Today’s Cool Thing: Original Pronunciation

In America, we are used to hearing Shakespearean text performed in an “unaccented” American dialect, otherwise known as Stage Standard. While most American theatre-makers (Midsommer Flight included) accept this practice and believe the text will be more truthful and resonant if spoken in the actor’s own, un-affected dialect, some Americans do still prefer British Received Pronunciation (aka RP) as the “real” or “correct” way to pronounce Shakespearean text.

But do you know about Original Pronunciation?  In fact, the language pronounced on Elizabethan stages sounded far different from the modern RP we are used to hearing today.  The dialect sounded much closer to some hybrid form of Scottish.  You could even argue, with it’s harder edges and over-pronounced R’s, that OP was closer to a modern American accent than a modern British one. At the very least, it seems safe to say that RP is no more the “right” way to speak this text than American Stage Standard.

In this delightful 10-minute video, a father/son duo demonstrates the differences between RP and OP while standing on the stage of the Globe Theatre in London. Enjoy!

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