|If you'd like to send me a |
Shakespeare-related question, feel
free to write to:
Now, I suppose, that was a compliment, but I immediately became very defensive of The Bard. Don't get me wrong, I know it's not an uncommon opinion. However, it's one of those things I simply can't understand - like why anyone would want to bungee jump or what it is about jellied eel that some people find appealing.
How can anyone find Shakespeare boring?
Well, actually, when I stopped to really consider that question, I did find my answer. I will always maintain that Shakespeare and his works are not now, nor have they ever been, boring. But, and this is a big but (which I like; I cannot lie), Shakespeare can be made boring.
How to Make Shakespeare Interesting
|Enthusiasm is contagious, so is apathy|
In other words, if you want to write something interesting about a subject, choose a subject that you're passionate about. Enthusiasm is a wonderfully contagious thing.
If you love something, and can explain why you love it, other people will start to see your point of view.
And that, basically, was the whole purpose of this blog. It's great if people who already like Shakespeare enjoy it, but its real reason for being is to encourage those who wouldn't usually touch Shakespeare with a barge pole to see that The Bard's plays and poems really aren't as intimidating or dull as they might believe.
So, if enthusiasm and passion can make a subject seem interesting, the reverse must also be true And that is where we run into, "Shakespeare is boring" territory.
How to Make Shakespeare Boring?
|Shakespeare can be made boring by the dull way his |
plays are often taught
What do I mean by taught 'badly'? Well, I'd argue that if the vast majority of the class comes away from an English lesson with the opinion that it was 'boring', then the teacher was doing something wrong.
Now, I was, by all accounts, a bit of a weirdo (probably still am), because I actually had quite a dull introduction to Shakespeare, but still managed to find something in it I loved. The rest of my class probably didn't feel the same way. How did we learn Shakespeare? We sat at our desks and took turns reading various parts of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
I'm sure there was a theory to this: if we heard the words out loud, we'd begin to understand them better. However, if you have a bunch of thirteen-year-olds, who can't comprehend the rhythm of Shakespearean dialogue not to mention some of the more archaic words, it's going to make even less sense than trying to read it alone. For example, a boy in my class, who'd been given Oberon to read, spoke the character's most famous line as, "I'll met by moonlight, proud Titania." It didn't even occur to him that it was nonsensical, because he didn't understand any of it. And neither did the rest of us.
The Problem With Teaching Shakespeare
|Just reading Shakespeare isn't the most interesting |
way to learn
And it seems insane that this is still the way most people learn Shakespeare, and I use the word 'learn' loosely, because I'm convinced the majority of students gain nothing from this kind of teaching.
I am convinced that if school kids were given the opportunity to watch a professional performance and, better yet, encouraged to get up and act some of the scenes themselves, they would begin to see that the themes and characters are just as exciting and engaging as any modern TV show or film.
Is this a viable option? I cannot see why not. I know that teachers have limited time, but the time they have is wasted if Shakespeare is being taught as I experienced it.
And just one last thought on why Shakespeare is boring: before trying to read one of his plays aloud, it seems fundamental to learn how to actually read Shakespeare. Looking back, it seems crazy to me that our English teacher did not spend twenty minutes, before we ever opened the play, explaining iambic pentameter and how that affects the way in which a line should be read.
While I will never agree with the statement 'Shakespeare is boring', I will submit that his work can often be made boring. And with alarmingly regularity it is made boring by the very people who introduce us to Shakespeare's work.
To find out more about why I don't believe Shakespeare is boring, take a look at What's It All About, Shakespeare? An Introduction to The Bard of Avon.