Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 16 to 30 of 45

Thread: Why would you want to read a play?

  1. #16
    Nightwalk was referring to the written play. His plays are "plodding and unreadable" but if you see them put on a show, it's breathtaking. Written plays are supposed to be dull to some degree! That's why they have actors, who make it better. Compound that a written play is in outdated language and is more bare than today's standards of plays, then it's not hard to see, why many don't like to read it. I refuse to read Shakespeare unless I have to, or I want to skim through shock someone with a bit from Titus Andronicus.

  2. #17
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    here. in my head
    Posts
    138
    Ah, Titus, the good old Titus... Completely off-topic, but I once counted that the play has something like 70-80 references to hands. Most of them not that pretty, as you may imagine being familiar with the play.

    Which, actually, goes on to show that there may in fact be more to the purely textual side of Shakespeare's plays than you might admit. I don't think I would have come to think of the issue of hands in such detail had I just seen the play. And while Shakespeare himself did not seem to have any particular desire to collect and publish his own plays, assuming that he didn't think of them as written works as well would perhaps make it somewhat difficult to explain the existence of endless volumes of critical works dedicated to Shakespeare's drama (as opposed to his theatre). Or, at least a lot of critics seem to find the texts valuable.

    To be honest, I may be somewhat biased here as my own experience with Shakespeare is that I seem to generally enjoy him far more on the page than on the stage. And I wouldn't subscribe to the "plodding and unreadable" argument, either, as I really like Shakespeare's language. But well, I grew up reading rather than watching plays, so it may just be that I am more accustomed and skilled a reader than I am a watcher. Which might in the end only suggest that I should go and watch more plays.

  3. #18
    Perhaps it is just a problem of perception. Every written and spoken word carries beside its obvious semantic meaning, emotions und a kind of virtues. Maybe the emotions intended by Shakespeare to be inspired in the reader trough his gorgeous use of language and his unrivaled charakter building are better peceived by some through words and by others through the charismatic acting of an actor.

    Personally I think both reading and seeing plays can be quite good if you concentrate on the acting or devote your fantasy to the reading.

    Everyone should have his own views and should stick to them, but I agree that it is highly necessary to distinguish between personal opion and argumantativ analysis.

  4. #19
    Drama Queen Koa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    away
    Posts
    4,335
    when i was at school and had to read plays, I hated that. It's boring as hell to read a play. They're meant to be watched, not read.
    dead on the inside, i've got nothing to prove
    keep me alive and give me something to lose

  5. #20
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The USA... or thereabouts
    Posts
    6,076
    Blog Entries
    78
    For something so "plodding and unreadable" I find that I have little problem reading Shakespeare's plays. The suggestion that the language is "outdated" might again prove to be the clue here. The problem may lie with the reader rather than with the writer. As I noted earlier, great art often makes great demands upon the audience... sometimes cognitively... sometimes in terms of prior knowledge. Dante requires a good deal of prior knowledge before one can truly get into his Comedia in any depth. Joyce assumes his audience is as well read as he and then challenges them with his word play and stream-of-consciousness. Emily Dickenson can be a tough as John Milton's sonnets or Geoffrey Hill's poems to truly wrap one's brain around. Shakespeare demands some a mastery of English vocabulary that is quite a bit more broad than that used by a modern novelist. He also demands some understanding of the flow and rhythm of poetic form. I might be tempted to think that it is a weakness upon the part of the author (or at the very least, a mere personal disliking upon my part) if I found Shakespeare dull and plodding, but had no problem reading Chaucer, John Donne, Christopher Marlowe, Spencer, John Milton, and other older writers. If I found much of this writing to be plodding, I might start to assume that there was something I was missing.

    Personally, I most certainly don't find Shakespeare to be at all plodding, dull or antiquated. Neither do I agree that plays SHOULD be dull to any extent. I personally loved reading MacBeth, Durrenmatt's The Physicists, Beckett's End Game, and numerous other dramas.

    As for Titus Andronicus... most certainly not my favorite Shakespearean play. I know that many critics share this opinion... and many have suggested that the play was not by Shakespeare or only partially by Shakespeare. Harold Bloom has made the interesting suggestion that the work's obvious wallowing in gratuitous violence and bombast was something of the young Shakespeare's attempt at a parody of his great predecessor, Marlowe.
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
    http://stlukesguild.tumblr.com/

  6. #21
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    here. in my head
    Posts
    138
    Quote Originally Posted by Koa View Post
    when i was at school and had to read plays, I hated that.
    In my compulsory education I hated whatever my literature teachers would care to put in front of me. In my case, at least, it had less to do with the quality of literature itself and more with the simple fact that it was compulsory. Nothing takes the joy away from reading better than the fact that you need to read (and to a large extent memorise!) X number of pages by tomorrow.

  7. #22
    Registered Usher vili's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    here. in my head
    Posts
    138
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    As for Titus Andronicus... most certainly not my favorite Shakespearean play. I know that many critics share this opinion... and many have suggested that the play was not by Shakespeare or only partially by Shakespeare.
    Yes, the critics tend to call foul whenever something that is thought to be by Shakespeare doesn't quite live up to the "absolute genius" label so readily attached to him. I must personally say that despite of its obvious shortcomings, Titus is in fact one of my favourites from Shakespeare. But then again, I really tend to give it a comic reading, rather than even trying to see it as a tragedy.

    I suppose that in some ways this a bit like when you enjoy a b-class action film just because it is so unintentionally funny. Of course, I have no idea what Shakespeare's intention with Titus was, but I don't think that it in the end needs to have been a parody of anything -- there are, after all, bloodier and more insane plays in the early Elizabethan theatre.

  8. #23
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,333
    Blog Entries
    24
    Well, Stlukesguild, Vili, Wild Apple and others have all put forth some marvelous defence for the reading of plays, but I have to jump in with my own two cents as well.

    First off, yes, plays are wonderful performed and there is a lot you get in a performance that you simply couldn't get from a reading. On the other hand, there's a lot you get from reading that you could not get out of a performance. I can't believe that it is an actor who brought up this subject. Surely as an actor you would want to be even more deeply familiar with the script, the motivations of all the different characters, and the way the language is working in the lines. Most actors I know read the script very carefully, especially with Shakespeare in which the poetry matters so deeply. One reason to read a play rather than watch a performance of it is that a performance will present a certain point of view, a specific kind of performance and a take on the way to present the characters and the action and the way to deliver certain lines. Surely as an actor or director you would want to read the play and imagine for yourself how these words are being spoken and what each of these characters are like rather than only rely on someone else's vision of the play.

    Apart from this, Shakespeare in particular begs to be read because his plays are largely poetry, and the language matters very much. It's only by reading the plays that you're going to have the time to reflect on and analyse things like the meter of the poetry, the complexity of his metaphors, how certain speechs are constructed and what recurring themes are present in the play. Being aware of things like the meter of the poetry or having a detailed understanding of the way Shakespeare's language works in a speech could have a significant affect on the way an actor delivers the lines. It's like the difference between someone going in to perform heart surgery saying they have an idea of where the heart is located and get the point that it pumps blood around but hasn''t ever made a detailed study of the human anatomy as a whole, and a doctor who's studied anatomy in depth and knows the way the body works both as a whole system and in every part in detail.

    Reading Shakespeare also simply gives the same things that reading any poetry gives: beautiful language expressing different experiences and emotions in a way that nothing else can. The words are the essential part of the experience because they (not the story line) are what produce the action and the emotions and make them memorable whether on the stage or in the mind of the reader. I can't imagine how you could say a script is a "guide" to a play. The play owes its existence to the script. Without the script there would be nothing to guide.
    Last edited by Petrarch's Love; 10-15-2006 at 02:10 PM.

    "In rime sparse il suono/ di quei sospiri ond' io nudriva 'l core/ in sul mio primo giovenile errore"~ Francesco Petrarca
    "Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."~ Jane Austen

  9. #24
    Registered User Woland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    151
    A poor performance of any of the plays can even bring Shakesy down. Given the choice between seeing a poor/bizarre performance or reading the play myself, Id choose to just read the play from a good edition that has ample footnotes and definitions.
    Last edited by Woland; 10-15-2006 at 02:21 PM.
    "Well, God give them wisdom that have it; and those that are fools, let them use their talents."

    - Feste, Twelfth Night


    "...till human voices wake us and we drown."

    - Eliot

  10. #25
    Boll Weevil cuppajoe_9's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1,644
    Blog Entries
    9
    Because the local theatre group is not putting on a production of Dr. Faustus or King Lear at any point between now and my midterms?
    What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.
    - Gertrude Stein

    A washerwoman with her basket; a rook; a red-hot poker; th purples and grey-greens of flowers: some common feeling which held the whole together.
    - Virginia Woolf

  11. #26
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The USA... or thereabouts
    Posts
    6,076
    Blog Entries
    78
    Petrarch's Love- ...there's a lot you get from reading that you could not get out of a performance.

    SLG- Indeed. While experiencing a play performed has sometimes given me a certain insight into how a phrase or grouping might flow... into how the words mesh with the action... I also find that I cannot catch all of Shakespeare's incredible word-play... that I cannot get my mind around some of his more cognitively challenging bits of poetry... that I miss out on the manner in which a certain image or concept runs through a piece like a theme in a piece of music if I cannot take my time... go back... re-read at my own pace and not that established by the director or actor.

    PL- One reason to read a play rather than watch a performance of it is that a performance will present a certain point of view, a specific kind of performance and a take on the way to present the characters and the action and the way to deliver certain lines. Surely as an actor or director you would want to read the play and imagine for yourself how these words are being spoken and what each of these characters are like rather than only rely on someone else's vision of the play.

    SLG- As a reader I want the same. I might think of the analogy of translation. As a reader unable to enjoy Dante or Baudelaire or Homer in the original Italian, French, or Greek... I must rely upon a translation by another. If at all possible I will go out of my way to explore several translations with the clear understanding that each is but one person's take on the original work of art. The ideal would be to master the original language in which the work was written. The same situation applies to music. I do not have the ability to "read" music in any manner approaching that which would allow me to glean my own take on what Mozart or Beethoven had written. I must thus rely upon how a given conductor/orchestra/soloist has interpretted the work. Realizing that the manner in which Herbert von Karajan and the berlin Philharmonic interpret a piece versus how John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestra Revolutionaire et Romantique imagine the same piece may be highly dissimilar... I again opt for the multiple interpretations while accepting that being able to "read" the original would be the best. With Shakespeare, there is no such problem. The "originals" are there for me to read... whenerever and whenever... and they demand very little by way of broadening my vocabulary. Of course, I'm one who agrees with Ezra Pound's rant upon lazy readers, where he declared that any reader too lazy to master the few words needed to read Chaucer in the original, should be forever banned from reading good books. I can just imagine what he might have thought about those who complain of the archaicisms in Shakespeare!
    Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
    The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
    My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
    http://stlukesguild.tumblr.com/

  12. #27

    reading plays

    As a reading specialist, I sometimes ask students to use a dialog only technique in reading text for meaning.
    Kids love plays. role-playing is a sure way to get reluctant readers moving in a good direction.

    one of my favorite reads is "enemy of the people" I'm also fond of Romeo and Juliet.
    There is nothing more sublime than the balcony scene in a ninth grade class.

    re-v

  13. #28
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    LA
    Posts
    1,905
    Blog Entries
    39
    Personally, I've seen a lot of bad performances of good Shakespearean plays. Shakespeare's writing is as good as it gets in the English language, and possibly any other. I've never seen an actor act at the same level as Shakespeare wrote. Poor actors can ruin his plays. Good actors can only hope to bring out what is already in the text, if they don't simply depart from it. Should they depart from the script, their transgression is only forgivable if their new lines are at least as good the ones Shakespeare wrote, and good luck with that.

    I agree with what SLG said about translation. The actor stands between the audience and the artist in some cases. The actors can be an impediment to enjoying a work of art. But it is not just the actors that I blame for poor performances. The director, set designers, lighting technicians, gaffers, makeup artists, etc. all help mediate the script. Drama depends on a single author, while stagecraft is the work of many hands. If one of them is off, the entire performance suffers. It is a rare thing to see a number of exquisitely talented people working together in one place united by a common artistic goal. Often the work is marred here and there by inferior hands. But coming to Shakespeare, purely as a text, you only meet with the master.

    My take on the original question that started this thread is that it is not meant to be inflammatory. It is indicative of a dominant prejudice against writers in the dramatic arts. There's a systematic, if unintentional, belittling of writers contributions among the various constituents of theater and film, from the actors, to directors, and producers. They attempt to frame an artist's worth only through and dependent upon the work of other artists. This marginalizes script writers within their own community, and has a direct effect on their earning power, as well as their creative control of the medium. I find the concept that people only go to the theater to see actors, or that words are nothing until somebody says them on a stage or a screen to be incredibly insulting on a number of levels.

  14. #29
    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Some mesto, or another. Bog knows you wouldn't be able to viddy me from your okno.
    Posts
    1,481
    For no other reason than being able to cast the roles myself. I get to interpret it myself. Stage directors read the plays to decide how it should be performed.

    "Do you mind if I reel in this fish?" - Dale Harris

    "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." - Ernest Hemingway


    Blog

  15. #30
    To the original question, just as you could read plays or novels purely for entertainment, once you've done that, I read plays to study what moves them along, and to figure out what language the author uses, and to use that to better my writing. It's hard to analyze and learn from a play if it only happens once and you can't stop to ponder a line or scene.

    Though I know there are many people who think that the best way to experience poetry is through the author's reciting them, and I don't think they would say it's useless, or "not true poetry" if you read them written down.

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Is it necessary to read critically?
    By kilted exile in forum General Literature
    Replies: 145
    Last Post: 07-20-2009, 01:01 AM
  2. must read
    By Cara in forum The Phantom of the Opera
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-21-2009, 04:47 PM
  3. Should I Read It?
    By jason in forum Siddhartha
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 10-31-2008, 04:00 AM
  4. Books to read
    By Skafte in forum General Literature
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 10-10-2008, 07:14 AM
  5. Help Me Find This Poem
    By yonderhither in forum Poems, Poets, and Poetry
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 01-02-2008, 09:00 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •