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Shakespeare-wallahs in the age of PowerPoint

The most interactive session on the first day of the HT Leadership Summit was perhaps the one conducted by the Shakespeare-wallahs. Former US government officials Kenneth and Carol Adelman shook the Summit delegates off their post-lunch stupor with lessons derived from the works of William Shakespeare.

books Updated: Dec 02, 2011 13:05 IST

The most interactive session on the first day of the HT Leadership Summit was perhaps the one conducted by the Shakespeare-wallahs. Former US government officials Kenneth and Carol Adelman shook the Summit delegates off their post-lunch stupor with lessons derived from the works of William Shakespeare.

In a departure from the usual session format, they showed three film clips based on Shakespeare's plays and then discussed with the delegates the lessons from them. The first was the advice given by Polonius in Hamlet about keeping wise counsel; the second was Portia's plea for mercy to Shylock, in The Merchant of Venice; and the last was Henry V's rousing speech before the Battle of Agincourt.

The crowd seemed most taken with the first clip, with the restraint advised by the father to the son ("Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice") featuring as the most popular dictum from which wisdom could be gleaned as PowerPoint bullets. Another delegate wondered aloud whether, like Henry before the battle, Rahul

Gandhi could turn the current political crisis into an opportunity.

Kenneth, who did three stints as a foreign service official under the former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, first supported the Iraq war and then became disillusioned with it. Was there a lesson from the English bard that came to mind while looking at the mess created by his ex-boss? "Yes, one from Hamlet," replied Kenneth without hesitation. "It's when Claudius says, 'When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions'."