DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Aug 21 2015

To Read or Not To Read: No Question

by Amie P

I have a confession to make: I hate reading Shakespeare’s plays. (This can be a bit of a problem when you major in English Literature and Writing.)

That said, over the course of my high school and college years I saw productions of As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew (twice, once as a western and once set in 1950s Italy), Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, and Macbeth, and I was one of the fairies in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I’ve seen Shakespeare productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, England; the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada; the Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern, in addition to many smaller theaters.

I’ve loved them all!

How does this work?  I made a deal with myself: I only read a Shakespeare play after I’ve seen a production of it. After all, plays were made to be seen, not read, right?

It’s not always possible to find a theater production for each play you want to see, of course, and that’s where DVDs come into play.  Two of my favorites are available from the library. Try these:

Much Ado About Nothing

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There’s more where those came from, so just ask your librarian for a hand if there are others you’d like to see.

Taming of the ShrewIf you’d rather read your Shakespeare (or if your teacher says you have to), take a look at the No-Fear Shakespeare series. Each book has Shakespeare’s original words on one side of the page with a modern English translation on the other. I recommend starting with The Taming of the Shrew.

See? Easy-peasy. Enjoy!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica W August 21, 2015 at 4:30 PM

Like Pavlov’s dog, I have a conditioned response to a specific stimulus – Shakespeare. I love his plays, his sonnets and anything else with his name attached. I too majored in English Lit but I love reading his work. To me it’s lyrical yet profound. How wonderful is Polonius’ blessing to his departing son, Laertes? “Those friends thou hast and their adoption tried/Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.”

Alas and alack, I haven’t found any production of his plays I enjoyed half as much.

Dea Anne M. August 24, 2015 at 2:50 PM

Thanks for the fun post, Amie! A fairly recent film that I enjoyed very much is Joss Whedon’s version of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Whedon shot the film in his house in Santa Monica and the cast (featuring many of Whedon’s favored stable of performers) are in modern dress. Whedon is, by all accounts, a huge Shakespeare buff and his rendition of what may be the funniest of Shakespeare’s comedies is both charming and hilarious. Plus, it was shot in black and white and just looks incredibly cool. And it is at DCPL!

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