It is easy to take Will Shakespeare for granted. So established is he in the cultural and academic pantheons that even the frequent attempts to update or “jazz up” the plays feel time-honored and traditional. Two recent movies provide a nice antidote to the standard bardolatry, reminding us just why he is truly immortal. Hank Rogerson’s Shakespeare Behind Bars observes a troupe of hardened criminals grappling with iambic pentameter and inner demons, and Mel Stuart’s The Hobart Shakespeareans takes a similar journey with inner-city youth in L.A. Even those with an innate aversion to jerkins and tights, thees and thous, will be moved by these films, and by how the truths embedded in Shakespeare’s plays provide inspiration and comfort for those in desperate need of a way to make sense of life, and to endure the slings and arrows that fate has sent their way. Bob Smith’s deeply personal memoir, Hamlet’s Dresser, has a similar feel, showing how Shakespeare’s generous and humane spirit helped the author cope with his own difficult childhood, ultimately inspiring him to share his love for the plays by conducting Shakespeare workshops with a group of seniors in Manhattan, and to work well outside the limelight, dressing performers backstage at the American Shakespeare festival in Stratford. (Oh, he could tell you some stories! And he does).