Students Experience Shakespeare Through Music

Erin O'Brien, Reporter

Shakespeare came to life in Lemmond Theatre Sept. 6.

Students enjoyed songs from plays like “Twelfth Night,” “Henry V,” “As You Like It,” “Hamlet,” “The Merry Lives of Windsor,” and others  performed in the way they would have been in the time period.

Dr. Rebecca Steinberger, who is  teaching a Shakespeare class this semester, thought the music brought life to Shakespeare.

“What an opportunity for the campus community,” she said, “but also the students to hear songs from Shakespeare’s plays— for my students to be able to hear that, the songs, and how they were in that time.”

Steinberger added that it was uncommon experience.

“It was everything I could have hoped for and more! We haven’t really had that kind of opportunity to hear music from the early modern period.”

CDs were available at the end of the concert to take Shakespeare home.

Steinberger said students could better understand and communicate with their peers about Shakespeare’s works and also find a deeper approval and interest in not only their education but the works.

“For them to actually be there and hear them perform it,” Dr. Steinberger said, “with instruments that you wouldn’t see like a lute, or a flute from the renaissance time period, it’s so amazing! Everything was perfect!”

“I think what helped it is that the performers sounded accurate to Shakespeare’s time period. It definitely gave me a new perspective on Shakespeare,” said Zoe LaPorte,  English and mass communications and design major.

This event was free for any student or faculty member to attend, enabling the campus community to “get a glimpse of the culture,” Dr. Steinberger added.

LaPorte originally attended the event to take photographs, but she said she learned as a result of the performances.

“Their music was really cool to listen to and the artists were really interested in performing the music for the audience.”

Although students in the current era are far removed from Shakespeare’s time,  they can still relate to, and be inspired by, not only his plays but the various themes in the songs.

“What drives you to music, or a group, or a song?”  Steinberger questioned. “It’s the same thing, for the same reasons.”

She said that finding something that inspires someone while also intriguing their interests may be challenging, but even the most famous of composers and writers have the same views and visions. That can help any aspiring student feel motivated and encouraged, even if old English is not their taste.

“Shakespeare, and older music, seems scary to the twenty-first century student, or anything twenty-first century for that matter, but it seems as they do not understand. But when you look at the play, or some of the song lyrics and really study them, you can think, ‘wow this isn’t really difficult to comprehend’ because it relates, and it’s a touch of humanity written in the 1600’s.”

Steinberger want Shakespeare to be accessible to everyone and to not seem scary and intimidating.

“I think music plays a giant role in many people’s lives, so getting to see that music was also a big part in people’s lives during Shakespeare’s time is really cool to see. Obviously their music is a little different than ours, but it was still fun to listen to,” LaPorte said.

LaPorte added that lived experience is the key to appreciation.

“The music brings Shakespeare’s plays to life. We can read [plays] whenever, but getting to experience them accurately with music is like a whole new world. It was just a really cool experience.”