File this one under, “I’m surprised I never wondered about this before…”
When Daniel Day Lewis portrayed Lincoln last year he gave the president a high, nasal voice that sent many into hysterics. It’s simply not done that way! Everybody that’s ever portrayed Lincoln has always given him a deep booming voice. But Lewis (or is it Day Lewis?), known for the depths of research into the character, decided that his version would be the more realistic one.
What’s that got to do with Shakespeare? Well, I’m wondering – what do you think Shakespeare’s voice sounded like?
I was thinking of a game. Not a blog game or a hashtag game, but a video game. And in this imaginary video game, when you finished a level, a little animated ghost of Shakespeare would tell you “Job well done!” or something more linguistically appropriate. My first thought was, “I’ll consult Ben Crystal on the subject of original pronunciation to learn how it would sound.”
But then I thought, no, that would tell me how the characters on stage would sound. And that’s not the same thing. I’m curious what Mr. Shakespeare himself sounded like when he spoke.
The idea is weird to me. I simply never think about him speaking. We think about him writing, to be sure. Earlier today Bardfilm made a reference to just how tired a man’s hand can get after writing out the plays in long hand. We have the image of the man working in front of his parchment, quill in hand, often by candlelight, churning out the words as we have them today. But when he went to work and talked to his actors … what then?
If Daniel Day Lewis decided to play William Shakespeare, what do you think he’d do with the character? You know what, I’ll even open it up wider because I like that idea. Seriously, what would Daniel Day Lewis do with the character of Shakespeare do you think? Any attributes are wide open for discussion. Would he bring Shakespeare’s rumored syphilis into the portrayal, and if so, how might that show itself? What about his rumored marijuana habit? What do we think Shakespeare weighed during his life? We so often only see the headshot, after all. Would Mr. Lewis have to put on some pounds, or lose some?