Theatre, Film and TV in the San Francisco Bay Area and Beyond
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Shakespeare Done Well
I've been thinking a lot lately about what it was in London that allowed me to so fall in love with Shakespeare's work. Each time I saw a Shakespeare play done in London, I felt totally captivated. Often when I see a Shakespeare play in the States that doesn't happen. What's the difference? Is it just that I felt so privileged to be spending time there and I was in a different state of mind, or is it more than that? I think that perhaps the answer is a cultural one. If you grow up there, and become an actor, you unconsciously absorb the subtle nuances that make Shakespeare great. If I were to venture a guess as to what those nuances are I would say this: 1) Specificity. British actors and directors make each line specific in that even if the meaning is only slightly different than the preceding line, they do whatever is necessary to differentiate the difference in a way that the audience will understand. 2) Voice. The British have a stronger sense of the musicality and poetry of the language. Americans (except for much of the South) tend to speak in a flat and monotone pitch. 3) Passion for the words. The British just seem to be more passionate about the actual words. Here we often try to cover up the words with a tricky theme. The British know that none of that layering can ever trump the power of Shakespeare's words themselves.