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11/02/2010

Iambic Pentameter and Audience. And play.

Lately, as I have been going over 'Sarah' and indexing the story, PLUS working on the outline of the Radio Play I plan to submit to the BBC, for some reason I have been stuck on the word "audience". Mentally. It keeps popping into my consciousness.

If you look at the word, it obviously refers to something 'auditory' - something heard or listened to. It comes from Latin. And it comes from Shakespeare.

In Shakespeare's time, the Intelligentsia spoke Latin. English, such as it was, was spoken by the Common Man. Shakespeare's plays were written in English, and, as I discovered on a trip to England, and to the Globe Theatre in London, things were FAR different in Shakespeare's time as far as entertainments were concerned.

One did not go to 'see' a play, as we do now. As we THINK about it now. One went to LISTEN to a play - thus the word 'Audience'. There was no such ting as staging, sets and so on. One entered the stage to say one's lines and one exited. One's role in the play was defined by one's COSTUME (the only really visual element of Shakespearean plays) because women's roles were played by men and boys - women did not take to the stage in his time.

And the most interesting thing of all, that I learned on that trip to London, and the Globe Theatre, was that Shakespeare's plays were the Elizabethan equivalent of Rap - and presented in much the same manner. "Romeo and Juliet" is written in Iambic Pentameter - meant to be spoken in rhythm. All of the emotion and emphasis lent to the spoken word in modern portrayals of Shakespeare's works, are totally misplaced. All the staging and elaborate set constructions are foreign and unnecessary to a proper rendering of his plays. All that is needed is a door to allow entry to the stage, and another to allow exit.

It's his words and the manner in which they are spoken that make the play - and thus the other prostituted word that comes to us from him. Play. That's what his presentations were. Play. A game. An entertainment. His actors would play and others paid to watch and be entertained.

The whole mood of all of his work changes when viewed in the light of "rap". There is a lightness and playfulness that go missing in modern interpretations of 'Shakespeare'.

We take him too seriously.

In fact, we take a LOT of things too seriously.

He had fun and enjoyed. Fully. So should we all.

Ndinombethe.

5 comments:

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

wow, you are all like, edumacated and stuff.

;)

Grandmother said...

Well, that was fascinating. But what's this about submitting our Sarah to the BBC as a Radio Play? Tell me more, it's a great idea!

Nan Sheppard said...

We're longing to go back to the Globe... one of these days! Probably when it's FREEZING COLD!

Jientje said...

Fascinating, I never looked at it this way!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Romeo and Juliet is (or was) at the Shakespeare theater at Navy Pier and it's AWESOME. Very light-hearted where it needs to be. Cool sets. Muy bien.