Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2011 : Sign Up Now!

Reader Elena let me know that she’s running her Shakespeare Reading Challenge again for the coming year and asked me to get the word out to Shakespeare Geeks. How many of the plays you think you can read during the year? Challenge Extended!

First off, the Levels:

1. Puck: Read 4 plays over the year, 1 of which may be replaced by a performance

2. Desdemona: Read 6 plays, 2 of which may be replaced by a performance

3. Henry V: Read 12 plays, 3 of which may be replaced by a performance

Now, the Rules:

1. All plays must be read between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Anything begun before that cannot be included.

2. Audio versions are also acceptable but all plays must be unabridged.

3. You don’t need to list your plays ahead of time but you may, if you’d like.

4. Review pages for each month will be created but are optional.

On your mark ….. get set…….

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5 thoughts on “Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2011 : Sign Up Now!

  1. Tell me if you agree. If a Shakespeare performance last about two hours that means that the written play is spoken in two hours. The therefore a Shakespeare play should be able to be read in two hours.

  2. Hi & thanks for posting about the challenge! Performance could mean viewing a play or performing in one, either way.

    By the by, I'm hosting this for the first time, not again 🙂

  3. Brian, in my experience, Shakespeare performances usually last 2 1/2 to 3 hours, but I think they are paced too slowly by most modern directors.
    On the other hand, you can expect it to take considerably longer to read a play. In a performance, the actors can often help the audience understand the words with action, gestures, winks, nods and the like. Or sometimes not, but the audience has no choice–the play must go on! You cannot stop the players and ask for an interpretation. Nor can you ask them to repeat a particularly lovely speech because you want to hear it again.
    When you read a play, you may have to, or want to, re-read, either to understand it better, or to enjoy it better. You should read an annotated edition that has explanations of difficult words or phrases to help you along, and that will also take some extra time, but the understanding that comes with it will be well worth it.
    Plan on taking at least 2-3 days to read a play. Linger over each one and enjoy.
    –Carl

  4. Brian, just tagging on to what Carl said….

    Shakespeare plays are almost always cut for performance, especially the really long ones (like Hamlet). Most audiences are not willing/able to sit through a performance of longer than three hours, even with intermission(s).

    Also, actors/directors will sometimes also slow down the delivery a bit, assuming that the audience needs a little extra time to process what was just said, especially if it's particularly heightened or flowery language (like Love's Labour's Lost, or the faerie scenes in A Midsummer Night's Dream).

    Not that the audience is stupid by any means, but many audience members haven't heard Elizabethan English before.

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