I love when I serendipitously come across links like this one. If I still taught high school English — if I somehow could have sustained myself (mentally, financially) in that profession past my 20’s — I would definitely use one of these to describe a Shakespeare play. While the play is always much more than the plot and the language is what adds so much to the beauty, I think these are wonderful for making a play accessible. If you know what is going on, it is so much easier to listen and pay attention to the language.
I haven’t had time to watch all of these in their entirety, but have seen snippets. The video describing the project is interesting too.
Using household objects to represent the characters seemed a bit strange at first. Yet, I know when I’ve tried to explain a complicated story to someone, I’ve often reached for simple objects to represent. It works!
I love how in the retelling of Romeo & Juliet, Sam Taylor refers to each member with the surname of the house he belongs to. It isn’t enough to know Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo a Montague, but to know which house each of the other characters belong to.
Shakespeare wrote: I wasted time and now doth time waste me. Although I spent much time this evening following various links from the World Shakespeare Festival, I don’t think that I wasted my time. Like Celia, in As You Like It, I willingly wanted to waste my time in that location.
Here are a few links I found interesting this evening:
The British Museum currently has the exhibit Shakespeare: Staging the World. Along with the BBC, they are sponsoring Shakespeare’s Restless World, a podcast examining 20 objects from Shakespeare’s time as a way of looking at Elizabethan England and how the actors and the theatre-goers would have viewed Shakespeare’s plays.
MyShakespeare a site for considering what Shakespeare means in our world today. The site includes some commissioned work for the project, like this piece by Will Power, performing Caliban’s speech from The Tempest. The beauty and lyricism of Shakespeare’s words re-interpreted for today’s ear.
Another commissioned work is the tumblr Nicely Turned by artist Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa. I found it difficult to not laugh when looking at this site, a collection of allusions to Shakespearian plays and characters. It’s a lot of fun to see how common sayings and clichés from Shakespeare appear in our world.
And then there is the amazing, wonderful Chicken Shop Shakespeare. Take a few minutes to watch a few of their videos. All are under two minutes. I want more Chicken, please!
myShakespeare also has a way that the public can contribute their own interpretations. See details on the site.
I eventually meandered to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s site and found these two videos featuring Jonjo O’Neill, who I saw perform in As You Like It and Romeo & Juliet in New York last year (Best.Mercutio.Ever). O’Neill is currently playing the title role in Richard III. How I wish I could go to Stratford to see this before it closes!
I may not be able to go to England this year, but I am glad that through the magic of the interwebs I can still enjoy bits and pieces of London2012 and the World Shakespeare Festival.
He was not of an age, but for all time! ~ Ben Jonson
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within Then soon upon a backward journey lithe. Anon, once more the gesture, then begin Command sinistral pedestal to writhe. Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke. A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl. To spin! A wild release from heaven’s yoke. Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl. The Hoke, the poke — banish now thy doubt Verily, I say, ‘is what it’s all about.
April 23 is the day of Shakespeare’s death (in 1616), and sometimes considered as the day of his birth as well, although records only indicate when he was baptized ( Apr 26, 1564), not born. In honor of the Bard of Avon (or perhaps just as a piece of Bardolatry), a few bits about my admiration of Shakespeare:
My Shakespeare Bucket List: I am surprised to learn that the phrase Bucket List, which is often heard, is not known to have existed before the 2007 Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie of the same name. The term from which it is derived, kick the bucket has been around since 1785. (See here and here, and lots of other google-able places.) It doesn’t seem far-fetched to me that this would gain popularity so quickly, especially since there have been so many variations of the 1000 Things to Do Before You Die books published in recent years. Having a list of things to accomplish, though, is not a new idea.
I have lots of things that I would like to do some day, but I’ve not codified many of them. However, since I was a college student, there is one thing that I’ve always thought that I would like to accomplish: read the complete works of Shakespeare — 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long poems that I didn’t stay awake past the opening lines while reading in college — and see all of the plays in performance at least once. I’m not sure of a specific date when I decided that this would be a goal, and I haven’t been very diligent about working towards accomplishing it, but it’s always been an idea I’ve had. Last year, before I attended the RSC plays performed in New York, I decided to begin to track how close I was to accomplishing this goal. The answer: not very close. At least, not yet.
In 2011, I did see some plays that I had never seen before (Julius Caesar, The Winter’s Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV Part I & II, & A Comedy of Errors) and read two plays (Romeo & Juliet, MacBeth). Since I haven’t read another play since last summer, I think it is time that I pick up the Shakespeare brick I own (The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works, Second Edition, Edited by Jowett, Montgomery, Taylor & Wells) and read another. Any votes for which play I should read next?
Shakepeare on Film: Not willing to read the Complete Works? How about watching a film? Here are two lists of notable Shakespearean plays or adaptations.
What about seeing a movie about how Shakespeare’s works have impacted others, such as Shakespeare Behind Bars, or Ian McKellan’s Acting Shakespeare. Or watch The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged by the Reduced Shakespeare Company for a very funny synopsis of his works. Want a little controversy? You can watch Rolland Emmerich’s Anonymous. Although it has to stretch quite a few facts (and isn’t very honest about which ones it does) to make it work, it presents a theory as to who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays. I liked the movie as a movie, but find its theory about the Earl of Oxford laughable. I hold fast to the theory that William Shakespeare did not write the plays, but some other guy named William Shakespeare. 🙂 Actually I don’t care who wrote them as I think it is unprovable and really not of much importance, but the theories are an interesting diversion.
All of these films are available on Netflix. A favorite Shakespearean Passage: Jacques’ speech in As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puling in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. last scene of all,
That ends this strange, eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
Jacques can seem such a downer in such a joyous play, but he is spot on with his observations. Act 2 ends soon after those lines, but the beginning of Act 3 has these lines from the love-sick Orlando:
Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love;
And thou thrice-crowned queen of night, survey
With thy chaste eye, from the pale sphere above,
Thy huntress’ name that my full life doth sway.
O Rosalind, these trees shall be my books,
And in their barks my thoughts I’ll character
That every eye which in this forest looks
Shall see thy virtue witnessed everywhere.
Run, run Orlando; carve on every tree
The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she!
And such is life: frivolity and wisdom, the good and the sad, love and death, the inevitable. It makes me smile. My Best Bard Memorabilia: I had a button with a likeness of Shakespeare on it. It read “Will Power”. I bought it in Stratford on Avon in 1980. I still had it last summer when I saw the RSC perform and wore it to the performances I attended. I tried to find it yesterday, hoping to snap a photo of it for this post. Can’t seem to recall where I last left it. This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is S. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.
It’s been awhile since I picked up Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary and, when I got it in my head to look at it this morning, my search led me into a massive reorganization of a few bookcases, leading me to once again ponder: Is there such a thing as too many books?
I didn’t ponder for too long, though, I now have one reorganized bookcase and several more stacks around the house awaiting me to continue this project tomorrow. But, Johnson’s Dictionary was found and provided a bit of a respite from the dust in my bookcases.
If you don’t know Johnson’s work, but only know of it, you need to get your hands on a copy. It is fascinating reading. Coleridge called it a “most instructive and entertaining book” and I couldn’t agree more. Lord Macaulay is also quoted in the introduction to the edition I own (1) as stating that it is “the first dictionary which could be read with pleasure. The definitions show so much acuteness of thought and command of language, and the passages quoted from poets, divines and philosophers are so skillfully selected, that a leisure hour may always be very agreeably spent in turning over the pages.” I won’t fess up how much time I spent with dear Johnson’s dictionary today, but let it suffice to say that I might have made more progress on my bookcases had I not thumbed through as many pages as I did.
One of the things that makes Johnson’s Dictionary so entertaining to read are the quotations used as examples of the definitions. By far the most quoted author was Shakespeare, who Johnson said was useful for “the diction of common life”. So, in keeping with the A to Z challenge — and because April is the month of Shakespeare’s birth & death — here are a few words beginning with the letter ‘K‘ which use the Bard’s word as examples.
Stacks and stacks and stacks....
ken n.s, [from the verb.]
View; reach of sight.
Lo! within a ken, our army lies. ~ Henry IV.
When from the mountain top
Pisanio shew’d thee, Thou wast within a ken. ~ Cymbeline
No sooner justice had with valour arm’d, Compell’d these skipping kerns to trust their heels, But the Norweyan lord, surveying advantage, Began a fresh assault. ~ MacBeth
Kickshaw n.s. [This word is supposed, I think with truth, to be only a corruption of quelque chose, something; yet Milton seems to have understood it otherwise; for he writes it kickshoe, and seems to think it used in contempt of dancing.]
2. A dish so changed by the cookery that it can scarcely be known.
Some pigeons, a couple of short-legged hens,
a joint of mutton, and any pretty little tiny kickshaws. ~ Henry IV.
Kicksy-wicksey n.s [from kick and wince.]
A made word in ridicule and disdain of a wife. Hanmer.
He wears his honor in a box, unseens, That hugs his kicksy-wicksey here at home, Spending his manly marrow in her arms. ~ All’s Well That Ends Well
kidney n.s [etymology unknown.]
2. Race; kind; in ludicrous langauge.
Think of that, a man of my kidney; think of that, that am as subject to heat as butter;
a man of continual dissolution and thaw. ~ Merry Wives of Windsor
kind n.s [cynne, Saxon.]
4. Nature; natural determination.
The skillful shepherd peel’d me certain wands, And in the doing of the deed of kind, He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes. ~ The Merchant of Venice
5. Manner; way. Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
Or you shall hear in such a kind from me
As will displease you. ~ Henry IV
kitchenwench n.s. [kitchen and wench.]
Scullion; maid employed to clean the instruments of cookery.
Laura to his lady was but a kitchenwench. ~ Romeo and Juliet
knowledge n.s. [from know]
2. Learning; illumination of the mind.
Ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heav’n ~ 2 Henry IV
3. Skill in any thing.
Do but say to me what I should do, That in your knowledge may by me be done, And I am prest unto it. ~ Merchant of Venice
4. Acquaintance with any fact or person.
That is not forgot, Which ne’er I did remember; to my knowledge I never in my life did look on him. ~ Richard II
Kern, Kicksy-Wicksey, and Kitchenwench may no longer be the “diction of common life”, but it is still fun to read about them.
1. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary, Selections from the 1755 work that defined the English Language, edited by Jack Lynch, published by Levenger Press, 2004.
This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is K. Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.
Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn’t happen. ~ Steven Wright
It was still dark outside when my alarm sounded this morning. Usually, when on vacation, I don’t use the alarm unless I have a plane to catch. Today, though, I wanted to catch the full moon setting, the low tide, and sunrise, just before 7 am.
The sky was just beginning to lighten when I walked out on the beach, wondering if my fleece jacket would be warm enough. The moon was glowing in the northwestern sky, looking like a giant Japanese lantern hanging over Sanibel. In Colonial America, the January moon was called the Winter Moon; the Cherokees called it the Cold Moon; the Celts, the Quiet Moon; and the English referred to it as the Wolf Moon. On a subtropical beach, just before a warm winter day, only the Celts seemed to have captured this particular January moon.
January Full Moon: Cold, Quiet, Wolf
I turned towards the south and headed towards the shoreline. The tide would still be moving out for another 20 minutes. The shorebirds had positioned themselves at the very edge of the water; the little squeaky sandpipers running when a wave reached back towards the sand; the larger terns merely lifting one webbed foot as if they couldn’t be bothered. Some of the more industrious birds bobbed for fish or cracked open shells. The less energetic ones merely lowered their heads into the surf, as if they had already had their fill at the morning tidepool buffet.
Cockles: Not a Hard Shell to Crack
As I walked gently through the blubbery sand, I looked at all of the creatures left behind by the retreating waves. I don’t know how they survive, or even if. Are the ones that are exposed by the tide the ones who are living their last moments? Or will they be rescued when the tide pushes back towards the beach, the water trying to reclaim its rightful inheritance and dominion over the planet? I am witness to the struggle near my feet: a starfish has left tracks in the sand; a whelk seems destined for someone’s shell collection — why I think would anyone want one of these? how out-of-place would it be sitting on a shelf or in a basket, bereft of sand and salt and the smell of the sea? — when the shell’s inhabitant extends itself out. A quiet wave washes in and removes more sand from beneath the shell. The mollusk continues to show itself. Suddenly I realize that it is righting itself, repositioning in order to burrow further down into the wet sand. I turn it over with my foot to look at it once again, but immediately feel guilty for doing so. I pick it up and loft it towards the sea. You’ll live to swim another day I think, and then wonder, noticing that the beach is beginning to be populated with walkers and bikers, if I said the words aloud. Later, when reading about the sea creatures I photographed, I learned that the word whelk may have come from the Proto-Indo-European root for “turn or revolve”. It is as fitting, I decide, as calling them gastropods, the larger classification of this sea snail. I wonder about that word too, and the very idea of a “stomach-foot”: is it the ultimate in efficient design to have one appendix to capture your prey, to eat and to move?
Left by the tide
Not Quite High and Dry
Turn, Turn, Turn
I didn’t wander too far down the beach before the sun started to rise. I now had more light to shoot, but the bright, rising sun, still low on the horizon brings other photographic challenges. I turned to head the other direction. Although I knew the time of moonset, it surprised me that the moon had retreated so quickly. I see a few more interesting creatures, mostly sea anemones and heart cockles. I click away, happy that the sun is bouncing off of the pearly nacre, in awe of what marvelous mysteries the sea has deposited at my feet this morning.
Shiny Sand Scoop
Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself. ~Annie Leibovitz
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~ William Shakespeare
But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief.
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing; what of that?
Her eye discourses, I will answer it.
I am too bold, ’tis not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What is her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eye in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
Not easy to read that and not think that one could ever write anything even close to lovely as that!