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Thread: Why would you want to read a play?

  1. #1

    Why would you want to read a play?

    I like to fancy myself an ammature playman, who does writing and acting, when I get the chance. I've read plays before, and one thing usually strikes me. This would be an awesome play. The whole concept of a written play is that it is a guide for actors, so they can perform the play and make it more enjoyable. Reading the play is baffling. Would you rather read a book or a detailed outline for a book?

    Even as an actor, I only read what I must know for my part. Especially Shakespeare, reading a play is baffling.

    Not only is his writing too wordy and antiquated to be highly avaliable to the modern reader, and not only are his plays 10x more enjoyable and exicting and fun, when they are performed, but the writer himself wrote the plays purely as guides, and not to be read as books. He wrote only the amount that he would need to put on the show.

    It's just that, plays, unless edited to books or the excepetion, where the dialouge is too static to be read, are meant to be performed, and usually they're way more awesome as plays than as books.

  2. #2
    Seeker of Knowledge Shannanigan's Avatar
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    We read plays usually because the plays you want or have to learn about either are not being performed nearby or at a convenient time or we can't afford to go see performances of all of the plays we would like to see. Also, many great plays are very rarely performed nowadays, and the next best thing, since seing them performed is not available, is either to find the resources to perform it yourself, if you have that time and ability, or, if not, to read the play.

    I enjoy reading plays, I love watching them, but reading is fun as well since you can take it at your own speed, picture it in your head and form character's appearances and demeanors for yourself. I've never really had a problem reading Shakespeare or any plays as long as I take it at a pace that I can understand...
    You learn more about a road by travelling it than by consulting all of the maps in the world.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Shannanigan View Post
    We read plays usually because the plays you want or have to learn about either are not being performed nearby or at a convenient time or we can't afford to go see performances of all of the plays we would like to see. Also, many great plays are very rarely performed nowadays, and the next best thing, since seing them performed is not available, is either to find the resources to perform it yourself, if you have that time and ability, or, if not, to read the play.

    I enjoy reading plays, I love watching them, but reading is fun as well since you can take it at your own speed, picture it in your head and form character's appearances and demeanors for yourself. I've never really had a problem reading Shakespeare or any plays as long as I take it at a pace that I can understand...
    But the movie?

  4. #4
    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Movies made from plays (especially Shakespearian ones) are too often done poorly.

    Although, I don't mean to critisize your acting abilities, but not reading the entire play you are acting in is something an actor should never do. Everything a character does is done wihtin the context of the paly itself - everything is influeenced by what came before. Your character will not be convincing or realistic if you do not have the background of what is going on before he enters the stage.


    As to reading plays, I generally like to read plays. The reasons stated above are good: usually the plays you want to see, you just can't. Readign plays are not that different than reading novels or poetry - some are written better than others depending on the author. The wordieness of the play is dependent on the author just as in a novel.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

  5. #5
    Well, in acting you just found out the story, when you are in a read-through. I suppose you're right, but I would rather watch it, as much as possible. Shakespeare, imo, is a terrible read, though. There are a bunch of awesome Shakespeare films, or if not, just for his good plays.

  6. #6
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Yes... most plays were written to be performed (Goethe's Faust may have been an exception). This does not mean that it cannot be well-appreciated as literature. Many early poems (The Iliad and The Odyssey, Beowulf, Parzival) were composed to be recited orally, but I have no problem appreciating them as books. Speaking specifically of Shakespeare, I might note that a great deal of the literature of this and earlier periods was published as we think of it. Not only were Shakespeare's plays not published in book form, but many of the great poems by the Aristocratic poets were not published for a wider audience. Until Ben Jonson, plays were not thought of as serious art worthy of publication (and then there was the need... with the lack of copywrite laws... to keep one's successful works from falling into the hands of the competition). The notion that Shakespeare is a "terrible read"... "too wordy"... and using an "antiquated" language not accessible to the modern reader is absurd, to say the least. One of the prime pleasures of Shakespeare (along with his marvelous development of character) is his absolutely gorgeous language. (Where's Petrarch's Love when you need her?) His works are no less accessible to a wide than that of many other great writers (Dante, Chaucer, Milton, Spencer, Blake... and surely Joyce, or Thomas Pynchon). Great art, however, has never been measured by how large an audience share it has. It often demands much of the reader/audience... but gives much in return. I have seen a number of Shakespeare's plays performed... live and in film... and I appreciated the experience. It gave me a different perspective, at times... but there is no way that I would ever give up on the reading of his marvelous writing... nor that of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Durrenmatt, Beckett, etc...
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 10-14-2006 at 08:16 PM.
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  7. #7
    Registered User ThruMyEyer73's Avatar
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    of course watching a play would b more enjoyable than reading a play script, scripts are written with room for the actor to give the line character and emotion. but it can b enjoyable to read a play ecspecially with a few people were each person reads their own lines.
    Sarah*Joy
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj View Post
    Well, in acting you just found out the story, when you are in a read-through. I suppose you're right, but I would rather watch it, as much as possible. Shakespeare, imo, is a terrible read, though. There are a bunch of awesome Shakespeare films, or if not, just for his good plays.

    You're right in your point that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed. This does not mean, however, that he didn't want his plays to be read. In fact, a few quartos of his plays were in print in his own lifetime. All of his plays were published very shortly after his death.

    There are a couple more points I would disagree with you on.

    1) A script is more than a "guide." While there is certainly room for interpretation, good directors/actors will not deviate from what they can honestly infer from the text. If you are doing this, you should try to fix that.

    2)To say that Shakespeare's words are "too wordy and antiquated to be highly avaliable to the modern reader" is perhaps the most ridiculous statement I've ever read on this forum. No one mastered language or the human more than Shakespeare. His writing is eternal. I generally hate comments like this, but I feel I can say it when it comes to Shakespeare: If you haven't found something extremely appreciable in almost every one of his plays and poems, I severely question your ability to read and comprehend any literature.

    I was very skeptical of your post. It is so outlandish that I think it may be a flame attempt, in which case I'd ask the moderators to take control. If it is legitimate, I am not forcing you to admit you love Shakespeare - I would just say don't abandon his writing. Give it an honest chance, and you will find it infinitley rewarding.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Apple View Post
    You're right in your point that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed. This does not mean, however, that he didn't want his plays to be read. In fact, a few quartos of his plays were in print in his own lifetime. All of his plays were published very shortly after his death.

    There are a couple more points I would disagree with you on.

    1) A script is more than a "guide." While there is certainly room for interpretation, good directors/actors will not deviate from what they can honestly infer from the text. If you are doing this, you should try to fix that.

    2)To say that Shakespeare's words are "too wordy and antiquated to be highly avaliable to the modern reader" is perhaps the most ridiculous statement I've ever read on this forum. No one mastered language or the human more than Shakespeare. His writing is eternal. I generally hate comments like this, but I feel I can say it when it comes to Shakespeare: If you haven't found something extremely appreciable in almost every one of his plays and poems, I severely question your ability to read and comprehend any literature.

    I was very skeptical of your post. It is so outlandish that I think it may be a flame attempt, in which case I'd ask the moderators to take control. If it is legitimate, I am not forcing you to admit you love Shakespeare - I would just say don't abandon his writing. Give it an honest chance, and you will find it infinitley rewarding.
    I adore Shakespeare. It's just that alone as words, they are not much. They become awesome when they are acted and made violent!

  10. #10
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    I adore Shakespeare. It's just that alone as words, they are not much. They become awesome when they are acted and made violent!

    ???!!! They are not much as words???!!! But that is exactly what they are. I might note that the dramas... the actual narrative stories were often borrowed from other sources. Shakespeare's strength was never narrative inventiveness. Many writers are far greater at this. He is not a writer of great action. Where Shakespeare is unequalled is in his sheer invention of human characters... (characters which often undergo great development over the course of the play... and characters whose inner thoughts... whose emotions and motivations we are made audience to... characters who reveal the depths of the psychological workings leading up to and in response to events... drama... action)... It is there and in his use of the most exquisite... beautiful... and inventive language where he is so brilliant. He is not merely a playwrite... but a poet... THE poet. I can't think of a single poet in the English language who has penned as many unforgettable lines as Shakespeare. I can't think of a single poet in English (unless it is John Milton at his absolute finest) who can match many of the extended poetic dialogs, declarations, exclamations, and musings. To my mind, to suggest that Shakespeare is not much with words... not much worth reading... but makes for exciting drama, is not far removed from suggesting that Mozart's, Wagner's, Verdi's or Puccini's operas are fine to watch as dramas, but not worth much as music.
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 10-14-2006 at 11:35 PM.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I adore Shakespeare. It's just that alone as words, they are not much. They become awesome when they are acted and made violent!

    ???!!! They are not much as words???!!! But that is exactly what they are. I might note that the dramas... the actual narrative stories were often borrowed from other sources. Shakespeare's strength was never narrative inventiveness. Many writers are far greater at this. He is not a writer of great action. Where Shakespeare is unequalled is in his sheer invention of human characters... (characters which often undergo great development over the course of the play... and characters whose inner thoughts... whose emotions and motivations we are made audience to... characters who reveal the depths of the psychological workings leading up to and in response to events... drama... action)... It is there and in his use of the most exquisite... beautiful... and inventive language where he is so brilliant. He is not merely a playwrite... but a poet... THE poet. I can't think of a single poet in the English language who has penned as many unforgettable lines as Shakespeare. I can't think of a single poet in English (unless it is John Milton at his absolute finest) who can match many of the extended poetic dialogs, declarations, exclamations, and musings. To my mind, to suggest that Shakespeare is not much with words... not much worth reading... but makes for exciting drama, is not far removed from suggesting that Mozart's, Wagner's, Verdi's or Puccini's operas are fine to watch as dramas, but not worth much as music.
    Those words when performed become something truly grand. Shakespeare is one of my favs, but I want to see his stuff. By not much as words, they as themselves are not so great in their purely written form, although they are a huge amount of great lines. The awesomeness come together in performance.

  12. #12
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
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    I don't quite see the problem regarding reading plays. Or do you never "perform" the plays in your head while reading them? I personally stage every play I read, and indeed play all the parts myself (mentally, not physically, of course).

  13. #13
    Muses Delight Nightwalk's Avatar
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    Jtolj: I agree with your comments on Shakespeare. His tragedies are generally plodding and dull, unreadable as you aptly put it. First time I read it I didn't finish the book. I intend to give the man the benefit of the doubt and re-read his plays in the future but for me he excelled as a poet.

    I guess one reads plays as a great play is just as good as any great poem or novel.

  14. #14
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Jtolj: I agree with your comments on Shakespeare. His tragedies are generally plodding and dull, unreadable as you aptly put it. First time I read it I didn't finish the book.

    As Wild Apple noted in response to a similar post, such comments are much more likely to call the reader's abilities into question than they ever are to cause a serious re-evaluation of Shakespeare's writing. I don't assume that everyone will like every work of art that is considered a "great" or a "masterpiece" (I know that surely I don't), but before I thought of making a blanket statement that surely would seem to go against common thought (something like "Mozart sucks!", "Michelangelo can't draw", or "Shakespeare's plays are plodding, dull and unreadable") one might think to make it clear that this was a personal opinion ("In spite of his reputation, I found Shakespeare's plays dull, unreadable, etc...). It might also make sense to offer some reasoning behind such opinions if you in any way feel that such opinion should be taken at all seriously. Just a suggestion.
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  15. #15
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I don't assume that everyone will like every work of art that is considered a "great" or a "masterpiece" (I know that surely I don't), but before I thought of making a blanket statement that surely would seem to go against common thought (something like "Mozart sucks!", "Michelangelo can't draw", or "Shakespeare's plays are plodding, dull and unreadable") one might think to make it clear that this was a personal opinion ("In spite of his reputation, I found Shakespeare's plays dull, unreadable, etc...). It might also make sense to offer some reasoning behind such opinions if you in any way feel that such opinion should be taken at all seriously. Just a suggestion.
    I don't think I could agree more.

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