Skip to main content

How did Shakespeare's plays originally sound?

Here are examples from Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, Sonnet 116 ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds"), and Macbeth's dagger speech.

Comments

Liz Curtis said…
This was such a cool thing to post. Listening to Shakespeare the way he would have heard it - and intended for it to sound - is such a treat. I think it's very cool (and very nerdy) that scholars took the time to flesh this out and make it available.
Alyssa Bucher said…
I like how this version sounds but I feel like its too slow. In my perspective, I would probably get bored listening to an entire play at this speed. But it was still cool listening to this.
nattyq said…
I agree that it is different, but I also feel like perhaps we only would find it boring because we have heard it played out differently. I think it is awesome that this gives us a chance to hear it how it should have been done, how Shakespeare wanted it done, I would definitely pay to see that.
Cody Scarborough said…
It is interesting to hear the play in the speed at which it was meant to be spoken, but to me it was boring. I respect the idea, because it was the original but it was too different for me. It was hard to listen to the entire thing without losing interest.
Aaron Suthers said…
I found this pretty interesting. Even just hearing it in very legitimate old English accents is very rare to hear when we have films that star American actors such as Leonardo Dicaprio having to fake their accents.
Mary Larson said…
I remember being in high school and listening to the Romeo and Juliet reading in the regular tone and speed. I think it was interesting to hear now, after my knowledge of Shakespeare has expanded. However, I do think it was a little slow. I feel as if I would get bored listening to a whole play in this tone. However, I think it is interesting to listen to because it helps us learn more about the way Shakespeare intended these films to be. Just the fact that we live in such a fast paced society today, makes it harder to listen and keep focused on the way it was originally intended.
Walter said…
After listening to those clips, i thought that it was interesting how Shakespeare plays actually sounded like, but i would prefer the accents that actors put on today. the original sound seemed to be too slow and monotone for me.
nick bragg said…
Interpreting these was very different from watching modern movies on screen. I feel like they go by a lot slower and are a bit harder to understand. I would enjoy watching the films more though.
Mason Pugh said…
I actually prefer the traditional sound of these plays, I feel it sounds more authentic and the change in accent makes me more interested in the play, even though they are harder to understand
Ryan Bass said…
I am intrigued with how Shakespeare intended his plays to sound like and how slow the tempo actually was. I enjoyed it while it lasted but there were many gaps in between words and I thought that might have been unnecessary.
Alexander Stock said…
Wow this was far from what I expected, it came closer to the American english than i imagined Maybe it's just me but I heard a little bit of a spanish hint on the ends of some of the words.

Popular posts from this blog

Accurate List of Hamlet's Soliloquies

Though Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech is his fourth soliloquy, many websites call it his third. They're skipping the twenty-line speech that follows his interview with the Ghost, which in my view is a particularly bad mistake since Hamlet's monomaniacal vow there is at the heart of his tragedy.

The internet's cosmic sinkhole of misinformation will never be filled, but it's worth throwing some dirt in when we can, so here's an accurate list of Hamlet's soliloquies, with a short description of where they occur and what they say, along with a few observations.

Shakespeare-Movie Soliloquies and Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight

Directors usually handle Shakespearean soliloquies in three ways: (1) they have actors speak directly to the audience, as they would have on the Elizabethan stage; (2) they have actors speak to the air, as yammering on Bluetooth-enabled cellphones; or (3) they use a voice-over, as if we were wire-tapping the characters' brains.
Each strategy has its advantages.
Speaking directly to the audience works well for villains, who share their nasty schemes, preparing us to watch with horror as they dupe unknowing victims. The technique also allows for dark comedy: for example, Ian McKellan's Richard III and Harry J. Lennix's Aaron (in Julie Taymor's Titus) act as satanic stand-up comedians, terrifying us and making us laugh with the same speech.
Having actors talk to themselves produces a different effect, allowing us to pretend we're hearing a character's inward thoughts. This works in both comedies and tragedies. In a comedy, we laugh—or chuckle inwardly—when we hear Em…

Shakespeare and Stonehenge

The recent discovery of what may be Britain's largest Neolithic monument made me think about how strange it is that Shakespeare never mentions Stonehenge. After all, the place is near his hometown, and we know that he read Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, which includes description of how Merlin set up the stones as a monument to fallen Celtic warriors (157-160). We might expect Shakespeare to allude to that story somewhere in Cymbeline or King Lear since Geoffrey is his main source for both plays.

The idea that Celtic Britons, instead of people who lived thousands of years earlier, built Stonehenge has persisted; many people still think, in the words of Spinal Tap, that the monument was built by "a strange race of people, the Druids." This was the educated view at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when William Charles Macready used a Stonehenge-inspired set for his groundbreaking King Lear (St. Clare Byrne 189). Others directors have followe…