Many people would consider Shakespeare boring or difficult to understand. Sure, the language can trip you up, but much like anything else – practice makes it easier. Also, seeing his works on stage makes the language easier to understand. Sometime his plots are a little convoluted, but they can be fun. Some can be laugh-out-loud hilarious one minute, then incredibly tragic the next.
The majority of people in day-to-day life have only had one experience of Shakespeare – reading something out loud in the middle of English class, awkwardly trying to speak the language and vaguely understanding what is meant by iambic pentameter. Usually it was either Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, or one of the histories. And, I have to say, if that was my only interaction with the Bard, I’d likely not be interested in him.
I have always enjoyed the language, though. And while some of his works are good, and some are confusing and a little less than perfectly put together (I think he must have been on quite the time crunch with some) – many of them are wonderful. Especially when viewed live.
Of course, I’m a bit partial to Shakespearean theatre due to the fact that I met the Nerd working in a Shakespeare company – but of course I loved the works long before then. Some of my favorite story lines, quotes, and characters are in his plays.
It is fascinating that his plays have transcended time. I love that they can be given new life. Just this year I saw a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which the characters rapped. Yes, you heard that correctly. One of my favorite shows was directed by a good friend of mine – a steampunk Richard II. Richard II is rarely performed, and I believe is highly underrated.
Now for some photos!
Laurence Olivier as Hamlet.
Mark Rylance as Olivia and Stephen Fry as Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
Dame Maggie Smith as Desdemona in Othello.
Morgan Freeman as Petruchio in a Western-themed Taming of the Shrew.
Dame Judi Dench as Juliet.
Kenneth Branagh as Benedick and Robert Sean Leonard as Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing.