Friday, July 13, 2012


I'm one of those people who wishes they could quote Shakespeare. The problem is, I can't get through the writing. The reason, of course, is that the text is difficult to parse, since its in "old" English. Since I've never read the plays, I find it hard to follow the characters' conversations in films or theater that use the original language style.

But I've just stumbled across a nice way to experience original Shakespeare and even enjoy it. Its time consuming, but I think its worth the trouble. I've just finished reading Macbeth using this technique.

First, find a online, free version of the play (in this case, Macbeth). Next, find a movie where the actors converse using the old style. I found Macbeth on Netflix with Patrick Stewart. I know he is overacting, but its a lot of fun to watch him play a role without technobabble.

All you have to do now is read the play, but only one Scene at a time (the plays are divided into Acts, and each Act into some number of Scenes). After you've read a Scene, watch the corresponding scene from the movie and then pause. Do this again for the next Scene, and so on. You might have to synchronize a little, since movie directors might skip a scene, or switch around a pair of scenes.

I found that I followed the "old" English movie conversations almost perfectly, since I had just read them. So reading the play helped me enjoy the movie immensely; but it also worked the other way around. There were parts of the original Scenes that I did not understand when I read them. However, these became clearer when the actors articulated them in the context of the movie.

Overall, I would say this technique works far, far better than either just plowing through the text or simply watching a Shakespearean movie whose words you don't understand. Try it!