So I’m tackling Richard III, as I mentioned, and blogging as I go.
One major question right out of the gate is, “What exactly does this mean? How does one approach a new play?” It’s not like I’m constrained to wandering down to the local Barnes & Noble and picking up the paperback edition. It’s safe to say that I’ve got access to a wider variety of resources than that 😉 Not only is there a complete works over on my bookshelf over there, I’ve got the works locally on my laptop and on my phone, not to mention easy googling.
“No Fear” editions that claim to do a <shudder> line by line translation of the play are not an option. If you need to ask why, I point you to 6 years of Shakespeare Geek archives. 🙂
However, it’s also not reasonable to just jump in and read the play. “Performed, not read!” everybody’s been screaming for years. Not to mention, in my particular situation it’s just unrealistic so sit down for any amount of time with a Complete Works and all the necessary reference material, and still get a coherent first read of the story. I see that as more the kind of thing to do after multiple reads, when I can better dig down into specific analysis.
So, performance. Performance, performance. An argument I’ve always made against “Go see it!” is that this is easier said than done. You can’t just snap your fingers and have a live show of every Shakespeare play, you have to take what you can get. And right now I don’t know of an R3 in my area.
Well, then, what about movies? I will get to the movies – the McKellen, most likely, both because it is available for streaming on Netflix and also because his footnoted script is available online and I can follow along. Once I’ve done that I’ll probably come back around and check out the Olivier version.
Middle ground? Audio. I have plenty of time with my iPod (driving, yard work, etc…) which is currently filled with just podcasts and science fiction novels. Shakespeare Teacher’s recent post on the best of Shakespeare on Audio gave me the idea. But you don’t have to run out and drop the bucks for Arkangel
, when Librivox is around. For those that don’t know, Librivox offers free MP3 readings of many public domain works, including of course Shakespeare.
So, there’s my starting point. It’s currently Saturday afternoon, I’ve got the McKellen R3 in my Netflix queue, and the Librivox recording on my iPod. I will have to back up my listening with reading, as it’s obvious after just the first few minutes that some “Who is speaking now?” context is needed when doing nothing but listening. But I can work with that. My game plan is to listen whenever the opportunity presents, back up with reading when I get a moment, and play catchup with the movie version for a few minutes every night before bed.