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Thou and you - From Old to Middle English

Thou and you - From Old to Middle English

In Old English, thou was singular and you was plural; but during the 13th century, in Middle English, you started to be used as a polite form of the singular – probably because people copied the French way of talking, where vous was used in that way.

English then became like French, which has tu and vous both possible for singulars, giving speakers a choice.

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Interviews - James Reynard - Role: Timon of Athens - MISANTHROPOS

James Reynard
Role: Timon

Do you recall what your first ever Shakespeare role was and can you tell us your thoughts on your first performance?

Hmm... have to cast the mind back for this one! I recall a workshop on “Macbeth” at school, but I think my first professional performance was as Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet”. I remember doing what I thought might work, but without much actual knowledge about acting! I think it was very exterior – someone in the cast said “Like a Christmas Tree, lots on the outside, but not much inside!” Anyway, I guess there was something inside as I got some very nice critiques and I learned a lot from the production (I played the same character twice more during subsequent years).

You have been incredibly prolific with Shakespeare in your career, more so than any other cast member. What draws you to Shakespeare again and again?

Read more: Interviews - James Reynard - Role: Timon of Athens - MISANTHROPOS

Interviews - Prof. Ladan Niayesh - Misanthropos - Timon of Athens

Prof. Ladan Niayesh
Literary Advisor

PART I - ABOUT YOUR FIELD

My starting question is very simple: what was your first exposure to Shakespeare?

My first exposure was very classically Laurence Olivier’s "Hamlet" seen on TV as a child, in a poorly translated Persian (my native tongue). At that young age, I was obviously more interested in the ghost and misty battlements than anything else. But the first play I was able to read in full text for a school curriculum was – rather unusually for a school programme – "Coriolanus". The guidance of a passionate instructor made me all at one go fall in love with Shakespeare and want to become a teacher myself. I am much beholden to the gentleman for both reasons, and one of the highlights of my career many years later was to have his son among my students at university for a course on Shakespeare!

As a distinguished scholar of Shakespeare, can you talk us through your educational journey with Shakespeare?

Read more: Interviews - Prof. Ladan Niayesh - Misanthropos - Timon of Athens

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