I have a love-hate relationship with Shakespeare. I enjoy watching his plays (bar a certain amateur production, where they attempted to ‘modernise’ Macbeth, failed miserably, and I’m still left with screaming flashbacks), but reading them? Initially, not so riveting. I have finally – a month and a half too late – got round to reading Othello, and once I’m used to the whole iambic pentameter thing, it’s
Still, I’ve seen three Shakespeare plays this summer (King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard III), and read… half of one. Nearly half. The problem is, I need some kind of trigger to actually get involved in the Bard. The panic-inducing thought of ‘oh GOD I have less than month until school’ isn’t the most motivational. However, actually seeing a production is.
That was my excuse, anyway.
It was after seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Laurence Boswell, as usual, was a genius) that I finally managed to put two hands on the cover and open Othello. Seeing how someone else handled the text gently re-introduced me to the intensive world of Shakespeare, and made me think that, actually, reading Othello could be rather fun.
The difference between watching and reading plays is vast; namely, as an audience, you are powerless, but as reader/director/entire bleeding cast, you are unconsciously forced to make decisions about setting and movement and God knows what else, which is tiring. Or is it just me who does this? I’ve already figured out that I’d want Andrew Scott as Iago, and how I’d stage it and costume and lights – it’s like an entire production in my brain.
A production that would end with me running away with Andrew Scott and him whispering sweet nothings in his delicious accent.
Yes, with watching Shakespeare, some of the hard work is taken out. Supposedly, the audience gets to relax and enjoy the show. Unless the director decides that they want to screw with your mind – then you’ll end up being unable to see the show through your tears. But with reading, you get your dream cast, your dream budget, and the prospect of imagining Scott/Tom Hiddleston/Eddie Redmayne/Aidan Turner/any attractive actor topless.
And nothing, nothing could beat that.
Your thoughts on reading vs watching Shakespeare? Do you even like Shakespeare? Drop me a line!