Log in

No account? Create an account
07 May 2016 @ 02:21 pm
attention mere mortals: stop reading Shakespeare  
If you’ve ever struggled to read a Shakespeare play, don’t feel bad: Ian McKellen is here to assure you that reading Shakespeare is impossible. In fact, he argues, actually reading and interpreting a Shakespeare play is a task meant only for actors, in much the same way reading sheet music is a task meant only for musicians. In both cases, the audience should ideally hear the final product, not just read the behind-the-scenes text. At least that’s the thinking behind his new iPad app, Heuristic Shakespeare, which gathers together some of Britain’s best Shakespearean actors to make Shakespeare’s work more comprehensible.


I mean, the app itself sounds interesting:

But could we put this "Shakespeare never intended his plays to be read, so you are KILLING THE CHILDREN by making them have to read Shakespeare" thing to bed? I am so over it. Also, even if Shakespeare didn't intend his plays to be read - and I think Lukas Erne would argue with you on that point - John Heminges and Henry Condell were a-okay in favor of it in 1623:

But it is not our prouince, who onely gather his works, and giue them you, to praise him. It is yours that reade him. and there we hope, to your diuers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you: for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe: and if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him. and so we leaue you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides: if you neede them not, you can leade your selues, and others. and such Readers we wish him.

I feel like this argument never goes the other way; I don't know anyone who teaches Shakespeare who actively discourages students from seeing the plays performed, but actors frequently declare that Shakespeare shouldn't be read, only seen.