As a long-term SSi-er but hardly-ever forum user, I find myself with an odd question to ask…
In my job as a Shakespeare scholar, and I find myself writing about a scene in Henry IV, Part 1 in which Welsh is spoken. As I’m sure many of you know, Shakespeare didn’t script the Welsh himself - rather, the stage directions say things like 'Here the Lady speaks in Welsh.
I would very much like to know people’s reactions to one version of this scene, from the BBC’s Hollow Crown films of 2012. I just want to know what the Welsh in the clip suggests to you (difficult or straightforward / poetic or plain / or whatever you think). I’m interested in everyone’s responses, whatever you deem your level in Welsh to be. Or your interest in Shakespeare, for that matter.
[In case you want the context of the scene: Glendower (we’ll blame Shakespeare for the spelling) is part of a rebellion against Henry IV, as is his son-in-law Mortimer. They will soon leave for battle. His daughter, Lady Mortimer, does not speak English. The other characters here are Hotspur (who has been planning the rebellion with Glendower) and his wife (who here, and elsewhere in the play, has a lot to put up with)].
Anyway, I’d really like to know what you make of it. Thanks!
Given that no original Welsh script exists and that the dialogue therefore has to be structured around what the other characters are saying, I found it well-scripted - it was straightforward to understand (I’m Welsh second language), and didn’t use overly poetic/literary/archaic Welsh.
Ermmm - I studied some for English O and A level, I’ve written quiz questions on Shakespeare for TV and I come from Monmouth - birthplace of Henry V and home of the famous ‘Monmouth Cap’ (Henry V: Act 4 Scene 7)
I thought it was very well done. I didn’t catch every word, but I’m sure if I listened again I would. The new Welsh dialogue seemed to fit beautifully. (Fairly fluent Welsh learner. Used to hate Shakespeare until I did a Level 3 OU course when suddenly I “got” it.)
Well I think most of them are pretty oblivious to it these days! Even some of the ones who live in “Cappers Place” probably don’t know where the name came from! Having said that, there are quite a few proper locals (i.e. families in Monmouth for generations) who are well into the history of the town, so maybe I’m underestimating.)
Years ago a local historian, Kirsty Buckland, wrote a small book on the history of the Monmouth Cap, and there is a display about them in the local museum. I regularly wear one myself in the winter (not an ‘original’ of course, but made to the original design! )
Whether or not they’re into Shakespeare enough to know that link though, I couldn’t say!
The Welsh itself seems fine, but (and just my opinion here) not as well-scripted - maybe I’m wrong but it seems to me that in the first version even though the vocabulary wasn’t ‘over-the-top’ it was more poetic in it’s attention to rhythm and length of duration of each sentence. It made more of the Welsh content than just a stage direction.
In this version, however, I felt that the dialogue had been written as if to say the bare minimum required without any attempt to really put much feeling into it - as if it was only there to adhere to the stage direction rather than contribute fully to the scene.
Does that make sense?
Wow, I hadn’t realised that at all! I’ll have to check that out…
It’s very heavily based on the version used in several Royal Shakespeare Company productions (at least as far back as 1964), but it starts to be its own thing just after she tells Mortimer to look into her eyes - that’s why I’m especially interested in that bit.
In the RSC version, she starts to talk in rhyming iambic pentameter when she tells him to lie down, so partly I’m trying to figure out why they’ve changed it in this.