We’ve asked the question here before about when you “got” Shakespeare. Liz at Blogging Shakespeare puts a more specific spin on the question when she asks what production did you see that made you “get” it? With examples from Hamlet, Much Ado and Julius Caesar, Liz cites from her own experience. Bonus points for acknowledging that she’s not yet seen her defining Lear, and until then, “King Lear is a story about a stupid old man who makes a stupid mistake and gets his comeuppance.”
I’m not sure I have my own story to add, however. I think that this is one of those lines that divides the world of Shakespeare fandom a bit. Some people, particularly those that are in the business, will have the desire and opportunity to seek out many productions. More casual theatre goers, like myself, will see far less. My wife came with me to see King Lear once. It wasn’t a good production. But if King Lear came around every year, it’s not like I could drag her to it every time. But unless somebody’s paying for the privilege I can’t go off on my own and see every production that comes to town, either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen my share. Seen a number of Midsummers’, Tempests and Hamlets in particular. But for the most part I switch over to movies, which I have a better shot at watching in my down time, carrying around Richard Burton or Ian McKellan on my ipod. For those live productions that I have seen? I can’t say that any are really “get it” moments. I leave that for the text. I try to learn something new from every production I see, certainly. But I don’t think I’ve yet seen one that I’d call defining in any way.