Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday December 16 2013

The year is drawing to a close.  It’s been a good Shakespeare year, the best part of course being the three plays we were fortunate enough to see at the Globe in June – The Tempest (with Colin Morgan and Roger Allam), The Taming of the Shrew, and Macbeth. You can read about them and the Globe in the texts under “Ruby’s Reflections” here in the sidebar.  No plans are yet made for next summer but Hal and I are checking things out and hope to get back to London for more Shakespeare.
For now though, this blog will be taking a little break, not because of Christmas but because for a couple of weeks I’ll be involved in another project (Shakespeare is, believe it or not, not my only addiction. I have several.)
So though we’ve finished reading Macbeth for this time we will wait until the new year to watch the films and I will wait to write the text.  It’s all worth waiting for and I look forward to it.
For now, I’d like to thank all of you from around the world for visiting Shakespeare Calling. I’m always astounded that so many find their way to the blog and it’s always interesting to see which texts are visited most frequently. That might be something to review in a New Year Chronicle!
Until then, I wish you all peace and a fine beginning to the New Year.  See you again in 2014.
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Fate – do we believe in it? No, I shouldn’t think so…but it figures often in Shakespeare (and lots of literature of course). The Greeks called the goddess of destiny Moira but D&F point out that Shakespeare might not have known this.
  • Ferdinand is, according to D&F, a “traditional name among Spanish royalty” and “made its way to England’s Catholics during the reign of Mary I.” It also made its way into several of Shakespeare’s plays, including The Tempest in the form of the romantic young man who falls in love with Miranda.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel Ghana Must Go the author Taiye Selasi describes the family drama taking place as Shakespearean.  With good reason.
  • The fantasy novel Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence seems to take place in medieval times until suddenly the characters start quoting Shakespeare. Oh well, anything can happen in fantasy, right? Here’s what they say:
    • “’Now is the winter of our Hundred War made fearsome summer by this prodigal son.” To which the prince replies: “You maul Shakespeare worse than you abuse his mother tongue, Saracen.”
    • “Is this a dagger I see before me?” asks the prince as his father the king stabs him. They’re not on the best of terms…
    • “Shakespeare had it that the clothes maketh the man…”
  • Richard Wilson known best to me, and maybe you, as Gaius on Merlin, talks about Shakespearein an interview with Alan Titchmarsh.  It’s so refreshing to hear someone with similar views to my own on Lear. The Shakespeare part starts at around 5.55.
  • Another You Tube link of interest: Sir Ken Robinson talks on TED on the question “Do schools kill creativity?”  The Shakespeare part comes at about 6.30
  • From friend and colleague EÖ I was given an article from Svenska dagbladet (the other national Swedish newspaper) about A Midsummer Night’s Dream being performed in Mandarin from a 1929 translation in Peking at the Academy of Theater, directed by Mathius Lafolie.  So if you happen to be in Peking…
  • In Ian McEwan’s Solar, the obnoxious (but often right) main character, physicist Michael Beard, points out that in ten million years no one will remember Shakespeare. Well, true… Later, while giving a lecture and using a packet of crisps (potato chips to you AmEn speakers) to make a point, he compares himself to Hamlet with Yorick’s skull. (He has a very high view of himself, this Dr. Beard). And finally, he has a girlfriend in the ghost town of Shakespeare in Texas. Actually, if you Google it, you’ll find it doesn’t seem to be a ghost town.
  • In Dagens Nyheter’s theater supplement for the spring program we see that Macbeth will be performed in dance form – Bounce, in fact!

Further this week:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: Macbeth
  • Started reading: Macbeth – A True Story by Fiona Watson. It’s a fascinating book. She refers constantly to the play, mainly pointing out what is historically inaccurate (or just plain untrue) about it.  What is most interesting so far is that the reality of the historical Macbeth’s time (early 11th century) was even more brutal than the play, making Shakespeare’s Macbeth look like a pussy cat (relatively).  Haven’t got to the part about Lady Macbeth, whose name was Gruoch.

Posted this week:

  • This Monday report.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday December 9 2013

Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013. The greatest man of our time has left us. The world is a poorer place without him but a much richer place for having had him in it.

The works of Shakespeare, disguised as a prayer book and belonging to Mandela’s fellow ANC prisoner Sony Venkatrathnam, was not confiscated by the guards on Robben Island, and the plays were read and signed by many of the prisoners.

On December 16, 1977, Nelson Mandela autographed these lines from Julius Caesar:

Cowards die many times before their deaths
The valiant only taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear:
Seeing that death a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

That Mandela was valiant he proved time and again throughout his long life. That there is hope in the world, that there is a possibility to achieve equality, is in part thanks to Nelson Mandela. He was a true revolutionary and humanist. Like Shakespeare, Nelson Mandela will live on as long as we heed their words of profound wisdom.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday December 2 2013

December is a busy month for a lot of people, especially us teachers. National tests and grades don’t really affect my Shakespeare Mondays, that’s why it’s called leave without pay, but it seems the world of Shakespeare is sympathetic to my situation by lying low. In other words, again, not much has been happening. We are getting through Macbeth though, with a pile of movies waiting.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Ermengarde is the woman whose royalty Henry V exploited as an excuse to invade France. She was the daughter of Charles of Lorraine and her right to inherit the throne in 987 was ignored, but it came in handy four hundred or so years later.  We can always find reasons in history to do the things we want to and shouldn’t.
  • Eton was founded by Henry V’s unfortunate but long-lived son, the wimpy – or was he -? Henry VI.  He lost a bunch of wars but he founded Eton and Cambridge and they’re still standing. Not a bad legacy.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In an unknown TV program, caught by accident, as we turned on the TV to watch the news, one of the characters said, “their pound of flesh.”
  • I’ve now finished the fascinating Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt and there are a few more Shakespeare connections. 
    • The hero of the book, Poggio, who found the lost Lucretius manuscript this book is about, actually got a job with Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester. He was a historical person, and even more interesting for us, uncle of the above mentioned Henry V.
    • Greenblatt quotes Hamlet’s “a special providence in the fall of a sparrow” as part of the ongoing discussion on the existence and role of destiny, or as the Christians would have it, the will of God.
    • Though Shakespeare did not attend college his Latin would have been good enough to read Lucretius in the original and Greenblatt makes a good argument to show that it’s completely plausible that he did, or least met with the main points in Lucretius through his, Shakespeare’s favorite philosopher Montaigne.  Evidence of this abounds in the plays.  That’s pretty exciting! Read Swerve!
  • The well known Swedish actress Gunilla Röör has played Richard II,I Dagens Nyheter tells us.  I would have liked to see her in that.

Further this week:
  • Continued reading aloud with Hal: Macbeth.  It’s so impressive!
  • Finished reading: Sleep of Death by Philip Gooden. It turns out – surprise, surprise – that Shakespeare wasn’t guilty of murder after all.

Posted this week:

  • This Monday report.