Reading Shakespeare

William-Shakespeare-007After what looked like yet another failed resolution, I’m making way with Shakespeare. In February I mapped out a plan: read one play a month, have all plays read by the end of 2015.

The excellent advice of my literature-loving sister-in-law—read through the entire play in one sitting—eliminated bedtime reading. I would fall asleep before I got through Act 2. The Big Gulp approach made sense to me. Who ever went to a play to watch Act 1 with a notice to come back to Act 2 next Friday?

I pulled out an old trick from my treadmill-reading days: read along with an audio version. The printed words help you listen and the audio helps you focus on the reading. The actors’ inflections grease the rails of comprehension. I could pause the audio to read a footnote, but not get dragged down too much in details.

After this epiphany, since November I’ve read/listened to The Tempest, Love’s Labor Lost, and Twelfth Night. My local library has about a dozen Shakespeare plays on CD; my internet library, using Overdrive, has them all. Even the sonnets. As the kids would say: Booyah!




5 thoughts on “Reading Shakespeare

  1. I loved this idea and hopped over to my library homepage to see what audiobooks they might have of Shakespeare plays. Zilch. Happily, I found about 20 other great classic books to listen to – I’m especially drawn to the ones with soothing British voices. Librivox has tons of Shakespeare but their volunteer narrators are not often up to the challenge. Still, I’ll investigate some of their recordings…

  2. Super! I have the Teaching Company ‘Comedy’ tapes. if you would like. Another idea…have your grandkids “accidentally” find you enjoying a play.and snap, you will have .another Shakespeare fan!

  3. I found that not trying to understand every single word, phrase, or even line, is a big help. Getting any overall feeling for what he was trying to get across helps a lot. And watching the plays, esp. the ones with Kevin Branagh in them, is helpful, too. Getting to go see several of his plays live helped me to not just understand, but appreciate Shakespeare. How did you like The Tempest?

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