I have a confession. I lead a double life. By day, I am a casebook reading, doctrine-reciting law student. By night, I am a citizen in Shakespeare’s imagination, in a professional production of Romeo and Juliet. As my first self, a law student, I learn about the rules and standards that govern our society. As a thespian, I enter theater, a space that shuns boundaries, rules and law. In the law school, I work alongside legal giants who help shape our legal and political reality. In the theater, I work alongside Tony nominees and Broadway stars.
One day after a discussion of a particular scene, a fellow actor said, “In context, everything has meaning.” It made me reflect on what my meaning in my unique context is. My context at this point in time is law and Shakespeare. It wasn’t long before I found my meaning. By exploring the brimming violence ever present throughout Romeo and Juliet, I have been more able to understand the recent riots in Egypt. Shakespeare transforms me to a world where I can fully understand the necessity to break free of the rigid rules and norms to give your life for what you believe in. This is a kind of empathy and emotional understanding that no amount of casebook reading could give me. Furthermore, it has informed my legal writing on the subject. I had chosen to write about Egypt and the Nile Basin for my Supervised Analytical Writing (a writing requirement all YLS students must complete before graduating) well before the riots began. At first, I was anxious as to how the riots would affect my paper concerning the rule of law in the Nile Basin. However, as I began to feel and understand the revolution with Shakespeare’s help, I no longer viewed my paper as simply a requirement for graduation. It became a living, breathing part of history that I could take part in.
Though being on rehearsal call 9 hours a day, 6 days a week and performing 8 shows a week for the three week run is exhausting, I am so lucky I have the opportunity to lead this double life. Yale allows me to develop all sides of myself, thereby making me a better law student and person.