Thursday, April 4, 2013

What Was He Thinking?

By Misty Harris

Until this very day, my mother can recite the verse from Shakespeare's Macbeth she was assigned to Hamlet, one of his most famous soliloquies. But what else do you remember? For me "Out, Out Damned Spot" (Macbeth) and "Romeo Romeo wherefore art Thou Romeo?" (Romeo & Juliet) remain prevalent in my memory as well. Every year in high school, the English department required us to tackle Shakespeare beginning with the "star-crossed lovers" Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth sophomore year, Hamlet in junior year and I think Julius Caesar, the Tempest or Othello senior year. They were for me at the time very difficult to get through, not because I didn't enjoy them, but because we were required to decipher what Shakespeare meant when he wrote these plays. Our task was to find the hidden meaning behind his soliloquies, dissecting his plays (which kind of took the fun out of reading them) and memorize in front of her high school English class. I'm embarrassed to say I cannot remember mine. Yes, we all remember  "To Be or Not To Be, That is the Question."

It’s been years since I picked up a Shakespeare play and read it (the closest I have come is watching Shakespeare in love with Gwyneth Paltrow). But I love them all the same. Are you a lover of Shakespeare soliloquies, sonnets, etc.? Have you baffled an audience or wooed someone by reciting one? Have you taken any classes on Shakespeare? Do you sit up at night wondering what he was thinking when he wrote them?  If you answered yes to at least one of the above there's a PBS program for you! Shakespeare Uncovered premieres Sunday evening at 10 p.m. on WNED-TV. It follows several stage and screen actors (Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons and Joely Richardson, to name a few) in their quest to master the art of playing a Shakespeare character. It features historians, professors and others who have studied Shakespeare in a way that none of us have. The series grabs a hold of the psyche of one of history's most endearing playwrights and attempts to answer the question "what was he thinking?" Let us know what you think!

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