Tekla McIlhargey: Notes Reflection

My approach and habits for taking notes have similarities and differences when it comes to play-text versus watching a film version of a Shakespeare play.  The better the notes, the easier it is for me to find what I’m looking for quicker, look back and understand what I was interpreting and remember the most important details.


When I am watching a film interpretation of a Shakespeare play, I will have the script of the play with me as well as my notebook to take notes.  While watching I will pause the film whenever I feel something essential has happened that I should be noting.  I will find the scene in the book and will scan or re-read the scene, depending on how well I remember it, then will compare the language:  Is it an exact replica of the language in the Shakespeare script?  Were word and/or lines omitted or changed?  Characters: How are the characters visually interpreted in the film?  How do the actors portray the character versus how I felt the character would look while reading the play?  Setting: Is it time appropriate?  Modern?  What location choices did the director decide would suite this play and their interpretation of it?  Music:  Is the film score original to the film?  Is it modern music easily recognizable?  Is it loud music?  Soft music? Continuous or in and out?  I will also write down the scene and act from the play as well as the time on the film so that I can easily find it later, if needed.  Once I feel I have written down what I will need to remember and what I feel is essential I continue with watching the film will again pause and do the same when pertinent.   I do not annotate directly on the script while I do my notes for film-review.  This is an area where I see I can improve.  If I wrote directly on the text I would have had an easier time understanding my notes written in my notebook and where exactly in the play I could draw connections.

While reading a Shakespeare play my first and most important habit is to use a version of the play which includes definitions on the page.  I will lookout for words I don’t understand and write them directly over the word in the text.  I will look for word-play and grammar specific to Shakespeare: his use of puns, double-meanings, metaphors and personification.  My main technique for note taking is by annotating while I read.  I find this keeps me more involved in the text and less likely to lose my train of thought.  If I run out of room in the margins, I add post-it notes to the pages to continue with my annotating.  I find this can become very overwhelming when I go back to review my annotated notes and I have been trying to use my notebook more for notes when reading a Shakespeare play.  Another habit I have recently been trying to change is to use a pen to annotate instead of a pencil.  The pencil smudged and it creates a messy and sometimes unreadable annotation.

I find the habits I have developed throughout my education have for the most part helped me, however, they can become messy and in that sense I do require improvement.  As Shakespeare can often be perplexing to read or watch I believe the best habit is patience and to know it will require some interpretation.  Good note taking is imperative to obtaining an understanding of Shakespeare.

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