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?