Shakespeare in the Arb

So over the weekend we went to see 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' performed in the local arboretum. It was, in my opinion, a really well done community play. A preview in a local paper covers the basics (and has a photo). It was interesting for me, because several of the people I went with had opinions on how the play should go, whereas I had no preconceptions, and found the whole thing to be perfectly acceptable. On some level I feel like this is the problem with elevating Shakespeare above where he was - suddenly the slapdash comedy is supposed to be a work of art. Regardless, it was a good time, and the setting was gorgeous - rolling meadows and the like.

sasha commented:
To be fair, David, whenever we have conversations about Shakespeare plays, you assume that I am "elevating" him.  So, for example, this morning when I wanted to talk about all the bits and pieces from this play that appear in other plays, and in fact to talk about how he developed as an author between this farce and some later deployments of the same formulaic elements (gasp! I don't think all his plays were good! In fact, I think this one was pretty bad!), you heard "Shakespeare rocks, but that play last night was bad."  I would suggest that you are complaining about any literary analysis at all, except that I know you are willing to analyse the fantasy authors that we enjoy reading together (including Tolkein, who also gets elevated, in some circles more so than Shakespeare).  I think you flinch away from discussions of Shakespeare because you assume other people have an inflated image of him.  I do really like some of his plays, and I do think that his ability to create linguistic imagery was unmatched by most authors of his time (having read and performed others, including John Webster's Duchess of Malfi - the "To be or not to be" speech in Hamlet is a classic.  "We are the stars' tennis balls, struck and bandied which way please them," from the Duchess of Malfi (which, it should be noted, is not a farce or even a comedy, despite the death by kissing a poisoned Bible scene), is not a classic.  This is not because people have over-inflated Shakespeare or under-rated Webster.  This is because Shakespeare's linguistic imagery is better).
on Mon Jun 23 15:53:05 2008

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