What Did Shakespeare Sound Like?

When most people imagine how Shakespeare sounded, they probably think of Laurence Olivier's British-accented performance in Hamlet or Marlon Brando's crisp, trilling delivery of Mark Antony's funeral speech in Julius Caesar. But University of Kansas professor Paul Meier—who's staging a version of Midsummer Night's Dream in the original Shakespearean pronunciation—says English in the Bard's day was much more informal and much closer to American English than these performances suggest:

Meier is staging Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in November, and it will be the first time in North America that a Shakespeare production is being performed entirely in the original pronunciation.

...

"American audiences will hear an accent and style surprisingly like their own in its informality and strong r-colored vowels," Meier said. "The original pronunciation performance strongly contrasts with the notions of precise and polished delivery created by John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and their colleagues from the 20th century British theater."

Here's a trailer for the show, which offers a taste of how the production will sound:



Read the full story at PhysOrg. [via Kottke]

Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's outrageous what's on TV. It looks like that man is in charge of the country."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Entertainment

Just In