Once again this week I got into the “See it, don’t read it!” debate with someone, and my faithful readers know that I weigh in on the “read it” side of this argument for the following very simple reason:
“Hey, I don’t know anything about Richard III, I think I’ll read it.”
“Don’t read it, go see it!”
“Oh, ok. Is it playing?”
And then people immediately jump into the defense of going to rent a DVD, even though you all know perfectly well that if there was a choice between seeing it live on stage and seeing a movie version, you wouldn’t even have to think about it. You only support movies because you know that “go see it as it was meant to be seen” is not a realistic argument, and you’ll accept movies as a substitute.
But, I’m not here to make the argument again. I want to try something. Tell me, in the comments, which Shakespeare plays you have seen on stage?
I’ve seen: Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Othello, R+J, Shrew, AYLI, All’s Well, Dream, Much Ado, Comedy of Errors, LLL, Tempest, Winter’s Tale.
14 plays. You’ll notice that the histories are sadly underrepresented. Now, with more effort I’m sure I could add maybe half a dozen plays to that list, but that still only puts me in the range of about half. I’d make the case that the only way I’m ever going to see some of those plays is if I make it a primary goal in my life to do so, and am willing to travel extensively to make it happen.
Most people in the world will never have the opportunity to see most of Shakespeare’s plays on stage. Every single literate person in the world has the opportunity to read them.
TL;DR – Read King John.