The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0422  Thursday, 22 February 2001

From:           Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 20 Feb 2001 09:20:48 -0500
Subject: 12.0409 Re: Branagh
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0409 Re: Branagh

Thank you, Carol, for your antidote for the terminally jaded.

> From:           Carol Gallagher <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
> Date:           Monday, 19 Feb 2001 16:04:02 -0500
> Subject:        Re: SHK 12.0285 Re: Branagh
> I am a high school English teacher in middle America (middle of the
> country, middle income families, middle ability and motivation
> students).  Most of my students intend to go to college; whether they
> can keep the grades to remain there is another discussion.
> I have taught six Shakespearean plays to my classes: +Hamlet+,
> +Macbeth+, +Romeo and Juliet+, +Julius Caesar+, +Much Ado+, and +A
> Comedy of Errors+.  First we read, then we watch.  After all, plays are
> written for watching, and I can't always find a live performance of the
> play I am teaching for a field trip.
> I find Branagh's work to be particularly helpful with my students.  They
> recognize most of the actors from other mainstream films, so it is
> easier for them to keep their characters straight (to them, all Danes
> look alike).  The lavish sets and costumes help snare their attention,
> and the cinematography keeps it.
> Meanwhile, from a scholarly point of view, Branagh cuts precious little
> from the script of +Hamlet+, and nothing we can't live without from
> +Much Ado+.  That helps those students who depend upon a written script
> in front of them to keep up with the action.
> In the end, most of my students walk away from the experience
> appreciating the Old Bard, some liking his work, and a few even loving
> it and looking for more.
> I missed +Henry V+ and +Love's Labors Lost+.  Can anyone tell me where I
> can find them on VHS?  I would also appreciate a good production of
> +Macbeth+.  Polanski's total obsession with gore detracts from the
> story; Orson Welles takes all the good lines for himself, causing
> confusing edits to the script; the BBC production sends my students into
> fits of nervous hysteria with its crotch-grabbing references to sex.
> That's why I was looking forward to see what Branagh would do with this
> material.  As for +A Comedy of Errors+, our copy of the production with
> Roger Daltry playing the two Dromios was so popular among our students
> that it was stolen, and I haven't got $100 in discretionary funds to
> replace it.
> I'm not in a university setting; I'm doing my best to battle the apathy
> of my students to create an academic atmosphere conducive to college
> preparatory education so that when my kids show up in your classrooms,
> they won't come off as rubes.  I'll take any help I can get.
> Carol Gallagher

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