[FoRK] Shakespeare

Luis Villa < luis.villa at gmail.com > on > Thu Jun 15 07:17:40 PDT 2006

Tangential, and perhaps more tech-list-appropriate ;):


Potentially google's best PR yet for the value of scanning old books.
Shame one can't download pdfs of the out of copyright stuff.


On 6/11/06, Chris Olds <cco at dydax.com> wrote:
> Joe Barrera wrote:
> > Hey! So you're a big Shakespeare fan.
> > How would you convince someone that
> > Shakespeare is worth another look even
> > if they currently don't think that
> > Shakespeare does it for them?
> Ideally, I'd be able to take them to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival [1]
> and show off the full variety of Shakespeare, done really well.  If
> that's not possible, then I'd find good modern-language movies of
> several plays; perhaps starting with the comedies, since they will seem
> familiar (because, of course, TV sit-coms have reused their ideas so
> many times).
> Taming of the Shrew [2] is a good start (the link is to the 1967
> Burton/Taylor version).  If the person in question has seen "10 things I
> hate about you", so much the better.   The Comedy of Errors is also
> great fun (slapstick wasn't invented yesterday).  After that, Romeo &
> Juliet is a good romantic action piece, Hamlet is perhaps the canonical
> ghost story (and pulls out all the stops in many ways -
> play-within-a-play, kidnapping, murder - what's *not* to like?!??).
> I think that Shakespeare makes more sense to people if they can relate
> the plays to movie genres - the histories are deadly dull to read (some
> more than others), but when they are played well, they show their true
> colors - action/adventure at it's finest.  The comedies show off themes
> that have been used over and over in movies and TV, just as Shakespeare
> ripped off his predecessors (albeit so well that they are now somewhat
> obscured).  The dramas again show the basic themes we know so well, but
> they are still worth seeing in that form.
> Ian McKellen's 1995 Richard III [3] shows how changing the setting
> doesn't always require changing the words (although Adam may disagree
> with me, and I'm sure he thinks that Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes'
> Romeo & Juliet [4] was crap, even though they used the original dialogue).
> I feel fortunate that I went to Ashland the summers I was 14 & 15, and
> saw a lot of plays.  We read most of them before going, which I think
> helped me to understand them, but isn't a requirement.  If you didn't
> have that advantage, there are many very good productions being done all
> the time; I don't know how available they are, but PBS has done a number
> of great productions over the past few years; there was an
> extreme-minimalist version of Lear that I found very moving, and an
> Othello I found gripping too.  If you have a local Shakespeare company,
> see what they're doing this year, pick one play, and go see it (yes, I
> make my kids try each new food we come across too).
> Why is Shakespeare important?  Partly because I can't name an English
> playwright between Shakespeare's time and Oscar Wilde - that's a long
> shadow.  I don't think that there were fundamentally new ideas in
> playwriting until after WWI, and more so after WWII (n.b., I am not a
> scholar, so don't go berserk if I'm off-base); whether that's good or
> bad, if you don't know something about Shakespeare, you're missing a
> huge chunk of the cultural context of the English-speaking world (and
> beyond, to a lesser degree - his themes translate well, as does most
> deep commentary on the human condition).
> /cco
> [1] http://www.osfashland.org/
> [2] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061407/
> [3] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114279/
> [4] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117509/
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