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Shakespeare, Naked

April 12, 2010

I finished Henry V over the weekend.  I’ve been reading my way through Shakespeare.  It’s not my goal to read his complete folio; I’m not planning to write a scholarly critique.  I’ve been reading The Bard as written, without all the baggage that classrooms make him carry.  I’ll pick up his plays at the bookstore as one might pick up a Dan Brown or John Grisham book.  I skip most of the footnotes, too.  (I wonder if there’s a room in hell for people who do that?)

As a student, I thought that Shakespeare had written sweeping dramas on a grand scale.  They can be played that way, certainly.  But the words don’t read that way to me.  Shakespeare’s language surprises me with its intimacy.

Henry V reminded me most of Cyrano de Bergerac.  Noblemen, soldiers, French conversations and off-stage battles seemed cut from the same romantic cloth as Rostand’s classic.  (That might should be vice versa, no?)

I’d like to see Julie Taymor direct Henry V on stage.  A puppet reenactment of the battle of Agincourt could be entertaining.  And maybe she could have King Henry ride on horseback, which is where I imagined him delivering most of his lines.

Next, I’m back to P.G. Wodehouse.  The Mating Season.  I’ve missed Jeeves and Wooster.

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