When I first read a play by Shakespeare, I was 13 years old. A perfect time to read “Romeo and Juliet”, being exactly the same age as the heroine. This is just crazy how much different I was back then. I was willing to ‘fight’ not to read Shakespeare, I’d never read him before, but who cares, I knew, I just KNEW, he WAS BORING. And I was made to read him. So I sat down on my bed, opened the book, sighed, and started reading. A couple of hours later, the book was hidden under my pillow, a place reserved for the number 1 special book in my heart. That’s how my Shakespeare adventure started. I was in love with “Romeo and Juliet”, so I watched Baz Luhrmann’s film, and the musical (Polish production by Studio Buffo, Warszawa, Poland). I got the musical soundtrack for my birthday and I was jumping with happiness. I was watching the film over and over again. Always crying my eyes out when Romeo died just when Juliet was waking up. Even now, and it’s been 7 years since I first saw the film, I can’t help but cry. The feelings that are stored in my memory in the drawer with “Romeo+Juliet” on it, are so strong that I sometimes find myself feeling like crying the very second I start watching the film. This weird feeling of fascination has never left, it’s been with me ever since. Though I was enchanted by this particular play, I was scared of reading anything else in fear of it ruining the perfect image of Shakespeare that existed in my head. Luckily for me, high school finds various ways to make students read Shakespeare. Preparing a speech to defend lady Macbeth in court made me open “Macbeth”, psychological talks about jealousy made me look through “Othello”. These did not make such a strong impression on me as “Romeo and Juliet” did. But later on I chose to study English language and literature and the stories of Shakespeare’s plays turned out to be just captivating; once I started reading the first line of a play, it would create a whole new world around me. I think for me the love of Shakespeare had to go through a whole process. I was raised on tales based on his plays. I’ve been in love with “Romeo and Juliet” for so many years, but not until recently have I realised that it’s not the play I love; it’s the author. I had to grow up to understand some of his plays, maybe I had to ‘digest’ his works. All I know is that when I thought I was flooded with his works, reading comedies, tragedies, sonnets and poems, I suddenly thought that this feels just great. That’s what I want to do. I want to know everything about Shakespeare, know him better than I know myself. Although I know that I’ll never know EVERYTHING, this naive dreams made me think. And then do what I love. Now I just can’t escape Shakespeare and I don’t even want to. I’m just fine being a Shakespeare nut, making plans to make the modern world a little bit more Shakespeare-loving. But as we all know, if you want to change the world, you need to start with yourself, so this year I’m going to London to see the World Shakespeare Festival, and then back home, to Gdansk, where Gdansk Shakespeare Festival begins on 27 July. But what’s going to happen when the festivals are over? I don’t know yet, but I’m sure that Shakespeare won’t disappear, neither in my life, nor on the streets. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHAKESPEARE! This is your year!