We started A Midsummer Night’s Dream with only a text. There was no one to interpret the words, no body movement or voice
inflection to indicate meaning or intention. All meaning that a reader
understands comes from the words alone. The simplicity of text provides
a broad ground for imagination, in that every reader can come away from
the text with a different conception of what went on. The words are
merely the puzzle pieces individuals put together to bring coherence and
logic to the play.
Although we all read generally the same words, we
can see that vastly different plays arise depending on who interprets
them. By interpreting the word-clues that Shakespeare wrote into the
script to direct the performance of the play, we were able to imagine
gestures, expressions, and movements appropriate to the intention of the
playwright. An example of this can be seen in the different Romeo and
Juliets: Luhrman clearly had a more modern vision after reading the
script than did Zeffirelli did only 18 years before. The live
performance at the CalPoly theatre also carried !with it a very
different feelless intense, more child-like and sweetwith nearly the
same words. Reading also affects our experience in that without the
text, we would most likely not be able to enjoy Shakespeare at all;
having the text makes Shakespeare widely accessible (available for free
on the web) to all that desire it. Once the script is obtained, anyone
can perform Shakespeareeven everyday, non-actor citizens put on
Shakespeare whether it be in parks, at school, or in a forest.
My experience reading Shakepearean plays has shown me that reading
is necessary an…
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…, I feel like my
understanding of Shakespeare has really broadened. Not so much
Shakespeare himself, of course, but rather what he did, what he tried to
accomplish; I have a much greater sense of what all actors and crew go
through to put a play together, text to performance, start to !finish.
There is a small part of me that wants to keep doing Shakespeare, to do
all of the play, or at least do it again. Another part of me, the more
persuasive and logical part, wants to just keep it all right where it is
in my mind, remembering it fondly, as A Dream.
Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Norton Shakespeare: Greenblatt, Stephen, editor. New York: W W Norton & Company, 1997.