Sunday, July 20, 2014


No, seriously.  I'm talking about the 1980's sitcom, Cheers, set in Boston's Bull & Finch Pub. When I'm bored and need sound in the background I'll often turn on Netflix to stream old sitcoms like this, and earlier today we heard the Cheers theme song on the radio.

Anyway, I'm watching the pilot when Diane (eventually the love interest) comes in with her current fiance, Professor Sumner Sloan, and they are discussing how they got engaged.  Sumner paraphrases whatever he might have said and Diane corrects him, saying, "Actually, what he said was 'Come with me and be my love, and we will some new pleasure prove.'"

"Ooo!  Shakespeare!"  said I.

"Donne," said Diane.

"WTF?" quoth I.

"I kinda figured you were done when you stopped talking," says Sam the bartender (or some other pun on the word Donne, I stopped paying attention after the Shakespeare drive-by).

I wondered for a moment if they said Donne just for the joke.  I know this is Shakespeare, I have a CD ( When Love Speaks ) with Annie Lennox singing it. To the Google!

Oh look, we're both right.

The line definitely appears in The Passionate Shepherd To His Love, which is credited to Marlowe. And it's most definitely in John Donne's The Bait   (both available at the link above). Slight textual variation, Donne's line is in fact "some pleasure" while Marlowe went with "all the pleasures". Marlowe actually came first, but Diane is quoting Donne's version.

But what of Shakespeare?

This line comes from the fifth verse of Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, most of which (such as this entry) are incorrectly attributed to Shakespeare.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Maybe His Face Is On The Bus

Ok, this probably doesn't deserve a blog post of its own but I think it's hysterical, it wouldn't fit on Twitter, and I block Facebook when I'm trying to get work done (even if, as now, that work is Shakespeare research).

I found the following conclusion on a page of facts about our dear Shakespeare:
William Shakespeare is one of the most identifiable icons of England. Others include members of England’s Royal family, Westminister Abbey, Big Ben, and red double-decker buses.
(Spelling is as I found it.)

I'm glad to see the world's greatest poet and playwright made the top five!  The mind boggles at the logic that went into choosing that particular list.  The Queen? Princess Diana?  William and Kate?  Nah, just make "members of the Royal family" one item.  But then we only have four items, and it should really be five.  I know, how about those big double-decker busses!

One of, indeed.


Ok, I'm going back to work now. Lunch break over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shakespeare on the Road

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is hitting the road! In celebration of Shakespeare's 450th birthday they've come over to the United States with plans to sit in on 14 different Shakespeare festivals over the summer.

In my neck of the woods they'll be coming to Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass on August 17.  Of course I've already got plans that weekend :(. Why can't I learn about these things months in advance?  And why can't they come into Boston instead? I'm 20 minutes from Boston, I'm over 2 hours from Lenox!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Orange Is The New Shakespeare?

I'm a big fan of Netflix's original series, both House of Cards and Orange is the new Black. Kevin Spacey, star of the former, has been on all the talk shows saying how it is basically Richard III. Well, more to the point how he based his character on R3.

So when I saw this piece on why you need to read Shakespeare to understand Orange Is The New Black (or OITNB for short) new (second) season, I was all over it.  The idea put forth (using Macbeth as an example) is that in Shakespeare's world, there is a natural order to things. When something comes in to disrupt that natural order, there is chaos while the world attempts to correct itself and restore order.  That is season 2 in a nutshell, and I agree completely with the article's argument.

WARNING - that article is 100% spoilers. You'd better finish season 2 before you read it.

Searching for Romeo

When I spotted the summary of a story focusing on Rosaline I thought this must be an update on the upcoming movie about Romeo's "ex-girlfriend".

Nope! "Searching for Romeo" is a new stage musical that tells....well, basically the exact same story. Why does everybody go for Rosaline? She's not even technically a character, she's a name. It's easy to say you're walking in Tom Stoppard's shoes, but at least Shakespeare gave him some Rosencranz and Guildenstern to work with. Stoppard didn't, for example, invent a new character for Paris' mother.  (Yes, Searching for Romeo offers us Paris' mother.)

For some reason the article decides to pull in Ophelia, which I thought was interesting.  Spinning off a play about Ophelia is more in the Stoppard vein, I'd say.  (Personally I even tried my hand at writing such a play back in college.  The premise was that Ophelia was in on Hamlet's feigned madness, and they were both having a good joke at the expense of their respective parents, until Hamlet really does lose his mind.)

What I don't understand is the author's summary of Ophelia's existence:

Curiosity has long surrounded Hamlet's love Ophelia, who dies after speaking about 170 lines in a play with more than 3,800. 
"She just seems to go mad out of nowhere," said Emily C.A. Snyder, who directed a production of "Hamlet" in which she give Ophelia more time onstage to create a stronger connection with the audience.
Ms. Snyder missed the part where Hamlet went crazy, said he never loved her, killed her father, got banished to England.  Out of nowhere? Really?

Let's have less invention of Rosaline and other characters, and more exploration into Ophelia's character. I'm all for that idea.