My Outrageous Fortune: Slings And Arrows

You may or may not be familiar with a Canadian TV show called Slings and Arrows, a show about a theatre company! A Shakespeare Festival at that. Wow! Sounds great already, right?

Well I just found the first season and started watching. Being the Shakespeare nerd that I am, you might find it amazing that I haven’t watched it yet. Even I’m amazed at myself! Especially after watching the first episode, I’m hooked. Why didn’t I ever pick this up before? S&A fans, you are welcome to chide me for my ignorance of this wonderful show. It’s so refreshing to see a show that I can really relate to. I can’t REALLY identify with the characters on Lost, Heroes, or House, even if they are great shows. But when I see people doing theatre, Shakespeare even, I’m immediately sucked in.

Get on NetFlix and find this series! I’ll be watching a lot of it over the next little while, so you might hear back from me on this. Or if you’re watching it too, feel free to comment or email me and we can discuss the show!

Beware The Ides Of March

Oh my goodness… that’s today. AHHHHH!!!!!

The Ides of March (March 15th) is famous as the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C. In the Roman calendar every month had an Ides! It was a basically day named to mark the middle of the month. It was the 15th day of the months March, May, July, and October. All the other months had theirs on the 13th.

Today most people only know of the Ides of March, made famous by the story of Julius Caesar as told by William Shakespeare. In the play, Caesar is parading down the street after a victory on the feast of Lupercal. A Soothsayer yells out from the crowd…

SOOTHSAYER. Caesar!
CAESAR. Ha? who calls?
CASCA. Bid every noise be still; peace yet again!
CAESAR. Who is it in the press that calls on me?
                I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
                Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
SOOTHSAYER. Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR. What man is that?
BRUTUS. A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR. Set him before me, let me see his face.
CASSIUS. Fellow, come from the throng, look upon Caesar.
CAESAR. What say’st thou to me now? Speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER. Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR. He is a dreamer, let us leave him. Pass.

- Julius Caesar (I.ii)

Shakespeare Was Written By A Black Jewish Woman

“WHAAAAAAAAA!?!?”

My thoughts exactly. This is yet another authorship theory that is floating around. If it’s a joke, someone had way too much time on their hands. But more likely is that someone else out there wants to be the one who “proved who REALLY wrote Shakespeare’s plays!”

All the info is at Dark Lady Players, a theatre troupe that performs some of Amelia Bassano’s (the Black Jewish Woman that actually wrote the) plays in an interesting way. Really, just check it out for yourself. Be amazed.

What is it with all these crazy authorship stories? Someone tell me please. What is it about Shakespeare’s works that makes people think that someone else must’ve written them? Maybe William Shakespeare was a genius and he wrote them, we’ll never know for sure. But why all the fervor? Do some people hate studying Shakespeare so much that they want to try to prove that it’s not really Shakespeare so kids won’t be tortured by it in schools? Perhaps people are after fame and fortune by “discovering the real Shakespeare” and writing a best-selling novel about it.

Apparently the plays and poems are too good to be written by just anyone. Maybe someone should do some research and see who REALLY composed all of Mozart’s music.

So, gentle reader, you may have noticed that I’m not really a fan of the whole authorship question. I honestly don’t care if Elvis went back in time and wrote the plays or if it was a million monkeys. The plays and poems are wonderful pieces of art regardless of the identity of the author. Maybe we should spend more time on that. But that’s my two cents, what do you think?

Shakespeare Edumacation. Whoops!

I’ve been scouring the news online for anything with Shakespeare in it, lots of fun things show up. I often see articles about schools or groups that are making an effort to make learning Shakespeare a fun experience for students of all ages. Reading these warms my heart!

One that I found made me chuckle. A 13 year old students talks about the experience of acting in one of Shakespeare’s plays:

It is such an interesting thing to do. You get to portray something that you usually aren’t. Plus Shakespeare is an amazing writer. He’s one of the first people who wrote plays and I think everyone, including kids, should know about him.

In the words of our current president, “Is our children learning?” I hope that the teacher corrected the student after seeing the article… Shakespeare was far from the beginning of play-writing.

As long as the kids get the right answers at some point. The important part is that they’re learning Shakespeare and really enjoying themselves!

The kids are putting on Hamlet. I’m sure it’s a heavily cut down show, but do you think that’s a good show for students to act? At first I was a little surprised. Hamlet? Wow… But then I realized that it’s a required text in most schools and being in a production is one of the best ways to really understand the text and enjoy it.

Shakespeare Gets A Second Life

No, Shakespeare’s not alive again. Here’s a riddle: What would Shakespeare say if he rose from the dead?

Brains…

If you’re not familiar with the term, Second Life is basically an online virtual world in which you can have an alternate life. If you’re still confused head over to Wikipedia to learn more about Second Life.

As it turns out, some people have put together a performance of Hamlet in second life. You can see a YouTube video of Act 1, Scene 1 of Hamlet. I read that this video isn’t really how the performance actually looked, but it’ll give you a vague idea of a new way that Shakespeare is being performed.

So what does this mean for Shakespeare in performance? I don’t know… I’m asking you. Please feel free to comment with your thoughts.

I think it’s a cool new way to perform the plays. It kind of goes to show that society needs live performance. Even in a virtual life, people are still motivated to put on and attend theatrical performances of Shakespeare’s work. I think I might sign up for a second life just so I can see what one of these shows is really like.

A ‘B’ Or Not a ‘B’?

That is the question.

Patrick Stewart is the man. Sure he was on Star Trek, and was wonderful as Captain Picard… but he’s a superb Shakespearean actor, as you will see on this clip from Sesame Street.

My hero!

WOTD: Puissance

This is one of those words that some readers/listeners will come across and think “WTF mate?” I shall expound all for you now!

puissance (n.) IPA Pronunciation: Puissance
power, might, force

ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
That he should draw his several strengths together
And come against us in full puissance,
Need not be dreaded.
- Henry IV, Part 2 (I.iii)

This word is most commonly used in reference to military power, but it can be applied elsewhere as well. The pronunciation depends on the line of text. The word can be two syllables by, or can be three if the line of verse doesn’t scan out to 10 syllables without it. Some pronounce the first syllable “pyoo” some “pwee,” I’ve seen it both ways in dictionaries – sometimes both ways in the same dictionary. It sounds funny no matter how you say it so pick one.

Stand Up For Shakespeare

Shakespeare is required in many schools all over the world. In the UK it’s compulsory for almost all students. But trouble and Shakespeare in school seem to go hand in hand these days. Not all teachers know that much or even enjoy Shakespeare. How are the students going to get anything out of this kind of education? The Royal Shakespeare Company has an answer.

They’ve created a new program called Stand Up For Shakespeare whose purpose is to improve students experiences when learning about Shakespeare! An article in the Official London Theatre Guide can give you more of the story.

The RSC asks schools to have students get up and speak Shakespeare on their feet, see live performances of the plays, and introduce the subject to kids gently at a younger age before they’ve reached the point of hearing Shakespeare horror stories.

What a great idea! It makes me happy to see this happening and I really hope there is some success with this program. I can only wish the the US would follow suit, but I think it’ll take several more years. Maybe by then I’ll be in a place of power to make it happen! A guy can dream, can’t he?