Saturday, February 5, 2011

Getting into Shakespeare: Part 4

Shakespeare is our Friend

Welcome back for the last week of the Getting into Shakespeare series! This final post is about how to make better friends with Shakespeare, now that we have some good strategies for tackling his works.

I find the best way to do this is by making Shakespeare goals. Actually, I just do a lot better at doing hard things that I really want to do (but have a tendency to forget about, and just get on facebook instead) if I make a goal.

Getting from this facebook... this facebook.

So, my personal plan for hanging out with Shakespeare this year is to try to keep up with Shakespeare girl and read all of his works. I admit that I may "fail" spectacularly at this (I'm a little nervous about Titus Andronicus, which is coming right up), but even if I quit today, this goal has so far helped me read 5 plays I had never read before! This has really enriched my year, and it's only February. So, I call it a glorious success already. And thus you can see that goals, especially approached with a lot of self-forgiveness, are very helpful things.

Now, if you don’t want to read all of Shakespeare in one year, that’s fine. Your goal doesn't have to be identical to ours. You're a busy person - pick something a little smaller that fits into your life. Some examples I thought of for smaller goals might be:

"I will attempt to... my first Shakespeare movie this month.”

...find a well-reviewed Shakespeare production in my town to go see this season." the play of a Shakespeare movie I’ve seen." 10 of the most famous Shakespeare plays this year." and read two Shakespeare plays in the next two months.” a Shakespeare play from a different genre than I’ve tried before” (like watching and reading Henry V, if you’ve only read Shakespeare’s comedies before, for example).

And as you go forward, remember, Shakespeare was NOT written for scholars. Poor people used to pay a penny - worth more in those days - to go *stand* in the muddy theater for hours and watch Shakespeare plays. Obviously, they weren't doing this to torture themselves.

This is the reproduction Globe Theatre in London, on the spot where many of Shakespeare's plays were performed. I went there once - I had a great time. But do you see the people standing in front of the stage? The Globe likes to keep an authentic renaissance flavor, so those people will have to keep standing up throughout the whole performance. It's true that instead of the mud that was in front of the stage in Shakespeare's day, there's now a nice cement pad that might be okay to sit on. But, if any of these people sit down, an attendant will come make them stand up. This is to punish them for having bought a slightly cheaper ticket.

I'm convinced that like countless others, you'll think Shakespeare is just great, if you can clear away a bit of the mists of time and get to see his works for what they really are. These plays were written and performed for everyone from peasants to royalty... to entertain us, to teach us about ourselves, others, and God - and to perhaps help us come away a bit better than we were before.

Oh, and if you happen to think of a really great getting-into-Shakespeare tip that wasn't featured in this series, feel free to comment or message me - I always like to learn more about how to learn more about Shakespeare. God speed you in your explorations!

1 comment:

  1. Prepare to Meet Andronicus and Train

    Andronicus approaches, Rome give way;
    He's come to bury yet another son.
    See with what martial grief he mourns his loss. -
    With proud and tearless ceremony he
    Salutes his fallen son, a soldier who
    In duty and devotion gladly gave
    His young life so that Rome might never die. -
    Andronicus in tragic triumph comes,
    The Gothic queen Tamora in his train.
    Inexorable his proud, unyielding heart
    Which feels no other sorrow than its own,
    And cruelly disdains a mother's plea.
    Remorseless, merciless and pitiless
    He turns a deaf ear to the widow's cry
    And sets the stage for such barbarity
    As pagan vengeance never knew before.
    The hounds of hell in horror howl and cringe;
    They slink away their tails between their legs
    Before this berserk onslaught of revenge,
    Where ordinary monsters seem benign,
    And merely cruel evil appears kind,
    And common horrors look like comedy. -
    'Over the top' falls far short of the mark
    To properly prepare for what awaits
    When you pass through Andronicus's gates. -
    Prepare then friends your gentle hearts and minds
    (And always ask, 'What's this?' before you dine).