KU News Release

April 11, 2012
Contact: Phil Wilke, Kansas Public Radio, 785-864-5016

Shakespeare comedy in original pronunciation to premiere on KPR

More Information

LAWRENCE – Ever wondered what it would be to like to time-travel back to Shakespeare’s London, sneak into the Globe Theatre and eavesdrop on opening night of “Hamlet” or “Romeo and Juliet”? What did English sound like back then — anything like today’s British or American English?

Listen for yourself Thursday night when Kansas Public Radio presents Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in a radio adaptation using “original pronunciation” (OP), the accent that would have been used in Shakespeare’s time.

The 90-minute broadcast begins at 7 p.m. CDT. Listeners can enjoy this production on any station of KPR or listen online at kpr.ku.edu by clicking the “Listen Now” button.

In November 2010, the University of Kansas Theatre presented the first full-length Shakespeare OP production in North America, entirely spoken as the first 16th century audiences would have heard it. After the stage production closed, the cast spent several days in the KPR recording studio, creating the radio drama production, complete with music and sound effects.

The play was adapted for radio and directed by Paul Meier, KU professor of theatre, with original music by Ryan McCall and sound design and post production by Jason Slote. Executive producer for KPR is Darrell Brogdon.

Why do an OP production?

“If the simple fascination of hearing the text spoken as the opening night audience heard it over 400 years ago isn’t enough, consider that OP restores scores of lost rhymes, puns and other wordplay that the intervening centuries have erased,” Meier said. “Add to this the down-to-earth, vernacular nature of OP that instantly vanquishes the lingering idea that only really posh speech is appropriate for performing The Bard. All this adds up to something very intriguing to all with more than just a passing interest in Shakespeare.”

The audiences will hear an accent and style surprisingly like their own, strongly contrasting with the notions of precise and polished delivery created by John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier and their colleagues from the 20th century British theater.

KPR, licensed to the University of Kansas, broadcasts on 91.5 FM in Lawrence, 89.7 FM in Emporia, 91.3 FM in Olsburg-Junction City, 89.9 FM in Atchison, 90.3 FM in Chanute, and 99.5 FM and 97.9 FM in Manhattan. KPR can be heard on the Internet. KPR also operates KPR2, a news-talk channel on HD Radio. Those broadcasts can be heard on an HD receiver or on KPR’s website.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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