Like my friend Maclay, who pointed this article out to me, I can geek out a bit over the minutia of studying Shakespearian text.  I’ve run the gamut from paying no attention to “the rules” to being slavish to them.  For those of you who don’t know “the rules, ” Mr. Freeman give a most enjoyable summing up of them.


First Folio – A lecture


Listen up you maggots. I am here to set the record straight about Shakespeare, who was NOT the Earl of Oxford, thank you very much, but was also in total command of every single word, phrase, loose end and capital letter he placed in every word on every page of everything he ever wrote. He was not simply a genius, as we all accept, but he was correct and perfect in all things, and the only way to strive towards perfection is to attempt to find the messages he clearly sent in every syllable, and obey them, like slaves to a terrible and immortal master.

Each one of you, who has come here today, has come because you are unworthy to lick the fading ink from the bottom of Shakespeare’s shoes. You have tried to direct productions of Hamlet set in 1920s Vermont, recast King Lear’s Fool as a pack of wild dogs with tape recorders on their backs, performed Julius Caesar with a Kindergarten class, and rewrote and recut Much Ado About Nothing so it could be done effectively in sign language. You are tired of trying to climb the great wall of William armed only with your own lesser impulses. You’ve come to find out what the writer truly wrote, because after years of a sub-par liberal arts education, you are completely unable to read.

I will provide you with the facts. The only true facts. And before we break up into groups and cry and pound out iams with drums, I would like to give you a quick list of the rules we will follow at all times. Are you ready? I know you are: