Shake up shakespeare
Shakespeare may have been in love, but it seems not everyone is in love with Shakespeare.
Admittedly I am not one of these people, I thoroughly enjoy learning about Shakespeare and reading or watching performances of his material. So much so in fact one of my most cherished possessions is a book containing his entire works, it was given to me as a present many years ago and remains one of my favourite objects today.
I feel I am pretty much on my own with this however, especially amongst other people of my age. It is seen as rather sad, a bit geeky and an odd thing to be interested in. However from my point of view, I didn't understand how you can't be at least mildly affected by it's impact on society and the English language. Struck with the content of the stories or the actions of the characters featured in his work.
The recent films Shakespeare in love, starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow and Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, were both fairly successful and in my opinion enjoyable. But they didn't seem to envoke any real interest in Shakespeare or any lasting impression of his work.
Why do students run from Shakespeare?
Because Shakespeare's work is written in old English, you can read it a million times and still have no idea what has been said. The English language has changed and evolved so much since William was around that it's practically a foreign language. This makes it extremely difficult to learn and there fore not very appealing.
The youth and society of today love the new, the easy, the convenient and the fast. Shakespearean material is none of these things, it's long, it's old and it's challenging and for most people just a bit too much like hard work.
It's deemed pointless, irrelevant and assumed that nothing can be learnt from it.
There is also the belief that the works of Shakespeare is out dated and has no place in today's modern world. Nothing new can be taken from it and they get the impression it's all be done before. They feel It does not affect them or impact on their life and does not require any thought or attention.
Can Shakespeare be made interesting?
Absolutely! If you can teach Shakespeare in a way that teenagers find enjoyable and you can capture their attention on the subject as early on as possible, they will not only find Shakespearean work interesting but all so exciting.
Make it relevant, find parallels from the material, apply it and compare it to their lifestyle appeal to their train of thought.
Discuss the controversy of the work, engage them in the murders, the plots, the witchcraft and even some aspects of the references to sex.
Be unashamedly passionate about the subject yourself, when they see your enthusiasm they will be more likely to respond to it in a positive way.
Help them to grasp the old English language, break down parts of the text and make them familiar with some of the recurring words or phrases. This will enable them to feel more comfortable with the material.
Most importantly though is to ask them their opinions, let them feel that what they have to say is important and valid. Allow them to ask questions and put forward ideas.
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