In my last two years of high school we studied Macbeth. I don’t think we actually saw a performance, but taking the copies of the bowdlerised edition our school had in stock and laboriously reinscribing the rude bits at Brother Claudius’s dictation, we read the text through collectively, stopping for discussion and explication, three times. All three times, when we reached the line about fortune showing ‘like a rebel’s whore’, one of my fellow students, a pious young man named Geoffrey, asked, ‘What’s a whore, Brother?’ and poor Brother Claudius’s answers had to get more explicit each time: a loose woman, a woman of poor morals, a prostitute, and eventually a woman who commit sins of impurity in return for money.
Apart from Geoffrey’s enlightenment about the shocking ways of the world, the main result of this approach to the play was that we got to know slabs of it off by heart — a line here and there, and one or two soliloquies: ‘Is this a dagger I see before me’ and of course ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’. To this day I love to recite the latter in a singsong rhythm, enjoying the feel of the words and not caring too much at all for the meaning.
Here, as a reward for reading that preamble, is Bob Dylan reciting the soliloquy, lifted from his Theme Time Radio Hour broadcast, number 24 of the first season.
I’m assuming that uploading a small clip like this is OK with those that control the rights. If they ask me to I’ll take it down immediately. In the event that it’s not there when you read this, you can download the whole program from here. (The guy who has made the links possible is ill, so consider leaving a small donation.)