Essay by egkan69 February 2003

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That there are many difficulties in the way of presenting Shakespeare is a fact, I think, that no one will deny. Not that Shakespeare on the stage does not interest the public, but rather that those who know and love the works of the great bard so seldom see his immortal dramas presented in accordance with their own ideals. They are often disappointed because the stage characters do not altogether represent the ones they have pictured as the result of their own study or the perusal of the writings of the countless commentators who have devoted years to analyzing the works of the greatest of dramatists; just as many persons prefer a book that is not illustrated because the artist's conception of the characters is sure to differ materially from the mental pictures, vague at first, but which develop as the story unfolds until they become so real as to cause a discordant note when confronted by scenes and faces differing so widely from the ones they have created.

Not only does the critic and the thoughtful theater-goer take his seat on a Shakespearean first night with his own impressions of the play and characters before him; but he remembers, also, other performances he has seen, and still others of which he has read. Contrast the difference in the possibilities of success that confront the woman who attempts Juliet, Portia or Ophelia, with three hundred years of comparison and tradition to contend against, as compared with those of one who appears before the same critics and the same audience in a play that is unknown, and in a character that can not excite comparison because her interpretation is the only one.

Another unequal chance is found in the fact that while the modern play is written with the...