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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Romeo and Juliet Original Pronunciation
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1360  Tuesday, 29 June 2004

From:           Ben Spiller <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Jun 2004 12:28:11 +0100
Subject: 15.1351 Romeo and Juliet Original Pronunciation
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1351 Romeo and Juliet Original Pronunciation

In response to Ian's note on Saturday:

I went to see the 'original pronunciation' Romeo and Juliet on Saturday
afternoon.  Unfortunately, what my friend and I could hear was very
little due to an extremely loud helicopter hovering over the Globe.  We
were told afterwards that it was a security measure while Steve Redgrave
was running round London with the Olympic torch.  What we managed to
pick out over the sound of the relentless noise seemed to me to be very
similar to a West Country or Irish accent (as explained in the leaflet
we were given as we entered through the main gates).

I found the experiment entirely a one-way process:  the actors were
wearing Elizabethan costume and speaking in (what is understood to be)
early modern English accents, whereas we are quite clearly a 2004
audience.  I really think that the accent experiment - albeit it bold
and striking, and even exciting as an academic concept - acted as a
hindrance to communicating the play in performance today.  Perhaps a
programme note about 'original' pronunciation would have sufficed,
instead of asking the actors to smother their own voices.

The rest of the production - acting, audience interaction, use of space
and music - was stunning; and the curtain-call dance was suitably
toned-down and less celebratory than previous ones.

Did anyone else manage to catch one of these special performances over
the weekend?

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