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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Did Shake­speare Real­ly Look Like

Shake­speare Free on the iPhone

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Comments (2)
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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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