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On cults and clouds.

I'm glad somebody finally took the time to underscore the real reason Shakespeare's plays are performed to so many half-empty houses in this country--the Cult of Arrogance that insists on believing that people who don't understand the local Shakespeare production are dimwitted and lazy, or obviously uneducated, or that they don't understand it due to poor acting (even though no amount of good acting can clear up the antiquated language well enough to ensure that all of Shakespeare's essential nuances are clear). By all means we need translations of Shakespeare that are true to the author's meter and sense of wordplays but are also written in a language that a modern reader can appreciate without checking the annotations every other word.

A cloud of highfalutin nonsense surrounds Shakespeare in our schools and in many of our theatre companies--a pomposity that insists that Shakespeare's legacy must be guarded like some kind of secular Holy Grail. That facts are:

Shakespeare wasn't good all the time. Why can't we say this? I don't think I've ever heard a teacher even allude to the possibility that some of Shakespeare's plays really don't need to be read or performed again (Cymbeline comes to mind).

Many sections of Shakespeare's plays are not only bogged down in antiquated language but are just utter nonsense. Case in point: almost everything Pistol says in Henry V.

Shakespeare's plays are loaded with dirty words and obscene references. Debunk the myth--Shakespeare had a penis, too!

None of Shakespeare's plays come down to us exactly as he wrote them. Why are they revered in exactly the form we find them?

David DelBianco


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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Delbianco, David
Publication:American Theatre
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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