Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays, Everyone! See You In 2013!

I hope that everybody's having a wonderful holiday season!  As regular readers have no doubt noticed, I've been falling behind on keeping the blog supplied with a steady stream of Shakespeare goodness.  I did finally get to release my iPhone App ShakeShare, which I hope that everyone (who's able to) downloads and enjoys.  I hope that it is the first of many.

It's not like I've forgotten you. Every day I say, "I should put something up on the site."  And things get in the way.  First it was the app, then the day job, now the holidays.  I can never seem to get the time and the focus to post things where I think I've given them the attention that they deserve.  Then I start focusing on everything that I've missed talking about, and the pile becomes insurmountable.  I bookmark things to post, then so much time goes by that I take them back off the list since they're no longer newsworthy. That weighs on me.

And so I'm taking a holiday break.  Shakespeare Geek will not be posting any new content for the remainder of 2012.  If you're following on Twitter or Facebook you'll not doubt see some Best Of content, and maybe a #hashtag game here or there.  Those only take a couple of seconds in between bigger projects.

I hope everybody has a wonderful rest of the year, celebrating whatever holidays you may choose.  Thanks for being the loyal audience that you've been, and I hope to see everybody in a couple of weeks.  (* I know for a fact that I'm getting some new Shakespeare stuff for Christmas, because I bought it myself!)

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 03, 2012

My New iPhone App! ShakeShare Shareable Shakespeare

Here we go!  The big announcement!  A few weeks ago I tossed out an idea here on the blog that went a little something like this :  "Somebody should take a database of wallpaper images and then combine that with a database of Shakespeare quotations.  Randomly pick one from each column and you get a cool image that can be pinned, shared, tweeted, or just enjoyed as the background on your phone."  Then I pretty much disappeared.


Introducing ShakeShare : Shareable Shakespeare 
Shake it, Share it, Shakespeare. Need some words of wisdom, something romantic, something motivational? How about a pun or a joke? The editors at, the original Shakespeare blog, have compiled hundreds of quotes both by and about William Shakespeare, combined those with all of our jokes, puns and one-liners about our favorite playwright, and rendered them all atop hundreds of high quality wallpaper images suitable for sharing. Shake your device until you find a quote that makes you think (or makes you laugh!), then share it with someone who loves Shakespeare as much as you do. Don't like our images? Go ahead and use one of your own! The most important thing is that you share it. Shakespeare everywhere! 
Available now for your iOS device (though, honestly, the image are optimized for iPhone, not iPad).
That's what I've been up to, learning how to get an app through the entire system and out the door (remember my ebook experiment?)

"Really?" you're telling yourself, "A quotes database? That's it?"  Not hardly!  Half the database is source material (with citations, since I don't ever want to be accused of sneaking in a NotByShakespeare).  And then there's the hundreds and hundreds of jokes and puns that we've become known for, from Bardfilm's lists to Twitter hashtag games.  Many of them were written just for the app, and have never been seen anywhere else!

This is not made for a bunch of Shakespeare geeks to flip through bits of text they've already seen a thousand times before.  This is all about the sharing.  I tried very hard to make the material (that we all love oh so much) look good, so that you could then go share it with the rest of the world who might not yet fully appreciate its beauty.

You know the mission here.  More Shakespeare.  This app hopefully becomes one tool in the arsenal of making that happen.  What's your favorite sharing service - Twitter?  Pinterest?  Facebook?   Every now and then pull out this app, shake it a few times to find a quote you get a kick out of, and then share it.  Every time you do that there's a chance that somebody else, sees it and says, "I want more Shakespeare in my life, too."  And then the cycle repeats.

Most importantly, come back and tell me about it. This is a first effort and I know that.  It can and will get better.  It's also the stepping stone to bigger projects.  The most important variable, though, is you the users.  What works, what doesn't?  What do you wish it did?  What does it do badly, that I could fix?  If you're not going to use it, what could it have done that would make you change your mind?  I've got a list in my head of what I'd like it to do differently (let's face it - I just learned how to do this and there were some things that I wanted it to do and just couldn't figure out how to make it happen).  I need user feedback, and lots of it, to help me prioritize that list.

Of course, it also helps if you go in and rate/review the app as well!

Thanks everybody!  Now get out there and SHARE SHAKESPEARE!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shakespeare Uncovered (If Anybody Needs Me, I Know Where I'll Be)

This looks like it has the potential to be amazing.  At first I was all, "Oh no I hope it's not an authorship thing," but even with the appearance of Derek Jacobi it looks like it has nothing to do with that.

Three weeks.  Two movies each week.  Pick your favorite subject.  Which one looks most interesting?

And what's Ethan Hawke doing in there?  Talking about Macbeth??

THIRTEEN’s Shakespeare Uncovered,
A Six-Film Series Telling the Stories Behind Shakespeare’s Greatest Plays,
Premieres on PBS Friday, January 25 at 9 p.m.

Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson, and David Tennant are hosts

In a unique series of six films debuting on PBS Friday, January 25 at 9 p.m. (check local listings)Shakespeare Uncovered will combine history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passions of its celebrated hosts – Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson, and David Tennant – to tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
                Produced by Richard Denton for Blakeway Productions & THIRTEEN for WNET in association with the BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe, each episode explores and reveals the extraordinary world and works of William Shakespeare and the still-potent impact they have today. The films combine interviews with actors, directors and scholars, along with visits to key locations, clips from some of the most-celebrated film and television adaptations, and illustrative excerpts from the plays staged specially for the series at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
Behind every Shakespeare play there is a story: for instance, how he and his company dismantled their theater and rowed it across the river Thames when their landlord cancelled their lease – then staged Henry V for the first time. There are echoes of the playwright’s life -- who named his twins Hamnet (a boy, who died at age 11) and Judith -- in plays like Twelfth Night, where the plot turns on the adventures of separated twins; and Hamlet, where the drama begins with the grief of a son who has lost his father. The series shows Shakespeare as an impresario who, four centuries ago, defined early the tenets of show business – drawing on historical sources, stealing and adapting ideas, bringing back popular characters, writing prequels, and developing dramatic ideas from the politics of the day.
Each program’s host has deep personal experience with Shakespeare’s work and relates not only the stories of the plays themselves, but also the stories of how they came to be written, how they have been performed, and how they have survived over 400 years.
The six episodes will air as follows:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shakespeare Uncovered: Macbeth with Ethan Hawke
9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Ethan Hawke invites viewers on his quest to play Shakespeare’s murderous Thane of Cawdor by researching the true story and real-life events that served as the play’s inspiration. Historian Justin Champion visits the actual Scottish sites of the story on Hawke’s behalf, introducing him to Dunsinane where Macbeth supposedly lived, and to the history books that distorted the true story and consequently led Shakespeare to do the same.  Immersing himself in some of the most memorable and innovative productions of “the Scottish Play,” Hawke gleans extraordinary insights into Shakespeare’s understanding of the criminal mind. Lady Macbeth’s relationship to the titular Thane is a critical role in the play and is examined by observing Shakespeare’s Globe actors rehearsing and performing scenes from the play, as well as by revisiting recent productions starring Patrick Stewart and Antony Sher.

Shakespeare Uncovered: The Comedies with Joely Richardson
10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Joely Richardson investigates (with her mother Vanessa Redgrave) the legacy of these two brilliant cross-dressing comedies, with their missing twins, mistaken identities, and characters in disguise; their connections to Shakespeare’s personal life;  and the great romantic heroines created by Shakespeare in two perennially popular plays.  Richardson investigates the comic and dramatic potential of female roles written for male actors to play. At the same time, Richardson demonstrates that Shakespeare revealed an acute understanding and sympathy for women when he wrote these characters. Redgrave’s portrayal of Rosalind in As You Like It made her a star in England and soon after, all over the world, and the show reveals the legacy of strong, sassy, witty women that we inherit from William Shakespeare’s great comedies.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Shakespeare Uncovered: Richard II with Derek Jacobi
9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
In returning to the role of a deposed monarch whose crown is taken from him, Derek Jacobi takes a 360-degree view of this great political thriller whose title character he played more than 30 years ago.  Jacobi shares insights on the play’s political twists – and their modern equivalents – that have kept Richard II resonant for centuries through its understanding of power’s tendency to corrupt and distort the truth, and how quickly power may be lost.  While coaching actors at Shakespeare’s Globe, Jacobi describes how the play was used by the Earl of Essex in his attempted coup against Queen Elizabeth I, and persuaded Shakespeare’s own company to stage it to encourage the Earl’s “plotters.”  Jacobi reveals how the plot nearly cost Shakespeare his life. Also featured are notable excerpts from the upcoming Great Performances film adaptation starring Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart.

Shakespeare Uncovered: Henry IV Henry V with Jeremy Irons
10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Jeremy Irons uncovers the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s most iconic “history plays,” from the true English history embedded into the works to the father-son drama that Shakespeare created.  In disclosing Shakespeare’s sources – and steps the playwright took to distort them –
Irons uncovers the historical truths behind the story and how they inspired some of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues.  On a journey to the battlefield at Agincourt in Northern France, the climactic location of these plays, it’s revealed how the Bard was more subversive and less patriotic than his ardent admirers often think. Irons also invites viewers behind the scenes at the filming of key sequences in the new Great Performances adaptation starring Irons himself as the father-king, Henry IV, and Tom Hiddleston as his son, Prince Hal, who becomes Henry V.
Friday, February 8, 2013

Shakespeare Uncovered: Hamlet with David Tennant
9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
An acclaimed Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s hit production (also a recent Great Performances production), David Tennant meets fellow actors who’ve tackled this most iconic of roles, including superstar Jude Law, and compares notes on the role’s titanic challenges.  Tennant digs deep into the text about the doomed Danish Prince alongside the actorsSimon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw.  With them he works to plumb the deeper meanings of the play and the reason it is widely considered the greatest of Shakespeare’s canon.  The historical sources and religious wars, existential questions of the meaning of life and death, the idea that ghosts exist and may speak – all these and a searing personal drama, too – comprise this Everest of a play. Tennant also finds that many actors who have played Hamlet share an experience that is deeply and profoundly personal.  This is also, perhaps, the reason audiences feel the play touches them more than any other before or since.

Shakespeare Uncovered: The Tempest with Trevor Nunn
10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Trevor Nunn, the legendary director who has helmed 30 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays – and aims to complete them all before he retires – takes us through the magical and mysterious world created in the playwright’s last complete work. Nunn considers The Tempest as Shakespeare’s farewell from the stage, and explores the biographical nature of the play and its connection to the playwright’s often troubled family life.  He also explores the stagecraft – the fact that Tempest is a play of special effects, apparitions and magic. Some of The Tempest’s most famous and most enthusiastic fans contribute their ideas about its lead role of Prospero, including Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren and acclaimed film and theater director Julie Taymor, who recently directed a film adaptation that features Mirren in which the lead role was recast as a female named Prospera.

For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.

Shakespeare Uncovered is produced by Richard Denton. Bill O’Donnell is series producer; Stephen Segaller and David Horn are executive producers for Thirteen; Fiona Stourton for Blakeway.

Shakespeare Uncovered is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the generous support of the project’s lead foundation sponsor, the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation.   Major funding is also provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Polonsky Foundation, Virginia and Dana Randt, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, and PBS.

Photos and other material can be accessed at the THIRTEEN Online Pressroom.


About WNET
In 2012, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media 
provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as NatureGreat PerformancesAmerican MastersNeed to KnowCharlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the MathOh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTSReel 13NJ Today and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's your favorite "Shakespeare gets it" moment?

Today I found myself trying to explain the importance of Caliban's "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises" speech and found myself reduced to some fairly base vocabulary (read, curse words) because I couldn't fully articulate the raw emotional connection that I was trying to get across.  It reminds me of a long time ago, of a girl that I went to high school with (and had a crush on), who died in a car accident. One night, years later, I had a dream with her in it.  Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, just a dream that she happened to be in, as if she were still alive.  I will always remember waking up and realizing, "Nope, she's not around anymore," and the ache that came with that, the desire to immediately climb back into that dream.  I even wrote a play of my own about it.

I feel as if I should include the text of that speech:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

I've often pointed to Hamlet's "Thrift, Horatio, thrift!" comment (about reusing the funeral leftovers at the wedding) as an example of something that comes straight out of Shakespeare, 400 years ago, but it still exactly the kind of thing that you could see someone saying and doing today.  But I think I may change that.

What's your favorite moment like that?  Amid all Shakespeare's talking about kings and ghosts and fairies, what's the moment you point to and say "See?  SEE? Shakespeare gets it!  That's the sort of thing that a person today would totally do!"

Choose Your Own Hamlet

Looks like somebody's been reading this blog?  Last month I wrote about "Choose Your Own Shakespeare" novelizations, and on November 21 we got To Be Or Not To Be : The Adventure which is exactly that.

I don't know how I feel when I see a project like this net $150k on Kickstarter.  Really?  It drives me a little nuts.  I've spoken to publishers about doing Shakespeare work and basically been told "Until you have 50k readers or a piece in the NY Times, your book isn't going to sell."  Somehow this project pulls in 4k backers and makes it happen?

Just jealous, I guess. :)  I do like and support the fact that he's publishing through the non-profit service Breadpig, and donating all the proceeds to cancer research.  I have to back that.  Good man.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Friday nights on ABC (here in the US, sorry international audience!) I watch one of my favorite shows, Shark Tank. Very much like "Dragon's Den" (and some of the investors are the same), entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to venture capitals and try to leave with investment money.  All of the "sharks" are on Twitter, which encouraged me to do some live tweeting of my own.  At some point I was challenged to do a Shakespeare / Shark Tank mashup.

Challenge Accepted.

You Are Now Entering .... The Shake Tank.

"Good evening, sharks.  My name is Antonio, and I am seeking an investment in my shipping business of 3000 ducats in exchange for one pound of my flesh."

"So, Friar Laurence, help us to understand.  You've invented a potion that makes the consumer *appear* dead, and they're supposed to use this to escape uncomfortable situations.  You've got exactly one sale, and we know what happened there.  The liability on something like this is astronomical. I'm out."

"You come in here and you try to pull a fast one on me, Mr. Wonderful?  I had a bowl of muses of fire for breakfast this morning.  You think yours is the only invention that ascends the brightest heavens? Do you have any idea how many wanna-be entrepreneurs come in here telling us the same thing?"

"I have to tell you, I think this is a first here in the tank.  Some people want to work with us for connections, some want us to be a mentor and share our experience and wisdom.  And then there are the ones that just want us for our money.  But now here you come, offering us a third of your kingdom, to whichever one of us loves you the best?  I'll make you an offer.  Ready?  Nothing."

"All right, Richard.  I'll make you an offer.  I'll give you the horse you're looking for, but I'm gonna need 100% of your kingdom."

Friday, November 09, 2012

Defending Joan of Arc

A new reader wants to talk about Joan of Arc's portrayal in Henry VI.  Specifically, she (I am guessing she from a Twitter image) feels that Shakespeare "insulted Joan, obviously" and that "he disgraced himself."

For reference see also this recent comment in the "Why Do You Hate Shakespeare?" thread, which I must assume (though have not proven) comes from the same person:

I really, really hate him.
I was very shocked when read [Henry 6 part 1]. She wasn't a witch, a whore, an immoral girl, and a femme fatale! T.T How could the hack insulted her? stupid!
Truthfully I have no opinion on the subject, at all, having only the most passing knowledge of this particular play.  But I promised that I would put it out there for discussion.  Any of my history buffs want to jump in with why exactly Shakespeare might have painted Ms. D'Arc in such a negative light, relative to the playwright's own religion / location / time period?

Friday, November 02, 2012

What's the last thing you learned about Shakespeare?

So yesterday I'm looking at one of my books (an old Arden edition of The Tempest), and a thought comes to mind that often prevents me from posting stuff.  It goes a little something like this:  "If I flip through that and learn something, and I post it, then most of the people who read that are going to say, 'Yup. Knew that. Now we can discuss our opinions on the relative value of that information and what it might mean to a bigger picture.'"  In other words, I tend to think that when *I* learn something, everybody else already knew that thing, and I'm just catching up.  I convince myself that if you study Shakespeare at all, then you basically "know" everything there is to know, and spend the rest of your time discussing what it means, if that makes sense.

Hence my question.  When's the last time you actually *learned* a *fact* about Shakespeare or his works?  Not new interpretations or angles for looking at a scene.  I mean things like, "Until just now I didn't really realize that Hamlet's final O groans are in the Folio text.  I thought they were in the bad quarto."  (This is a true example.)

Convince me that you all haven't memorized every spelling and punctuation choice made in every version of every play.  When's the last time you got to do have that moment that I clearly have regularly where you get to learn a new thing?

Thursday, November 01, 2012


[ Or maybe, NaShaWriMo? ]

If you spend much time online (and, duh, how are you reading this exactly?) you'll probably run into some references to NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.  In short, the idea is to commit yourself to finally writing that novel.  Sign up at the site and publish your results as a way of motivating yourself to make it happen.  Tell everybody about your progress daily, and get support in return on your way to completing that particular item on your bucket list.

As somebody who starts many, many projects and only finishes a portion of them, I approve this message.  I don't really have a novel in me, but that doesn't mean that the idea can't still work.  Maybe I've got something about Shakespeare that I could finally write? Or maybe an app?

How about you?  Anybody out there got any Shakespeare writing projects in the works, either lying half finished in a desk drawer (remember those days?  when we actually used a real typewriter to write on real paper and you really could have a half-finished project in a desk drawer?) or still an idea forming in your head?  Now's the chance to join up with thousands of others who are all running the same race!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What's Your Favorite Sonnet?

I've asked on Twitter, I've asked on Facebook (* so if you've answered there no need to answer again :)) so now I'm asking here for people that only read the blog:

What's your favorite sonnet?  The catch : you can't answer 18, 29, 116 or 130. 
Everybody and their mother has been inundated with those particular sonnets over the years.  What I'm looking for is the next group, the ones that the Shakespeare geeks love that, with a little more exposure, we can get the rest of the world to acknowledge.

So, hit me.  Other than those famous four, what's your favorite sonnet, and why?  To make the results the most objective, try to come up with your answer before you look at the comments, otherwise you'll never be able to tell if your vote was swayed.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Theme Song Shakespeare : All (But Him) In The Family

Ok, I've been busy.  But Bardfilm's been doing double duty, manning both his own blog as well as queuing up the quirky stuff for my return.  May I happily present you the Return of Theme Song Shakespeare?

All (but Him) in the Family

My name is Brabantio.
Where’d my Desdemona go?
She eloped with O-thell-o.
This is that play.
I’ll allow no buts or ifs—
Nor those crazy handkerchiefs.
Senate, we could use a man
Like Cassius as Ensign.
But Othello sure was great—
Did some service to the state—
Now he’s certain of his fate:
This is that play.
(For those youngsters that need a hint, click ........ here. )

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shakespeare App Idea

My list of projects is already so long that it's not terribly useful for me to keep adding ideas to it.  So every now and then I'll just post them, and maybe somebody else runs with it.

Shakespeare Meme Generator

  1. Get a collection of Shakespeare quotes.  Easy peasy.  Could be romantic, motivational, funny - your choice.
  2. Get a collection of Shakespeare-related images.  Harder by definition, but not impossible.  Screen shots from well known movies?  Flickr tags?  Couple different ideas.
  3. Combine random quote with random image to make a new shareable/pinnable thing.
  4. Show it to the user.  Offer user options of generating a new one, or sharing/pinning/tweeting this one.
  5. Keep track of how popular each one is.  Set up a link to a gallery to reinforce browsing through them (thus making them even more popular).
Could work as a web app or a native app (although it's a little light for a native app).  Almost certain that similar "put a piece of text on a desired image" sites exist, though I don't have a pointer to one.  The work would be in creating the database of quotes and images.

UPDATE Something like this, but not this.  This is "Here's a database of images, put whatever text you want on it."  If anything I'm thinking of more the opposite - it's the words that are important, and it's really a matter of taste what image you use.

King Lear, for Kids

I think you all know how I feel about that.  I have, on the fly, retold the tale of King Lear to my 5year old son - at his request.  I will never forget this moment:

Well, her father the king was not happy with this answer at all. He got so mad that he said she would not have any share of the kingdom, and he banished her. this point a choked little voice asks me, "But did he still love her?" And I am caught so by surprise that I don't quite know what to do with myself. My little guy has been hanging on every word, and he's an emphathetic little bugger. 
"Oh, he absolutely still loved her," I told him, "He was just really really mad because he thought she was saying that she didn't love him. He didn't understand her answer. Are you sad?" 
He nods, unable to get any words out. 
I squeeze him a bit tighter and remind him that this story has a happy ending, remember? "We're going to find out that she loved him most of all."
The fact that I know that that's only half true?  That she did love him most of all, but that the story doesn't have a happy ending?  I'm lucky I didn't get choked up like he did trying to pretend like it all works out.

I have always believed that you can expose children to elements of Shakespeare, literally, from birth.  Go ahead and name their stuffed animals Romeo and Juliet, or Beatrice and Benedick.  Throw around random quotes when you can.  Bring up plot points.  It will be a long long time before they "get" Shakespeare in an academic sense.  It'll also be a long long time before they understand physics and gravity and parabolic arcs, but that doesn't mean they can't learn how to catch a ball.

Stop! Parent Teacher Time

It's that time of year again, where we get to sit down with our children's teachers and have them tell what a joy they are to have in class, how everything is fine, how we're raising little geniuses.

Well, except the boy.  The boy's a terror.


Nah, not really.  They're all doing well.  But that's not what I'm hear to talk about.  I've made it my mission to, how to put it, offer up my Shakespeare services? to my kids' teachers over the years:

So here's how it went:

1) My son's first grade teacher?  I did not offer.  Having failed to climb the wall last year for second graders, and having had less than stellar luck with first graders in the past, I was not ready to volunteer to get into it again.  He's got more years in the school system.  And, just because I didn't offer now, doesn't mean I can't change my mind and offer later.   (I'll actually be his class's "Junior Achievement" speaker, which will be more about computers than Shakespeare)

2) My daughter's third grade teacher.  This is an interesting one.  Last year we were really excited to try Shakespeare in her second grade class, until I got Bowdlerized into non existence by the principal (who is not my pal).  Well this year my daughter's third grade teacher also happens to be the "head teacher", in charge of all sorts of things.  She's also a world class geek (though she won't admit it) who talks a mile a minute, assumes that whoever she is speaking with understands everything that she is saying, and gives more the feeling of being a teller than a listener, you know?  Not any of those things in a bad way, just that's the way she is.  I call it a geeky personality.  I know people like that.  I probably am people like that.

Anyway, as we are done with our whirlwind check in for our daughter and being ushered to the door, I make my pitch - "Just wanted to throw this out there, I've done it for all my kids teachers over the years.  My kids have been raised on Shakespeare.  So if there's ever any sort of unit you're doing in the classroom that might overlap with that subject, be it poetry or memorization or even English history or drama or performance, I'd be happy to help out with something like that."

Well she *loved* it.  "Yes.  Yes yes. Let's do this, let's make this happen."  No real plan for what or when exactly, but it's a start. I warned her that I'd tried a similar project last year and gotten shot down by the principal himself.  She smiled (smirked?) and suggested that there were benefits to being head teacher.  I love it.  I'm a little nervous about what her expectations might be now that I've opened this door, but when has that stopped me?
3) My fifth grade daughter.  I tried to do something with her Brownie troop last year, since they're the oldest and could most easily pick up a script and give it a shot, but that particular event didn't happen.  So, again, I make the pitch to her teacher.  And got back a totally different response?  "That's great! In the past we actually did a unit on the sonnets, and I had the kids memorize Sonnet 19."

...really?  "Sonnet 19?" I asked.  "No you didn't.  Really?  Nobody does Sonnet 19."

"Sure we did," she said.  "When in disgrace with fortune in men's eyes...?"

For a minute I confused that with 18, before remembering that it is 29.  I told her that I thought that was a great idea and would happily come in to do something like that or, as I mentioned to the other teacher, anything on biography, english history, or even drama/performance.

She asked whether she could put a link to my site up on her teacher's page for the kids, but alas I had to disclaim myself and acknowledge that since the site is not deliberately geared for that age group, that they would see some occasionally PG-style language.  I don't mind when teenagers find the site on their own (and they often do), but I can't willingly tell a teacher to tell her 10yr olds to come read this stuff.

So it looks like I might have at least two different opportunities to get back into the classroom this year! Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Was Macbeth's Plan?

A simple question.  There might be a simple answer:

Macbeth kills Duncan.  Malcolm is the presumed next king, but Malcolm flees.  Macbeth is proclaimed king.   But!  Macbeth had no way of knowing that Malcolm would split the scene, so what exactly did Macbeth think was going to happen when he killed Duncan?  It's not like he was next in line.  Was he figuring on killing Malcolm as well?

Cosby Shakespeare

Anybody remember The Cosby Show?  While listening to my Macbeth novel on audiobook I was reminded of this scene, where Theo and his friend "Cockroach" decide to skip reading Macbeth, and just get the audio out of the library:

When that fails them (they can't understand a word) and there are no performances in the area to go see, they fall back on the Cliff Notes (ahem, "Cleland Notes") and it becomes a moralizing story about not taking the easy way out on your homework.

Claire, the mom, is just ridiculously annoying as she wanders about the house quoting Macbeth from memory, knowing that the kids won't understand it. It's like they wrote episodes of this sort solely so that the adults come throw some lines in there.  When Theo claims that he managed to squeak by on the test, she then tells him she's going to give him *another* test of her own devising?  Sorry, but I find that awful.

For a better episode don't miss the guest appearance by Christopher Plummer, in their Julius Caesar episode (he does not appear toward the end, and more in the second section):

I'm trying to decide if I did stuff like that in my living room, in front of my kids, whether they would find it awesome, or ridiculously embarrassing.

(* Did Christopher Plummer really say, "I have seen original manuscripts by William Shakespeare"??? )

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Courtship of Lady Macbeth

I don't really have a theory for this question, but as I listen to "Enter Three Witches" on audiobook, the idea crossed my mind.  Do you think that Lady Macbeth was, once upon a time, a nice person?  Who then turned into what we see in the play?  Or do you think that what we see is the way she's always been?

In another book I'd started and never finished, they go with the plot that she was a perfectly nice and normal woman who was forced to live at the nasty, gloomy castle Inverness by King Duncan, and this directly led to the miscarriage of her child.  In that case, the whole story plays out more like revenge against Duncan.

The same is true for Macbeth himself, I suppose, since we often speak of them as the perfect couple.  Is Macbeth just a man like any other, with his own fair share of ambition, who gets pushed over the edge by the wyrd sisters?  Or was it always eating away at him, something that would have come to pass whether the witches had anything to do with it or not?

What do you think the Macbeths' life was like 10 years before the play?

Monday, October 08, 2012

Vampire Shakespeare

It's that time of year again when those of us who don't play dress-up for a living get to break out the costumes and wander the streets as our favorite Zombie Shakespeare.  We've spoken of Shakespeare Halloween Costumes in years past (see here, here and here), and I even finally pulled the trigger and made my own Halloween costume last year, which I like to think was a success even if most of the people at the party didn't get it. :)

As we wandered the aisles of the costume shoppe, always on the lookout for something I could spin Shakespearean, I had all sorts of ideas. Great Caesar's Ghost is always a relatively easy option. Personally I still want to go as Bacon one of these years, complete with name tag that says "Hello My Name is Francis" and carrying around a book "The Complete Works Of Me". But to properly do that my wife has to agree to be Eggs (the costumes come as a set), and she ain't have that. I spotted a knight costume and thought I could maybe pull off a Richard III with apropriate use of hump. Pirate Family was high up on the list for a bit, and I already had visions of carrying around little home made Rosencrantz and Guildenstern dolls, carrying a letter between them that reads "To England".

Alas, I was outvoted - we're vampires this year. Fair enough I suppose, I got the vote last year.

So now my dilemma - how do I make vampire Shakespeare? Looking for ideas. Something that doesn't just say generic undead character (I already did zombie Yorick), but actually ties in the vampire/blood theme in some way. I've already considered seeing if my wife will put blood spots on her hands and go as Vampire Lady Macbeth. :)

Brace Yourselves, A New Authorship Movie Is Coming

Last Will. & Testament by First Folio Pictures (that's the exact spelling, with that period in the middle like that) is coming soon to On Demand and iTunes download.  Roland Emmerich and Derek Jacobi are also attached to this one, so I'm guessing from the materials that it's some sort of documentary that they shot while filming that other movie - you know, the entirely fictional one.

I don't know that I've got anything to add on the subject.  We've been over it all before.  Maybe this is some sort of "Anonymous : Behind The Scenes" special that focuses more on the supposed actual research that backs their theories.

The whole thing reminds me of the recent political debate, where the rule appears to be The last person not to be called a liar, must have been telling the truth.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis

So I saw a commercial just now for the new "Lincoln" movie by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. I love this guy as an actor.  There are some actors that have become so iconic that you never forget, "Wow, Anthony Hopkins is really good in this!" or nudging the person next to you and saying, "See, that's why I love Ian McKellen..."   From the opening lines of There Will Be Blood, on the other hand, Mr. Day-Lewis was simply gone, replaced by an oil man for the next two hours' traffic of my television screen.

So I saw him doing Lincoln - where, again, he looks and sounds like no other role he's yet taken - and all I can think is, "We gotta get this guy to do some Shakespeare."

Some of you may know where I'm going with this. :)  What I did NOT know is that he did play in Hamlet back in 1989, and famously had a nervous breakdown on stage, claiming to see the ghost of his own dead father.  It has been theorized (I can not find confirmation) that a major plot point of the television show Slings & Arrows, where director Geoffrey Tennant has a nervous breakdown during a production of Hamlet, was inspired by this episode.

From what I understand, Daniel Day-Lewis has never performed a live stage role again.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Theme Song Shakespeare : The Scottish MacHillbillies

Theme Song Shakespeare: The Scottish MacHillbillies

By Amy Helmes and Kim Askew from Romancing the Tome

(Macbeth sung to the theme song of “The Beverly Hillbillies”)
Come and listen to the story of a Scottish dude named Mac,
He was praised by King Duncan, who always had his back.
But he got a funny feeling he’d be elbow-deep in gore
when three witches told him he was destined for much more…
(King, that is…Dunsinane and everything.)
He told his bitchy wife and she figured out a plot
(later to bemoan that bloody spot wouldn’t come out.)
Macbeth was on a roll and had Banquo soon killed off
So Macduff and his buddies said, “Yo — enough’s enough!”
More predictions from the witches left Macbeth without a care
(Well except for seeing ghosts and flying daggers in the air)
“No man born of woman” could defeat him, so, it’s cool,
and unless the trees were movin’, Macbeth would always rule.
(Oppress, that is…baby-killin’ and massacres)
Using branches cut off from old Birnam Wood
Macduff’s crew disguised themselves best as they could
When Macbeth saw the forest moving out of the blue
He knew the hags’ predictions were all comin’ true.
At last he met up with his foe face-to-face,
Thinking his opponent could never take his place
“No man born of woman” was his last deception
‘cause Macduff had been born by Caesarian section!
Ya don’t come back now, Macbeth, y’ hear?

Choose Your Own Shakespeare

Does everybody remember "Choose your own adventure" books?  You'd come to a cliffhanger page that asks, "If you try to climb down into the ravine, turn to page 17 ... If you think you can jump, turn to page 23..."   It was only a matter of time before you found every combination through the book, quickly spotting places where the lines converged (so that whether you went 15->17->25->26 or you went 15->23->24->25->26 you found yourself in the same spot).  But, still, a great example of how you can put some interactivity into a book.

The digital age gets to finally kick this up a notch with projects like Coliloquoy, which tracks the actual statistics of how people go through your book and reports those number back to the author.
Unfortunately the statistics provided for example don't make a great case as to the usefulness - showing that in a coin-flip decision point, 52% of people pick one answer while 47% pick the other.  Depending on the size of your audience, that's barely statistically significant.  What they need to do is look at post-read analysis and say things like "Of the people who took the A->B->D...." path, only 12% went back to read it again, but users who took the A->B->Q->C... path go back and re-read 50% of the time."  Maybe at the end (I'm not sure if they already do this), have some sort of quick "How did you like the book?" question so you can judge your results.  After all, you can go back and read the book because you loved it, or because you hated it. So counting re-reads doesn't tell you all you need to know.

Anyway, what's this got to do with Shakespeare?

Well, Choose Your Own Shakespeare exists in live form (link via Bardblog).  This looks to be a structured improv sort of thing -- instead of yelling out an idea, you get a choice of a couple of ideas, and the most votes wins.  Probably a lot easier on the actors :).

But I'd rather talk about the text.  Imagine that you want to tell your favorite Shakespeare story.  How would you go about turning it into a choose your own adventure?  What sort of choices does Hamlet have to make, and how would they take the story in a different direction?  Could you make a bigger statement about the nature of tragedy such that all paths through the story still end up back at the same final act?

This has almost certainly been done, I just can't find any texts to point at.

What if you made such a story in this new Coliloquoy format, where we could get back statistics on how people chose to read the story?  I wonder where people would focus their attention, which scenes they'd skip and which they'd revisit?

Personally I'd like to see a path through the story that involves Hamlet dealing with Ophelia in a different way.  I understand it, I just find it one of the most unforgiving things that Hamlet does.

In my younger days (when I had more time for such things), these are the kinds of projects I'd daydream about.  A publishing engine that allowed me to craft endless paths through a story.  I'm not talking about a bunch of coinflip choices that ultimately do little but add a couple dozen pages to the story and leave only a few endings, but really exploring the universe by looking at every major decision point and asking "What if it went the other way?"  It's near impossible to do justice when you're talking about Shakespeare as your source, because as soon as you go off text everybody knows it and can not truly take an unbiased trip through your story.  But it doesn't hurt to dream.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Theme Song Shakespeare : Welcome Back, Daughter!

A little something from Bill at Shakespeare Teacher!  Thanks Bill!

Welcome Back, Daughter

(King Lear, to the tune of "Welcome Back, Kotter")
Welcome back,
Your love was one time in doubt.
Welcome back,
To that same old place where I kicked you out.
Well your sisters have changed since you hung around,
And my kingdom is lost, though I still am crowned.
Who'd have thought they'd kill you (Who'd have thought they'd kill you.)
Here within this milieu (Here within this milieu.)
Yeah, I think you're still alive, 'cause my senses took a dive, welcome back,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

Anybody can play!  Send along your theme song mashups!

Directors! What Do You Cut, And Why?

I know I've got a bunch of directors in the audience.  Here's a question I've never asked before, and I have no frame of reference for answering:

What's the single largest piece of text you've cut from a production, and why did you pick it?
I'm specifically curious about how big a passage can get, while still being something that a director will say "Nope!  Don't need that!"  Excising 50 lines throughout the play is very different than getting rid of a single speech of 50 lines, I'd assume.

Giving lines to another character doesn't count.  This is about bits where you made the choice to leave some stuff on the floor.

Good Guy Friar Laurence

Once again Reddit's bringing the interesting conversation, this time on an old Romeo and Juliet question:

Do you think that Friar Laurence is a criminal or a hero?
Somewhere along the line, someone (was it you, David Blixt?) told me that Friar Laurence is a really bad guy who used two stupid lovestruck kids as pawns in his scheme to be the hero who ends the feud. When I go look in the text, however, all I really find is that one line of his where he tells Romeo "For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households' rancour to pure love."

Where do you stand on Friar Laurence?  Is he to be completely forgiven?  A character who tried to do the right thing, for all the right reasons, and it just didn't work out?  Or does he share in the blame for bringing it all down upon their heads? After all, what would have happened had he not married Romeo and Juliet?  Romeo had already shown that he was pretty fickle in the love department.  Nobody was dead at this point, nobody banished.  Would they both have just gotten over it?  Romeo's impulsiveness could have been cut off at the pass real quick if Friar Laurence hadn't enabled it.

What's the Funniest Tragedy?

We've often discussed the fact that Romeo and Juliet, right up until Mercutio's death, is a romantic comedy that suddenly goes very very badly.  Even the darkest plays have at least a couple of jokes thrown in (or do they?)  So let's talk about that.  Among all the plays that are not supposed to be comedy, which one do you think is the funniest?

There's multiple ways to look at this:

* Laughs where Shakespeare put them, and expected them.
* Laughs where a modern director found an opportunity to get a laugh.
* Laughs where the audience laughed, and probably wasn't supposed to.

So let me rephrase it this way - which play do you think provides enough potential for the audience to walk away thinking, "Wow, I never expected to laugh that hard!"

I've seen a fair share of laughs in Othello, and Macbeth.  I didn't laugh at Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus, but when I saw a production in Boston Common the lead character was so over the top snarky in his attitude toward everybody that I couldn't help myself (although I also wanted to punch him).  I'll be very surprised if King Lear makes this list.  Somebody remind me if there's any funny bits in that one at all?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Theme Song Shakespeare : Prospero's Island

My turn! I can play too! Theme Song Shakespeare continues!

Just sit right back and you'll hear a play,
A play about a fateful trip
That started from the port of Milan
Aboard a tiny ship.
There sat the sorceror Prospero,
His daughter at his side.
His enemies sent them out to sea
And left them there to die (left them there to die....)
The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the loyalty of Gonzalo
His books would all be lost, his magic would be lost.
Now Prospero made his home on this uncharted magic isle
With Ariel,
And Caliban,
Who made his move, now he's a slave.
They're all alone -
But not so fast, what's that ship out there?
Here comes King Alonso.
So this is the tale of Propero,
Setting traps for his enemies.
He'll almost have revenge at last
Until his daughter begs mercy.
Miranda and now Ferdinand
(Who, come on now, she just met!)
Will make her dad at last accept
That now they want to wed.
Hey wait don't forget about Caliban,
He's hatched another plan.
Now Stefano plans to run the show
With Prospero's books in hand.
So have no fear it all works out,
No tragedy, no one dies.
There's guaranteed a happy ending
Here on Prospero's Isle!

Did Hamlet Lie?

Over on the Shakespeare section of Reddit, a question came up that I'd never seen before:

Is Hamlet really telling the truth about what happened on the ship?
The submitter's argument is basically that the story is too unbelievable.  Why would the pirate take Hamlet prisoner, and then taxi him back home?  Why would Rosencrantz and Guildenstern just sit back and let that happen, having been charged to get Hamlet to England?

The general consensus is that no, Hamlet's not lying, and there's enough evidence to prove that (both in the text and historically).

It's fun to grab at a random angle like this every now and then, and re-examine bits of the play you might previously have been skimming over.  During the conversation I wondered, "Once they lost Hamlet, why did R&G bother continuing on to England, anyway?"  But then I remembered, their mission was to deliver that letter (which ended up being their execution order). They never knew that Hamlet was the primary reason for their trip.  It does make you wonder what they were thinking when they watched a pirate ship sail away with the prince, though.  "Oooooo!  Claudius is gonna be *pissed*!"

Don't miss the later posts in the thread that focus on Shakespeare's use of exposition, and just how big a deal it would be to have a character lie while doing that.  I personally like digging through the text, but that's mostly because at any given time I can find and search texts, whereas the historical stuff?  I never know if there's some book I've missed that completely negates everything I think I've just learned.

Theme Song Shakespeare : Golden Danes

Knock, knock!

  Who's there?

Bardfilm doing real work!

  Bardfilm doing real work who?

You're right, that really doesn't sound like him, does it? Here's another theme song mashup to knock "Gangnam Style" out of your brain...

Setting the scene . . . Hamlet lies, dying in a pool of his own poisoned blood.  Horatio approaches . . . the music swells . . . and  
[Hamlet sings] 
Thank you for being a friend.
Grappled you to my soul--now and then.
Hor-a-tio, you’re a pal and a confidant.
And if you threw a fencing match
Invited both the king and the queen
You might think
They'd put some poison in your drink,
But the cup was meant for me.
[Horatio interrupts] 
Thank you for being a friend.
Travelled to Wittenberg and back again.
Funeral-baked meats furnished forth a meal or two. 
And if you saw a ghostie
That scared you into taking revenge--
Or if you say,
“Let's do a play-within-the-play,”
I would saw the air and say,
"Thank you for being a friend."
    "The rest is silence"
"Thank you for being a friend."
    "Horatio, I die now."
"Thank you for being a friend."
    "May flights of angels . . ."
 ". . . thank you for being a friend."

I can't get enough of these.  I've got one of my own queued up but I can't seem to find the time to finish it off, Bardfilm keeps knocking these out so fast!  If you want to join the fun, send in your theme song mashups!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Theme Song Shakespeare : A Kingdom For A Horse, Of Course

One day, Bardfilm's boss is going to learn where I live, fly here and punch me out.  Because his best Shakespeare professor has real day job work to do, and I do things like plant "ear memes" into his brain on a Friday afternoon guaranteeing that no real work gets done for the next few days.

But we benefit!   Here's only a portion of what Bardfilm left on my doorstop this morning...

[The youngsters in the audience are directed here, in case they don't recognize the tune.  Now get off our lawn, ya whipper snappers, we're trying to sing along ;)]

Hello, I’m Richard the Third.
My kingdom for a horse, of course.
And no one can talk to me of remorse
Unless, of course, I get no horse and I end up being dead.
I have no remorse for Anne, of course,
though I caused her death (instead of divorce).
I'm always on a steady course--until I end up dead.
Richmond yakkity yaks a streak and wastes my Bosworth Field.
But Richard, in winters of discontent, will never, never yield!
So go check the source (Sir Thomas Morse)
And you'll see my crown on a bush of gorse.
You want a kingdom for a horse?
Well, listen to this.
Whoops! I guess I'm dead.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bard Baby Names

[Thanks to reader Angela for the link!]

When each of my children was born, people would ask me whether I was going to name them something from Shakespeare.  I did, in my own way.  Katherine, my oldest, knows well the story of her shrew-ish namesake (and her little sister loves the story about the beautiful younger daughter who all the boys want, who can't get married until the mean older sister finds a boy who likes her).  She gets double points because her middle name, Delia, reminds me of Cordelia, the best of daughters.

My second child, Elizabeth, is not so much a Shakespeare name as a Shakespearean one - and I've even had conversations with her about that.  Her middle name, Anne, also happens to be the name of Shakespeare's wife.  So there ya go.

The boy was tricky.  It was easy to pick "classic" girls' names that have been around long enough that they meant something to Shakespeare.  But for boys we get a whole lot of Italian / Spanish sounding -o names (Banquo, Romeo, Petruchio etc...) while the more English sounding names (Richard, Henry, Edgar, Edmund...) just didn't do anything for us.  So the boy didn't get a Shakespeare name.  He's Brendan.  One day Brendan Fraser will do some Shakespeare and then we'll have a connection.

But!  I'm deep into the story and haven't served up the link to Shakespeare Baby Names that Angela sent me.  It's funny that the author clearly tries to suggest that only realistic names were included (so no Iago), but then Cymbeline is in the list.  Really?

Lots of minor characters listed, obviously because they had a modern connection already (like Celia, Audrey, Marina, etc...) but does that mean I could have called my son Christopher and argued that he was named after Christopher Sly from the induction of Shrew?

I still don't see many names on the boys' list that would have made it in my house.  Caliban? Horatio?  Interestingly the list includes Richard, but no Henry.  What's wrong with Henry?  My son is in class with a Henry right now.

Theme Song Shakespeare : The Britainy Hillbillies

Somehow the other day, Bardfilm and I got onto the subject of the Golden Girls.  Remember that show?  It wasn't long before we were singing the theme song (luckily over instant message so one one had to hear such a thing), and it wasn't long after that that we started inserting the theme songs into random Shakespearean situations.  Thus was born our new game..

Theme Song Shakespeare!

Entry #1 : The Britainy Hillbilles, by Bardfilm

Come and listen to my story 'bout a king named Lear--
A crazy British monarch well-stricken up in years.
"Daughters, what can you say to show you love the king?"
Cordelia spoke up and said, "Daddy—nothing." 
Nothing? Nothing will come of nothing. 
Well, the next thing you know, old Lear's out on the heath.
Regan said, "Now, that's a big relief!
But I think that our Lord Gloucester's trying to help out that guy."
So she and hubby Cornwall plucked out both his eyes. 
Oh, that vile, vile jelly. 
Well, now it's time to say goodbye to Lear and all his kids.
They're mostly lying dead on stage, done in by what they did.
You're all invited back next week to this locality
To have another helping of Shakespeare'n tragedy. 
Swimming pools—with Ophelia drowned in them—movie stars—betrayed by their own ambition.

Obviously these are much longer than our usual games and not the sort of thing where we can put together 20 of them in one post.  Look for more coming soon!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Very Best of Shakespeare Geek : Bardfilm Guest Posts

If there's something I've learned over the years I've been doing this, it's that there's two sure fire ways for a post to pull crazy traffic.  The first is to hit the SEO (search engine optimization) just right so that you show up on the first page of Google results (see "How old was Romeo?" for an example) (( Oh, thank you Google for letting me know that Li'l Romeo is 29 years old.  Wow. ))

The second way?  The second way is to get Bardfilm to write you a guest post.  Every time he drops a new list on my virtual doorstep, I know it's going to be a good day.

If you've not had a chance to read them all, you're missing out.  Let's fix that problem.  Gathered together here, right now, for the very first time on stage simultaneously, I present Bardfilm's Lists:

If you're not subscribed to Bardfilm's own site, what are you thinking?  Go do it.  Right now.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shakespeare in the Hunger Games?

Yes, I'm reading them.  Technically, listening on audio book.  I like to know what the latest pop culture things are all about.  Just don't ask me about 50 Shades of Grey...

Anyway, I discovered (and I don't think it's a spoiler) that the bad guy's first name is Coriolanus.  Really?  That caught my attention quickly.  I wondered why for awhile, but could not immediately make the connection.

Then I learned that a girl who has her tongue cut out is named Lavinia.  Aw come on!  That can't be coincidence.

Of course, there's an obvious connection to Roman history running through the games (not even counting the whole bread and circuses, gladiatorial thing).  Once I started looking I realized that other characters are named Cinna ("I am Cinna the Poet!  I am Cinna the Poet!!"), Octavia...heck there's even a Caesar.

So does anybody know whether the author had any Shakespeare thoughts in mind with these stories?  I'm guessing that perhaps she had enough passing familiarity with Shakespeare that she was able to pull names at will, and just used them as she saw fit.  The Lavinia thing probably isn't a coincidence, I suspect that when she was seeking a Roman name for her girl with no tongue, Lavinia was the obvious choice for anybody who knows who that is.

Friday, September 21, 2012

More Shakespeare TV Adaptations

I saw a brief mention yesterday of "America's Son" being picked up by Fox:

This project focuses on a Kennedy-esque political family. When the family’s favorite son and presidential hopeful is killed in a car crash, his son (described as being a JFK, Jr. type) returns to D.C. to find out the crash that killed his father wasn’t really an accident.
But I was unaware of ABC's venture into a similar (potential?) space with Westside:
ABC also has a Shakespeare-based project on tap called Westside, which is generally referred to as being based on West Side Story.
The Cinema Blend article  goes on to talk about how far removed the projects are from Shakespeare, so that they "don't suffer too much."  Fair enough.

But perhaps we should point them to Sons of Anarchy, which will be heading into its sixth season?  The show about a motorcycle gang has long been seen as drawing upon Hamlet for its inspiration. Though I've never seen it (not really the kind of thing we watch at my house), I did spot the connection back in 2009.

I've also just realized that in my article, the creator said that he planned a 5 year run of the series to mimic the 5 acts of Hamlet.  And that it's now been renewed for a sixth season.  Hmmmm.

Where Do You Stand on the Richard III "Discovery"?

I didn't post much last week about the possible discovery of Richard III's bones, because so many other stories already beat it into the ground.  We did have some fun with the puns, though:

  • To repeat, archaeologists are not 100% sure that this is Richard III - they only have a hunch.
  • Somebody please tell me he was found on a Wednesday so we can call it Hump Day?
  • You might think Richard III would have been great at the new "Gangnam Style" invisible horse dance, but he was partial to the Humpty Hump.
  • Ironically, they found the bones of a horse right behind Richard.

You get the idea.  If you like them, they're mine, if they're awful they're Bardfilm's. ;)

Anyway, by not posting I realized that I was denying the Shakespeare Geek audience the opportunity to get together for discussion, so here be that post.  What are your thoughts?  Do you think it's him?  Where do you stand on the whole "Richard III wasn't really the bad guy he's been painted by history" angle?

As I've mentioned, I'm just plain not that familiar with the story of Richard III, so I have little opinion on the matter other to say that I make no connection between what Shakespeare wrote, and what reality was.   He could have been a saint for all I know.  Though probably not.

My favorite quote from the linked story, by the way:
"If Richard was the kind of plotter Shakespeare makes him out to be there are a lot of questions to be answered, like if he was so power-hungry why didn't he kill his brother King Edward IV?"
"Oh yeah?  Well what about all the people he *didn't* kill, huh?  How come nobody ever talks about that?"  That sounds like a line out of a Saturday Night Live skit.