To be honest, I wasn't extraordinarily interested in literature when I was a sophomore in high school. If I hadn't been so preoccupied with math, anatomy, history, track, Baywatch, Total Request Live on MTV, my first girlfriend, my first car and countless other distractions, maybe I would have enjoyed reading a bit more. However, I wanted to learn and read. It just wasn't enticing in the middle of my high school world. I didn't really appreciate literature and many others didn't, in reality.
In the 10th grade, 2000, we had just finished reading parts of Homer's Odyssey and like other reading assignments, most of us probably shrugged and started thinking about what we would do during the 10-minute break before the following class. However, things changed later that year when my school invited actors to perform Romeo and Juliet for us. I had seen a live Shakespeare performance several years before and I knew my classmates and I would be entertained and refreshed as we sat down in the school theater.
In the beginning, as Romeo explained the woes of his love life, some of my classmates were obstinate while I was enthusiastic in a reserved way. After about 10-minutes, I looked around, wondering if I was the only one enjoying the show. It was clear that I was not. Everyone seemed physically plugged-in like Neo in The Matrix. But we weren't experiencing a virtual reality. We were enjoying real life, in school! Things were different after that day. It had brought down barriers, both mental and social. Seeing a story brought to life on the stage helped me appreciate stories on the page. I read regularly now and I know I'm a better person for it. I don't know if I would be the person I am if it wasn't for that Shakespeare performance and I'm sure the same is true for my former classmates.