Jul 01, 2012

by English Muse

Hello English Muse readers! Karen from A Simple Cup of Tea once again. This week I wanted to talk about Shakespeare. From the immensely rich language to the pentameter and universal themes, there is something about his work that intrigues and enchants.

I fell in love with his work when I was seventeen and we did Macbeth (curse and all) at school. I picked up a copy in English, youtubed quite a few video’s of Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth and was a goner. Later I did summer schools at Guildhall and Central St. Martins and my relationship with the texts grew from a girly crush and infatuation to a lasting, adoring love.

Ian McKellan and Judi Dench in Macbeth (1979).

The Guardian currently has a series on Shakespeare (Shakespeare and me): the best actors and theatre-makers of their generation talk about their relation to Shakespeare and his texts. Here are a couple of interesting quotes.

If you look at the punctuation of Shakespeare and obey it then you’ll never run out of breath. He writes where the pause should be. If you understand that, you unlock the play.
– Dame Judy Dench

I think Shakespeare says the things about us that need to be said, and constantly said, but he doesn’t judge easily. He gives people rope to hang themselves, sure, but there’s tolerance of human frailty, and that’s why he’s survived at the top of the tree.
– Simon Russell Beale

Shakespeare showed me that once I understand the rules, I can break them.
– Zoë Wannamaker

Shakespeare was a dude! He was an actor, too – one of us. He could put on tights and fanny about on stage, which helped make him such a great writer. I get so angry about revisionist ideas of him as an aristocrat or as a group of people. Why rob him of his genius?
– Joseph Paterson

I made my professional debut as Ophelia in 1957. I didn’t know enough to be daunted by it at the time. I learnt an incredible amount from it. My notices were certainly daunting. You learn from them – you learn very soon. You just have to grit your teeth and get on and learn to do it better.
– Dame Judy Dench

Academics are trying to kill him. Shakespeare was guided by his appetite and feelings. We shouldn’t teach Shakespeare – we should perform Shakespeare.
– Sir Ben Kingsley

David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About (2011).

I loved learning about Shakespeare but I think Shakespeare is ment to be watched rather than be studied. It’s nice to have some background and know what’s going on but for me all that information clicks once I see the play in performance.

The fondest memory of watching Shakespeare was seeing the Bridge Project’s version of The Winter’s Tale in 2009. Simon Russell Beale was magnificent as Leontes and Rebecca Hall’s Hermione was wonderful.

What about you? What’s your favourite play of Shakespeare’s?

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This entry was posted on Sunday, July 1st, 2012 at 12:22 pm. It is filed under Decor and tagged with , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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8 Responses to “Shakespeare and me”

  1. I’m a sucker for Romeo and Juliet. Great post. xo

  2. PS: New blog page (linked up to my name).

    Hope to see you!

    xo

  3. Luli says:

    I like Midsummer Night’s dream. Have you seen Anonymous? You might like it.

  4. Katie says:

    My Shakespeare class as an undergraduate English major was a cross-listed English and Theater Arts course and we studied performance history for the most part. It was so interesting! Twelfth Night is my favorite, followed closely by a Midsummer Night’s Dream.
    and I absolutely love the Doctor Who episode (when David Tennant was still playing the Doctor) in which Shakespeare basically saves the earth. It’s fabulous.

  5. I adore Shakespeare. My favorites are The Tempest, Twelfth Night, and Hamlet. I’m always excited to see a new one performed live. One of my favorite memories is getting to see The Tempest performed at the Globe. I love the Doctor Who episode Katie mentioned too! I would have killed to see Much Ado About Nothing with Tennant and Tate!

  6. Sumire says:

    It’s funny; I came to really hate Romeo and Juliet. It was presented as all glorified angst and “young death is romantic” when I was a teen and I was sick of it long before I reached college. Then in college as part of my theatre classes I watched a performance of Romeo and Juliet that was supposed to be more like it was originally performed. Part of the audience was even seated on the stage to be used as extras in the party scenes and the like. The thing that really surprised me was how incredibly funny the play was.

    What stays with me was how unexpected death was in the midst of laughter. I knew who died but I was shocked by Mercutio’s death. I cried watching the play because suddenly the death was grounded by people who had a lifeline cut short rather than a date with destiny. It made me realize how powerful the play was and gave me a new respect for Shakespeare.

    What stays with me was how unexpected death was in the midst of laughter. I knew who died but I was shocked by Mercutio’s death. I cried watching the play because suddenly the death was grounded by people who had a lifeline cut short rather than a date with destiny. It made me realize how powerful the play was and gave me a new respect for Shakespeare.

  7. Karen says:

    I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  8. Karen says:

    I haven’t. I’ve also never seen any of the history plays but with the Hollow Crown series coming out on BBC 2 that is about to be remedied…
    I’ll have to look into Anonymous. Thanks for the rec.

fin.
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