I have been riding three hours a day, twice a week, on three different buses and trains to audit an undergraduate class devoted to the works of the playwright whom Leland Stanford Stamper calls “Willy the Shakes.” The professor is an expert on S. in performance, and we are never far from the text as spoken. He frequently soliloquizes, from memory, during the class. Very old-school.
Something that surprised me, as I prepared to read R3 and R2, was how little I enjoy experiencing these plays as books. It’s as if we are discussing the scores of great symphonies without ever listening to the music. Although it isn’t possible to watch a Shakespearean film without disagreeing about interpretation, I think that, in the future, I will always watch the movie first, if there is a movie. These lines don’t work for me on the page.
It is odd, too, to be gathered anew in a room with a large group of people, discussing a play, and to not have it begin with a read-through. I keep looking round for the designers, notebooked and spectacled, scribbling illegible cue notes. I expect to hear, murmured from behind me, “Dara, here’s the new script.” How do they even know what they’re talking about if they haven’t read it aloud?
Were anyone to be so misguided as to give me the direction of a drama seminar, I would abolish the sections and replace them, instead, with a reading (aloud) of each play in question.