Comedies, histories, tragedies you name it- Shakespeare has written a play about it. Although, you might not even be able to tell which type of genre you are reading because of the ever so confusing Kings English he wrote in. Of course they have “No Fear Shakespeare” websites and learning tools to help you break down the message Shakespeare was trying to get across but sometimes you’re still left dazed and confused. Mainly you just get bored, put down the book and look up the summary on sparknotes.com so you don’t fail your high school English class. What you really should have done in high school was go see the plays at the Shakespeare’s Globe in London (if you could afford an international plane ticket every time you had a paper or presentation due). When you see the plays happening literally feet away from your face, you become encompassed in the obnoxious renaissance music, overly dramatic acting, and beautifully written timeless dialogue. Take it from me; I’ve been to two of these plays at Shakespeare’s Globe… basically an expert by now.
On July 28, we saw the comedy Measure For Measure at the Globe Theater, which was surprisingly hilarious. I went into the theater thinking it would be just like those dreaded novels we were forced to read in high school and I would not understand a word they were saying but I actually followed the entire play (besides the few times I had to ask my professor which character was which in disguise). The excitement of watching it live and feeling as if you are a part of the play helps you to understand Shakespeare’s writing better than the books ever could. Also, the on-stage fights and slight nudity made the three-hour play fly by, even though you were standing on your feet the entire time.
Shakespeare was interested in royal power throughout his history plays, especially in Richard II. This was the second play we saw on August 9 and the performance was a bit different and harder to follow along because there was more talking than action. Although this play was not as entertaining, the performance was very beneficial to my project on religion and the arts because of the theme of monarchy vs. religion. According to Richard II and his followers, kings inherit the crowd directly from their fathers and they have the right to rule because they are “God’s representatives on earth”. This caused a religious controversy on whether the king’s right to rule should be directly passed down to him or rather than a privilege he should earn. Power and monarchy are two continuous themes throughout the play.
Overall, the history play was not as entertaining for me as the comedy, which I expected, but I would highly recommend seeing both. Even just to see the change in scenery on stage or the different authentic, girly costumes the men actors have to wear is worth your trip to Shakespeare’s Globe.