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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Happy birthday, William Shakespeare! What is your favorite performance you've seen on stage or screen of any of Shakespeare's plays?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25799 points ) April 23rd, 2014

Today marks the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, the greatest writer the English language has ever known.

I’ve acted in eleven of his plays. My favorite production I participated in was possibly Hamlet in 2008 for Hilo Community Players’ Annual Shakespeare in the Park. I was King Claudius, and I was booed during curtain calls. I was a nasty villain. That production had solid elements for all areas.

I live in a rain forest, so it rains at some point during each performance. The actors and the audience all get wet. People here live with rain year round, so we’re used to getting wet. The wettest year was when we did The Taming of the Shrew in 2009 when I played Hortensio, which was possibly my most fully realized character. That year it rained so hard so many nights I was wet to my underwear. It was a rough year for rain.

This year I am directing Antony and Cleopatra, and we will have only six actors of both genders playing all 28 roles. It will be a fun experience. Auditions are next week.

I don’t know if I have a favorite performance I’ve seen, but I do have a most memorable. I saw Hamlet performed in a church attic in Chicago once. The small audience sat in a circle of chairs, and the actors entered and exited the circle to perform. There were no props or scenery. It was the actors, the costumes, and the words. Oh the glorious words!

Which performance on stage or screen of one of his plays was your favorite or the most memorable?

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25 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Jude Law as Hamlet, just a couple years ago.

downtide's avatar

I’ve seen quite a few Shakespeare performances live on stage and I love them. Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet. My favourite was The Tempest. Caliban’s “Be not afeared” speech is just beautiful.

I saw The Taming of the Shrew in his home town of Stratford-upon Avon, by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Midsummer Nights Dream was at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, which is a “theatre in the round” with the stage in the middle and the audience all round it. Ariel delivered most of his lines from above the audience, swinging like a monkey in the lighting rigs. That one was a lot of fun.

canidmajor's avatar

I saw a stunning production of the Scottish Play at a regional theater in the west about 20 years ago that took my breath away. On screen, I have to say that the two most recent renditions of Much Ado had me chortling with delight. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson were so well versed in the nuance of the language and story that they made me forget it wasn’t a stage show. And Joss Whedon’s take on it, with his tongue in his cheek and vague overtones of The Lost Weekend had me snorting.
An Othello in Connecticut when I was 14 made me cry.
Too hard to pick just one!

gailcalled's avatar

Midsummer Night’s Dream during the summer, in Edith Wharton’s backyard, in Lenox, MA.

The mechanicals drove up through the white pines in a pick-up truck. The fairies hung out in real tree branches and we all sat on folding chairs on the lawn. No performances if it rains, however.

I also loved a performance of The Tempest in the new Shakespeare and Company Theater also in Lenox, in a new building. It is three stories high and designed specifically to encorporate the actors using all three stories, ladders, scaffolding and various ropes and hanging rigs, and eagles’ aeries at the top of the theater.

Judi's avatar

I was a little girl when the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet was on the big screen. Although I was a bit traumatized by the nude scene, (hey, I was 7 years old!) the movie had an impact on me and I’ve loved the Bard ever since.
I am so happy that now live i Ashland, OR home of The Oregon Shakspare Festival.

laineybug's avatar

Well I haven’t seen many yet but I have to say out of the ones I have seen my favorite is definitely the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet. It keeps almost everything the same except the time period, which makes is what makes it hilarious.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I haven’t see Shakespeare performed, but my favorite is Taming of the Shrew. Hilarious!

Coloma's avatar

What? No body likes Gilligans performance? haha

Lightlyseared's avatar

Twelfth Night with John Lithgow as Malvolio at Stratford stands out. It was while they were rebuilding their main theatre.

wildpotato's avatar

Movies: Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, which is an adaptation of MacBeth. Toshiro Mifune, who fans of Seven Samurai will recognize as Kikuchio, stars as the MacBeth character. Remember how intense he is, with the eyebrows? Yeah.

Also, Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus with Anthony Hopkins as Titus. Taymor gives the play just the right bleak feel, and that scene with them all at the crossroads gives me the chills every time.

Live plays: Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet, both at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Shrew was really special – in addition to the considerable skill of the actors, they and the audience “clicked” in a way I’ve never seen before or since. Especially when he starts really messing with Kate: I particularly remember when Petruchio stepped onto the stage in his outrageous wedding costume, the entire audience literally roared with laughter. It was plain the actor loved the response and took an extra moment to give us all a long haughty look, which got everyone rolling again. That is one damn funny play.

The RJ production was pretty good but straightforward until the scene in the crypt, when Juliet, instead of stabbing herself, reached into her bodice and tore out her own heart! Afterwards the actors came out and did an audience interview and explained, and this is what happened: the actor playing Romeo forgot to bring out the knife (remember, Juliet takes his knife to kill herself). As he wept over Juliet he whispered to her that he forgot the knife. So when it came to the stabbing all she could think to do was to reach in and tear her blood pack. We were all pretty shocked at the extra brutality of the scene in real time, and then impressed by the actress’ quick thinking when they explained everything afterwards.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ Go to one of the Shakespeare & Co.‘s productions in Lenox this summer, for a treat. Also the dance at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket.

Juels's avatar

The obvious choice for me; Romeo and Juliet. I prefer the 1968 version with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. My mother chose my name because of this movie.

Pachy's avatar

Ian McKellen as Richard III in the 1995 movie version. And Lawrence Olivier in the same role in the 1995 version. Two. Great actors playing the same great character.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ Do you mean the 1955 film for Olivier?

28lorelei's avatar

This isn’t the first play I’ve seen, but it was the most memorable- I saw Troilus and Cressida at the Globe a couple years back in the summer. The weather was nice- we were lucky (yay! Granted, it was summer). Anyway, it was an amazing experience!

linguaphile's avatar

I’ve performed and directed in a few Shakespeare plays. I most enjoyed performing Emilia in Othello while in college. I was extremely disappointed not to be cast as Desdemona because I wanted more lines, but my director told me (and this has stayed with me all this time), “It is harder to be on stage and act without lines than it is to act with lines.” I won the Irene Ryan Award for this role and was nominated for an American College Theater Festival spot.

The play I enjoyed directing the most was Romeo and Juliet—I translated it into American Sign Language then taught the translation to my actors. I didn’t have enough actors so some students doubled up—the best double-up was by the boy who did Capulet and Friar. He did amazingly well, became a fan of Shakespeare, and later went on to become a professional actor in DC where he works with the Faction of Fools and No Rules theater companies.

I love so many Shakespeare movies… if I had to pick one… it would be Much Ado about Nothing with Emma and Kenneth. Love, love their chemistry!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@linguaphile Your college director was right. It’s much harder to act when you have no lines.

filmfann's avatar

Mad Mel Gibson as Hamlet.

JLeslie's avatar

In 8th grade my English teacher showed the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. I was shocked that I enjoyed the movie. It was pivotal in my appreciation of Shakespeare. I still love it.

Pachy's avatar

I love Othello. Check out Orson Welles’ 1952 film version.

gailcalled's avatar

^^ His pancake black-face is unsettling in the close-ups, but it is fun to listen to.

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