Jump to content

Shakespeare


HarmonicGenerator

Recommended Posts

  • Awards Moderator

Shakespeare's bloody brilliant, isn't he?

 

There's not a lot better than Shakespeare done well. For instance, you'd be hard pressed to find a finer example of Acting than

. It gives me chills every single time I watch it. You don't even need to know the context to appreciate it, it's just utterly superb and completely chilling.

 

Some other notable speeches (quite often you'll find at an actor at the peak of his or her abilities when doing one of these things):

 

hitmannumbers has mentioned

. The clip I've linked to is the 'we few, we happy few' speech, but it's a play full of them, and it's one of those great adaptations that transcends any barrier the Shakespearean language might throw up. Case in point, Sky Movies were showing this on St George's Day a few years ago, because it's dead patriotic and English and stuff, and my dad sat down to watch it. He's not into Shakespeare at all, doesn't understand what's going on a lot of the time, but the way Branagh made this film puts it so perfectly clearly, he was cheering the English army on by the end. Forget your 'Three Lions, Ing-er-lund' rubbish, this is English patriotism at its best.

 

DeanoTheGame mentioned Al Pacino in The Merchant Of Venice - it's another one where you don't need the background to be affected by the speech itself. 'If you prick us, do we not bleed?'

 

There's just a remarkable universality to a lot of Shakespeare. Generally speaking, however you're feeling, he's probably expressed it somewhere and conveyed it in such a way that it's exactly how you yourself are feeling. That in itself is a godawful way of explaining that, so I'll try again - if you're feeling happy, or angry, or upset, or confused, chances are there's a passage in Shakespeare that summarises that feeling better than you ever could. I don't know why anyone ever bothered trying to do a rom-com after Much Ado About Nothing, because nothing of that genre's ever going to top Much Ado. (speaking of which,

)

 

There's also the massive influence Shakespeare has had on culture, on language, on how the world perceives Britain, really. One example of that is

. The explanation of it is:

 

English teacher Geoff Klock set out to show his students and other Shakespeare fans just how deeply Hamlet has worked its way into our culture. So far his collection smashes two hundred examples from TV and film into fifteen amazing minutes. If you notice anything he
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 83
  • Created
  • Last Reply
  • Paid Members

I've been teaching Romeo and Juliet this year, and I'm enjoying it more than I did as a schoolboy. We're not really focusing on the play as a whole, but more looking at the changing relationship between Juliet and her father, with reference to the culture of Elizabethan Times, over the play (focusing on Act 3 Scene 5).

 

The scene in question contains some superb insults by Lord Capulet towards his daughter:

 

How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this?

'Proud,' and 'I thank you,' and 'I thank you not;'

And yet 'not proud,' mistress minion, you,

Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds,

But fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next,

To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,

Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither.

Out, you green-sickness carrion! out, you baggage!

You tallow-face!

 

Hang thee, young baggage! disobedient wretch!

I tell thee what: get thee to church o' Thursday,

Or never after look me in the face:

Speak not, reply not, do not answer me;

My fingers itch. Wife, we scarce thought us blest

That God had lent us but this only child;

But now I see this one is one too much,

And that we have a curse in having her:

Out on her, hilding!

 

God's bread! it makes me mad:

Day, night, hour, tide, time, work, play,

Alone, in company, still my care hath been

To have her match'd: and having now provided

A gentleman of noble parentage,

Of fair demesnes, youthful, and nobly train'd,

Stuff'd, as they say, with honourable parts,

Proportion'd as one's thought would wish a man;

And then to have a wretched puling fool,

A whining mammet, in her fortune's tender,

To answer 'I'll not wed; I cannot love,

I am too young; I pray you, pardon me.'

But, as you will not wed, I'll pardon you:

Graze where you will you shall not house with me:

Look to't, think on't, I do not use to jest.

Thursday is near; lay hand on heart, advise:

An you be mine, I'll give you to my friend;

And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in

the streets,

For, by my soul, I'll ne'er acknowledge thee,

Nor what is mine shall never do thee good:

Trust to't, bethink you; I'll not be forsworn.

 

These three speeches make it look like Capulet was a horrible father, and to an extent he was, but if we look at the context - he's trying to marry Juliet off to the cousin of the Prince of Verona, and instead she's gone off and married the scumbag Romeo Montague, and is now refusing to do what he asks. He gets understandably angry, and threatens to disown her.

 

My personal favourite Shakespeare play is Hamlet - it was the only one I did at school that I really enjoyed. I thought Hamlet himself was a great character, and the supporting characters were all really interesting and well used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

Iv'e always been a huge fan of Hamlet, likely dating back to my not so long ago angsty teenage years. I always enjoyed the Brannagh version with the million shoe horned cameos and a really strong cast but I really didn't care for the modernized Ian McKellen version with Robert Downey Jr. My favourite by far though is the Olivier version, seeing him walking around all worked up and constantly in turmoil, he's just excellent in the part really got me into his work and more Shakespeare by default. Got 97/100 on Hamlet at A level aswell :p

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Much Ado About Nothing has always been my favourite Shakespeare, it's certainly the best and funnest play just to read through. I'm not sure the Branagh film really did it justice, felt a bit lifeless despite the beautiful scenery and cinematography.

 

Other than that I like the histories, especially Antony & Cleopara. Richard III is enjoyable as well, despite the historical character assassination elements to it. Not such a fan of Romeo & Juliet, but it does contain my favourite Shakespeare line; ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man. The whole play goes downhill in fact when Mercutio departs. The less said about the horrible Leonardo di Caprio version the better, though the soundtrack is awesome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
Shakespeare's bloody brilliant, isn't he?

 

I don't think so, not with the comedy any way because it hasn't transcended time well. Not that it's a knock on it then, there's very little that stays funny to generation after generation let alone after so many years. Spending hours reading a Midsummer nights dream was perhaps the most painful school experience.

 

Macbeth and Hamlet I do like though, and I'd love to see them put on by a half way decent group.

 

How do you make a King Lear? Put the queen in a bikini.

 

krusty-the-clown-flapping-dickie-bad-jokes.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think so, not with the comedy any way because it hasn't transcended time well. Not that it's a knock on it then, there's very little that stays funny to generation after generation let alone after so many years.

 

Some of the comedy seems a bit dated and contrived now, but the vocal sparring is still great:

 

DON PEDRO

You embrace your charge too willingly. I think this

is your daughter.

 

LEONATO

Her mother hath many times told me so.

 

BENEDICK

Were you in doubt, sir, that you asked her?

 

LEONATO

Signior Benedick, no; for then were you a child.

 

DON PEDRO

You have it full, Benedick: we may guess by this

what you are, being a man. Truly, the lady fathers

herself. Be happy, lady; for you are like an

honourable father.

 

BENEDICK

If Signior Leonato be her father, she would not

have his head on her shoulders for all Messina, as

like him as she is.

 

BEATRICE

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior

Benedick: nobody marks you.

 

BENEDICK

What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

 

BEATRICE

Is it possible disdain should die while she hath

such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick?

Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come

in her presence.

 

BENEDICK

Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I

am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I

would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard

heart; for, truly, I love none.

 

BEATRICE

A dear happiness to women: they would else have

been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God

and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I

had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man

swear he loves me.

 

BENEDICK

God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some

gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate

scratched face.

 

BEATRICE

Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere such

a face as yours were.

 

BENEDICK

Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

 

BEATRICE

A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

 

BENEDICK

I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and

so good a continuer. But keep your way, i' God's

name; I have done.

 

BEATRICE

You always end with a jade's trick: I know you of old.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Awards Moderator
Much Ado About Nothing has always been my favourite Shakespeare, it's certainly the best and funnest play just to read through. I'm not sure the Branagh film really did it justice, felt a bit lifeless despite the beautiful scenery and cinematography.

 

Yeah, I remember studying the Branagh film along with the play in sixth form, and I must admit my favourite bit was watching out for Brian Blessed turning up in the background of scenes. Although it's quite entertaining to watch Keanu Reeves have a go at Shakespeare, a pre-stardom Kate Beckinsale, and Wilson from House as a young romantic lead... The Tennant/Tate version is probably the best I've seen, but I'm looking forward to Whedon's film in June, and I've got tickets for the Mark Rylance-directed Vanessa Redgrave/James Earl Jones play at the Old Vic in September.

 

 

I don't think so, not with the comedy any way because it hasn't transcended time well. Not that it's a knock on it then, there's very little that stays funny to generation after generation let alone after so many years. Spending hours reading a Midsummer nights dream was perhaps the most painful school experience.

 

Ah, see, there you are, 'painful school experience' has clouded you! I see your point with the dialogue, because obviously there's a ton of jokes aimed directly at Elizabethan audiences (there was a brilliant Radio 4 series last year, still available in podcast form, called 'Shakespeare's Restless World', one episode of which goes into how lines that mean very little now would have been either hilarious or incredibly topical in the 1590s), but I think the essentials of the comedy are still very strong indeed - it just depends entirely on how good an adaptation it is.

 

Going back to Rylance, the Twelfth Night he starred in with Stephen Fry and Roger Lloyd Pack last year was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and all the comedy came from the Shakespeare, they just built on it and, basically, translated it for a modern audience. The jokes were Shakespeare's, but they were just as funny to a 2012/2013 audience (and this wasn't just the horrible snobby "we know this line is supposed to be a Funny One so we'll have a chuckle in anticipation" laughs you get at some RSC shows - it was legitimate laughter at funny things they were saying and doing). It just takes the right people - same as all comedy, really!

 

If anyone ever gets the chance to see anything with Rylance involvement, get thee there immediately. He's astonishing, probably the greatest stage actor I'm likely to see. He made Olivia the most interesting character in Twelfth Night. Olivia. Man's a marvel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
I don't think so, not with the comedy any way because it hasn't transcended time well. Not that it's a knock on it then, there's very little that stays funny to generation after generation let alone after so many years. Spending hours reading a Midsummer nights dream was perhaps the most painful school experience.

 

Ah, see, there you are, 'painful school experience' has clouded you! I see your point with the dialogue, because obviously there's a ton of jokes aimed directly at Elizabethan audiences (there was a brilliant Radio 4 series last year, still available in podcast form, called 'Shakespeare's Restless World', one episode of which goes into how lines that mean very little now would have been either hilarious or incredibly topical in the 1590s), but I think the essentials of the comedy are still very strong indeed - it just depends entirely on how good an adaptation it is.

 

I'm quietly confidant I could watch it by the best in the world and still find it a chore. It just isn't entertaining any more, not from my perspective any way. It's perfectly understandable to be like that too I believe. I gave one Shakespear comedy ago after I watched and surprisingly enjoyed an Australian rendition of the Mikado on sky and wondered if I'd enjoy it, but alas no. If the jokes were changed then I would, but then it's not the same play is it?

I was also tempted to dig out my copy of the tempest but I think it's on the shelf behind some bags of plaster and I couldn't be arsed lugging them about before my gusto went.

 

As I said before I'd love to see a good take on Macbeth which I just adored since we did it, or the body of it, over an enjoyable age when I was about 12 and is an amazing story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Awards Moderator
I don't think so, not with the comedy any way because it hasn't transcended time well. Not that it's a knock on it then, there's very little that stays funny to generation after generation let alone after so many years. Spending hours reading a Midsummer nights dream was perhaps the most painful school experience.

 

Ah, see, there you are, 'painful school experience' has clouded you! I see your point with the dialogue, because obviously there's a ton of jokes aimed directly at Elizabethan audiences (there was a brilliant Radio 4 series last year, still available in podcast form, called 'Shakespeare's Restless World', one episode of which goes into how lines that mean very little now would have been either hilarious or incredibly topical in the 1590s), but I think the essentials of the comedy are still very strong indeed - it just depends entirely on how good an adaptation it is.

 

I'm quietly confidant I could watch it by the best in the world and still find it a chore. It just isn't entertaining any more, not from my perspective any way. It's perfectly understandable to be like that too I believe. I gave one Shakespear comedy ago after I watched and surprisingly enjoyed an Australian rendition of the Mikado on sky and wondered if I'd enjoy it, but alas no. If the jokes were changed then I would, but then it's not the same play is it?

I was also tempted to dig out my copy of the tempest but I think it's on the shelf behind some bags of plaster and I couldn't be arsed lugging them about before my gusto went.

 

As I said before I'd love to see a good take on Macbeth which I just adored since we did it, or the body of it, over an enjoyable age when I was about 12 and is an amazing story.

 

Fair enough - you've given it a go anyway, we'll just have to disagree! Nothing more subjective than comedy, and all that.

 

Sounds like the Fassbender Macbeth is going to be your sort of thing. From the little I've read about it it's sounding quite promising, they're going to set it in the actual historical period, ie 11th century Scotland. James McAvoy's stage version he did this year was also supposed to be pretty good. You might even like the RSC/BBC Patrick Stewart version, but I think anyone will be hard-pressed to beat McKellen in that version I posted at the top.

 

Actually, hang on - Fassbender, McAvoy, Stewart, McKellen - would this make Macbeth the only character to have been played by two Magnetos AND two Professor Xs?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wasn't a fan of Shakespeare at all until I ended up studying Othello in college. What a bloody good play that is, and I really enjoyed the Branagh adaptation with Lawrence Fishburne. Iago is one of the greatest villains of all time for me. Such an utter prick.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Way back when, there were these comedy players who came to junior school who put on plays every so often, they did a great telling of The Tempest, which endeared me at the time. I was all of 7 and thought it was pretty cool what they did, it was like a proto- Horrible Histories thing and there were laughs as well as a serious take, well as serious a take you can get for that version of the play.

 

Fast forward to school and Julius Ceasar was studied for Year 9. None of us cared about it to be fair. It wasn't that it wasn't any good, it was. The class was of an age were we failed to get enthused by the political gerrymandering and subterfuge of the play and 'Beware the Ides of March' ended up being delivered in the style of Yogurt from Spaceballs. Epic it was not.

 

Romeo and Julet was more fun, we had to do a performance piece for it at school. I ended up doing the sword fight between Tybalt and Mercutio and Romeo. Tybalt is basically a 'double-hard bastard', but not above the sneak attacks, hence the cowardly stabbing of Mercutio. We got to use real swords and a dagger for that, the choreography was epic and was done in costume on the school stage. The rest of the play was hit and miss, with much of the theme's of love and tragedy being lost on an all boys school, filled with many geeks and nerds. We also ended up watching a particularly well done version of the play, which set the story against The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

 

Aside from that I liked the cartoon/Stop Motion versions of the plays they did on BBC 2 during the early mid 1990's. The stop motion version of The Tempest is amazing. It's also here

 

What's people's take on Ian McKellan's Richard III? I've not seen it for ages, and was wondering if it's worth a revisit. All I can really remember is that it was set in the 1930's in a Britain ruled by a Nazi like regime and McKellan was menacing. I did like the 'kingdom for a horse', whilst stuck in a jeep, on the run from tanks though

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I realy enjoyed it, Pat, but it was marred a little by clearly having run out of money whilst making it, so the end of the film is all cheap and tacky. McKellan's performance is perhaps a little pantomime, but less so than Olivier at least. There's a few actors that somehow make Elizabethan English sound completely normal and comprehensible, and he's one of them, so that helps.I've read a lot of stuff over the years explaining how Shakespeare researched his plays, or where he took inspiration from, or what his motivations were, all trying to somehow explain how one guy wrote so much great drama, but I think ultimately it's pretty simple. He was a genius, with an instinct for language unmatched by any writer in any language before or since. He knocked these plays out at a terrifying pace, writing one whilst staging another, for years on end. I don't think his method was any different to any other author, it's just that his first draft was better than other people could hope to hit in a thousand revisions. All the allusions, interconnections, linguistic dexterity, just came effortlessly and instinctively. There's no artifice about his verse, it just flows off the page.We're incredibly lucky to have had him write in our language - it has undoubtedly helped cement English as the world's pre-eminent tongue. He's in a league entirely of his own, and always will be I suspect.Incidentally, reading Shakespeare is a terrible way of experiencing his stuff, and I think "studying" it as a written text at school is awful. You have to see it on stage, well performed, and it all comes alive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members

Othello was always my favorite, mainly because of Iago and the fascinating racial elements.

 

Also, Iago's final lines: Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. From this time forth I never will speak word.

 

Instead of going the usual Shakespeare route and going on a large poetry reading explaining his motives to Othello, Iago basically just tells him to go fuck himself. Perfect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Awards Moderator
Incidentally, reading Shakespeare is a terrible way of experiencing his stuff, and I think "studying" it as a written text at school is awful. You have to see it on stage, well performed, and it all comes alive.

 

I agree, it's at its best when heard out loud - but I'm not against reading it as such. That said, when I'm reading one I do try to read it out loud or read it with other people, each of us speaking bits as we go. That helped a lot with Julius Caesar, particularly.

 

I've never read Othello, though, and the only film version I've seen is that basketball one with Julia Stiles. I should probably rectify this at some point. What's the best version to watch?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...