Monday, April 23, 2007

23 April

Lovers of the English language should rejoice today -- it is Shakespeare's birthday as well as being St George's day.

There is much debate on the authenticity of Shakespeare. Was the playwright really the man buried in Stratford on Avon? Some of it must be pure snobbish -- how could the son of a glove merchant has such a way with words. Personally, I have no problem with Shakespeare being Shakespeare. He does use many colloquial Warwickshire phrases. Neither do I have a problem with his leaving his wife and family in Stratford when he went off to London to make his fortune. It happens all the time. There are many logical reasons why he might not want to bring a young family to London. And who knows about his marriage.

My dh gave me 1599 for Christmas. It can be hard going at times but basically details one of the year's when Shakespeare was at his most creative. It is interesting that he too felt the tug of do you make your work commercial or do you write for the critics? In general he chose the commercial. The court thought he should contrate on his sonnets.

What shines through in his work is his voice. The way he put words together. How he created characters. The best way to enjoy Shakespeare is to go in person and see the plays. A play is a living, breathing entity. It needs actors to bring it to life. How the actor interprets the words, how the scene is set. To simply reading Shakespeare is to miss the whole point. Go and see a play. Listen to his words. It should refresh you. Also remember that he was not in general playing to the court, but to the average man in the street. he competed with the orange sellers, the monkey grinders, the pick pockets and the thieves. He is a multi-layered playwright. And what is also obvious is that he worked at his art. He was a professional. He exhibits -- desires, determination, dedication and discipline. And he made everyone's life richer for it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That book is on my TBR pile - am very much looking forward to it.

Agreed completely re seeing Shakespeare. And it doesn't have to have a fancy set or big name actors - one of the best versions of Antony and Cleopatra I've seen was done with a cast of about six, a bare stage and a sheet. (I have also been privileged to see Derek Jacobi as Macbeth, though - and that was when I wished I'd bought tickets for every night of the run. It was that good.)