Sunday, October 04, 2009


Going from teaching a great Shakespearean play (though one with a only modest body count) to a modern play is, well, cramping. The scene stays the same, rather than roaming with world; the emotional level feels, well, despairing, without doing anything about it. There are no highs, no real anguish, just whiney angst, no sense of a character realizing s/he's made a big mistake--and that's just in the comedies--or is caught up in history, no playful metadrama, just overdrawn stage directions and endless blather.

And most of all, there's not a single moment of soaring verse, no ceremony, no Aleppo, no Edenic isle, no what's Hecuba to him, nada.

And the mother? She's clearly supposed to be a nightmare, but compared to Volumnia, she just doesn't impress.

Clearly, I'm not a realist, am I?

I really don't get why anyone would stage this one when they have a world of great plays to choose from. (I'm teaching it because it's going to be played locally and my students could go see it. And yes, it's an important play, and good for what it is.)


  1. Understandable. This week, I'm shifting away from the history plays, which are my expertise, to teaching Measure for Measure, which I have read only twice in my life (once recently) and have never taught. This will be difficult in all new ways. I think my students expect me to be a know-it-all now that we've studied two plays that I practically know by heart. I'll have to do a bit of acting this week to pull Measure off. Seeming is believing, right?

    I'd be interested in knowing what the two plays are that you're jumping between. My totally random guesses are Othello and Long Day's Journey into Night.

  2. I can't even begin to make a guess on the plays although I know that in the UK the modern one would probably have been Pinter and that does take some shift from Shakespeare!