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Comparison of Text and Performance

Sarah Clare

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of TeamA_Week4

Shakespeare Comparison of Text and Performance Sarah Clare, Kathryn Heyden, Thomas Micallef, Septus Wallace II
November 19, 2012
Joseph Ervin "They have been at a great feast of languages,
and stol'n the scraps." William Shakespeare
Love's Labor's Lost Act 5, scene 1, 32–39 Reading Shakespeare’s Tragedies More benefits
Regulate pace
Reread passages to increase understanding
Exercises imagination
Learn Shakespearean style of speech
Intimate connection with characters Watching Shakespeare’s Tragedies Numerous adaptations of Macbeth
“Scotland, PA”
Characters more real and relatable
Changes in plot and different perspectives Othello Reading a play presents the reader with more benefits than by simply watching a play in a theater or on a television. The reader can follow along at his or her own pace and go back to reread phrases if needed. If the reader has the desire, he or she can imagine the play in his or her own head and picture what the characters look like by the descriptions given. An individual with a wild and creative imagination would enjoy doing this because it allows the reader to paint a mental picture in his or her head. Reading not only exercises one’s eyes but also exercises the mind. One can enjoy imagining the play is taking place right in the room with him or her, or in his or her head. Here the reader can go along at his or her own pace and preference; whereas when watching a play, one has to go along with the pace of the play without slowing it down.
Reading a script before watching it performed has many advantages. Specifically with Shakespeare’s tragedies Macbeth and Othello, the reader gains a good base of understanding concerning plot, character traits, and language. The Old English style of speech can be very hard for a modern day person to understand, so the ability to look up certain words or phrases truly helps that same person when it comes to knowing what a character is saying while watching the performance.
Most important, the characters in both of these tragedies are extremely diverse and intricate when it comes to their goals, obstacles, and tactics throughout their arcs within their respective play. Adequately reading and understanding everything these characters are going through helps an audience member take the emotional journey that Shakespeare fully intended them to go on with his characters. A director could choose to interpret Macbeth in a number of ways. The 2001 movie, "Scotland, PA" portrays an interpretation of a modern retelling of Macbeth. This version uses poetic license that is available to the director, producer, actors, costume designer, and everyone else involved. The characters in "Scotland, PA" are introduced as Joe ‘Mac’ Macbeth, a hamburger cook, and his wife who is considerably smarter than him plotting against their boss, Duncan. The director’s choice to transplant the story into the modern world allows a more relatable experience because more viewers have had experience with hamburger stand workers as opposed to medieval warfare and royal intrigue. The actors in this interpretation of Macbeth follow the basic storyline and attitudes of the characters in the play, and the story follows the same basic story arc. However, the major difference is a distinct lack of political maneuvering, aside from the hostile takeover of the hamburger stand. Having a familiarity with Macbeth allows for more enjoyment of this movie, and the modern telling of this story makes the story more relatable. Reading Shakespeare's Romances •Gives the audience and reader more benefits
–Follow along at his or her own pace.
–Develops the reader’s imagination and exercises the brain.
–Can reread phrases and analyze words at his or her own will.
•The reader can study and learn about Shakespeare’s terminology and ancient English language.
•Analyze the characters and develop personal connections with them.
•Enjoy what was considered romance back during Shakespeare’s time. Reading a play by Shakespeare brings numerous benefits to the reader and audience. The reader can follow along at his or her own pace, going back to reread phrases and test that he or she did not understand in the beginning. Reading a play also gives the reader the opportunity to imagine the play in his or her mind. Plays, such as romances, are especially fun to do this with. With those readers who have the wild and hard-working imaginations, imagining a romantic play can bring a sense of calmness and peace. Reading also exercises the brain and keeps the brain active, whereas watching a play does not give the brain its much needed exercise. The reader has the advantage of learning about Shakespeare’s language and analyze frequently used words that are from the ancient English language. This also allows the reader to learn a bit of history while reading the play. Readers can develop personal connections with characters and analyze them, whereas this may not be so simple when watching a play. Reading romances also allows the reader to enjoy what was considered romance back in Shakespeare’s time. Watching Shakespeare’s Romances •Multiple versions made over the years.
•Modern versions of the plays can help the audience understand Shakespeare’s points and themes.
•Can see the characters in action and seem more real.
•Audience is less likely to become distracted. A play like "The Tempest" can by interpreted in various ways by directors and script writers. Over the years, directors have made some changes to originals to make the play or movie seem more modern, like in the 2010 version of The Tempest. In this version, the original character of Prospero is changed into a female role, Prospera. Directors like this make changes to provide more excitement to the audience and not use the same routine that directors have in the past. Even though both advantages and disadvantages exist when changing and recreating versions, having newer and modern versions can help the modern people to understand Shakespeare’s points and themes. Watching plays or movies about the plays can help the audience to see the characters in action. The audience can do this by watching and identifying facial expressions and body language, so the audience can understand the characters’ reactions. Watching a play or movie also allows the audience to become less distracted. Distractions can happen either way, but tend to happen more when reading a book. If an individual goes to the theater to watch the play, distractions are more likely to not happen at all. Watching a movie at home can have some minor distractions, but at least nowadays technology has invented the DVR to control pausing and rewinding the movie. Midsummer Night's Dream
Very few things beat your imagination
Shakespeare was a master wordsmith
The structure and poetic nature of Shakespeare’s writing Reading The Comedies of Shakespeare Easily Understood
Context helps
Special Effects
Bringing the supernatural to life
Poetic License
Interpretation can bring Shakespeare into the modern day Watching the Comedies of Shakespeare The Comedies Shakespeare created wonderful worlds within his comedies. Shakespeare’s comedies when first read by an untrained mind does not always recognize the bawdy, and often hilarious nature of the dialogue and monologues that occur in these plays. A modern reader might not notice the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, sexual innuendo and double entendre that Shakespeare uses to make ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ such an entertaining play to read.

Reading the play allows for an experience within the imagination that is difficult to recreate, either in real life or in a movie the depth and breadth that the imagination can allow the play to expand to puts other mediums of delivery to shame.

Shakespeare’s enduring eloquence, despite considerable time passing since the writing of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the rhythm and flow of the play still ring true. Reading the play allows for a person to experience words coming to life and creating a story in the mind.

Shakespeare’s writing is the epitome of elegance. The unrhymed iambic pentameter makes the structure of the writing wash over the reader and create lush landscapes and amazing characters in the mind of the reader. The words caress the mind and ensnare the soul of the reader, even now over four hundred year later while the formal manner in which Shakespeare used the language has changed considerably, it is still expressive in a way that builds upon itself and brings the words to life. Watching Shakespeare’s comedies can be enjoyable. Having the play acted out, either on stage or on film can make it easier to understand, introducing special effects, and modern interpretation can breathe new life into Shakespeare’s work. The 1999 production of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ starring an ensemble cast of Kevin Kline as Bottom and Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania. This interpretation of ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ makes the work easier to understand due to the context of the movie adding more clues as to what any part of the play that might be misunderstood meant. The ability to introduce special effects to the production of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ allows the supernatural to come to life for the viewer. Special effects can bring to life the fairies, magic, and illustrate the things only imagination could create for those who read or watched the plays performed. While this production does not break from the version of Shakespeare’s that was seen during his time in the language that is used, but there have been interpretations of Shakespeare’s comedies that broke completely from the written work and used modern language. Tom Gustafson’s 2008 ‘Were the World Mine’ is a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is a departure in both language and character. ‘Were the World Mine’ follows the plot line but does take some liberties with the details such as the story takes place in an all boys school where the magical potion turns those it touches into homosexuals. Lets the audience move at their own pace Allows the audience to be the director Gives the audience a better understanding of:
The Language
The History Reading Shakespeare’s Histories Original way it was intended to be received Gives the audience a different view Gives the audience a better feel for:
Dramatic elements Watching Shakespeare’s Histories Being an Audience member to one of Shakespeare’s histories can be a very tricky thing. Choosing to read the script over watching a play being performed has a lot of advantages. The largest advantage is being able to reread and portions of the script one may not be able to understand at first. The old English style of writing that Shakespeare uses can be a bit confusing for someone in our modern day world to understand, so being able to look these words up gives the audience member the ability to not only understand what word is being used, but more importantly why it is being used. Shakespeare’s Histories deal mostly with actual occurrences that have happened during this time period. Due to this genre, doing research on the topics in which Shakespeare is dealing with will give an audience member a better understanding of why things are happening the way they are, and why characters are depicted the way they are. In Richard III and Henry V both leading male parts are extremely complicated and are shaped this way due to historic events that they were apart of. The Histories The Tragedies The Romances Greed Power Ambition Love Shakespeare's plays combine many aspects of the human character. Reading Shakespeare's plays provides multiple layers of interpretation and understanding. Watching plays provides a visual experience for the audience. Though readers and viewers of Shakespeare's plays glean different benefits, Shakespeare's words touch a part of every soul. Sometimes it is very easy to forget that Shakespeare’s plays were originally intended for them to be appreciated by his audience through them being performed. When watching any of Shakespeare’s plays, the audience is able to have a better emotional understanding of what is happening to the characters in the play. The internal and external struggles in which both of the leading male characters of Richard III and Henry V are going through is something that is much more impactful when it comes to being watched. Dramatic elements, subtext, and comic relief are all parts to a play that can all be easily missed when simply reading the script. Watching a different take on a play also gives the audience member a different view in which they might have never thought of. Giving these different production elements such as setting the play modern day, gives the audience a better chance at being able to understand what is happening, and in turn have a better appreciation for a piece that they might not have ended up enjoying. Through creatively changing how a play is being performed the audience is able to capture a whole new understanding or even multiple understandings of how these events in history Shakespeare is writing about affected the times at hand. There are major differences between watching and reading Shakespeare’s comedies
Different people bring different things to the production
Imagination can either be used or brought to life Conclusion Shakespeare’s enduring popularity is a testament to both the written word and a singular talent that has stood the test of time and allowed a certain amount of immortality for their writer. These comedies showcase a wit and sense of humor which while originating from a different era, a world that was much smaller by comparison to the superhighway crisscrossed world of today, can still illicit a shared smile and laugh from watchers or readers. I enjoy reading Shakespeare’s plays more than watching them, because while there are enchanting and mesmerizing performers and performances there is no equal to my own imagination. When reading a play, the sets, characters, and performances are as grand as I can imagine. When watching a play amazing performances can be ruined by shoddy stage production, and vice versa amazing production can be negated by horrendous acting.

The director, producer, actors, costume designer, and other variables involved in a stage production of Shakespeare’s plays impart their own interpretation of the plays meaning to their work. Each hand involved in bringing the play to life can provide a small window into that individual’s perception of Shakespeare. As each of these individuals impart their personal touch to the play a vast gulf of difference can become apparent between the viewer and the production’s idea of what the play should be.

Studying a play allows for a level of understanding that watching a performance of that same play may sidestep. Reading a play, looking up the meaning of words that are no longer part of common vocabulary, rereading parts that confuse are all ways to wring a greater meaning out of the written word. Watching an amazing performance can impart an equally rewarding experience as the context and visualization of the production can impart understanding of its own. References Bleacher Nation [Image]. (2012). Ambition. Retrieved from http://www.bleachernation.com/2012/01/14/ambition-exceeds-grasp-and-other-bullets/
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