Michelle

Shakespeare

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I really want to read A Midsummers Night Dream :)

Although I have no idea what its about!

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A Midsummer Night's Dream was the first book i studied at school and then i did Macbeth. I wasn't to bothered about either. Both of them are about the havoc created by supernatural creatures. Only ones darker than the other. Give you one guess as to which one!

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Can't say I'm a huge fan of Shakespeare, I find it a bit hard to read. Although I'm currently doing a "Women In Shakespeare" module at uni :roll:.

 

At high school we studied;

Macbeth

Romeo and Juliet (although I don't think we read it)

 

At uni we've studied;

King Lear

Macbeth

The Taming Of The Shrew (the only one I read all the way through)

Twelfth Night

Othello

Antony and Cleopatra (we're doing that next week but I haven't read it - yet)

 

I hope to try and read Romeo and Juliet at somepoint in the future.

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A Midsummer Night's Dream was the first book i studied at school and then i did Macbeth.

 

Ah I did Macbeth as well, had forgotten that!

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My favourite Shakespeare is King Lear, although I found Twelfth Night hilarious!

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The memory of ~The Merchant of Venice always stayed with me from school. I found it very exciting and have loved it since.

 

When I was doing the Open University, I saw a production of Twelfth Night and also Midsummer Night's Dream and enjoyed both.

 

Also as a school girl, I was taken to see Henry V and Hamlet.

 

All this has left me with a liking for Shakespeare's work and would take any opportunity to see a live portrayal.

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From someone who's besotted enough with the Bard she's doing a whole M.A. in Shakespeare (!!), some favourites and least favourites, with film recommendations where appropriate, just off the top of my head 'cos I need to run off to uni for my Hamlet monograph module:

 

Favs:

 

King Lear: as my B.A. professor put it, "so what do we think? bleakest play ever written?" and it is. Combines the best elements of tradegy and history though, the villains are deliciously villainous - prepare for a love/hate relationship with vile Edmund, who gets all the best lines - and the ending is heartbreaking. Don't miss the 1998 RSC version, directed by Trevor Nunn, with Ian McKellen as King Lear, it's magnificent. Personally I found Peter Brook's 1971 b/w "masterpiece" a bit dull and uncommunicative.

 

Hamlet: We all know this one, so straight to the film reccomendations: if you like dramatic landscapes and "wow" soliloquy delivery, look no further than Laurence Olivier; if you're after every word that was written for that play ever, even though they never appeared in the same version, check out Kenneth Branagh's interesting version; if you want a modern version, with great bits and terrible bits, which will make you think, the 2000 film with Ethan Hawke is for you. Don't bother with Zeffirelli (otherwise a stunning director, do make sure you see his Romeo and Juliet), for he made the mistake of casting Mel Gibson, who speaks "To be or not to be" like he does "Freeeeeeedom" in Braveheart (don't get me wrong, I love Braveheart, just the skill is not transferable).

 

The Merchant of Venice: Revenge or justice? Religious intolerance: do two wrongs make one right? These the questions at the heart of one of Will's most complex plays - four hundred years on, critics are still divided on whether Shylock is a hero or a villain, how's that for multifaceted? Please go out this instant and borrow, see, acquire the stunning version with Al Pacino as Shylock, plus Jeremy Irons and Ralph Fiennes for good measure.

Least Favs:

 

The Tempest: I never really "got it"? Felt slightly silly when my classmates where discussing the postcolonial interpretations of the play and I was like, wha? But probably it's me that's slow.

 

Othello: a really layered, powerful play; with the villain Iago getting some amazing speeches - then why don't I like this? It's too well-written, I think; too realistic in its portayal of jealous domestic violence. It makes me uncomfortable.

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Never heard of him...is he the one that does the cookery shows on channel 4?

 

Only kidding! Personally, I'm not a great fan of the Merchant of Venice or even Romeo and Juliet - at least in respect to the other Shakespeare works I've read. Midsummer Night is definitely my favourite.

 

Does Shakespeare still have his relevance today though?

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I am far from a Shakespeare expert, but my introduction was at school where we studied The Merchant of Venice which I thoroughly enjoyed, and we actually had a trip to London where we saw a production of The Taming of the Shrew with Timothy Dalton and Vanessa Redgrave.

 

Probably the best live performance of one of his plays was the Renaissance company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the 1990's with an absolutely amazing cast, and a fantastic production.

 

I've also seen A Comedy of Errors, The Tempest (although I only wanted to see that because I have a soft spot of Richard Briers who was playing Prospero, and he was doing a Q&A session afterwards and I couldn't pass up the opportunity), Hamlet and Love's Labours Lost.

 

I've enjoyed all the productions I've seen on stage, but I have to admit, I'm not even tempted to go for some of the tragedies, like King Lear or Macbeth.

 

Some of the film versions I've liked have been Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet, Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labours Lost and Much Ado About Nothing.

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I'm not even tempted to go for some of the tragedies, like King Lear or Macbeth

 

... why is that? (Just plain curious, sorry.)

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I was in A Midsummer Night's Dream at primary school, in year 6. I was Puck. :shrug:

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*sniffle* I auditioned to be in "The Taming of the Shrew" back at Liverpool Uni. Sadly though acting in front of people makes me nervous and I muddled it up and I never did get a part, not even a tiny one...

 

... *brightens up* but last term I got to do acting workshops on the Globe Theatre stage - I know it's not the actual stage Shakespeare wrote for (unlike the stage in the new Cavern Club - the Club is new and in the wrong location, but the stage is the original one the Beatles played on!), but a girl can dream, no?

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... why is that? (Just plain curious, sorry.)

 

I think I'd find them too heavy going for my taste. I admit that I saw The Tempest and Hamlet because of the actors starring in them, and not because of the play which I wouldn't have seen otherwise. I find I prefer the romantic, witty plays I've seen, and I just think I'd struggle with the tone and themes in the tragedies.

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Othello: a really layered, powerful play; with the villain Iago getting some amazing speeches - then why don't I like this? It's too well-written, I think; too realistic in its portayal of jealous domestic violence. It makes me uncomfortable.

I *love* Othello!

 

I didn't study Shakespeare at school (although I was involved in the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and had therefore decided that Shakespeare was rubbish. I studied Othello for GCSE at the grand old age of 39/40 and adored it!

 

I've studied Henry VI Part 3, Richard III and The Winter's Tale in depth since then (loved them all - and in the film, Laurence Olivier's camp Richard was a triumph!) and plan to read as many as possible myself in future.

Edited by Janet

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(unlike the stage in the new Cavern Club - the Club is new and in the wrong location, but the stage is the original one the Beatles played on!)

 

So are you a Beatles fan or do you just happen to know that? I went to the Cavern a few years and had a terrific time :shrug:

 

I studied Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing in high school - I disliked Macbeth but reasonably enjoyed Much Ado. Now that I'm older and (perhaps) wiser, I'd like to read some more Shakespeare, but I'd need some good notes to go alongside it and help me through, otherwise I don't think I'd have the patience.

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Kylie - one of the best things to do is to read the play alongside listening to an audio version.

 

Also, (and I've tried searching on Yahoo.com.au to no avail) if you can find them in Australia, the Cambridge* School's Shakespeare books are excellent too as they give an explanation of what's going on for each page. :shrug:

 

 

ETA: *Or the Oxford School's Shakespeare!

Edited by Janet

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So are you a Beatles fan or do you just happen to know that? I went to the Cavern a few years and had a terrific time

 

Well, I chose to study in Liverpool (all the way from Italy) because I wanted to breathe the same air as John Lennon... does that make me a fan *tongue in cheek*? And at Liverpool Uni I discovered my second great love, Shakespeare :shrug:!

 

Now that I'm older and (perhaps) wiser, I'd like to read some more Shakespeare, but I'd need some good notes to go alongside it and help me through, otherwise I don't think I'd have the patience.

 

The brand new Oxford Classics editions are quite good for the non-initiated (I tend to buy all my Shakys in Arden editions, but I wouldn't recommend those to start with, their academic introductions are longer and more complicated than the plays); also I'd suggest to go to as many plays as you can, and if all else fails watch a few films: the words make so much more sense when spoken by actors who understand what they mean.

 

Example: I went to see the most recent RSC "Hamlet" twice; and because the first gravedigger was such a good actor, suddenly I understood what was so funny in what had (until then) been one of the most obscure passages in Shakespeare.

 

What type of story would you want to read? Happy, sad, bittersweet, blood-thirsty? I'm good at recommendations ;)!

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Othello is fantastic, Iago is such a brilliant, twisted character.

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I've read:Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth,A Midsummer's Night Dream, The Taming Of The Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost and a few others...

 

Personally, I found Macbeth horrible.It was the shortest of all and I couldn't finish it because it bored me so much (I managed it finally).The others were nice, especially Hamlet, R&J,Othello and tTotS. His writing is good, but sometimes VERY boring. And after a point, his stories are predictable.In comedy, everybody has a happy ending and in tragedies almost everybody dies...it's like you know what will happen from the beginning

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after a point, his stories are predictable.In comedy, everybody has a happy ending and in tragedies almost everybody dies...it's like you know what will happen from the beginning

You can hardly judge Shakespeare by his plots as they were almost always "borrowed" from other sources (there was no notion of copywright, plagiarism etc. back then); I personally judge him as a poet - i.e. the words he uses to express those sometimes commonplace situations, and the words are all but commonplace: there's so much beauty in his handling of language. The only passages that occasionally bore me are the ones I don't understand, but good performances usually clear those up and then I realise what I was missing.

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Othello is fantastic, Iago is such a brilliant, twisted character.

 

Agree! :)

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Also, (and I've tried searching on Yahoo.com.au to no avail) if you can find them in Australia, the Cambridge* School's Shakespeare books are excellent too as they give an explanation of what's going on for each page. :)

 

 

ETA: *Or the Oxford School's Shakespeare!

 

Aw, thanks for checking, Janet! I'll have to do some browsing in the bookshops and see what I can find.

 

Well, I chose to study in Liverpool (all the way from Italy) because I wanted to breathe the same air as John Lennon... does that make me a fan *tongue in cheek*? And at Liverpool Uni I discovered my second great love, Shakespeare :)!

 

Yeah, I guess that classifies you as a Beatles fan :) Welcome aboard, friend!

 

Othello seems to be getting a few recommendations around here, so I guess I'll give that one a try (eventually...when I've got my TBR pile down a bit).

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Agree! :)

 

Yeah, he's such a fascinating character and seeing how his evil plot seeps into Othello like poison is brilliant, it's disturbing yet compelling. And some of his speeches are absolutely amazing to read.

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You can hardly judge Shakespeare by his plots as they were almost always "borrowed" from other sources (there was no notion of copywright, plagiarism etc. back then); I personally judge him as a poet - i.e. the words he uses to express those sometimes commonplace situations, and the words are all but commonplace: there's so much beauty in his handling of language. The only passages that occasionally bore me are the ones I don't understand, but good performances usually clear those up and then I realise what I was missing.

 

Hmmm, interesting point..:)

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Yeah, he's such a fascinating character and seeing how his evil plot seeps into Othello like poison is brilliant, it's disturbing yet compelling. And some of his speeches are absolutely amazing to read.

 

I remember doing Othello last year at school and EVERYONE hated it and I thought it was brilliant! :)

Othello is definatly one of my favourites by Shakespeare!

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