Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Whedon's Much Ado Movie -- Release Date!

For those not following on Twitter, a representative from Bellwether Pictures (Whedon's production company) tweeted the following this morning:

Looks like some of you might have heard that a little film, #MuchAdoTheMovie, will be premiering at #TIFF12 Sept 6-16. More details soon.
TIFF is the Toronto International Film Festival. They are holding a press conference as we speak, when the full fall lineup will be announced (currently their site appears to only have summer listings).

UPDATED - More details, including a video, now available.  Strangely I do not hear Whedon's name mentioned in the video but he's clearly included in the writeup (along with a hint that his movie will likely be one of the biggest hits of the festival).

The App's The Thing

Everybody knows that I'm a software developer by trade.  Over the years we've periodically discussed how Shakespeare can crossover with technology to produce new and exciting ways of teaching, learning, and performing.  They're actually coming so fast and furious at me now that I can't even keep up - I had to turn down an offer to be part of a test group for a new app because I only have Android devices, and everybody insists on developing for iPad first :(.

But!  Let's talk about this Fast Company story on a new $9.99 iPad version of The Tempest.  It looks to have lots of things I've always wanted:
  • combine the text with the audio book so you can read or listen at will, your choice
  • add comments and notes that will be shared with other people reading the book so that you can create a sort of virtual book club for discussion 
  • switch over to video to actually see performances of key scenes 
Ten bucks for what will be be seen as a "fancy multimedia book" is no doubt pretty high and I don't expect it to take over the world.  Ten bucks for a single play?  My brain immediately does math for how much it'll cost me to go through all the plays I'd like to read this way.

Whether you read the story or not, what would you like to see in the ideal "Shakespeare on Mobile" (tablet or phone?) app?  Is it all about the text, or the video?  Is it about the source material, or the centuries of commentary and footnotes?  Or would it be about collaborating and creating new things?  Would you rather have fewer plays in the app and have the app do more things, or is the desire for a "Complete Works" the stronger force at work here?

For years I've wanted a way to connect every kid in the world reading Hamlet with every Shakespeare Geek in the world who wants to talk about Hamlet, and I think we're finally getting closer.  My idea, since before the Kindle and the iPad (when I had a "Rocket eBook Reader") was for the reader to post a question on a page and say "Wait!  Why doesn't Hamlet kill Claudius here?"  That, so far, has always been easy.  The trick is that there would be an army of people out there who have signed up to listen for these questions, who get a little notification blip on their device that says, "There's a new question to answer."  So you go and you answer it, right there in the text.

I think we're getting closer.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Shakespeare Olympics

Is anybody else getting excited at the thought of Shakespeare playing a role in the upcoming Olympics?

My kids are old enough to understand the idea of the Olympics, and they've been preparing - watching the qualifying events for swimming and gymnastics, etc..  Tonight my daughter asks me, "When is the opening ceremony?"

"Friday night," I tell her.  We're going to be away in a hotel, but I plan to be riveted to a television. "And at some point during the ceremony, Kenneth Branagh is going to read some Shakespeare, and Daddy is going to lose his mind."

"Why?" she asked.

...How do you explain it?  For starters it might not even be true, the replacement of Mark Rylance with Kenneth Branagh was just a rumor, and I have no idea what part he will play.  But I can dream.  So how do I explain to my 10yr old geeklet that what I'm excited about is that, for a brief period of time, one of *our* representatives is going to have the attention of the *entire world*.  How often do Shakespeareans get that?  It's not as if President Obama dropped a Henry V quote into a speech and then all the talking heads on CNN rushed to discuss the context of how he used it and what it could mean.  Pretty soon the whole world is going to look at London and say, "What have you got for us, London?  What makes you so special?"  And at least to some extent, what they're going to do is trot out Shakespeare.  I couldn't be more excited.  How many of us dream for such a captive audience?

In honor of the Olympics I'd like to point people to a post I made four years ago on the subject of sports in Shakespeare.  This particular post holds a very special place in the history of this site, and you'll see it play out in the comments.  Dr. Carl Atkins literally wrote the book (ok, well, *a* book) on the sonnets.  I have it.  Yet during the conversation, former contributor(*) Alan Farrar drops in a comment that the "master mistress" in Sonnet 20 is actually a reference to the sport of bowls (is that the same as bowling?) Dr. Atkins has never heard such a thing, so he researches it ... and *confirms* it, noting reference to the fact in a 1971 article and pointing out that at least eight editors missed it.  Only through a chance meeting on this blog is the record set straight.

(*) I say former because I have not heard from Mr. Farrar in years.  It is my belief that he has passed away. I know from watching his other blogs that he had significant health difficulties.  I never did find any sort of confirmation of his passing, I just know that he disappeared from the yet a good number of years ago.  RIP, Alan.  I can only hope that those flights of angels have long since sung thee to thy rest.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Little Whedon Shakespeare Tease

I'm not surprised I missed this amid all the Avengers hype over the last few months, mostly because it's very tiny and buried at the far end of a long video clip with no fast forward button.

BUT!  If you're patient, and you really really want a glimpse of what Joss Whedon's got cooking for his upcoming Much Ado movie, there's a couple of seconds of footage tucked away in this Avengers story from May.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

So, Shakespeare Maybe? #shakespearemaybe

Thank Cookie Monster for this one, folks - it was his parody of the mind virus known as "Call Me Maybe" that produced the following.  Bardfilm is on vacation, so hopefully I've done a reasonable job at filling the void while he's gone...

Hey, Coriolanus!
We know you're angry.
Your mother asked nice,
So spare Rome, maybe?

I know that we just got here,
But it's too early.
So let's get back together
After the hurly burly.

Hey there, Desdemona,
You have deceived me!
Iago said so.
And he's trustworthy.

Good evening Mr. Capulet.
My name is Romeo.
It's been a lovely party,
But now we must go.

Malvolio, dear?
I love your stockings.
So wear them for me?
I promise, no mocking.

Look, here comes Macbeth.
Now, introductions!
We'll call him Cawdor,
And he'll kill Duncan.

Listen, Earl of Gloucester
You've really irked me.
(Here comes the gross part)
Now you can't see.

Benedick and Beatrice!  Look,
Stop all the hating.
All your friends think
You should be dating.

Let's run away Lysander
Then we can marry!
What's the worst can happen?
They're only fairies.

Prince Hamlet, here's your gifts back.
(My father made me!)
So make this better
Before I go crazy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Can I Call This One Sex In the Ancient City?

When I saw the name Kim Cattrall pop up in my inbox I assumed it was one of those social network digests I get periodically ("Kim Cattrall and Sean Combs have joined Pinterest!"), but I was pleasantly mistaken.  It was a press release for an upcoming event where the Sex In The City star is going to be talking about Cleopatra along with Janet Suzman:

In an event called Cleopatra: Not the Usual Passion Assigned to a Woman the two will discuss their experiences of playing Shakespeare’s iconic character, described by Suzman as “the most interesting role for a woman ever written”. Along with Jude Kelly they will discuss the complexity of the role, and explore why Cleopatra has the independence that allows her to speak to modern women.
Cattrall's Shakespeare interest appears relatively new - all the links I can find associating her with out favorite topic seem to come from this month :).  Here's video of her performing Sonnet 103.

And, here's her in a musical number with Andrew McCarthy from 1987's Mannequin :)

Monday, July 02, 2012

I Hate Shakespeare

A few years back (2008, specifically) I posted the question Why Do You Hate Shakespeare? What Do You Hate About Shakespeare? with the intent that people googling for related subjects would possibly land there, offer up their thoughts, and start a conversation where perhaps we could turn some folks around.   That post still gets traffic and comments.

Sometimes it's fun though to revisit the archives and get some new opinions.

I don't expect that most of my regular readers hate Shakespeare, obviously, otherwise they're going to be ridiculously frustrated reading a blog like this one.  But surely many of us have had conversation with someone offline who has launched into the "I hate Shakespeare because...." diatribe.  Feel free to share such stories.

Shakespeare and Me

Well, not *me* -- The Guardian has up a series called Shakespeare and Me, where we get to hear the thoughts of some of our most beloved Shakespeareans.  Here, for a taste, is Dame Judi:

Shakespeare is wonderful for children. It fires their imagination – they recognise people being superstitious, greedy, envious and falling in and out of love.
I didn't get the chance to play Macbeth but I don't half envy his lines.  
If you look at the punctuation of Shakespeare and obey it then you'll never run out of breath. He writes where the pause should be. If you understand that, you unlock the play.

I like the format - short, almost in a question and answer form but not quite (I can't imagine an interviewer asking, "If you look at the punctuation, then.....what?")  I've not yet read them all but other luminaries include Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Ben Kingsley, Simon Russell Beale, Alan Cumming and others.