Time for fusty old Bard to exit stage

Here’s a column from Rosemary McLeod on the removal of the Shakespeare paper at Level 3. She believes that the ordinary people who used to flock to theatres to see Shakespeare’s plays can now suck lollies at home while watching Shortland Street.

I won’t be wailing about the loss of Shakespeare from the school curriculum. I wouldn’t be that precious.

Controversy has flared again with news that a level 3 English test expecting pupils to respond critically to a Shakespearean drama could be terminated next year. The test is already optional, pupils have been choosing easier options anyway, and I don’t blame them.

Fashion in everything changes: yesterday’s hot novelist is already yesterday’s news. I doubt anyone much reads Dickens, the Bronte sisters, or George Eliot, once compulsory reading, any more, and Jane Austen probably only gets read because they keep making cheesy costume dramas out of her wry novels.

I took a Shakespeare course at university years ago, and I’ve done my share of dissecting old faves such as Hamlet and King Lear. It was fun at the time, but to this day I couldn’t really tell you what Hamlet is about, or why it remains up there in the canon of high literary taste. There are some terrific speeches, but there are always less-than-terrific puns and word games in Shakespeare that delighted live audiences when theatre-going was the main entertainment going, but bore the pants off you today.

Read the rest here.



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