Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Log: Shakespeare's The Tempest

We read The Tempest over the Christmas holidays. It was a lot of fun. I've read it before - a couple of times, in fact, since I wrote a high school final on it - but Shakespeare can usually stand a reread. A bunch of the fun, though, was due to that pronoun at the beginning of the post: we read the play as a family, assigning parts as we went along and mostly avoiding having to converse with ourselves. (In fact, the only case where that happened was where we'd tried to assign parts at the beginning rather than on-the-fly.)

Two of us are somewhat inclined towards Shakespeare nerdery, had read the play before, expected to thoroughly enjoy it with the added bonus of fun family times and certainly did. Two of us are somewhat inclined towards general nerdery, don't generally read Shakespeare for fun, while approving of it in principle and enjoyed it enough to be keen to do it again (sadly we ran out of time - maybe next holidays, since it does take several hours to get through). Two of us are somewhat inclined to general nerdery, but seemed slightly surprised at how understandable the bard could actually be and enjoyed it enough to think it'd be nice to read one/some of the other famous plays. I think the first two of us found this somewhat satisfying. In general, a good time was had by all.

This was definitely a case where ereading devices were awesomely useful. Everybody had their own copy of the play, downloaded (for free!) from Project Gutenberg or Many Books or other ebook source of choice. (Some of us paid to get notes at the back, but I'm not sure how much those were used.) This was mostly on Android apps, but also a Kindle and a lone hard copy. It could probably be got to work using laptops too, although mobile devices are really convenient. This was way more effective than times we've tried to share hard copies, although there were a few educational moments when we discovered that different editions of the play may attribute the same lines to different people, so everybody is waiting for someone else to speak! I think it'd be worth trying to get the same edition across the board if we do it again, but the mix-ups were not the end of the world.

The play, of course, was good. The acting was frabjous. The entire exercise was loads of fun, less effort than slogging through reading it oneself and more doable than going to see a live performance in several dimensions (although I still want to do that, one day). I'd certainly like to do it again; and if you can find a handful of people willing to read Shakespeare out loud, I think you should do it too.

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