Thursday, 1 December 2016

Still waiting!

I had a feeling there would be a bit of a delay. Knights of the End might be out tonight or tomorrow.

Until then, here's a completely original post.

Have you ever had a book or author ruined for you by school? If so, this might be the post for you.

When I was in Elementary school, we performed MacBeth* for our school. Naturally, it wasn't the full play--some speeches were edited, and some lines were trimmed--but we still performed the play. We wore the best costumes we could, used toy swords and cardboard shields, and generally did the best we could.

It went over great. Both the younger kids as well as the older ones loved it. We were just a bunch of goofy kids having fun with a story we really loved.

The group of us went on two perform two more plays into high school (Hamlet, and Romeo & Juliet) before the adults got into a disagreement and we all lost touch with each other. We got better and better, but we stopped before we could really hit a peak. It was a waste, but what are you gonna do? That's life.

But I digress.

MacBeth is one of the best stories ever written. It has war, betrayal, magic, and a hopeful ending that leads to brighter days. That's not usually what I hear when someone brings the story up, but then Shakespeare has been used as a front for all sorts of political and social causes he would realistically have nothing to do with. As a kid, MacBeth was merely an extension of all the things I liked as a boy, and has stuck with my through the years.

I should make it a point that in the years since I have taken some classes on Shakespeare. This extended past high school when my play days were over. He also came up in some random English classes.

But none of them managed to capture what it was that attracted me to the story in the first place.

Studying the language is nice, as is the history (I quite enjoy the Ignatius Critical Editions which do both), but it's the story itself that makes MacBeth so good. A pair of friends come back from war, and are approached by witches who try to make a deal with them. One is tempted by power and glory; the other rejects the offer. Along the way there are murders, ghosts, insanity, and another war. We watch as a once good man loses himself to despair and becomes a monster, while good sprouts from his misdeeds and ends up changing the world. I never attended a class which would rather talk about this aspect of the story, unfortunately.

None of this changes the fact that Shakespeare was a great storyteller. The language is nice, as are the themes embedded in the tales, but let's not lose sight of the fact that his stories have survived the centuries is because he told tales that struck a universal chord for the Average Joe. Action, adventure, fantasy, and intrigue, are all what makes his stories sing.

If you had Shakespeare ruined for you by school, then there's little I can do to convince you. After all, it took me years to get back into reading books because of how I had crap like Catcher in the Rye shoved down my throat. But Shakespeare is different.

Just watch the play. Watch a movie. Read the play (with language notes), and say some lines out loud. MacBeth is one of the best fantasy stories ever told. Don't let education ruin it for you.

"So thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone."

Until next time!


*This was also the same time Gargoyles aired their own MacBeth story. It also rocked. Shakespeare was really mindblowing for me at the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment