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Fridge / William Shakespeare

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  • I loathed William Shakespeare up until college. I thought he was a terrible writer for using such complicated, incomprehensible language and that the plots themselves were incredibly slow and boring and padded. Eventually, I learned that due to changing times and the effects on language, Early Modern English is not Modern English, and the playwright wouldn't have sounded incomprehensible to his own audience but clever, and with some help from footnotes and such, I was able to actually appreciate his wordplay and Double Entendres and clever use of language. Once I could understand them, I realized the actors I'd seen performing the plays (or heard reading them...) weren't acting but reciting, so I read them to myself picturing normal voices and acting instead, and I was able to fully appreciate the stories and characters — try to imagine what's going on in Prince Hamlet's head, cringe at each new atrocity in Titus Andronicus, and cheer when Macbeth was finally killed. Is there An Aesop to be learned here? Shakespeare is NOT for kids!Lale
    • I had a similar change in attitude when I was able to understand more of his jokes (the lewd ones became especially clear with age and reinforces your point.). And I've had friends who've said that Shakespeare was only really good at writing tragedy!
  • Early on I thought Shakespeare's work was simply overrated — good, but not worthy of the "best of all time" status its given. Getting more exposure to a wider selection of his work, especially stuff like Othello and Lear, convinced me that he truly wrote exceptionally dense, rich and layered fiction. — Tarsus
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  • A large barrier to appreciating Shakespeare is how it's so rarely acted and most often performed as if it were some completely different form of stagecraft, an attitude that plants it on a lofty pedestal and as a result does it a complete disservice. Now if you see an actor who can drop the pretensions to hold the heart of their character, they can take what's essentially a surreal speaking style and make it feel believable and natural. This is the kind of treatment elitist critics absolutely despise, while holding Shakespeare so sacred that only canned recitation can do it any justice. Compare Kevin Kline and Mel Gibson's performances as Hamlet, and then compare their treatment in reviews. Anyhow, my moment of Fridge Brilliance revelation to Shakespeare came when trying to adapt the premise of King Lear to a futuristic western, and started cross-referencing Magnificent Bastards throughout his other works. — Dok Enkephalin
  • Mine's more on how Shakespeare is taught more than anything else. I had always liked Shakespeare fairly well and was a little surprised to find most of my classmates HATING it when we read Romeo and Juliet in English. Then I realized just this year that it was because my very first experience with Shakespeare was in middle school when we did a Shakespeare unit in my theatre class. Not only did I get a glimpse of Shakespeare in theatre but the first activity we did was to make Shakespearean style insults at each other. We started out doing something FUN to get our heads out of being terrified of Shakespeare before going into it deeper. It really makes sense. I think part of the reason that it's thought of as stuffy and boring nowadays is that the teachers are probably required to teach it and that's how they were taught to teach it. It's always treated as a literary classic and not as the play it should be. It's hard getting used to the language anyway, top that off with the heavy content (because the ones studied are almost ALWAYS dramas), trying to listen to someone stumbling through lines because they don't know how to act (understandable but it makes it SO much harder to listen to), the "bow before the might of Shakespeare for he is much greater than anybody EVER" vibe, and the presumption that it is extremely boring. I say start with a light comedy that's just simply entertaining to get used to the language before getting into all the deep stuff. Unfortunately, there's no way there'd be enough time for that in a school setting. -youngcosette
    • This troper's school system actually did exactly that. We did one Shakespeare a year starting in 7th grade (...yeah), but we worked our way up the difficulty scale, starting with A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is easily the most accessible, then Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, and Othello in that order. The teachers weren't always great, but the language and feel of the plays were never problems after reading them for so long.
    • My experience learning about Shakespeare is an odd mashup of both the fun and the dreaded. See, I was homeschooled starting with seventh grade and my dad is a huge bibliophile. So when I expressed the opinion that Shakespeare was boring and pretentious (an opinion mostly fostered by Loony Tunes) he flew into a rage worthy of any Shakespearian soliloquy, except this one had an audience and ended with him dropping a massive tome into my lap. All of Shakespeare's known works on union skin paper. Not something your average 13-year-old is comfortable reading. So he nearly flew into another rage when I admitted I'd barely made it past the title page a week later. This is when Mom stepped in, reminded Dad that not only am a lot younger than he is, but I'm a different person. Dad more or less went 'oh, right' and apologized. Mom handed me The Twisted Tales of Shakespeare for me to read followed by an introduction to the comedies and a lesson on how the standard method of teaching Shakespeare is all wrong. This lead me to the eventual realization that Shakespeare is a fantastic wordsmith with a cunning wit who can keep people entertained despite the rather generic plots and paper-thin characters. Dad and I can laugh now about how silly the phrase 'it isn't Shakespeare' is. Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare. He made the Elizabethan equivalent of summer blockbusters.
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  • I never really had any love for Shakespeare; I knew only the absolute barest plot of Romeo and Juliet until 7th grade Drama class, and my 9th grade English class made it practically unbearable. It wasn't until the end of 10th grade, when I played Snout in A Midsummer Night's Dream, that I finally had an understanding of Shakespeare and how good the writing was. Seeing what was once horribly boring performed by genuinely funny actors allowed me to see Shakespeare's potential. The rehearsal process for Romeo And Juliet in the summer of 11th grade was a very emotional, difficult process that had the director pushing acting methods that would make a professional stage actor sweat with exertion and a number of New Age-style meditation and focusing exercises that, in the end, did absolutely nothing to help. When I finally saw Hamlet performed by professional actors at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, I realized how unnecessary all the breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation was to acting; it's all about treating the characters as real people and getting deep into their motivations and emotions. The ensuing production was so good that my girlfriend, who suffers from ADD and has never studied Shakespeare in her life, was enthralled by the performance and absolutely loved it, when I was afraid that she would be bored to tears. Not only has my opinion of Shakespeare changed, so has my opinion of acting. I've begun delving deep into the emotions and minds of my characters, and I've delivered some rather powerful stuff. I once nearly ended up crying during a rehearsal because I was so into my performance as Nathan Wallace that for a moment, I really felt like I was keeping my life as a sociopathic killer secret from my daughter. Thanks, Will.
  • I found his plots severely overrated and predictable, and kept wondering why people would look up to him as an example of any variety of things, until I realised that this is exactly the reason why his plots seem so over-done by now, because he was held as an example and emulated time and again, until his plots are almost on the same level of cultural osmosis as a fairy tale would be.

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