Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I believe that a person's familiarity with a Shakespeare play can completely alter their experience as an audience member. Today I saw a performance of Hamlet with absolutely no preparation or previous encounter with the actual play. I knew the line "to be or not to be" and the fact that Hamlet's father appears as a ghost- and that's about it. During the entire performance, I was struggling to make sense of the relationship between the characters, to remember names, and to decipher the meaning of their words. My experience today was completely different from that of the other Shakespeare plays I've seen (A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth), both of which I had previously read and studied. I truly enjoyed seeing those performances because I understood the significance of the characters actions. I had had time to study the language of the play- to translate his rhymes and riddles. After todays performance I read a plot description of Hamlet and was shocked to see how many important things I didn't quite seem to catch. Having some degree of familiarity with the story makes watching the performance much more relaxed, and for me, much more enjoyable.


Austin Falk said...

I definitely agree with this. I feel like I was able to enjoy the play and get more out of it after having read it in class. When we went and saw the opera at the beginning of the year, I found myself confused at some parts and lacking a clear understanding from not knowing the plot beforehand. The opera being in a different language also made it confusing. Knowing the plot of Hamlet beforehand made the play today more enjoyable and definitely would have made the opera make more sense as it was hard at some points to be able to keep up with what was going on while trying to read subtitles.

Lindsay A said...

I agree. Shakespeare to me needs, at least, a brief understanding for the play to be understanding. I think it's because Shakespeare's language is a bit too foreign to us, so we need to study it properly for full understanding. However, at the same time, I think because Shakespeare is so difficult for us to understand without studying it before hand, it is the responsibly to the actors to illustrate to us, through facial expressions, gestures, and the way the words are spoken, what is going on in the play. While I think that the actors did a good job with Hamlet, there were some points where I thought they did not go enough to fully illustrate the meaning behind Shakespeare's words.