Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Quote #034

"We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep."
 Prospero - 'The Tempest', Act IV, Scene 1

34 - The Tempest

This is a marvellous play but somehow much shorter than I remember it. I could have sworn there was more interaction between Miranda and Ferdinand. And I'd also forgotten just how forgiving Prospero was towards everyone, especially the treacherous brothers Antonio and Sebastian.

I once used Trinculo's first discovery of Caliban as an audition speech for RADA. The person auditioning that day was John Duttine, of 'Day of the Triffids' fame. Having finished my pieces I embarrassed him by asking for his autograph for my Mum, as she had adored him in 'To Serve Them All My Days'. I'm not saying that's why I didn't get into RADA but I didn't get in...

And Finally - The whole play happens within the space of three hours - so roughly in real time, which I think is Billy-Boy's only attempt to do so. Although there was one other lost work performed as a single marathon over the course of one day. It was based on the Gunpowder Plot and saw a rouge Knight go against his Lords and Masters, thwart the terrorists, save the king and capture Guy Fawkes - while simultaneously dealing with problems with his Lady wife, his wayward daughter and from consonantly hearing an odd noise that sounded like 'Do-Do-Dat-Doooo!' His name?...

Sir Jacques de Bauer...

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QI - Shakespeare Special

Monday, 17 December 2012

Quote #033

"The hind, that would be mated by the lion,
Must die for love."
Helena - 'All's Well That Ends Well' Act I, Scene 1

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33 - All's Well That Ends Well

I'm going to be very unoriginal here and say that Shakespeare has written some excellent parts for women. Forget for the moment that the parts would have been played by men. It is still the case that these are strong female characters who are matching, or indeed outwitting, their male counterparts. Sometimes they do this in the guise of a man such as Rosalind and Viola and to a smaller extend Portia. However, in 'All's Well That Ends Well' and the character of Helena, we have a female lead who raises herself up as a woman to be then knocked back only to rise again stronger than ever. And she does it all with out once putting on a pair of britches! Of course this does beg one question - if she is so strong a character why is she bothering to chase a brat like Bertram?

Getting back to the personal aspect of this challenge I remember unsuccessful trying to use a speech by Parolles for entrance auditions for Drama Schools. With audition pieces the trick is not to go for something too ambitious (it's a brave person who will go for Hamlet's "To be or not to be..") but also avoid something that the panel will have seen ten times already that day (Viola's "I left no ring with her..." speech being a prime example). However, at the age of eighteen I still hadn't read all that much Shakespeare except for the obvious ones which were therefore either ambitious or done to death. My standard piece, Edmund the Bastard's "Thou nature art my goddess..." was proving to be a bit too popular, hence the the reason for trying Parolles and his "Virginity" speech. But at the time I couldn't get a handle on it and so it was abandoned after only one outing.

And Finally - The Bard does it again with yet another Nostradamus Game-show moment - this time 'Dating in the Dark'! And remember, it may be that if-you-like-it-then-you-should-have-put-a-ring-on-it but just be sure it's the right ring and, more importantly, the right 'it'!...

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hamlet Gangnam Style

Someone was bound to do it eventually!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Quote #032

"The end crowns all;
And that old common arbitrator, Time,
Will one day end it."
Ulysses - 'Troilus and Cressida' Act IV Scene 5

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32 - Troilus and Cressida

By heck but this was a  tough one! Tougher even than Hector, Achilles and Ajax all mixed together!  The story doesn't go anywhere, the titular characters barely register and there are too many Heroes all trying to out soliloquise each other.

This is another of the Bard's works which might benefit for being staged in a school playground as the kings and heroes act more like kids; boasting one minute, then having a quick fight before making up and finally going off in a sulk!
 
In short it's no wonder I knew nothing about the play prior to reading it and in some ways I wish I still knew nothing.
 
And Finally - The play starts in the middle of the Trojan War and finishes... in the middle of the Trojan War. The Iliad does the same thing but in this Scrap of the Scribes I reckon it's Billy-Boy who's bitten off more than he could chew and is likely to end up being dragged, lifeless behind Homer's horse. (but then that's what you get for cribbing off Chaucer!)...  

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Friday, 30 November 2012

Limerick Pentameter


A prolific young playwright called Will
Gave Elizabethans their fill
Of murder and bloodshed
And conquest of maidenhead
By constantly dipping his quill!
(Come on! Be honest!)

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Star Trek (The Next Generation) Meets Shakespeare!


Quote #031


"The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."

Portia - 'The Merchant of Venice', Act IV Scene 1 

31 - The Merchant of Venice

Whoa! Racist much! By the end of the play Jessica has been made to covert to Christianity in order to marry Lorenzo and Shylock is also made to convert because of some amazing legal loopholes around the whole ‘you owe me a pound of flesh’ argument. Even putting aside the anti-Semitic bit there are other digs at other ‘non-white individuals’; including Portia practically doing cartwheels when she doesn’t have to marry the Prince of Morocco or others of his “complexion”

I have been reminded by a friend that I did in fact see the great Sir Laurence Olivier as Shylock along with Joan Plowright as Portia in a National Theatre Production by Jonathan Miller. How could I have forgotten such a thing you may ask. Well, to be honest it was actually a TV adaptation of the production from back in the 70's which I would have seen on a scratchy video recording at school some ten years later. But those of us too young to have seen the great man perform on stage must be satisfied with these mere scraps.   

And Finally – Yet another birth of a game show! Surely the whole ‘which casket’ task is the forerunner of 80’s favourite ‘3-2-1!’ “Oh bad luck! I’m afraid you don’t win the hand of the rich heiress or the gondola or the Ronco Bloodless Flesh Extractor! Because you’ve picked Dustio Bin! Goodnight and see you next time on ‘Tre-Due-Uno!’”…  

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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Quote #030

“When we are born, we cry that we are come
To this great stage of fools"
Lear - 'King Lear', Act IV, scene 6

30 - King Lear

Thank goodness I held back some of the big hitters for towards the end of this Bardy Marathon. I just love this play. It somehow puts me in mind of the current Fantasy Epic on the small screen - 'Game of Thrones'. The play is also the background to one of my favourite Shakespeare related movies - 'The Dresser'. There are so many films linked to, inspired by or simply adpted from the works of Shakespeare that I'm considering a partner blog on just that subject.

May I also recommend to theatre lovers that they check out 'Lear' by Edward Bond as an alternative version. I have that play to thank for getting me into drama school. On the trawl of auditions for schools I had for a while used Edmund's "Thou Nature art my Goddess" speech but moved on to Feste from 'Twelfth Night'. However, having at last secured my place at a school I then had to audition again for a local government grant! For that we needed three pieces so I performed Feste, a piece from 'The Conquest of the South Pole' and finally a piece from Bond's 'Lear' as Lear himself. Couldn't tell you how they exactly went down but I won the grant so it can't have been all bad.

My undying memory of the Bard's version of the play stems from reading it for English A-level. In class we read the text aloud and I took the part of Edgar in the ‘Mad Tom’ scene. I have never been the best sight-reader so unfortunately managed to mispronounce the line “Pillicock sat on Pillicock Hill” as “Pillock sat on Pillock Hill”. My friends howled with laughter and my tutor took a lot of convincing that I hadn’t done it on purpose!

And Finally - Nearly half of the named cast in the production die (and another says he’s off to top himself at the end) but only three deaths occur on stage. Some might cite the similarity to Greek Tragedy but I think Billy-boy was simply fed up of ham-actors taking so long to finish a death scene! (Oh! Don’t they go on?)…

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Some True Shakespeare Nasties

Legionella Shakespearei - A species of Legionelle, the pathogenic bacterium which can causes Legionnaires' disease
Goetheana Shakespearei - A species of minute parasitic wasps (here seen mugging a thirps nymph)
Porcus Shakespearei - A period specific species of the dreadful genus 'Thespiana Overacticus' (Lord save us all)

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Friday, 9 November 2012

'King Lear' by Jean-Luc Godard





So let me get this straight. 

This is a film by Jean-Luc Godard loosely based around the story of King Lear which stars Woody Allen and Peter Sellers (not to mention 80's Hughes-heartthrob Molly Ringwald). And I've never even heard of it before now! 

How is this even possible? ("Anyone...? Anyone..?")

My guess is that unfortunately it's either really, really bad or really, really up its own Art House! Or both!

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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Quote #029

"I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels."
Cardinal Wolsey - 'Henry VIII' Act III, Scene ii

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29 - Henry VIII


My Gawd but this was hard work! True snores-ville! Never read the play before but of course everyone knows the story and in fact this is only a third of it (I'm thinking Billy-Boy missed a trick at another trilogy). 

I'm afraid I'm still on a 'Carry On' kick as a recently introduced my kids to 'Carry on Cleo' following my reading of Antony and Cleopatra. So I couldn't shake that other classic 'Carry on Henry' with Sid James as the titular King. Helping along the way were also Terry Scott as Cardinal Wolsey and Kenneth Williams as Cromwell, who had such a way with words himself -

"I'll read it to you. It's just a simple little confession. "In as much as I, Roger de Lodgerley, of Bedside Manor, Wilts, hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part, did unlawfully, with malice aforethought and without taking due precaution, on the night of October 4th last, admire, covet, blandish, cosset, seduce and otherwise get at Marie, spouse to Henry Tudor, hereinafter referred to as the party of the second part, I do now hereby solemnly declare, and in witness thereof I append my signature below, that the resulting issue, herein after referred to as the party of the third part, is the direct consequence of the joining together of the party of the first part's and the party of the second part's parts.""

We do get another of the Bard's trippy vision things - as we did back in Cymbeline. This time it's Queen Katherine who's been chasing the Tudor dragon and sees 'tripping' spirits with garlands of flowers in their hair. Very Hippy-Shakespeare-Shake!

Ready for a quick 'Bard Fact'? During a performance of 'Henry VIII' at the Globe Theatre in 1613, a cannon was fired as a special effect but consequently burnt the place to the ground. Now how's that for bringing the house down!

And Finally - In truth it's all about the begating of Good Queen Bess! Although I not sure a new born babe really wants to hear at her christening that she'll die a virgin. Better the spinning wheel prick and sleep for a hundred years option. At least then you're on a Princely promise in the long, long term...

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Monday, 29 October 2012

Quote #028

"How well he's read, to reason against reading!"  
 King of Navarre - 'Love's Labour's Lost' Act I, Scene 1

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28 - Love's Labour's Lost

I really hate only hearing half a story!

Like my fellow specks wearer Woody Allen I'm 'anal'! I have to watch / read something from the very beginning and, with only some rare exceptions, will see it through to the bitter end however bad it turns out. Hence I have seen no end of cheesy late night movies which back in the day would have been labelled 'Straight to Video'.

So if you're the same as me and the Woodster then avoid this play at all costs! This definitely only feels like half a play. And a bad half at that! Whether there ever was a missing sequel called 'Love's Labour's Won' we will now never know. And it might be wrong to say it but it might have been better if '...Lost' were lost as well instead of going 'Straight to Folio'!

The one scene I did like was with the four men 'stacking up' as each hides from the next man to arrive and read bad poetry. Then one by one they pop back out again with an iambic "Ah ha!!" I could imagine some good physical comedy from that one! But unfortunately that would be in the direction more than the writing. Billy-Boy, in this case you should have heeded your own words!
"A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it." 
And Finally - The 'Labours' set by the women for the men to prove their love are a bit random. Three have to simply wait a year (although one also has to grow a beard) but the last has to spend that year helping the dying by making them laugh! Now that's hard! I mean how many times can you tell the "...I could boil you an egg" gag?... 

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Friday, 26 October 2012

Quote #027

"Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?"
Cleopatra - 'Antony and Cleopatra' Act V, Scene 2

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27 - Antony and Cleopatra


Thought I'd be bored by this one espaially comparing it to the Morecombe and Wise sketch or 'Carry on Cleo'. But surprisingly the whole play as well as being a tale of love and power also has a sitcom feel to it. What with eunuch gags and comedy messengers the most serious person in the whole play seems to be the clown in the final act!

During a lull in the fighting over the Empire we get an 'Only Fools and Horses' style Jolly-Boy's booze cruise on Pompey's private boat in Act II. The most powerful men in the civilised world getting drunk and talking rubbish about crocodiles and quicksand! I envisaged Antony holding back the hair of Lepidus, who sits on the floor with his head over a bucket, while Caesar struts around with a traffic-cone on his head!

Cleopatra's death may well be dignified and noble but not so poor Antony's. What a farce! First he asks his mate Eros to kill him, but Eros kills himself instead. Then Tony throws himself on his sword but botches the job. Then finally he gets a bunch of guardsmen to carry him to Cleopatra but rather than use the stairs they lift up and over a balcony! This is less Shakespeare more 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave Em' ("Ooh Cleo! The Sphinx has done a woopsie in me helmet!")

And Finally - Just to round off the Cockney-esque capers we have Cleopatra's call of "Let's to billiards" (Who'd of thought that the Queen of the Nile would be snooker-loopy!)...


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Monday, 22 October 2012

Quote #026

"Despair and die!"
The Ghosts - 'Richard III', Act V, Scene 3 

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26 - Richard III


And so with a lump in my throat (and another on my back) we bid a sad farewell to the mighty War of the Roses.

I did get to play the Hunchback of Withered-Arm once at drama-school but only the first few scenes. A fellow Thespian-friend was Lady Anne and took great delight it the fact that she got to spit in my face nightly! If this wasn't bad enough my director, in reaction to this spittle-fest, had me wipe it away with a finger and then lick it! Truly evil and equally unwholesome - but then that was this particular director all over! (Thank you! Thank you! I'm here all week!)

Once more this play produces a plethora of juicy quotes - mainly from the great-Gloucester. A particular favourite again comes from his scene with Lady Anna. Standing by the coffin of the king he killed Richard overwhelms and wins Lady Anne thanks to some bare-faced cheek and some bare-chested bravado! He then gloats of his new found power to bend the will of others!
"Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her; — but I will not keep her long."
Richard wants to be a villain and he succeeds. He's certainly close to the top when it comes to the Bard's Bully-boys and Bad'uns. I may have to look at a top-ten Heroes and Villains when reading dust has finally settled.

And Finally - So all Mad Margaret's prophecies came true. But what gave her such insight? I think it's the Head of Suffolk (see Henry VI Part 2) that she kept all this time. She covets his zombie-bonce because, like Orpheus before him, it carried on speaking after death, telling her all the juicy future gossip. (Plus it made a great novelty nut-cracker!)...

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Blackadder - "Don't Mention Macbeth!"

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Quote #025

"I think Crab, my dog, be the sourest-natured dog that lives. My mother weeping, my father wailing, my sister crying, our maid howling, our cat wringing her hands, and all our house in a great perplexity, yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear."

Launce - 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona', Act II, Scene 3

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25 - The Two Gentleman of Verona

As this was thought to be Billy-Boy's first ever play, and as we know he did achieve greatness later, I can just allow for some of the rough edges to this first outing. There are some nice set pieces here, my favourites being Julia and Lucetta's first scene with the love letter and Launce's ridiculous monologues. There are also elements and themes which would recur in his later works such as love, friendship, obsession, not to mention cross-dressing and even a balcony scene!

But hold everything! Where the play does fall down for me is in the main plot (and here there be spoilers I'm afraid). Proteus forgets Julia because Valentine loves Sylvia and boasts that there can be no woman better. Therefore Proteus has his best friend banished so he can 'love' Sylvia instead. However, as she continually rejects him he eventually says he have her "like a solider" and is all set to rape her. Valentine stops him but Proteus simply says "I'm really sorry" to which Valentine replies "Okay mate, I forgive you, she's all yours". It's only a bit of opportune fainting and ring fumbling from the disguised Julia that brings things back around. But then even she forgives Proteus! Now I might be showing my New-Age-Man colours here but isn't this just a tad misogynistic? 

I also get the feeling that Shaky was cutting corners a bit. If instead of a small apology Protous had given a heartfelt speech of explanation and contrition (and I'm talking a soliloquy of the highest eloquence here) then I might have been more forgiving. But as it is this only gets a 'C' for effort and a 'Try better next time'. 

And finally - Launce might be an idiot but at least he's a loveable idiot. But Speed! I'd have punched him in the face before he even finished his first speech! The lad is just so damned annoying! (Sorry! That was a bit harsh. Forgive me?...)



Peter Sellers: A Hard Day's Night

Monday, 8 October 2012

Quote #024

"Thy mother's of my generation. What's she, if I be a dog?"

Apemantus - 'Timon of Athens', Act I, Scene 1

24 - Timon of Athens

I've been insanely busy in my own life - this happened every year around this time and is work related so not much I can do to change it. In the meantime I've been trying to keep up the my Bard-browsing but not so the Bard-blogging so apologies as the next couple of instalments will be minimal in the extreme!

With 'Timon' it is the first time reading this particular bit of Bard and I'm not sure if it's a morality play or simply a premonition of the dangers of QVC. There are some interesting scenes but beyond the simple lesson of 'neither a borrower or a lender be' (even when butt naked in wasteland while sitting on a goldmine) the story has very little to offer.

I did notice what seems to be a lot of dog references. Was Billy-Boy after a Bow-Wow? My favourite is made early on by Apemantus, who gets all the good lines in the play, when he is called 'a dog' he replies:
"Thy Mother's of my generation. What's she, if I be a dog?"
And finally - Think I prefer the sequel where Timon meets the fat guy called Pumba...

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

To Blog Or Not To Blog?


Apologies for not posting for a while. Normal barmy Bard-loving banality will resume shortly.

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Horrible Histories - Richard III Song

Is this the true face of King Richard III?


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23 - Henry VI Part 3

It was with serious trepidation that I approached the reading the History Plays when setting up this challenge but I have to say they have turned out to be a highlight of the whole exercise. They can be very confusing at times, especially when people put on and take off titles quicker than they change their costumes and with the whole 'Names-Which-Aren't-Really-Names-But-Rather-The-Place-Where-They-Happen-To-Have-A-Castle' thing. 

However the plots and the intrigues have gripped me in the same way that soap operas capture the souls of their poor, helpless viewers. I have been following the rise and fall on the houses of York and Lancaster with the same edge-of-my-seat positioning that I adopt with any good thriller. Not to mention watching with morbid fascination the growing menace of Richard of Gloucester.

Of course my kids, both keen readers / viewers of Terry Deary's 'Horrible Histories', are forever pointing out to me that Richard was not as black as Billy-Boy Bard painted him. So I am mindful that the Shakespeare's version of English history is likely to be about as accurate as 'The Comic Strip Presents' version of the miner's strike or the GLC. But who cares for history when you have villains to boo, queens to woo and the three-on-one stabbing action of the York Boys against Prince Ed!

Tune in again soon for the final instalment of "The Histories!"  

And Finally - Beware, for the hunchback cometh...

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Quote #023

"How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown"

Richard - 'Henry VI Part 3', Act I, Scene 3

Friday, 17 August 2012

A Very Brechtian Bottom

When studying drama one theatrical concept which intrigued me was that of Bertolt Brecht and his theories on ‘alienation techniques’. 

Brecht felt that if people became too emotionally involved in a story then they were more likely to simply ride that wave of emotion and step away from it when the play ended. This cathartic experience allowed them to distance themselves from the the subject of the play, the actions of the characters and their consequences. Instead, he wanted the audience to learn something from watching a performance, remember it and even question it. 

So in the writing and staging of his plays Brecht employed various techniques in order to ‘alienate’ the spectator from the story. These included bright lights, loud noises, signs appearing before each scene explaining what was going to happen or actors directly speaking to the audience. Anything to essentially remove the surprise and to remind people that this was a play and not real life.

But was this 'Dialectical Theatre', or 'Epic Form' as it was sometimes called, an original idea? Brecht himself sites many theatrical styles as inspiration as far back as Greek Tragedy and its chorus. But I think someone got there before him. During my current re-reading of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ it suddenly stuck me that Shakespeare had already coined the theory centuries ahead of Brecht. 

At the start of Act 3, when the cast of mechanicals voice their concerns regarding the drawing swords and killing on stage as being something the ladies “cannot abide”, Bottom suggests: 

“I have a device to make all well.
Write me a prologue; and let the prologue seem to
say, we will do no harm with our swords, and that
Pyramus is not killed indeed; and, for the more
better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not
Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: this will put them
out of fear."

And in fact before their performance in Act 5 Quince introduces all the characters and gives us a blow by blow synopsis of the play before even a word is spoken. Not only that but Bottom also breaks the barrier between actor and audience still further by discussing the play directly with Theasus.

I'm not sure if Brecht would be pleased to know that a group Athenaian workmen had conceived alienation before him, but I’m positive Bottom would be proud to know that he was the first Thespian whose 'form' was considered 'epic’.

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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Quote #022

"And those things do best please me
That befall prepost'rously."

Puck - 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' , Act III, Scene 2

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22 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

Alright, so hands up anyone who doesn’t know what happens in this play. Anyone? Thought not. This has to be one of the most well known, as well as well loved, plots in Shakespeare.

I've seen countless productions over the years but the one which sticks in the memory was back in the 80’s at a theatre which was a converted church. It’s the venue rather than the play which sticks in my mind as the theatre’s stage resembled that of The Globe. An internet search makes me think it was place called St George’s in Tufnell Park, which apparently stopped being a theatre in the 90’s and is only now being renovated and reverting once more to a church.

In addition to having a Bottom (and all the puns associated with it) the play also has a bum!
“The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,”
Somehow thought this was a modern word but it crops up once or twice in the Bard’s babble! In fact Pompey, in 'Measure for Measure' gives his full name as Pompey Bum. Maybe he's Bottom's Italian cousin!
 
And Finally – A story with a happy ending for all? I think not! Tatiana’s loss of the Changing Child and Oberon’s reason for stealing him is never sufficiently explained for my liking. Perhaps he plans to raise him as a vengeful spirit/human hybrid intent on destroying mankind and taking over the world! Or perhaps like the rest of us he just needs a small child to help him operate modern technology!
“Attend at once, most mortal lad
And sync for me, curse’d iPad”…
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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Swifter Than the Moon's Sphere


The landing of the Mars probe last week reminded me of the Bard’s own contribution to our Solar System – the moons of Uranus.

The first moons ‘discovered’ were named by John Herschal, whose father first discovered the planet itself. Instead of using names from mythology Herschal named them after Shakespearean characters Oberon and Titania and the spirits Ariel and Umbriel from Alexander Pope’s ‘Rape of the Lock’.

In total Uranius has 27 moons and all are named for characters from either Pope or Shakespeare.

The Bardy-bunch are-
Cordelia
Ophelia
Bianca
Cressida
Desdemona
Juliet
Portia
Rosalind
Cupid
Perdita
Puck
Mab
Miranda
Titania
Oberon
Francisco
Caliban
Stephano
Trinculo
Sycorax
Margaret
Prospero
Setebos
Ferdinand

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Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Fab Four do Shakespeare

When Beatles tackle Shakespeare it's called a  
 Beatles Bardle Battle!



Thursday, 2 August 2012

Quote #021

"Beware the ides of March"

Soothsayer - 'Julius Caesar' Act I, Scene 1

21 - Julius Caesar

This has been the hardest read yet. Not because of the text but because of my own history with the play.

In my post on Romeo and Juliet I mentioned that the REPO men had tackled one other of the Bard's back catalogue and this was it. REPO productions were proud to present... a three man version of Julius Caesar heavily edited so as to play for laughs but with a bit of pathos thrown in for good measure! I played Brutus, another played Cassius, the third both Caesar and Anthony. We filled in for those other parts which had made it past the edit by wearing different hats or coats but always in togas and army boots! The only other person on stage was Sooty (also in a toga) who we needed in the conspirators scene to swell the numbers.

So my problem now is that as I read it I can still see and hear all the gags - Caesar in Groucho specks, nose and tash; constant references to Cassius passing wind; the senate assassination undertaken with flowers rather than daggers ("At-choo Brute!"); and a moving mime show, of the senseless slaughter as Roman fought Roman, to the haunting strains of Morriconi's score from 'The Mission'. I know there is also an excellent play by Shakespeare in there somewhere but it's hard to see. 

Having said that I believe our version was great fun and the closest yet that I have come to performing Shakespeare in full. We staged it originally to try and be short-listed for a student drama competition, although unfortunately we didn't get through. The organisers did, however, ask us if we wanted to put it on as a cabaret act for the actual competitors. But as they wouldn't have been paying us we declined - shame really.

And Finally - Strange, but I can't find one classic line in my text - "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in-for-me!"

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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sportive Tricks


I'm not an overly patriotic person (and certainty not a major lover of sports) but I was moved by the Olympic opening ceremony for the London 2012 games. And what kind of ceremony wound it have been without at least one nod to Billy-Boy Bard.

So it was delightful to see the great Kenneth Branagh quoting from 'The Tempest' Caliban's description of his own Isle of Wonder. 
"Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,
That if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again."
Act III, Scene 2

And of course that first line is also inscribed upon the gigantic 23 tonne Olympic Bell that was struck but Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins to mark the start of the ceremony. So the Bard was catered for and, thanks to Branagh and Bradley's mutton-chops, so was the Beard!

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