Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Speak the speech... trippingly upon the tongue"

...And when we hold our Shakespeare reading, we're all going to speak the way Shakespeare intended.
Inspired by working with Kevin Spacey, Sir Trevor Nunn has claimed that American accents are "closer" than contemporary English to the accents of those used in the Bard's day. 
The eminent Shakespearean scholar John Barton has suggested that Shakespeare's accent would have sounded to modern ears like a cross between a contemporary Irish, Yorkshire and West Country accent. 
Others say that the speech of Elizabethans was much quicker than it is in modern day Shakespeare productions. 
Well, now you can judge for yourself.
 Close on twelve years ago, Darwin and I went to a production of Measure for Measure directed by Sir Trevor Nunn. The program mentioned his interest in recapturing Shakespeare's original accents, and the vocal design of the production was supposed to be based on his research. I don't remember much how it sounded; we were up in the nosebleed section, so many of the nuances of the performances were lost on us.

What strikes me on listening to the selections is not just the beauty of the voices, but how good it is to hear Shakespeare acted, and acted well. I'm used to reading Shakespeare in print, or reading it aloud to the kids, or (occasionally) hearing it recited either as monologues or in groups reading scenes or plays. But recitation is not acting, and Shakespeare is, first, for acting.

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