Every Shakespeare performance is an interpretation

One very important thing that Shakespeare Readers come to appreciate is that every performance is only one interpretation of the many possibilities. As we discuss the text and talk about the potential ways of acting it, Readers constantly come up with various meanings and actions and attitudes that could present very different performances.

These rich experiences with the possibilities has led to a pet peeve! How many times have I been told that I should not read Shakespeare, that it is meant to be performed and that is the only way I should experience the plays?! Aarrghh!  This annoys me because when I see it performed, I get is one director's interpretation. And if, for instance, a production of A Winter's Tale only comes to my village once in my lifetime (if at all), that one interpretation is all I will ever know of that rich and complex play. And of course it has also been cut, so that's another way I lose part of the experience.

When I read the play—especially out loud and in community—I get to hold all the potential in my own heart. Then when I watch a performance—because reading it makes me want to see it performed—it can round out or inform my personal connection instead of that interpretation being my only experience.

We always learn something from performance, of course. Have you seen a fabulous performance that enriched your reading of a play, one in which an interpretation gave you new insights into the text? Tell us about it in the comments below!