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  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
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The Shakespeare Thread by mrsthing on 27 May 2008 12:21pm
...for continuing conversations about favorite plays, different versions, horror stories in reading, etc.

I took a Shakespeare class in high school, and my teacher, a small-time actor, had done so much Shakespeare that every morning, he'd open his huge book, mutter, "Let's see, where did we leave off? Oh yeah, Act II, scene v, line 43." Then he'd close the book with a thud, and recite the entire play for most of the rest of the class, offering commentary as he went along. We did Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet. He really made it fun.

In college, we had to read one or two plays a week. I can't read anywhere near that fast, especially not archaic English, so I relied on Cliff Notes to get me through. Cliff Notes were cheap books you could buy that gave synopses of just about any book or subject you could want. They were considered the wimp's way out, but I couldn't have plowed through Hamlet in a week with all my other course work, so I found them an invaluable resource.

I saw a very nice modern rendition of Taming of the Shrew on TV. It was a performance of Shakespeare in the Park (Central Park, NY) with Raul Julia and Meryl Streep. It easier for me to understand, and a little less sexist: Petruchio has his own epiphany at the end.

The version of "Shrew" with John Cleese is the traditional version. The acting is wonderful on all parts. I scoffed at first, seeing the English subtitles, but I was very soon grateful for them, because the actors talked so fast I couldn't understand all the words, let alone have a second or two to process some of the more archaic terms.
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by geordiegirl on 27 May 2008 6:28pm
'Much Ado about Nothing' is my favourite comedy.

I just feel so lucky living in London - we have the national theatre an hour's journey away & I saw the most gorgeous production there in january, dir. Nicholas Hytner - definitely north Italian in setting. Simon Russell Beale and your very own Zoe Wanamaker! Bliss.
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by tucsonmike on 27 May 2008 9:10pm
Taming of the Shrew my favorite Comedy, Macbeth, my favorite Tragedy.
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by MMMmmm... on 28 May 2008 7:30pm
Shakespeare was truly one of our greatest, most beautiful minds. When I was a little girl, I was skeptical about Shakespeare. I thought there was just a lot of hype - that he just had a "reputation" for being "great." But in college I took a Shakespeare class, and I was blown away by the reality of his mind. He had so great a capacity for understanding all: knowledge, wisdom, love, comedy, depravity, insidious complexity, luminous transcendence. There was no un-unifiable duality with Shakespeare. He was universal - he understood everything human - everything sublime. Equal parts man and woman, heart and mind. Understanding the deepest depths, and causes of ignorance and folly, the most precious, delicate ecstacies of vital living beauty. A humble, natural mastery that created profoundly masterful gifts. Once a skeptic, he is now more aptly - a personal favorite all-time hero-genius, and I am so thankful that such a man, and proof in his gifts, exists... (It's the truth.) I hesitated about saying anything because I knew I would probably verbally exult, but I can't help it - he does it to people - it's all his fault - his doing! He is the brilliance of the milky way, and I'm just one of the billions of admirers. I like A Midsummer Night's Dream, especially...
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by sighthound on 28 May 2008 11:39pm
Well said, MMMmmm.

When people toting Bibles come knocking on my door trying to convert me, I pull out my Shakespeare and try to convert them.
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by pandab on 29 May 2008 2:14am
Unfortunately, I haven't seen too many of Shakespeare's plays performed, except in movies.

My all-time favorite is Henry V, though Much Ado About Nothing comes a close second.

A few years ago, while on vacation in London, I saw The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare's Globe. I had always hated that one, but I adored this production of it.

For one thing, how could I not when I got to see it in a venue as close to original as the Globe? For another thing, the cast was all-female. It gave an interesting twist to the play.

I have trouble reading Shakespeare. To me, the written words are dull, flat and hard to understand. But when they are spoken ... They soar to life! When I read one of the plays now, I usually read it out loud and enjoy it so much more.

Re: The Shakespeare Thread by geordiegirl on 29 May 2008 2:48pm
Mmm, you're not so bad a wordsmith yourself! Lovely description.

Pandab, I saw that production too - good, wasn't it?
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by MMMmmm... on 29 May 2008 7:39pm
That is very cool that you pull out your Shakespeare 'bible,' sighthound - I love that! I have never heard of that... I bet that would be one of Shakespeare's personal favorite compliments, ever! (Especially since so much of his life was shaped and pained by the Catholic vs. Protestant conflicts of the times.) I think for him, his work was almost like, if not, his version (or alternative to) the 'bible!' (But for some reason after writing that, I realize how far I like the words Shakespeare, and 'bible' to be apart - for Shakespeare is just "Shakespeare," and best that way.)

Thank you, geordiegirl. Part of why I'm starting a web site is because I want to have a place to celebrate literary and creative writing as well as other creative arts. It will be very casual, comfortable, relaxed, have variety, etc., but also the potential for people to be creative - for official and non, writers, 'English majors' other artists, etc., to inspire and be inspired.
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by elina on 1 June 2008 8:21am
My all time favourite is Richard III. I love the play, and also Ian McKellen's 1995 version. It is so intriguing and fascinating. Richard is a powerful character, and I can't help but weeping when Clarence dies.

My first Shakespeare book was King Lear, which my friend gave me as a Christmas present when I was still thinking of becoming (script)writer rather than historian. Well, it may still happen, I still write stories when I can.
Re: The Shakespeare Thread by MMMmmm... on 1 June 2008 2:54pm
Hi elina!
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