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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 151 - Shakespeare - To Be or Not To Be

Tonight my wife and I and some friends saw the production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at South Coast Repertory.

I enjoyed the play, which was well produced and directed. The costumes were modern for most of the characters, as many versions of Shakespeare do these days, but the woodland sprites were in traditional costume, which perfectly matched the otherworldly nature of the characters.

I also had little trouble with the Shakespearean language. However, other members of our party did have trouble with it. The complaints ranged from impossible to understand to very difficult to follow. I can understand this perfectly. After all, Shakespeare wrote more than 400 years ago, in a time when the English language was finally forming out of the medieval dialects that preceding it. Phraseology was very stylized, poetic lines are often difficult for us to understand.

One of my friends said that she had seen the play several times and was finally beginning to understand the plot.

All of this is true. Shakespeare is difficult. When you see one of his plays, you know you will get poetic language unlike any other plays being produced today. There is value in seeing his plays done in the original language. I can just imagine what a Shakespearean play might sound like if the words were translated into modern English. We would lose most of the style and rhythm that makes him distinctive. We would lose any sense of the characters as he created them and we would lose that sense of timelessness that he reflects.

The stories themselves are timeless classics. They have been done in period costumes from ancient to modern and work well no matter when the play is set.

So, should Shakespeare still be performed in the original language? My answer is an emphatic yes. Every time I see one of his plays, I get new nuances out of it. I see new depths that I had not seen before. The value of the plays is worth the energy it takes to understand them.  If you listen carefully to the word pictures Shakespeare paints, you see a depth of understanding of the human condition that is unique to him.

Go to the plays, enjoy them, learn from them and enjoy them, as often as you can.

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