Sunday, November 28, 2010

So, What Play Should I Tackle Next?

Although it's technically true that I've read all the plays (a long time ago I built an educational database of questions about the plays), I wouldn't begin to say that I'm comfortable discussing many of them. So, I thought I'd change that. I was going to save this for the new year, but what the heck, why not start early.

What play should I focus my attention on next? I'll let you define that as you want, keeping something very important in mind - if I start looking at it, I'm probably going to post about it a lot. So you could steer me toward the play you'd like to discuss more. Or you could steer me away from one you don't particularly like.

I won't call this a "play of the month" reading club or anything like that. This is for me. And, by extension, you people :). But it has no particular structure and I don't promise to read all the plays this way.

To keep the voting from spreading too thin, let's limit it to the following set. Sorry if I don't pick your favorite right off the bat, but if it turns out to be a fun project maybe we'll do it more: All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Merry Wives of Windsor, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Richard III.

How's that for variety?


Alexi said...

Nice variety of options.

I vote Coriolanus. It's my favorite out of the choices (with the exception of Richard III, which gets talked about a lot anyway) plus there's a big movie adaptation coming up, so that should spur some discussion.

Duane said...

Thanks Alexi - the movie is kinda why I decided to include it. Although I suppose on the flip side, we're going to be talking a lot about that one whether I read it or not?

Andrew Huntley said...

I'm actually going to vote Richard III on it. It also opens up a lot of discussion on its' relationship to the rest of the history cycle.

Rosie said...

Timon of Athens. Definitely worth a read :).

catkins said...

My vote is for Measure for Measure. I think it is underrated and misunderstood.
Coriolanus and Timon could make for interesting discussions, too, though.

Cass said...

Two Gents! And not just because of my pet obsession -- that play is so severely underrated. I don't know why it's the bastard stepchild of the comedies when there's so much good stuff in there -- cross-dressing heroine, feisty and fiery heroine, witty banter, some nice rhetoric... And then (as I thesis-ed), the play has some really intelligent to say about the complex dynamics of friendship and romance, and it provides a lovely (if slightly ineptly handled by a young writer) satirical commentary on the "bros before hos" theory of prioritizing relationships.

Measure would also be a good choice, though. And you could come to the ASC in the spring to see our touring company's production of it. ;)

Duane said...

Looks like I did indeed pick a good variety, as the first 5 guesses nominate 5 different plays! ;) If somebody comes in with love for Merry Wives or All's Well, we'll have a complete set. Ironic, really, as it was a reference to All's Well that made me think of this post in the first place :)!

If I count everybody's second choice as a vote, I think that 4 out of 5 end up with two votes each as well (Two Gents being catkins' new entry that nobody's had a chance to second yet).

Janefan said...

I agree that Measure for Measure is underrated but really worthwhile!

catkins said...

All's Well is definitely worth a second read. Theater for A New Audience did a wonderful production a few years ago in NYC. But Bertram is such a creep through most of the play, it is hard to believe the title!

Note the lack of votes for Merry Wives. I personally believe this was Shakespeare's throwaway play. My theory is that he was asked to write another play with Falstaff in it, and he used the opportunity to make him a buffoon because he was not happy with the character's popularity. I think Shakespeare expected Falstaff's underhandedness in the Henriads to outweigh his charm and make him laughed at more than laughed with (more like Dogberry). At any rate, it seems to me to be a rather weak play.

Ed said...

I'll just be a devil's advocate for MWW, but not because you should read it instead of any of these others.

It's not much of a play to read, but it's a hoot to be in, to direct, or to see. More female roles than usual, too, which makes it great to put on in high school.

You might be surprised to see how high it ranks on the lists of most produced Shakespeare plays.

True, the Falstaff here is not the Falstaff of the Henriad, but virtually every role is juicy, the humor is surefire, and there are hints of greater plays scattered throughout, not the least of which is Master Ford's Othellian jealousy.

It may qualify as a throwaway for Shakespeare, but we should all be so talented as to have MWW as our throwaway play.

Any of the others will be well worth the reading, though.