I try not to write about Shakespeare too often in this column, because I spend a large chunk of my “other life” as an academic talking about the Man from Stratford. This is both a gesture towards journalistic integrity (I don’t think it’s fair to impose my scholarly interests on readers) and a self-serving measure (keeping myself from becoming bored or boring).

But Shakespeare’s plays constitute about 4% of the professional productions staged around the world every year; there are almost 50,000 books about him published annually; and he continually crops up in music and the visual arts, whether as an earnest or an ironic point of reference. So I reckon I wouldn’t be doing my job as an arts writer if I didn’t give him any coverage.

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