Antony and Cleopatra
The Merchant of Venice
Tonight I would like to take the opportunity to advocate a Shakespeare resource that I have found exceedingly valuable in getting through these plays, The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare.
The Arkangel is a collection of unabridged, fully dramatized recordings of all 38 plays in the Shakespeare canon. There are close to 400 actors in the series, most of whom are current or former members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Reading an entire play by Shakespeare has always been difficult for me. It's incredibly easy to be swept away by the poetry and imagery, eventually losing any sense of what's actually happening. In addition, keeping up with the meanings and contexts of some of the more antiquated words and phrases can be quite a task that almost always requires two or three readings of a passage or scene.
However, since I've been listening to the Arkangel recordings and following along with my text, I haven't had nearly as much difficulty as I would with the script alone. The story has actual movement and texture due to the opportunity of listening while reading. I can more easily differentiate the characters; their voices don't get lost in my own. And the language isn't as laborious now that actors are there to give it context. I'm finally able to experience the plays as an audience member rather than a scholar; it's much more satisfying.
I've already gotten through Merchant and am now making my way in Antony. And I've been able to read them in record time. If you have the means and the need I wholeheartedly suggest picking up this series. It's fantastic.