The More You Know...

Making Shakespeare understandable with common household items, a tabletop, and good storytelling

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.

Cover of CliffsNotes for MacbethThat’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.

Because you are a reader of this blog, you are an erudite, sophisticated person, and recognized this scene immediately.

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:

One of the “Dating Game” scenes from this play.

The next plays in their series will be:

The closing scene.

I’ll be teaching programming for the rest of the year, and may have to steal a few tricks from these people.

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