Understanding Shakespeare

The biggest obstacle to enjoying Shakespeare for many people is the language. Many simply find it very difficult to follow and understand. While this can be an obstacle it is one that can be easily overcome. Most of Shakespeare’s words are still in use, some are not and some of their meanings have changed, but these make up only a small part of his plays.

The first thing to do in encountering Shakespeare is to remember that we must never approach his plays as something that are primarily supposed to be read. They are plays, not novels. They are meant to be acted and not read. Actors are meant to give meaning and explanation to the words through action. Before reading a script of any of Shakespeare’s plays it is helpful to watch a performance, either live or on video. There are many such performances available on YouTube and other sites on the internet.

The second thing is to remember that “spoiler alerts” are recommended. Because of the difference in Shakespeare’s language and our own it is helpful to know the story before the show ever begins. If you already know essentially what is going to happen you can spend less time worrying about following the plot and more time enjoying the action and the wordplay that Shakespeare was so brilliant at crafting.

Shakespeare on the Concho aims to make Shakespeare both accessible, understandable and most of all entertaining. so, we adapt our scripts to remove words that no longer are in use or whose meanings are different or simply unfamiliar to most people.  But, we also want our performances of Shakespeare to be Shakespeare and not simply a condensed version of what he wrote. The joy and fun of Shakespeare is not just in the story, but in the words he uses, how he constructs his sentences and how he tells the story. His works speak to us because they are about human experiences that we can still relate to even now, four hundred and fifty years later. This is why his works still stand in a class all by themselves.

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