For over 40 years I have enjoyed going to Stratford to watch plays, including many by Shakespeare. Before that I saw Hamlet at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and King Lear at Carleton College. I've read many/most(?) of Shakespeare's plays, and I even played a Shakespeare scholar in one of my first mystery dinner theatre shows.
I remember quite enjoying reading Julius Caesar in 10th grade and Macbeth in 12th grade in high school.
But never have I acted in a play by Shakespeare.... until now. I will be playing Theseus, Duke of Athens, in a production of Midsummer Night's Dream (The Arts Project, April 7-11).
Here, slightly edited, is my take on this endeavour, as I wrote it to Jack and JR:
Not that you need this advice, but never NEVER agree to do a Shakespeare role. You may disagree with this, but that guy cannot write for crap: his words and word orders are so messed up that it is nearly impossible to learn the frickn lines.
For example, "and as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown.... blah blah blah. "
I know what it means, but trying to learn those words in that order is quite a challenge (at least for me).
As I said to Jack and JR, "Never again, unless it's a really small role."
I know I have many friends who are likely to disagree with my assessment of Shakespeare's plays; and I know I will likely still enjoy watching performances of them; I might even enjoy (re)reading some of them, but I really do not enjoy trying to learn the lines.
I realize the word order is driven, at least in part, by the "need" for iambic pentameter; but lines like,
"I wonder if the lion be to speak,"
just don't roll off the tongue. And metre cannot possibly be the explanation for this line:
Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.
unless you really want to mess with the emphasis on the syllables:
now IS the MUral DOWN beTWEEN the TWO neighBOURS? HUH?
Maybe it's just the Philistine in me, re-emerging. After all, I am the self-declared chair of the Philistine Liberation Organization.