My Reasons

Do you understand Shakespeare?

Shakespearean language is difficult and leads to much misunderstanding. You may well know that “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” does not mean, “Where are you, Romeo?” but, “Why are you called Romeo?” But, do you know what these words that are no longer in use mean – a “day-woman” (“dairy maid”), “kern” (“Irish foot-soldier”) and “kecksy” (“hemlock”)? And do you know what these words meant then and now – “kindly” (“natural”), “voice” (“approval”) and “calculate” (“prophesy”). There are literally hundreds of such words – never mind phrases and grammatical constructions – indeed, so many that most of Shakespeare’s lines no longer mean what they seem to mean, have words in them that are no longer used or are not immediately comprehensible. Whilst this may be satisfactory if you are an Elizabethan scholar or are reading a good annotated version but it is insufficient if you are watching a production, if English is your second language or if you are a young English student. You miss more than you get – the jokes, the by-play, the sub-plots and so on.
Because of the above, I have spent a good number of years re-working Shakespeare’s plays in more modern (but not slang) English whilst retaining the rhythm and poetry of the original. I have done this so that his plays:
· are immediately accessible to any modern audience and, in particular, young people, those from different cultural and/or educational backgrounds, people with English as a second or other language and those whose first experiences of Shakespeare were, for whatever reason, negative ones;
· may be set in almost any place and at almost any time without the dissonant factors that may have an effect when the originals are set in more modern times and other places than those for which they were written;
· that the moral and social attitudes of Shakespeare’s day do not provide overt and blatant negative stereotypes or incitement to hatred of racial groups, women or others, avoiding, at the same time, rigid political correctness.

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