Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare

I know that Fonzie played Hamlet, and Henry Winkler played Scrooge, but until this moment I'd never heard a peep about 1977's Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare.

It appears to have been part of something called The CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People

Look at the cast -- Kevin Kline as Petruchio?! This would have been one of his earliest television roles.

Challenge extended, Bardfilm - find us some footage!




The Verona Project

Fans of Two Gentlemen of Verona cover your ears, because this reviewer has no kind words for Shakespeare's "weakest, deeply weird" ending.  That's ok, though, because Amanda Dehnert has gone ahead and rewritten it.  Her Verona Project "transforms Shakespeare's shallow, nonsensical play into a joyous and affecting story of flawed people stumbling into love."

I don't often blog about individual local shows, because most folks simply won't ever have the chance to see them. But the amount of scorn heaped on poor Two Gents in this review made me figure that perhaps there are some fans of that one who might like to defend it?


Monday, July 25, 2011

For Done Are Shakespeare's Days

Those hands, which you so clapt, go now, and wring
You Britaines brave; for done are Shakespeares dayes :
His dayes are done, that made the dainty Playes,
Which made the Globe of heav'n and earth to ring.
Dry'de is that veine, dry'd is the Thespian Spring,
Turn'd all to teares, and Phoebus clouds his rayes :
That corp's, that coffin now besticke those bayes,
Which crown'd him Poet first, then Poets King.
If Tragedies might any Prologue have,
All those he made, would scarse make a one to this :
Where Fame, now that he gone is to the grave
(Deaths publique tyring-house) the Nuncius is,
For though his line of life went soone about,
The life yet of his lines shall never out.

H U G H H O L L A N D.

(source link)

Somebody tell me about this. I'm interested lately in the dedications of the First Folio. Other than Ben Jonson's portion, I really had no idea there were so many.  This is actually really good stuff here that I've picked, and I'm quite surprised that I don't hear more about it.  "which crowned him poet first, then poets' king?" That's good stuff!

That Impressionist Guy

So I think that everybody has seen Jim Meskimen's amazing Shakespeare video over the past couple of days:






It's just crazy impressive.  You must watch.  What's fascinating is that, probably because he needed a long speech to work with, he gives us Clarence's speech from Richard III - something that the large majority of the listening audience is sure to not recognize (I've attached it at the end, for reference. He works around Brakenbury's periodic interruptions).

What's your favorite part?  What little tidbits does he sneak in that you spotted and appreciated?  Like Ron Howard getting the line about "Happy Days" :)  Or when Craig Ferguson sticks in an, "I know!" out of nowhere. Obama's reference to "his dream",

For some reason, I think his George W. Bush, right when he says "York", is hysterical.  I don't know why, it just sounds exactly like Bush would have said it, not like he was reciting Shakespeare, but like he was in conversation with somebody and retelling a story with emphasis on random bits.

CLARENCE

O, I have pass'd a miserable night,
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though 'twere to buy a world of happy days,
So full of dismal terror was the time!
BRAKENBURY
What was your dream? I long to hear you tell it.
CLARENCE
Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
And, in my company, my brother Gloucester;
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England,
And cited up a thousand fearful times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster
That had befall'n us. As we paced along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears!
What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
BRAKENBURY
Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon the secrets of the deep?
CLARENCE
Methought I had; and often did I strive
To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood
Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
To seek the empty, vast and wandering air;
But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
BRAKENBURY
Awaked you not with this sore agony?
CLARENCE
O, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;
O, then began the tempest to my soul,
Who pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
Who cried aloud, 'What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?'
And so he vanish'd: then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he squeak'd out aloud,
'Clarence is come; false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,
That stabb'd me in the field by Tewksbury;
Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!'
With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
Environ'd me about, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that with the very noise
I trembling waked, and for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell,
Such terrible impression made the dream.

Henry VII

(originally asked on Twitter, so my followers there who are about to click into the story and possibly see no new content...)

My daughter asked me this weekend about the Henry plays. I think she's fascinated by the Roman numerals, especially given how I say "Henry the fourth" but then I say "Henry vee".

She'd like to know why there was a 4, 5, 6 and 8 ... but no 7.  So, I asked on Twitter.  Here's the responses I've gotten so far, in no particular order:

  • "He was boring?"
  • "Richard III could, if you squint just right, be called Henry VII..."
  • "perhaps b/c the latter part of his reign was characterised by a financial rapacity which stretched the bounds of legality."
  • "Maybe he just didn't get to it-- not so safe while Elizabeth lived, judging from R3, and once James was on the throne, Henry VIII was more useful for praising both James and Elizabeth."
  • "most likely since HVII was politically "tricky". Even HVIII was tricky to do with AB's daughter on throne. He was savvy."
  • "Some ppl thought HVII not "regal" or "noble" enough for throne & he stole it. best avoid topic. Earlier Hs no prob so long."
I've often said that I'm weak in the histories - not to mention, the *actual* history.  Feel free to expand on any of the above ideas, or contribute new ones.  I don't think that his having stolen the throne, or stretched the bounds of legality, would necessarily have meant that there was no good story there to tell.  But from my limited understanding of the political families, I can understand the idea of Shakespeare simply not being allowed to tell a story that was anything less than positive.




Friday, July 22, 2011

Too Much Shakespeare

So this week I took the girls - who are now 9 and almost 7 - to their first tragedy, Macbeth.  I hope to write up that show shortly, once the organizers get me some names so I can give credit.

Anyway...my girls didn't love it.  Too many people died.  Which is to be expected, since this is their first real tragedy.  They told me that this was certainly Shakespeare's grossest play.

"Well it's one of them," said I, "But certainly not the grossest. I think that would have to be Titus Andronicus."

"Why is that one gross?"

"That one is so gross I'm not even going to tell you how gross it is."

"Do people die?"

"Oh, yes. People do worse than die."

"Tell us."

"Well this one guy kills this other guy, right?"

"Yeah..."

"And then he chops him up into little pieces ..."

"Ok, stop."

"...and then he bakes them into a pie..."

"Stop."

"...and then he makes the guy's mother eat the pie."

"Stop stop stop stop stop stop stop stop"

"Told you."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sell Me on All's Well

So, Commonwealth Shakespeare of Boston is doing All's Well That Ends Well this year.

Quite frankly I know almost nothing about it.  I'll do some research before I go, familiarize myself with the plot of course.  But I'm curious to see if it holds up to a certain test.  Namely, the "What's it famous for?" test.

When I saw As You Like It a few years ago, I don't think it really had the audience's attention.  That is, until Jaques started in on "All the world's a stage..." and you could have heard a pin drop, as everybody in the audience simultaneously thought, "Oh, wait, I know that speech!" and stopped to listen.

Twelfth Night has a similar moment when Orsino gives us "If music be the food of love, play on!" although, naturally, that occurs too early to be a head turning moment.  But it certainly gets the play started with even the most casual fan's attention!

So, somebody sell me on All's Well.  What line, speech or scene is going to show up here that I'm going to recognize and say, "Oh, *that's* where that comes from?!"

Best Comedy?

A simple enough question this morning.  The tragedies often get the most attention, but what of the comedies? What, in your opinion, is Shakespeare's *best* comedy?

Gaby Stenberg as Titania, 1944
I know that "best" is always debatable, so let me be more specific. In this case I'm wondering which play has the greatest opportunity to make you laugh yourself silly.  Obviously the production of each play will vary greatly, but which of Shakespeare's comedic scripts do you think offers up the greatest potential to have them LOLing in the aisles?

While I definitely had some "laughed so hard I cried" moments with Comedy of Errors and As You Like It, I think I'd find it hard not to nominate Midsummer as the overall funniest.  I always tend to go right for that last scene, but really, it's pretty darned funny from the beginning.  "You have her father's love, Demetrius ... marry him!"

Monday, July 18, 2011

Review : The Shakespeare Manuscript

I received my review copy of Stewart Buettner's The Shakespeare Manuscript when I was in the middle of The Tragedy of Arthur, which made for a very interesting opportunity to compare two different angles on the same topic - the fictional discovery of a new Shakespeare play. I informed Stewart that I was reading Arthur already, to avoid any feeling that my opinions of the one would cloud the other, but he had no problems with my reading them at the same time.  This actually makes the fourth book on this topic that I've read - see also Interred With Their Bones and The Book of Air and Shadows.

So, how does Buettner's novel get things rolling?  April, the agoraphobic daughter of a rare books dealer, receives a package.  Inside, among other papers, she finds Hamlet, King of Denmarke.  Not prince - King. This is not the Hamlet we all know and love.  This appears to be some other Hamlet story, perhaps even the legendary Ur-Hamlet, a previous chapter in the Hamlet story.

The package came from her father, Miles, who is out of the country traveling on business.  After an unfortunate encounter with some muggers, Miles is left with a nasty case of amnesia and cannot remember how and why he even came by the manuscript. Is it even real?

Unable to get in touch with her father (who sits in a hospital bed as an unidentified "John Doe" until he gets his memory back), April, an actress herself, contacts Avery LeMaster, her former director, to be her expert on the authenticity of the play.

Avery immediately declares it legitimate simply by reading it.  He then convinces April to let him have it - the only copy of what could be the rarest manuscript in the world. He races back to his own group of players, announces "We're performing this," and then proceeds to lose it.

The majority of the book is not about the play, but the players. They all have history, and I lost track of who had slept with whom (not unlike my own college theatre troupe :)).  Emotions run high, and had there been more trailers, I'm sure that most of the cast would have spent most of their time in them.  But professionals they are indeed, and the author gives us plenty of opportunity to see them act.  What exactly was Hamlet's relationship to his father, and to Ophelia?  Buettner offers a number of possibilities.  In doing so, he smartly focuses not on some imaginary text that he had to make up for the purposes of his story, but on the interactions between his actors.  How does Ophelia feel about what Hamlet is saying to her? What does that do to her performance?

The play's authenticity does come up, of course - eventually.  Will the original be recovered? Can it be properly authenticated?  Can Miles, who does recover from his amnesia, take on the detective work of figuring out where and how he got it in the first place?  Who exactly holds rights to the play, and what does that do to the possibility of performing it?

I liked the core idea - imagine a prequel to Shakespeare, and then focus a group of actors on nothing but performing that story.  It would be easy enough to do in real life, of course, if you just went ahead and wrote your own (for instance, something like Updike's Claudius and Gertrude comes to mind). But what if the play was actually written by Shakespeare, and you were the very first to perform it? Your interpretation would set the stage, literally, for generations to come.  No hypotheticals.  No discussions in blog comments about whether Gertrude was fooling around with Claudius on the side.  Now you'd have to pick an interpretation and sell it on the stage.  That's cool.

Most of the rest of the story - the intrigue stuff? I could live without.  Everybody's got skeletons in their closet. Somebody's on drugs.  Something horrible happened in April's family that she doesn't talk about - she's got one estranged brother and another that we have to assume is dead. She was also the greatest young actress of her generation before "the event" that sent her off the stage and into her self-imposed exile.  Can she make a triumphant comeback?  Miles, meanwhile, doesn't really have amnesia - he's hiding something.

I appreciate that the book has to appeal to a broad audience.  Where I see "a book about the discovery of a new Shakespeare play, that happens to be a mystery", the rest of the world sees "a mystery about the discovery of a new Shakespeare play."  But there are moments where I think maybe the author spread himself a bit too thin.  April's agoraphobia comes and goes.  One minute she can't be near other people, the next minute she's sleeping with someone.  She's accused of racism at some point as well when her black co-star does not understand her hesitance, but that goes nowhere.

(I also found Miles' amnesia oddly amusing, when he claims to forget the plot of Othello. He knows it's by Shakespeare, he just forgot what it's about.  I'm reasonably sure that amnesia doesn't work that way. :) )

In the end, this book is about its people, and for that I'm glad - I've often said that this is how I like my Shakespeare. I like to talk about the characters as if they are real, and not just words strung together on a page.  There is not a great deal of academic detail in this one about the painstaking details of authenticating a Shakespeare play (see "Arthur", above).  Nor are there any shoot-outs, car chases, or grisly murders.  There's a bunch of actors on retreat out in the middle of nowhere, and their director shows up with a play that might be Shakespeare.  Go.  You know, it even occurs to me as I write that summary that the entire book could have been written like that, from the perspective of one of the actors.  Start with the director showing up with the play. Who cares where he got it, or what's happening to authenticate it. You're an actor, you've just been handed the biggest challenge of your career, and you've got a month to do nothing but live and breathe it.  What would you do?


Kickstarting Digital Shakespeare : CGI Macbeth

There's lots in this article about a computer-animated staging of Macbeth to love:

  • He's targeting it at high school kids as a way of increasing their interest in the subject matter.
  • Robots.  How do you not love robots? ;)
  • Direct quote from the animator: “This is a staging not an adaptation, the text is sacrosanct. While the Shakespearean text remains the same, the visuals will be something that students can appreciate.”  Amen, brother!  (Although we could debate what "the same" means - I hope that he's not just blindly taking whatever public domain copy of the text he can find.  You are allowed a little directorial freedom, man!)
  • He's using Kickstarter.  So he's at least making a valiant effort at trying to make his project a reality.
Enthusiasm is one thing, but let's also be realistic. The journalist working on the article sent video clips to some area high school students as a test, and none of them particularly liked it :(.  All of them seemed to be saying that the robots, without facial expression, were the problem.  I'm guessing that robots is the animator's way of saying "I can't do faces well enough."

Still, though, I applaud and support the idea! 

I wonder if he knows about Shakespeare in Bits?

Who Will We Never See?

Thinking about Orson Welles as Falstaff got me thinking about our great Shakespearean actors.  Specifically, those who are no longer with us. 

For the moment let's talk about film, because for what I'm about to ask only film, not stage, makes any sense.

Orson Welles was Falstaff, Macbeth, Othello, Lear, Shylock.

Sir Laurence Olivier was Orlando, Henry V, Hamlet, Lear, Richard III, Othello, Shylock.

How about Richard Burton? Not only was he Hamlet and Petruchio, he was Caliban as well.


...so, here's my question.  What actor (or actress), who is no longer with us, makes you wish "If only he'd played ________" and now we'll never know.

See what I'm getting at?  This is why I said film.  Because even though Olivier and Gielgud were decades before my time, I can at least go to film and get a glimpse of what they were capable of.  But if Olivier never put a Macbeth on film, well then I'll never get to see Olivier's Macbeth.  Dig?


Who do you wish we had?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Welles' Greatest Shakespeare Film ... Available At Last?

Shakespeare Geeks may or may not know the story of Chimes At Midnight, Orson Welles' conflagration of so many history plays that I don't even have an accurate count (although I'm sure someone will correct me).

On the one hand, it is Welles' masterpiece - he himself called it his favorite of all his films, and many believe it to be the greatest Shakespeare film yet made.  This is not even counting the technological achievements, such as the first use of "shaky cam" for the battlefield scenes. 

The problem is that, due to a nightmare of legal issues, the film is not available in a US version.  If you've seen it, chances are that you have seen the Brazil import.

Well good news!  It looks as though people have been trying to sort out the ownership red tape for years, and have finally gotten it straight (for now?).  The article says that the film has been "restored" as well as re-released, so I wonder whether that refers just to the quality of the print, or the possible edition of new material?

Who's Folger Reading? Me!

Thanks Haley for pointing out this entry on the Folger Education Blog entitled "Who We're Reading". Yours truly is on the list, as well as regular contributor Bardfilm. I wasn't familiar with the other two entries, I'll have to go check those out.
( Disclosure - The author of the article, Caitlin Griffin, is a frequent commenter here. Hi, CGriff! Thanks for the link!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

YouTube's Got (Shakespeare) Talent

As I sit here entertaining myself on Twitter late on a Wednesday, after having watched the America's Got Talent results show (go Snap Boogie!), I had an idea.

For any given "famous scene" of Shakespeare, you can find many clips on YouTube. What's interesting is that once you weed through all the famous ones - Olivier's King Lear, Branagh's Henry V, etc,... - what you get is just plain old people.

So here's the challenge I'm extending. Dig through some regular people doing Shakespeare, and provide some links to the good ones. Let's see if we can't give some credit. If you want to play, even if you can't find any links of your own, you at least have to watch the ones that are provided and vote for those you like the best.  I have no prizes to offer, but maybe we can give somebody a boost in views and make their day.

Scene choice is up to you. Maybe we can keep it separated between comedy and tragedy or something (though I expect that "dramatic readings" will almost always come from a tragedy). I recommend picking people who have actually picked a soliloquoy of some sort and then pointed the camera at themselves. Audience shots of stage productions don't tend to be very good quality.

Get the idea? Ok, show me what you can find!

Game Chef 2011 : Design a Shakespeare RPG

Any gamers / game designers in the audience?

http://gamechef.wordpress.com/2011-contest-rules/

2011 Theme: Avon Calling
The theme of Game Chef 2011 is William Shakespeare. As always, you are free to interpret the theme however you like, but remember that this is the theme and not just an ingredient. Your game should be “Shakespearean” in some regard, though how exactly is up to you.
Get to it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sherwood Schwartz Has Died

Granted that the man was 94, but still a sad day. Sherwood Schwartz, creator of 1970's iconic television shows like Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, has died.

At times like this we like to celebrate such a person's contribution to Shakespearean culture. It seems only fitting, then, to include this clip. You know what's coming. Everybody, sing along. "I ask to be, or not to be, a rogue or peasant slave is what you see...."

( I hate that YouTube allows you to disable embedding of video clips. If they'd started out that way, they wouldn't be what they are today. )

Bonus, here's Marcia Brady as Juliet. Although that clip isn't nearly as fun as the previous one.  Although, as I listen more, interesting bits come up:

* Harold (Romeo) says that "he's almost 15, same age as Romeo."

* Juliet completely butchers that "is it thy arm thy hand thy foot thy face" line - I had to dig to figure out what she was supposed to be saying.

* Love the parents' advice that "even the greatest actress in the world doesn't change Shakespeare."

* "If only she didn't think she was junior high's answer to Sarah Bernhardt."  Nice!

* One of the boys (Peter?) practices his line, "Hark! Who goes there!" but isn't that Hamlet?

I need to get back to work, I could go through the whole episode like this.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review : The Taming of the Werewolf


PETRUCHIO

I swear I'll cuff you, if you strike again.
KATHARINA
So may you lose your arms:
If you strike me, you are no gentleman;
And if no gentleman, why then no arms.
Because I will BITE THEM OFF!
What if Katharina had a perfectly good reason for being so cranky all of the time? You'd be sore too if all you wanted to do was shed your clothes, change form, and run wild in the woods.

Author Sylvia Shults pitched me her idea of "Taming of the Shrew + Zombies", although when I heard "werewolf" I suggested that maybe Twilight had more than a little to do with it. :) I thought it sounded like fun.

And it is. A small book - barely 90 pages - I read it at the beach this weekend. Katharina gets a backstory! Haven't you ever wondered what her deal is? Why she's such a man hater (no I did not say "man eater", at least not yet :))? We learn of her doomed affair with Amadeo, a man she would never have been allowed to marry anyway, even if he hadn't been killed by a werewolf. Katharina (Amadeo was the only man ever allowed to call her "Kate") survived the attack, but alas she's now cursed. Literally.

With that little twist in mind, now you may begin to play out the familiar story. Petruchio has come to Padua to wive and thrive, and when he hears about the substantial dowry that Katharina brings, he takes up the challenge. How long will it be until she (pardon the expression) bites his head off? Is he the alpha male she's been looking for, without ever realizing what she needed?

I want to use this opportunity to bring up a topic of discussion. Many people have retold Shakespeare's tales in many different ways. Here, despite the fact that a new story element has been added and the whole book being written in modern prose, the actual Shakespearean dialogue is often kept. I find this jarring. If you add dialogue and that dialogue is modern English, why switch back to spoken Shakespearean just to mimic what's in the original script? Compare West Side Story as an example. While everyone who ever sees that play can plainly tell that it is a direct port of Romeo and Juliet, it manages to also be an entirely unique entity without suffering in the least for it.

What do you think? If somebody wants to take Shakespeare's story and play with it, would you like to leave in elements of the original, or just go ahead and write the parallel-universe version where you can do what you want?

I prefer the latter in a case like this. This book wants to be a romance novel, but it's too short and gimmicky (no offense, Sylvia!) to really accomplish that task. It's closer to young adult (though there's just enough sexy time for me not to give it to my 9yr old). So instead I say go for it - throw off the shackles of trying to too closely mimic your source material. Take the story of the shrew waiting to be tamed, and retell it however you want. Change the names, change the dialogue, and take as much time as you need to really dig into your backstory. There's plenty of opportunity to go all "bodice-ripper" here - lust, passion, individuals quite literally succumbing to their animal instincts! - so why not jump in with both feet? Go the West Side Story way, and make Twilight meets Shrew. Could be a winner!

Of course for every West Side Story there is a Shakespeare in Love, or a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, showing that the opposite side of the argument is also true - you can use your Shakespeare foundation and create an amazing story right in the middle of it. In this case, however, I don't think the source material stands up the same. Shrew doesn't really stand up to R&J or Hamlet in the modern reader/viewer's mind.

What do you think?


Rosaline, the Movie

Spotted on Twitter (thanks, elrankin!) is news of a Rosaline movie that will give us Romeo and Juliet from "Romeo's ex-girlfriend's point of view." I won't take issue with exactly what Romeo and Rosaline's relationship was at the beginning of the play, I figure that's close enough.


The article uses the example of Wicked as retelling Wizard of Oz. But what comes to my mind is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. There's only one Tom Stoppard, certainly - but R&G has become one of the defining examples of how to take Shakespeare, turn him sideways, and create something awesome. Could this project do it again? Or is there just not enough meat on the bones of the Rosaline back story? The great thing about R&G is how Stoppard weaves the actual telling of Hamlet throughout - he makes it obvious that his story is taking place in between the scenes, when the action of the play has gone elsewhere. How will Rosaline make that work, when she's basically gone after the Capulet party? Should we just stick her in every crowd scene? Add some previously unseen interactions between her and the main characters?



John Quincy Adams, on Shakespeare

Ok, here's a very cool crossover. I had some fun once upon an April Fool's Day with the "Ireland Forgeries", a collection of counterfeit Shakespeare papers circa 1790s that included letters to Anne Hathaway, new plays, and other extraordinary things that were, of course, all fake.


Sure, we know that *now*. But how did other people of the time feel about it? Haven't you ever wondered what the American founding fathers thought about the discovery?


Well, now you can ;). Check out some of John Quincy Adams' writing on the topic:



Went with them and Mr. Vaughan to see Mr. Ireland [presumably William Henry's father Samuel], and saw several of his manuscripts which he assures have been lately discovered, and are original from the hand of Shakespear. They are deeds, billets, a love-letter to Anne Hatherrwaye with a lock of hair, designs done with a pen, a fair copy of Lear, three or four sheets of a Hamlet, and a Tragedy hitherto unknown of Vortigern and Rowena. The last we did not see, as unfortunately some company came, to which Mr. Ireland was obliged to attend, and we accordingly took our leave. The marks of authenticity born by the manuscripts are very considerable, but this matter will like to occasion as great a literary controversy as the supposed poems of Rowley, and those of Ossian have done.



(emphasis mine) This was found in Adams' diary dated November 19, 1795. So even then the reception among learned men seems to have been "They look authentic, but..."


There's much, much more, but I don't want to steal the original author's thunder. Go read the whole thing! How neat.



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

What Are You Wearing?

With summer upon us I'm in the mood for a new Shakespeare t-shirt. I've got my "Mercutio Drew First!" as well as a blue one that's just a big picture of Shakespeare rolling his eyes (a variant of Droeshout), but I can't be the guy who shows up to events always in one of those two shirts. :) Looking for ideas.


What sort of Shakespeare stuff have you got? I know I said "wearing", but subject lines are everything :). I'll open it up to hats, beach bags... anything that's got something Shakespeare in it, that you might be flaunting at the beach or on vacation. Books don't count :).



Monday, July 04, 2011

Shakespeare's Most Recognized Speeches

I asked this question quickly on Twitter, but it's really hard to explain it in short terms.


What I'm looking for is what would best be described as the most recognizable Shakespeare speeches. The kind of thing where, if you showed it to a regular person (not necessarily a Shakespeare Geek) they'd say "Oh, ok, yeah, I've heard that. That's Shakespeare, right?"


I figure "To be or not to be" is up there. As is Henry's "Band of Brothers" speech. When I asked on Twitter, a number of people went immediately to Marc Anthony's funeral speech ("Friends, Romans, Countrymen...") as well as the opening of Richard III (the winter of our discontent).


What else ya got? I'm not talking about one-liner quote/cliches that everybody knows, I'm talking a good chunk of lines that somebody might recite in various contexts. A speech that lasts long enough that, if someone started it, you'd have time to stop what you were doing and listen until it was done.


Doing research for one of my many side projects that may or may not ever see the light of day. :)