Shakespeare in the Original Voice

This fall, Paul Meier, a theatre professor at the University of Kansas, is working with students to stage the first-ever American rendition of a Shakespeare play – A Midsummer Night's Dream – in its original pronunciation. As The History Blog writes, there have only been "three other productions of original pronunciation (OP) Shakespeare before this one, 2 at The Globe theater in London, and 1 at Cambridge in the 1950s." But this difficult project became possible when Meier and his students started working with David Crystal, a linguistics scholar who wrote Pronouncing Shakespeare (Cambridge University Press) in 2005. Prior to the KU production, Crystal consulted on a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe theatre on London’s South Bank (mentioned above), and you can listen to audio clips taken from that English performance right here.

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  • Huh. I would’ve thought it sounded more…different. This just sounds slightly Scots to me untrainehd ere :) Well, the Great Vowel Shift had already begun long before Shakespeare was born.

    I hope they do Chaucer next :-)

  • Mark says:

    Hmm, a bit West Country if you ask me. Devon/Cornwall/Somerset way, maybe with a hint of northern (Lancashire Yorkshire) in the shortened vowels.

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