Sunday, February 26, 2006

Prince Charles' version of "To be..."

Not sure what I make of Prince Charles' version of "To be...", but it certainly goes under the heading of "Shakespeare Stuff" and I'd never seen it before. Apparently he was attempting to make a point about how flat and boring modern cliches are. Honestly, though, isn't all speech flat and boring when compared to Shakespeare? Especially when you compare it against the most famous thing he ever wrote?

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

One hankie to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them

This blog post deserves a link for making the connection between the handkerchief in Othello, and the One True Ring from Lord of the Rings. After all, don't people start to act really strangely (and darkly) when they come into possession of the hankie? Emilia even claims that Desdemona "reserves it evermore about her to kiss and talk to." I can't recall her calling it "my precious", though, but still!

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Friday, February 24, 2006

X-Men 3, now with more Shakespeare

I'm just as much a techie geek as a Shakespeare geek so I expect that I'd be going to see X-Men 3 anyway. But it's news to me that Kelsey Grammer, best known as Dr. Frasier Crane, will be playing "Beast". Even more surprising is that he'll be using his Shakespeare roots for inspiration. "He's very wise, so he's a bit like JACQUES in AS YOU LIKE IT. And he's a bit like PANDARUS in TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, because he understands the role of society. And he's also a bit like HENRY V, because he likes to rally round a cause."

What an unusual cast of characters to list as your inspiration. I mean, Pandarus? Who cites Pandarus?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Shakespeare death mask genuine?

The Advertiser: Shakespeare death mask 'genuine' [23feb06]: Oooooo, this is cool. I'd never seen this "death mask" before, but apparently new evidence suggests that it may be authentic. I understand that most portraits do not adequately present what Shakespeare really looked like. This gives a whole new angle. Did Shakespeare die of cancer? That's the theory, based on a lump above his eye. In the past it's been accepted that he likely "drank himself to death" although some theories suggest that he had syphilis.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Neve Campbell Stalked by Shakespeare

Neve Campbell, probably best known as the star of horror hit Scream, has had her share of stalkers. What I find funny is the one who thought he was William Shakespeare. If he were still alive, at least now we know the sort of woman he'd go after. Perhaps he'd recently
rented Wild Things.

(Actually, Ms. Campbell recently got engaged to British actor John Light, who apparently got down on one knee and recited Shakespeare to her. Coincidence? Hmmmm.....)

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Let's Hear it for The Bard - Young People Play Cupid With The Internet - February 8, 2006

All Headline News - Young People Play Cupid With The Internet - February 8, 2006: Score one for our favorite playwright this Valentine's Day. A poll sponsored by AT&T lists the following movies as apparently the most romantic: Love Actually, Shakespeare in Love, Much Ado About Nothing, Ten Things I Hate About You, and Unfaithful.

Much Ado About Nothing is obviously Shakespeare, as of course is Shakespeare in Love (though not in the "He wrote it" sense of the word). But I wonder if everybody on the poll realizes that Ten Things I Hate About You is actually supposed to be a version of Taming of the Shrew? It's obvious when you look at it -- the characters are named Bianca and Kat (Kate?) and the male lead is Patrick (Petruchio). The last names are Stratford and Verona, and they go to Padua high school.

3 out of 5's not bad. I'm keeping an eye out for Shakespeare references in Love, Actually (which takes place in London, and one of the characters is named Juliet). No clue what "Unfaithful" is doing on a Valentine's Day movie list, though.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Do you read Shakespeare for fun?

Do you read Shakespeare for fun?: has a simple poll up, do you read Shakespeare for fun, yes or no. Right now it's just about 50/50, with Yes edging out No 51% to 48%. So go stuff that ballot box!

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blog : Shakespeare Experience

I see that Alan, who just posted a comment or two, has a Shakespeare blog of his own called “Shakespeare Experience”. Cool. I particularly like the angle it takes: My reflections and thoughts on the works of William Shakespeare, how he inputs the world (dreadful way of putting it isn’t it?) and how my world reflects on and is reflected in his work.

Friday, February 03, 2006

iPod Food : LibriVox

Librivox is a great project that attempts to cross Project Gutenberg (the world of public domain literature) with audio books by getting volunteers to read the classics. How does Shakespeare fit in?

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iPod Food : Dead White Males

Dead White Males: Here's a neat little podcast worth recommending. It's not specifically Shakespeare, but "Dead White Males" is produced by Eric Jean, a literature student who is "considering teaching this stuff some day." I listened to him do just under an hour on Merchant of Venice, which was pretty cool. Mostly a plot summary, but also some commentary on the characters, as well as readings of key passages.

This is not a Shakespeare only podcast, though, so I can only hope that he covers my favorite subject frequently enough that I don't end up dropping him off my list. Other authors currently mentioned on his homepage include Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Blake, Thomas Hardy and others.

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Shakespeare's Standard Biography Could Shatter into ``A Million Little Pieces''

Shakespeare's Standard Biography Could Shatter into ``A Million Little Pieces'': I suppose this is a logical thing to expect after the whole Oprah / James Frey fiasco. The Oxford Society issues a press release saying that all existing Shakespeare biographies are fiction.

Keeping in mind, of course, that the whole purpose of the Oxford Society is to basically claim that Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, is the real author of the complete works.

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William Shakespeare: Catholic playwright

Spero News | William Shakespeare: Catholic playwright:'s an article that goes to great depths in its analysis of Hamlet, attempting to extract evidence for or against the case for Shakespeare's Catholicism. What makes it even more interesting is that it looks at multiple versions of the play and compares notes over how and where it changed. This includes an almost entirely different version of "To be or not to be":
"To be, or not to be: ay, there's the point.
To die, to sleep: is that all? Ay, all.
No to sleep, to dream: ay marry, there it goes.
For in that dream of death, when we awake,
And borne before an everlasting judge,
From whence no passenger ever returned,
The undiscovered country at whose sight
The happy smile and the accursed damned -

I have no time to read this all now but I'm definitely bookmarking it for study. I've just noticed something very interesting. There is a big gaping question that many people have with the speech as it is traditionally known -- why does Hamlet use the expression "The undiscovered country from which no traveller returns" when in fact his father has come back and told him all about it? But in this version of the speech the differences are important -- borne before an everlasting judge, from whence no passenger ever returned, the undiscovered country at whose sight the happy smile and the accursed damned. So here he's explicitly saying to go before God and get into Heaven. But his father was actually in Purgatory. So it is correct to say that he did not return from Heaven. I suppose then the question would be whether someone in Purgatory has supposedly already gone before God and been judged. I honestly don't know.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Enfolded Hamlet: Enfolded Text

Enfolded Hamlet: Enfolded Text:

I hadn't seen this before. The "enfolded" Hamlet merges First Folio and Second Quarto editions of the play into one listing, so you can see exactly what has changed. I'm not sure what the difference is between "first folio" and "first folio only" in the options, though. Perhaps it is "show what is only in the first folio", because when you choose the only option you only get snippets of text, not any semblance of the play itself.

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IPod Food : Sex, Lies and Theatre by Ron Rebholz

I wish I could find a direct link to this, but it appears to strictly be an iTunes thing. Stanford has begun releasing several lecture series as podcasts within iTunes. What that means, if you're new to the terminology, is that you can "sign up" for regularly scheduled downloads of audio content for your ipod. (Normally I'd say "mp3 player" in general, but iTunes only works with iPods). Highly recommended technology if you have not yet experienced it. It's really an outstanding way to fill your player with something beyond the same music you've been listening to for years. You can get news, sports, talk shows, novels, old time name it.

Among the cool finds on the Stanford feed is "Sex, Lies and Theatre : Shakespeare for Today" by Ron Rebholz. He does an hour on the "real world" that Shakespeare lived in, and how Shakespeare chose to represent it. Great stuff. I just mentioned recently over on Shakespeare High that I'd rather populate my iPod with people talking about Shakespeare, rather than performing it, and now I've got my wish. I hope that ends up being a series.

The podcast in question is about an hour, covering everything from the history of the throne, battles of Catholic/Protestant, and effects of the plague as well as the role of marriage and feelings about sexuality during Shakespeare's time. There's also 15 minutes of questions at the end. Be sure to stick around through to the end if for nothing else than to hear the author's opinion on Taming of the Shrew. :) This, in turn, ends up being a fairly deep discussion about the strength of Shakespeare's female characters and goes on to cover Juliet, Ophelia, and many others.

He's also asked to give his opinion on the numerous books that came out on Shakespeare this past year - Greenblatt and Bloom to name two -- and to recommend his own favorite text.

And lastly, though I could not hear the question, there's a funny bit where I can only assume that somebody asked him to comment on the similarities between Prince Hal and President Bush, with the expected results.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Preparing a Sonnet for Performance

Here's something interesting -- this blogger walks through Sonnet 138 in preparation for performance. He breaks down the scansion, picking out words that may not readily appear to break into the iambic form and figuring out the proper way to pronounce them. He even digs into when Shakespeare breaks the rhythm of the recitation and hints at why he might choose specific spots to do it (although most of them as "stick around for the next part of this series"). This is part 2, I never saw part 1 come up. But I'm glad I found it.

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