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Actors too reverent with Shakespeare, says Mark Rylance

Published 21/11/2015

Mark Rylance said he believes young people in 'less advantaged' communities had a better emotional understanding of Shakespeare
Mark Rylance said he believes young people in 'less advantaged' communities had a better emotional understanding of Shakespeare

William Shakespeare's language should not be intellectually revered and his words are being delivered too slowly, according to Mark Rylance.

Shakespeare intended his plays to be delivered with fast-paced emotion and slowing them down is the same as taking away the speed from today's rap music, the actor told the Daily Telegraph.

Rylance said the playwright never wanted his works to be studied word-by-word and added that analysing it on paper has the same effect as reading Rolling Stones music as poetry.

He said: "If I have a general criticism, which is true of my Shakespeare acting and most Shakespeare acting I hear, is that it is too slow.

"It's too reverent. It is like taking a rap song in 400 years from now, that we think is really wonderful, and deciding it should be said slowly so all the lovers of rap can hear every word.

"To take a song like Honky Tonk Woman and study it for its literature is fair enough, but if you are going to revere it as literature you are doing a disservice to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who would like it to be revered as a great rock'n'roll song.

"That is what I have always felt about Shakespeare. By all means revere him and love him, but revere him in the way he would want to be revered - as a playwright."

Rylance, who is working with a group of young actors at the Intermission Youth Theatre, said he believes young people in "less advantaged" communities had a better emotional understanding of Shakespeare.

In February, Rylance said he has had to cut out parts of Shakespeare's plays because they are anti-semitic.

"I have to make the decision," he said, "do I include that or not? There are some very unfortunate anti-semitic things that characters say."

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