Signing Shakespeare, and Other Language News | Rhapsody of Words

By July 16, 2014 No Comments

How much of Shakespeare lives in our bodies and how much in our minds? If someone could not hear the words Shakespeare wrote in a production, would they still be experiencing his play? These are some questions raised by this week’s news.

A community theater in Rochester, NY is putting on a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream both with Shakespeare’s lines and in American Sign Language. The Democrat and Chronicle covers the story looking into the concept and director’s hopes for the production. As the Rochester Shakespeare Players are a community ensemble, they do their work with a lot of love, and a strong sense of camaraderie. As Jeffery Jones, one of the voiced actors says, “We all have this love of theater and it’s amazing to see how easy it is to communicate because we are using our bodies. While there are definite challenges, it’s been a humbling experience for me as an actor, thinking of ways to communicate the story through movement.” This sort of performing for both hearing and deaf audiences is not uncommon in Rochester (as the home to a large school for the deaf, and many individuals with impaired hearing) but it is unusual with a full production of Shakespeare.

Other items of interest from this week in language news:

  • Portland Shakespeare Project’s production of The Tempest stars Linda Alper as Prospera, not Prospero. What does that mean for Shakespeare’s language about gender in this play? How much might Julie Taymor’s film influence other productions like this one?
  • Ohio State University is also about to present some of The Tempest as part of their innovative Shakespeare and Autism program. This project is still underway and the researchers are eager to see what sort of results can come from adapting Shakespeare to “engage and edify people who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.”
  • Some researchers cause quite a stir by accusing Shakespeare of generating modern insecurity about skin blemishes because of his harsh condemnation of skin faults. Michael Dobson of the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute thinks it is all ridiculous.

That’s all for this week! If there is news about language you’d like to see included, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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