Saturday, 5 September 2015
What accent was Shakespeare written in?
A few weeks ago my younger sister Momo (nickname, don’t ask) and I were just chatting about books.
We both love reading and sometimes when we are talking and enjoying a couple of glasses of Chardonnay (me) or Rosé (her), we come up with odd ideas or questions.
I said to her 'What accent do you think Shakespeare wrote in?'
She just started laughing and said 'What kind of a question is that?'
I explained that, when I write, I go through the words in my head and if it's 'narrative' - I hear my voice and if it's a character, I hear what I think their accent should be. Even when I read other peoples work, I get an idea of what accent I think it's in.
If the book is later adapted into a TV programme or a film and the characters' accents aren't the ones I envisaged when I read it, it can be a bit off-putting for me on first viewing.
Shakespeare came from Stoke on Trent, but lived mainly in London. So would he have written in a 'Stoke on Trent' accent, or a London accent, or a bit of both? Or did they have a ‘Tudor Royal Court’ accent? What do you think?
I know a lot of people adore Sir Lawrence Olivier's Shakespearean performances, but he killed it stone dead for me with his stilted staccato type speech pattern he used, coupled with the automaton movements.
I avoided watching Shakespeare like the plague for quite some years as other actors tried to mimic his performance. I much prefer Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V - a much more natural performance.
Anyway, I meandered off there – (sorry)
Momo and I then played about with this idea and I said that I thought Shakespeare would sound at its most authentic in a Brummie (Birmingham, U.K.) accent. At which point my sister guffawed out loud and nearly spilt her Rosé.
‘What’? She said ‘Don’t be daft – Shakespeare is always done in a very ‘plummy’ British accent’!
‘High time for a revisualisation then’ I laughed back.
One of the most famous lines in Shakespeare, from Macbeth is: 'Is this a dagger I see before me....'
Now think of it being spoken in a Brummie accent. It totally works. I am now convinced that Shakespeare was really a Brummie, and not from Stoke on Trent at all :0).
‘I think the whole of Macbeth should be done in a Birmingham accent – that would be a 'Bostin' idea'! I said.
‘You’re cracked’ she said as she delicately manoeuvred a handful of salted peanuts into her mouth.
Copywrite Kate McClelland 2015