Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Erica Wivagg's Post

"Shakespeare Without His Language"
Dennis Kennedy

Kennedy describes the differences between English and non-English productions of Shakespeare, including the emphasis by foreign directors on the essential themes of Shakespeare rather than the language. He also observes that the bit of Shakespeare that English speakers cling to--his language--is also slipping away, causing Shakespeare to slowly become foreign even to English audiences.

"...some foreign performances may have a more direct access to the power of the plays" (5)

"The fact is...we do not speak the same language as Shakespeare: at best, we speak a remote dialect of it" (5)

"...unable to place the same emphasis on Shakespeare's verbal resourcefulness, foreign performances have explored scenographic and physical modes more openly than their Anglophone counterparts, often redefining the meaning of the plays in the process." (6)

"...our ability to reach the plays in their original language lessens year by year...eventually only specialists will be able to read the texts" (16-17)

"In general, foreign productions of Shakespeare, freed from the burden imposed by centuries of admiring his language, have been more ready to admit that the door to the past is locked" (16)

"Shakespeare in the Bush"
Laura Bohannon

While studying in the African bush, Bohannon tries to prove the universality of Shakespeare by telling the story of Hamlet to members of the Tiv tribe. The difficulties of translating Shakespeare both literally and culturally assert themselves rather quickly. Despite the essential differences in culture and tradition, the story remains relevant and Bohannon gains a new understanding of the central themes.

"Hamlet was again a good story to them but it no longer seemed quite the same story to me"

"'You tell the story well, and we are listening. But it is clear that the elders of your country have never told you what the story really means'" --the old man

"'We believe you when you say your marriage customs are different, or your clothes and weapons. But people are the same everywhere'" --the old man

"'We, who are elders, will instruct you in their true meaning, so that when you return to your own land your elders will see that you have not been sitting in the bush, but among those who know things and who have taught you wisdom'" --the old man

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