Another piece of my ignorance discovered
By chance I stumbled on a Wikipedia article about Allah Jang Palsoe, an Indonesian stage play, dating from 1919, by Kwee Tek Hoay. The title translates as False God and is about two brothers who discover that money does not bring happiness.
Despite the fact that the original idea came from a short story by E. Phillips Oppenheim, a westerner, it is a truly Indonesian work and is still sometimes performed.
Reading the article I realised I know practically nothing about Indonesian theatre, or other literature. I have heard of the puppet theatre and have even seen extracts on TV, but that’s the extent of my knowledge. I strongly suspect that Indonesians know much more about our theatre than we do about theirs: they may even read Shakespeare in school.
My ignorance probably extends to numerous theatrical traditions, and it seems such a pity to miss so much. Another topic to add to my ‘to be googled’ list.
Shakespeare as he really sounded
I’ve just read the news that The British Library is releasing a CD with excerpts from The Bard’s poems and plays in the original pronunciation. Apparently this is the first commercially available recording of Shakespeare as he really sounded.
Over the years there has been a lot of research and I suppose scholars are getting closer and closer to the true voice of the time. The article on the British Library website doesn’t mention how the research is done.
Years ago I attended a live reading of what was supposed to be Shakespearean pronunciation. It sounded odd but was understandable. The way the plays sound has undoubtedly changed several times over the centuries – what seems odd today may be common tomorrow.
We already have ‘authentic’ performances of old music. Perhaps in the future there’ll be a movement towards ‘authentic speech’ productions of plays.
I am definitely going to buy the CD (available from the British Library Shop); I’m a sucker for any unusual literary items.
The picture is a public domain one from Wikimedia Commons.