I think it’s fair to say that many people look at me in a slightly perplexed fashion when I say I’m doing a PhD. This sometimes turns to confusion when I reveal that the subject is Shakespeare on film.
The typical question is “why would you want to do that? Followed swiftly by, “how useful is it?” and “what has it got to do with your work?”.
The “Why” question is easy: I am studying Shakespeare because I love it. Why else would I do it?
The “how useful is it” is a trickier question to answer. I think I would say that every time I read or watch a play I see some new angle or possibility. It shows me how rich in possibilities a particular situation or character can be when actors and directors invest time and energy into exploring them with imagination.
This in turn helps to answer the “what has it got to do with your work?” question. The richness found in Shakespeare’s characters is mirrored in the potential richness of the people I work with at major events and in coaching sessions. Without exception, everyone I’ve ever worked with has been capable of more than they thought possible.
Now I think that’s still useful – even in our utilitarian age…