Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame Is lust in action; and till action, lust Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame, Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust, Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd straight, Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had Past reason hated as a swallowed bait On purpose laid to make the taker mad; Mad in pursuit and in possession so, Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme; A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe; Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream. All this the world well knows; yet none knows well To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
Watching performers, I appreciate quality but I don’t get particularly excited by even exquisite technical excellence. Looks attract, certainly, but interest is quickly lost if there is nothing real going on beyond the performance. I detach emotionally when there is anything conceited or contrived. What holds me is real lived human experience, with all its perfect imperfections; something genuine that has emerged in the moment and surprised even the performer.
I really don’t like listening to or watching any recent performance of mine, even if I am generally pleased with how it turned out. This is weird because I don’t mind after a while, when there is some distance and I have forgotten about the process involved. I suppose the time delay helps me listen/watch as an audience member rather than identifying so firmly as the performer.
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope, With what I most enjoy contented least; Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, (Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate; For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Listened on YouTube to various attempts at turning Shakespeare’s sonnets into songs. I don’t think these straight translations work very well. However Shakespeare is so clever that if you read the lines of his sonnets out of sequence as rhyming couplets (e.g. line 1 then 3 then 2 then 4 etc.) the sonnet usually still works well without losing the meaning. So I picked up a guitar, strummed some rhythms and improvised some vocal melodies to the rejigged lines and it all works great!
It is so important with the poetic flow of Shakespeare that every word means something real to the actor, otherwise the viewer will get lost in the density of content coming at them. Watching performances of Shakespeare, it is so obvious when an actor is merely ploughing through the rhythms in a conventional Shakespearean style, rather than really living the powerful words given to them. Thankfully there are lots of good actors and performances out there – this one I just watched of Sonnet 129 is a good example: https://youtu.be/EEvW5lyWgKQ