April 23 is the 400th anniversary since the death of William Shakespeare. He is the most famous writer in the world, and his plays and poems have inspired millions of people throughout the generations. But what job would the Bard have today? Would Shakespeare swap quill for keyboard and remain as a writer, or would he choose another career? Here are some possibilities.
An obvious choice but why not? The advent of film, radio, television and the internet have provided more opportunities for scriptwriters than ever before. Then again, Shakespeare may prefer to be a film director or TV producer, and manage the entire creative project. Either way, he could rewrite King Lear as a six season Netflix zombie drama starring Kevin Spacey in the title role.
Many great writers were also teachers, and Shakespeare could do the same. He would be a brilliant English teacher, using his acting talents to engage students with difficult poems. Plus the syllabus would be smaller, without his influence on generations of writers. He could also probably teach Classics as he would have studied this at school, although Ben Jonson, a contemporary playwright, quipped that he ‘hadst small Latin and less Greek’.
Organisations around the world produce millions of content every day and someone needs to write it. With his excellent communication skills and knowledge of how to target different audiences, Shakespeare would be the perfect content editor. He could write Buzzfeed style lists like ‘15 bad decisions that cost Caesar his life’ and ‘5 things to do this Midsummer Night’.
In this age of 24/7 communication, organisations need to constantly present a positive public image. Shakespeare would be great in this role, able to portray kings as heroes or villains and evoke feelings from audiences. He could ensure journalists are bard (geddit?) from asking clients certain questions, and promote positive stories about notorious political leaders. For example, ‘Why Richard III is an inspiration to people with disabilities’.
Many of Shakespeare’s plays criticise authority figures, especially those who misuse their power. Maybe Shakespeare would work for a charity helping people to gain basic literacy skills (and then they could read his sonnets). Shakespeare’s Sir Thomas More even promotes treating immigrants kindly, so perhaps he would work for a human rights organisation. Shakespeare could write persuasive articles promoting important humanitarian causes (but he would need more liberal views on gender, race and sexuality).
Shakespeare appears to have been a savvy businessman, owning several houses by the end of his life. He might now be a property developer, especially in the current housing climate, buying flats near the Globe, castles in Scotland and a holiday villa in Verona. Shakespeare would need business partners around the world, perhaps including a Merchant of Venice.
Of course it is impossible to know what Shakespeare would do if alive today, but his creativity, craftsmanship and determination would make him an asset in many industries.
This article is part of Prospects #Shakespeare400 celebrations, in which we focus on the Bard and careers. Prospects is the education, employment and skills company, helping people across the UK overcome barriers to living better lives. Find out more, visit www.prospects.co.uk.