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Monday, January 09, 2017

Shakespeare Though

I've become obsessed with Shakespeare. 

Perhaps it is because I am currently repurposing costumes we used in The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged and using them for a kids show, Rumplestiltskin, so I am literally, conjuring up memories as I handle the costumes. 

Perhaps it is because we, the community theatre board just approved next year's season, and so I had time to think about what I love and what I wanted to see. 

Maybe it's because I experienced "1599" at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn some months ago and haven't been able to get it out of my psyche.  If hubby's job was still in NY, I would to see it again! (I wasn't asked to promote this). 

I wrote on my Facebook page today "Theatre without the Shakespeare is like reading without the alphabet". To me, it is the foundation of acting and an actor who chooses to skip it chooses to not

It was recently reported that a prison is rehabilitating prisoners (effectively) thanks to an acting program, featuring the works of Shakespeare

"Before I joined RTA, I'd be characterized as wolf: a predatory animal in the prison system: preyed on the weak, anybody I could take advantage of," Clarence Maclin said.
But after playing 'Oedipus' and serving 16 years behind bars, Maclin emerged from this program a different man."It gave me a moral compass where there wasn't one," he said.
This really makes me hopeful not only for the inmates, but for the works... that they will not be forgotten. 

Not everyone agrees.  I have been told that the language is not accessible for the general population. That makes me sad.  I know I have read a lot of books in my time, but I feel like someone who has read just a fraction can grasp the language of Shakespeare when it is acted out.  At the very least you will get the gist the first time, and then will learn more and more as you revisit it again. 

My daughter has the tendency to audition with Shakespeare pieces. At a monologue competition, back when she was in high school, and older adjudicator harshly said. "Do not do Lady Macbeth. It is not for you. You don't have the age or experience to make it believable."  (She didn't seem to have a problem with other students doing Shakepeare, and at the time, while I didn't notice this, I now realize there was a racial bias....  "it is not for you" is truly a statement of micro-aggression.  Most recently, she was told, "I get it, you're good at Shakespeare. What else have you got?" I feel like Shakespeare is the most difficult material available to an actor. If they can do that convincingly, what else can they do? But who's to argue with a director, you'd better have a modern, plain speech monologue in your back pocket.  But I digress. 

If I've piqued your interest at all, check out No Fear Shakespeare. Here's the website.  And the books are laid out with a page of original text on one page, with the translation on the next page.  If you are homeschooling like I did, I BEG you to get your kids to read Shakpespeare. Your kids MUST get used to the language in preparation for the SAT and other tests. There are tests on Sparknotes they can take to test their knowledge, but I suggest parents read it too and discuss it, and to enjoy some Shakespeare performances together. 

You will also enjoy watching the different Shakespearian offering on Youtube. 

There are:

BBC Plays 
Online courses
Celebrity interviews
Summaries- Thug notes are my favorite
And animated tales

Enjoy! I hope you like it half as much as I do.


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