Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shakespeare in My Life

Once upon a time, I was an English major taking a Shakespeare class. And the professor encouraged us to read each assigned play three times. Listening to him lecture, I was impressed that he never referred to notes or to the text, but always knew what scene and act the lines he was discussing came from. So, I read through each play twice and then at the end of the semester, read them all a third time. By that point, whenever I took a nap, my dreams were filled with Elizabethan English. I guess that's the closest I've ever gotten to dreaming in a foreign language since I've never been much of a linguist.

Once upon a time before that, I was a know-it-all fourth grader, reading my first Shakespeare--A Midsummer Night's Dream (abridged). I was convinced that the performance my parents wanted to take me to set in the 1950's was going to be all wrong. A real iconoclast, I only listened to classical music and told my cooler classmates that rock music was horrible. Needless to say, I was wrong on many counts and I can still remember the closing scene complete with "Goin' to the Chapel" as background music. It was great. Later on, I saw a high school performance of the same play that exuded such joy and delight--I wondered why my high school theater program never did anything but musicals.

Fast forward to the present: I usually see some performance of Shakespeare once a year or every other year but I really don't read it anymore. When my husband and I were dating and first married, we used to divide up the roles and read a play together, especially if a movie version was coming out soon.

So, this summer as I was packing up all my books to move, I decided that I wanted to read more Shakespeare but wasn't sure how to do it. I googled for a reading challenge but didn't find one and took the plunge. I don't think I'll be reading each play three times but I do plan to do some background reading, especially for the history plays. I've put "Shakespeare's English Kings" on my Christmas list. Also, scamper recommended Garber's "Shakespeare After All" and Asimov's "Guide to Shakespeare" in a comment if anyone's looking for more resources.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sign Up Page & Rules

Welcome to the 2011 Shakespeare Reading Challenge!

First off, the Levels:

1. Puck: Read 4 plays over the year, 1 of which may be replaced by a performance
2. Desdemona: Read 6 plays, 2 of which may be replaced by a performance
3. Henry V: Read 12 plays, 3 of which may be replaced by a performance

Now, the Rules:

1. All plays must be read between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011. Anything begun before that cannot be included.
2. Audio versions are also acceptable but all plays must be unabridged.
3. You don't need to list your plays ahead of time but you may, if you'd like.
4. Review pages for each month will be created but are optional.

When you sign up below, please link to your post about the reading challenge and leave me a comment telling me what level you will be doing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shakespeare Reading Challenge 2011

Announcing the Shakespeare Reading Challenge for 2011!! I may live to regret this insanity but for the moment my plan is to read one play per month all year, following the chronology given in the Riverside Shakespeare. I will be updating this page soon, so check back and see the method in this madness and how you can take part.