In the news… from History and Shakespeare ‘out of date’ says education union boss

Read it. Discuss.

Reading Survey Results

After asking visitors of if they had a good experience with Shakespeare in school, I decided to ask another.

After the many intriguing responses to my question on the blog if you had read all of Shakespeare’s works, I wanted to get more specific with this little survey.

I asked, “How many of Shakespeare’s plays have you read?” I got 127 responses. Their option were 1-5, 5-10, 10-20, and more than 20. I realize now that I created an overlap. It should be 1-5, 6-10, etc. Oh well. Anyhoo, 70% of the responses said that they had read between one and five of Shakespeare’s plays. 4% had read more than 20. There were also two comments left that said they had read none. See more results here.

The results aren’t super accurate with only 127 votes, but probably close-ish to the the average in the US (where most of the responses were from). I can’t say I was surprised… but I wish I could make the options more specific. Ask500people only lets you give 4 options. The comments that said “none” surprised me a little. I know there are people out there that have not read Shakespeare, but I do forget sometimes. It seems a little odd to me since it’s usually required reading in school.

If you haven’t read all of the plays, feel free to leave your number. But in response to this flawed poll, what do you think? Should people be required to read more Shakespeare in school? I only was required to read two in high school!!! Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth. We studied Midsummer in Junior High as well, but not very closely as far I can remember. Is that enough? Do you think the average of plays read will increase as programs like Stand Up For Shakespeare gain more support? Or will Shakespeare always be the author who “isn’t for everybody”?

Finished Season One

I finished season one of Slings and Arrows today. I’m in love with the show. There aren’t a lot of movies or TV shows about what I do with my life (theatre, especially shakespeare), and the fact that the show is amazing AND is about with what I love to do…. AHHH!!! I love it.

I couldn’t help myself, I started season two right away. I would continue but then I wouldn’t get any sleep. If only there weren’t so many other things to do… I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. :-D

Today’s Histories

Not long ago in a galaxy not so far away I posted about showing some love to the histories. These days Shakespeare’s Histories seem to be getting a lot of love. The Royal Shakespeare Company is putting up a complete cycle of the Histories.

An article from the UK reminds us that the histories are still relevant today. Perhaps more now than ever. Why?

“…they offer a genuine state-of-the-nation epic, one that examines all aspects of a divided kingdom and shows how dynastic wrangling spreads like a disease.”

Check out the full story here. Also included are short commentaries on each of their histories and their significance today. It’s pretty neat stuff. The Histories really interest me. When first learning about Shakespeare I was under the impression that no one cared about the Histories. They were Shakespeare’s bad and boring plays. Then I saw Richard III. “Oooo… this is cool,” I thought. After that I was hooked. “Wait a minute… these are good!” Oh boy, I was pleasantly surprised.

Word Of The Day: Whiffler

Whiffler, famous for painting a portrait of his mother. Whiffler’s Mother. Wow… that was a lame joke.

whiffler (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Whiffler
armed processional attendant

Behold, the English beach
Pales in the flood with men, with wives and boys,
Whose shouts and claps out-voice the deep mouth’d sea,
Which like a mighty whiffler ‘fore the king
Seems to prepare his way: so let him land,
And solemnly see him set on to London.
- Henry V (V.prologue)

To me, this word sound like it should be the name of a racket used to hit a Wiffle Ball. It doesn’t sound like what it is to me, but I suppose I’m not using my imagination to make it work. Either way this is a word that most readers and audiences are not likely to know so lets hope that the Chorus does his/her best to make sense of it for us, that a Whiffler clears the way for a procession.

Note that whiffler does have a different modern definition, in case you look it up in a modern dictionary. Today it can mean a person who frequently shifts opinions, attitudes, interests, etc. I don’t know if the definitions are at all related, but don’t get them confused!

Romeo And Juliet Go To Hell!

Alan over at his blog, Shakespeare Experience, has recently written a post that would motivate me to give him a virtual hug if I could.


That was nice. Anyway, I mentioned in a previous post my opinions about what makes Romeo and Juliet a tragedy. It’s not a happy ending. It’s not about a romantic ideal. These kids die a horrible death. It sucks.

Alan’s post Burn, Baby, BURN! says it a little better so I think you should give it a read and share your thoughts. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Was It Good For You?

I’ve been in a survey mood lately, so I’m going to ask more questions. I like hearing your responses. :)

A little over a week ago I found the website Ask500People, which gives you the chance to ask a question to whoever happens to stumble across that website, as well as visitors of your own site if you choose to put the poll on it. I asked the question, “Did you have a good experience studying Shakespeare in school?” You can click on that to vote and/or see the results.

As of now, when I am posting this I have 130 responses. 57% of the voters answered yes, 43% answered no. Out of 6 comments, 5 left responses saying they had a negative experience. Most the the responses I got were from North America, but a few from elsewhere.

With only 130 answers, this isn’t a great representation of the average school Shakesperience, but it was interesting to see these numbers. To be honest I was expecting more people to have answered No. Even so, that’s a lot of people who didn’t have fun with Shakespeare in school. With all this talk about Shakespeare in schools, especially with the RSC launching their Stand Up For Shakespeare program, I think it’s good to see where we’ve come from and where we want to be headed with Shakespeare in Education.

And now I invite you to leave a comment here about YOUR Shakespeare experiences in school. When were you first required to read one of his plays? Which play? Did you get to get up and perform at all? Whatever you want to share I’d like to hear. I’ll post my experiences soon, though I’m sure your story is more interesting than mine.

Have You Read All Of Shakespeare?

I wonder… how many people would you guess have read everything contained in a volume of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare? All 37 plays, all 154 sonnets, A Lover’s Complaint, The Passionate Pilgrim, Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, and The Phoenix and the Turtle.

I’d imagine not many have. I’ll admit that I haven’t, but I’m working on it. I’ll be there soon! I keep putting off reading certain things which is rather silly of me. Do you know anyone who has? Have you? If so, do you brag about it often? I know I will as soon as I finish! Well maybe not often, but I’ll brag every now and then. It’s fun to brag.

More importantly, what insights, understanding, and wisdom do you think one gains from reading all of Shakespeare’s works in comparison to reading just the popular ones? If you’ve read most of them you’re also welcome to answer the question.

Having read MOST of the works I enjoy seeing similar passages, images, or situations in multiple plays. I say “Oooh, that’s kind of like when X says Y in the play Z!” There are a lot of other happy happenings from reading most or all of Shakespeare, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.