Wednesday, March 3, 2010
A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare
Once again -- and this is going to become a familiar refrain -- I'm involved in the theater. Only this time, I'm (probably) not on stage.
A common comment from friends and acquaintances who attended Twelfth Night was that we did a great job with the production, but they wished that the language could have been modernized. Certainly, Shakespeare's words were easier to understand in performance than in writing... but they felt it lost (or they missed) something because of the language's antiquity.
For people who struggle with Shakespearean English, these books are great dual-language editions. They're the texts we use with the children who will be performing A Midsummer Night's Dream in May. But -- and this is a big but -- the kiddos don't perform the "modern" English version. They perform it Shakespearean-style.
And there's not much more impressive than a little kid reading, understanding, and then performing a piece of Shakespearean dialogue.
I completely understand those people who say that Shakespeare, even on stage, is sometimes difficult to understand. Heck, I agree with them. But anything literary -- and I'm including film and television here -- is most rewarding for everyone involved when it takes a little extra concentration and a little extra effort to comprehend it. When it rewards the reader or viewer for paying attention earlier on, whether it was three acts or three hundred pages or thirteen episodes ago. When it doesn't assume the lowest common denominator.
And to anyone who finds Shakespeare incomprehensible -- I've done it before, and I'll do it again -- I point at these amazing students and say, "They can do it."