Shakespearefilter- Writing an invitation like the Bard
July 5, 2009 7:57 PM   Subscribe

I want to invite a woman (via letter) I like out on a date to see a Shakespearean play later this month. I want it to read somewhat like the general language used in his writings, but also instantly understandable to someone not very familiar with his plays and/or language. If someone could point me to a resource to help out or if you're willing to rewrite it yourself, I'd be very thankful.

Basically, the text of the invitation would read as follows (I'll do it in faux-formal syntax to give the sort of translation I'd like):

My dear XXXX,
It would give me great pleasure and honor if you were to accompany me to a showing of the great bard William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" on the eve of July 18. It is a delightful comedy also concerned with romance, misunderstandings and cross-dressing.

If you are or if you are not inclined to attend this event with me please allow me to know your disposition below.

A wonderful idea, to attend with so handsome a suitor!
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This is a spurious request that offends me.
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posted by Jason Land to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about a simple "I cordially invite you to accompany me to a showing of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, on July 18th" with a simple [yes] [no]? I think less is more, unless the woman in question particularly enjoys affected speech. If she isn't familiar with Shakespeare, I think anything more will be off-putting.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:24 PM on July 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

How about taking a famous speech, and then re-doing it as a bit of a parody? Most of the biggies should be instantly familiar to most people.

Probably best not to do the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet, though...a bit over the top, but that'd be your call.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:26 PM on July 5, 2009

Much as you might be tempted to write something like
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But she'll remember, with advantages,
What feats she saw that day....
And [date of performance] shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he that day who attends with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in [your town] now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not there,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That watched with us upon [date of performance] day.
Solon and Thanks is right, to the girl reading it, you'll just seem like a dork.
posted by orthogonality at 8:36 PM on July 5, 2009

Best answer: My boyfriend the Shakespeare-loving English major has actually done something similar for me before, so I asked him what he would write in your place. His suggestion:

Dearest XXXX,

Permit me first to greet you cordially in the hopes that this missive finds you in good health. I would be remiss if I failed to call to your attention the social event of the season, to occur this 18th of July. To put it plainly and in a most workmanlike fashion, the comedy Twelfth Night, penned by that young upstart William Shakespeare, is showing at XXXX, and you have it within your power to make me the gladdest among men should you choose to accompany me to the performance.

Your affectionate friend,


(Sure it's affected, but if she likes you she'll find it endearing and go anyway.)
posted by Fifi Firefox at 8:37 PM on July 5, 2009 [16 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice and basic translations people. I already know her a great deal, this isn't a first date. She loves it when I do out of the ordinary cutesy stuff. And she expressed interest in seeing the play; I just didn't make it official that I wanted to take her out. I'm going to go with Fifi's invitation, rather than an all-out thing like Orthogonality's suggestion-yet-not-a-suggestion. It'll be handwritten, in ink, on parchment style paper with a wax stamp.
posted by Jason Land at 11:06 PM on July 5, 2009

Mod note: most comments removed - question is not really "should I do this"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:40 AM on July 6, 2009

if it's not too late, you could skim through this "dictionary" (more of a glossary) of Elizabethan English, for a few words to add to Fifi's suggested text (also helps to make it less googlable)
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:12 AM on July 9, 2009

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