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Approaching Shakespeare

This year’s JASP theme is Jane Austen and Shakespeare and while many of you seasoned readers out there may already be Shakespeare scholars, some of you may not. So while you brush up your Shakespeare and prepare to start quoting him now, we have compiled a few hot tips and tricks to help you get started.

William Shakespeare Statue in Budapest, Hungary (Wikicommons)

Number 1: Don’t be scared

Too many potential fans of Shakespeare get intimidated before they even start trying. Yes, he is writing in a style that may seem foreign to modern audiences/readers but it is still English. Keep a sheet of paper to write down any words that might get confusing so you can look them up later and not lose the flow of the words. Shakespeare even made up some words and phrases which have found their way into our everyday language and you may find yourself surprised at how many words are familiar and how many themes are still relevant!

Number 2: Read it aloud

Shakespeare is meant to be performed aloud. A large part of what makes his work so wonderful is the rhythm of his language which might not always sound as strongly in the voices in our heads. In reading it aloud, take your time to really picture the imagery in your mind and it will help to bring his words to life.

Number 3: Watch someone else reading/performing it

Your high school teacher wasn’t slacking off by popping in Leonardo DiCaprio! Seeing and hearing the language in action can help clarify some parts that might feel confusing and following along with the text as you watch can really deepen your understanding.

Number : Have fun!

They are called plays for a reason and you get to play with them. Coordinate a zoom party with your friends to read together and dress up in a costume. Get your toys out of the attic and have them act it out. Make your own puppets. There are so many ways to make Shakespeare your own, you really cannot go wrong. If you take any pictures, please share them with us on social media!

A special thank you to Rebecca Blum (whose credits include acting and directing Shakespearean plays as well as her work as a Nickel Shakespeare Girl) for helping us with this list.


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