Reading Shakespeare is torture. He wrote in verse, in 16th-century English, for a 16th-century audience whose only other entertainment options were bear-baiting and public executions.
That’s why there’s an entire industry devoted to deciphering his Elizabethan gibberish. Having gone to high school in Toronto, my fellow students — which included Keanu Reeves, who was a couple of years ahead of me — relied on Coles Notes, the Canadian equivalent of CliffsNotes.
Today’s high school students have it a little easier. Each of his plays has at least a dozen performances on YouTube (an example: Titus Andronicus, performed by the Seoul Shakespeare Company — and yes, that’s Seoul as in South Korea) and dozens of explainer pages.
One of the newer Shakespeare resources to appear is ForcedEntertainment, a group of six artists based in Sheffield. They’ve decided to tell the stories in all of Shakepeare’s plays, aided only by household items on their tabletops.
So far, they’ve done:
- Macbeth (or “The Scottish Play”, if you’re superstitious)
- The Merchant of Venice
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Romeo and Juliet
The next plays in their series will be:
- King John (September 25)
- Titus Andronicus, a.k.a. “Hideth yo’ kids, hideth thy wife”, as it’s Shakespeare’s killiest, rapiest play (September 26)
- Much Ado About Nothing (September 27)
I’ll be teaching programming for the rest of the year, and may have to steal a few tricks from these people.