Shakespeare and I have a very interesting relationship. I want to speak all his words from memory, and he’s okay with that. The problem is, I don’t want to speak them in order, necessarily.
I didn’t get to spend as much time with Shakespeare as I wanted during high school, or during acting school. There was too much ‘other stuff’ going on for me to get what I really wanted from the words. What did I want?
Look at his verse. Iambic pentameter. They say it flows easily and sounds so right to the ear because it matches the rhythm of our heartbeat. It also, in my mind, flows easily and sounds right because it matches the rhythm of our hearts and minds. I’ve felt the jealousy Hamlet feels because someone’s stealing his mother. I’ve felt the need to test a man’s love the way Cleopatra does out of insecurity. I’ve felt the joy of freedom that Rosalind experiences in Arden, and I’ve felt like mouse to the ‘black lady’s’ cat in the sonnets.
And that’s where my connecting stops, because I’ve reached the subject of my new project. The sonnets. Shakespeare wrote one hundred and fifty four pieces of poetry outside his plays that flowed as a story without necessarily meaning to. I’m not sure, I’d have to ask him. The way I see them, they’re a stream of consciousness. A perfect stream of consciousness.
I would like to state here and now that I’m not an academic. I haven’t done nearly enough research on Shakespeare beyond what I know from school. I’m intrigued NOW, so I’m going to say things that are probably point blank wrong.
Feel free to correct me, if this is the case.
What Shakespeare managed to do, or seems to have managed to do is write the equivalent to haiku about his life. I use haiku, because I believe it’s the purest form of poetry. To write a good haiku, you have to really examine the subject of interest and distill your thoughts into 17 syllables. Shakespeare’s poetry is more expanded, but every single word lives in its own right, and has to be understood in its fullest to even begin to see where his thoughts were when he wrote them.
Having just written that, I’ve just realized how big a project I’ve decided to undertake.
I want to understand the sonnets. I also want to redefine them into another story. The sonnets are a mixture of (almost entirely 14) iambic pentametric lines. If they can make one story, in theory, they should be able to make another.
Imagine, for instance, if rearranged line by line, they could show you the way ‘the young man’ and ‘the dark lady’ thought about Will himself? Or another story entirely?
I don’t know if anyone else has thought to do this. I don’t know if anyone else is crazy enough to consider it. Or is willing to devote the time to something that could yield nothing but an understanding of language.
But. It’s that but. Is it not worth devoting the time to these miniature masterpieces simply for the purpose of exploration? I have three months that I have no projects outside of my own control (i.e. performing in someone else’s media). Why not spend that time playing?
Maybe I’ll find a new Shakespearean work.
The Shakespeare Code.
Or some such.
It’s a chance to marry contemporary thought with elizabethan words that I will have much fun playing with.
Wish me luck.
You may not see or hear from me for three months.