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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: First Times with Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0188.  Saturday, 5 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Patricia Gallagher <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 Mar 1994 12:17:35 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: First Times with Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   Michael Sharpston <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Mar 1994 21:37:00 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0185 Re: First Times with Shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   Ellen Edgerton <EBEDGERT@SUADMIN>
        Date:   Friday, 04 Mar 1994 18:54 ET
        Subj:   First time with Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patricia Gallagher <
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Date:           Friday, 4 Mar 1994 12:17:35 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Re: First Times with Shakespeare
 
I was about 14 years old. I had just been accepted in a local parochial
high school, and was sent my first summer reading list (We had a list of
about 15 books we were required to read over the summer). #1 on the list,
was "Romeo and Juliet". Oh, how I complained! I told my mother I didn't
want to read it because "that guy talks funny!" My mother, bless her,
shooed me into the bedroom, with her complete works of Shakespeare, and
some advice: Read it aloud; you might just like it.
 
Well, I did; and by senior year, I was in a class devoted entirely to
Shakespeare. The teacher, Alan Ryan, was just wonderful. He introduced
us to "King Lear" and "Henry IV, Part I". He taught "Hamlet" and took us
to a local production of it. If anyone in my academic career could be
called the inspiration, Mr. Ryan is the one.
 
Patricia Gallagher
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Sharpston <
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Date:           Friday, 04 Mar 1994 21:37:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0185 Re: First Times with Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0185 Re: First Times with Shakespeare
 
Jumping on some unfortunate grown-up's back as an imp in the Tempest, in
colonial Tanganyika.
 
About ten years later, back in England, endless replaying of a tape of Gielgud
as Hamlet in the evenings in the changing rooms of the medieval buildings that
were (roughly) 'high' school.
 
And to endorse Chris Gordon's point about children and language, I used to come
out of RST, Stratford-on-Avon, unable to speak anything except blank verse for
some minutes after the end of the show (no claims about the quality of the
blank verse!).
 
          Michael Sharpston
          
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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ellen Edgerton <EBEDGERT@SUADMIN>
Date:           Friday, 04 Mar 1994 18:54 ET
Subject:        First time with Shakespeare
 
My first brush with Shakespeare was relatively late -- 9th grade.  We
read Romeo and Juliet in class, which was dull, until the teacher said
she would play Zeffirelli's movie for us.  Then we were all excited
(living as we did in an area not known for its Shakespearean live
theater, ahem).  The big day arrived and we all settled down to watch,
but!  alas, the movie was on one of those early "laserdiscs" (this was
circa 1983) from RCA and it started SKIPPING!  Right when Romeo was
about to kill Tybalt.  Talk about Shakespearus interruptus.  We were
annoyed because we were getting into it (nobody had bothered to tell
us that Leonard Whiting couldn't speak the verse properly).   End of film.
 
But, you really can't get a feel for Shakespeare unless you see it
performed live, or actually participate, and that didn't happen for me
until the following year, when my English teacher (who, in retrospect,
seemed right out of DEAD POETS SOCIETY) was teaching *Julius Caesar*.
(Yes, I realize that it's the law in the U.S. school system to teach
*JC* in >ninth< grade, but like I said, this guy was an eccentric.)
We were sitting there, pretty bored, when the fire alarm bell went off.
Suddenly inspired, my teacher told us to grab our books and run outside
to the circular driveway in front of the school.  There, in front of
the entire school (which had been evacuated for the fire drill), we
put on an impromptu performance of Act III, scene ii.
 
One of my fondest high school memories.
 
Ellen Edgerton
Syracuse University

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