people approach his works from different angles, he really does appear to be all things to all men - and not all of them English-speaking men. This photo both shocked and delighted me. It is from a production of Love's Labours Lost played in - Kabul, Afghanistan!
More daring than Elizabethan London in Will's day where women were strictly forbidden from going on stage. Of course, unbelievably daring on the part of the actresses in Kabul who appeared on stage with men and played their roles without veils although there was no touching between men and women. The director of this production was Ms. Corinne Jaber, a brave, Canadian lady of mixed German and Syrian descent. It's worth reading her brief description of some of the difficulties behind that amazing production, here.
Being a total, sopping wet romantic, of course, I cannot help but think that there is a tiny ray of hope in any society which gets to know Shakespeare.