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.


  1. I have just completed the first play of my challenge--Pericles, Prince of Tyre. I have read all but a few of Shakespeare’s plays and this play is one. I would say, as one of Shakespeare’s later works, that it is not his best as proven by how little this play is performed. It is melodramatic. The hero of the play, Pericles, gives the control of his life to the fates, unlike Shakespeare’s heroic figures such as Henry V or the tragic hero Macbeth. For good or bad, these characters struggle against the problems they find themselves in, even if they created the problem to start with.
    Two of the plays roles mimic characters from Shakespeare’s earlier works, Henry V’s chorus becomes Gower and Lady Macbeth becomes Dionyza but with much less success. The poetry at times is good but generally it seems to be composed of the most convenient rhymes only to trudge the play forward, not to create the scintillating language that we read in other plays. The play, it seems to me, was written just to make a little money. I surmise that the play was written by another playwright and that Shakespeare only added his name and a little polish.
    However, I would very much like to see the play just to see how the sailing ship sets are built and how the storm scenes are performed.
    My next reading will be Measure for Measure.

  2. First let me thank Elena at http://shakespearereadingchallenge.blogspot.com/2010/11/shakespeare-reading-challenge-2011.html for hosting this reading adventure. I enjoyed reading and watching plays. Let see how I did. This was the reading challenge and rules.
    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.

    I read:

    Two Gentlemen of Verona
    The Two Noble Kinsmen
    King John
    Measure for Measure
    Timon of Athens
    Pericles Prince of Tyre
    The Life of Henry VIII
    King Richard II
    The Tragedy of Coriolanus

    And viewed;

    King Henry as an online you tube video mash–up of available clips from the Branagh and Olivier films. I liked the Branagh film for its rousing score and its realistic battle scenes. I liked the Olivier film for the historical portrayal of the Elizabethan stage at the start of the film.

    Romeo and Juliet at Adams State College, Alamosa, Colorado
    The Merchant of Venice at Theatreworks, Colorado Springs, Colorado

    That is 12 works--I am a Henry V and a member of a band of brothers and sisters that joined with me in this merry challenge. I enjoyed all the reading but I truly think I get the most from seeing a play or movie. The conceit that I take from these plays are that they were written for all seasons This is why when Adams State’s performance of Romeo and Juliet has the actors in modern street dress--riding skateboards and fighting with chains and knives-- the contemporary set design works because the story of young forbidden love is truly a timeless tale. In the history plays you see kings fall because of taxes and in Coriolanus we see the Occupy Movement in the Roman citizens taking it to the streets. And in Measure for Measure we see a corrupted government telling people how to live their private lives.

    We see sitcoms in Two Noble Kinsmen and Two Gentlemen of Verona and in Pericles we have a latter-day action hero. I believe that Shakespeare is the beginning of modern writing and that his works will always exist throughout all time.

    Congratulations to all those who met their Shakespeare Reading Challenge goal.