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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Authentic Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1698  Wednesday, 6 September 2000.

From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Sep 2000 19:42:32 +0100
Subject:        Authentic Performance

Re-reading sonnet 14 made me think of the vexed question of
Shakespearean authentic speech.  In reading a modern book of
Shakespeare's text we can never quite discover the exact way in which it
was spoken 400 years ago in London.  But what we can see, of course, are
the rhymes.  Sonnet 14, in particular, has three glaring
inconsistencies.  Astronomy/quality, wind/find, art/convert.  In seeing
several arguments on this list to the effect that it is of absolute
importance that we go as far back to the original as possible, I ask my
self how this can be done.  I am given to understand that to hear
Shakespeare speak - on-stage or otherwise - would be incomprehensible to
modern listeners.  Does this mean that we now speak in a foreign dialect
in relation to the original?  It is obvious that something has been lost
in this time-based translation - not least rhyme-punning.  But what
else?  Did it sound less pompous?  Or more?  Is it helpful - or even
desirable - that the modern "standard" for Shakespearean performance is
the recent BBC invention - the RP accent?


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