Friday, November 14, 2014

Whoa, Wait .. Is Disney Doing Midsummer Night's Dream?!

[Hat tip to Will Sutton of I Love Shakespeare for this one!]

The thought of a mass market animated Shakespeare has compelled me for years. I followed every story I could find while waiting for Gnomeo and Juliet to see the light of day (seriously - here's a 2006 post, and here's 2011 post when it finally came out). I've also been saying for years, you'll note, that I think they should do The Tempest.

But I'll take Midsummer, too!

It appears that Strange Magic will hit theaters January 23! Created by Lucasfilm (which was started by George Lucas and now owned by Disney), produced by Touchstone (who I believe did Gnomeo?) and directed by a Pixar veteran, the story is "inspired by" A Midsummer Night's Dream so we'll have to see what that might mean. The clip below has more, although I'm worried about the "battle over a powerful potion."

IMDB gives us no clue about characters, listing all the celebrity credits as just "(Voice)".

We'll be watching this one closely! I'm quite sure I'm just getting my hopes up about the amount of Shakespeare content that might make it into the final product, but I don't care.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

King Lear and Sydney's Arcadia?

I received a request this evening from Hikari, who is studying at university in I assume Japan (from his .jp email address). Hikari asks:

I'm going to write an essay about King Lear's sub-plot and its source Sydney's "Arcadia"(the story of the Paphlagonian King). But I couldn't find secondary sources for my essay yet. Do you know any sources about it?
I had to go do my research to even understand the question, but I've never been shy to admit when I have no idea. The story of the Paphlagonian King refers to the Edmund/Edgar/Gloucester plot of Lear, which drew on Sydney's Arcadia as a source.

Some quick googling brought me here:

For the sub-plot of King Lear, Shakespeare relied upon a story from Arcadia, the epic romance by Sidney, published in 1590. We can see by examining Shakespeare's wonderful attention to the characters of Edgar and Gloucester, how much Sidney's tale of the king of Paphlagonia and his two sons sparked the Bard's own imagination.
I'm not quite sure what Hikari is looking for in his quest for "secondary sources". Does anybody else have some better sites to link?

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Divine Miss Macbeth

The other day we learned that Cyndi Lauper is really into Shakespeare. Today in another one of Reddit's famous AMA's, Bette Midler went ahead and dropped some Shakespeare into the conversation without needing an invitation:

Lady Midler as Lady Macbeth?

I don't know, what do people think? I'm trying to think of her most memorable roles, and I keep coming up with comedy. Could she handle one of the great tragedies? Or do we see her more in a comic role? What I don't see her in is any sort of supporting role. Whatever she does, it seems that she's got to be front and center.

Stop Teasing Me, Middle School

My daughter, I may have mentioned, is in middle school. At the beginning of the school year my wife copied down all the relevant events from the school calendar to our personal calendar. I noticed that next weekend it says, "Fall play : Shakespeare."

What's this now?

I hit the school web site for details.  I've mentioned in the past that my town has an excellent Shakespeare program at the high school, and is part of an invitation-only festival in Lennox, Mass every year.  So if they say they're doing Shakespeare I'm not going to miss it. But alas, this is the middle school not the high school and all the calendar still says is, "Fall Play : Shakespeare".

I tackle my daughter the next morning.  "Ummm, hello?  Fall play Shakespeare? Why do I not know about this?"

"I told you about it," she says.  Liar!

"Pretty sure you didn't," I say.

"Romeo and Juliet? Remember?"

Then I remember. Back at the beginning of the year she told me that the eighth graders are doing something called "Romeo and Juliet Together and Alive At Last".

"Ohhhhh!" I say, "That's annoying. That's not Shakespeare."

So as not to miss out on any Shakespeare, however, I go googling for it. Turns out that Bardfilm beat me to it, and reviewed the story (the novel version, at least) on his blog.

I did get to read some of the script, and I agree with his assessment - the characters are eighth graders dealing with eighth grade issues, but they talk like second graders. I don't plan on going to see the play. I hope that this is not "Shakespeare prep" for the kids before they get to high school.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Dancing With The Shakespeare

I'm not sure how many of you watch ABC's Dancing With the Stars, either because you're in another country and have no idea what it is or because you just got sick of them playing fast and loose with the word "star" about 10 seasons ago.

But!  This week was "Dynamic Duo" week, and somebody (Val and Janel) did Romeo and Juliet. I always pay closer attention when there's a chance that somebody's gotten some Shakespeare into other random stuff.

Unfortunately there's not a whole lot of Shakespeare to be found, once you get past the name. Check it out (they did get a perfect score for the performance):

On second thought, let's look a little closer.

I'm not quite sure what they were going for here, but when I first saw it I thought, "Are they in her bedroom looking out the window?"  As in, "It was the nightingale, and not the lark?"

But here's what sealed it for me. I can only hope that he was going for what I think he was going for:

Romeo's reaction to discovering Juliet's dead body? I love it.  (By the way, you may notice that he's literally holding her up across his knees. Nice trick!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Girls Just Wanna Have Shakespeare

Let's talk about Cyndi Lauper, who my younger audience will know from her show Kinky Boots (Tony Award winning show, I believe), and my audience who is more my age will know her from her domination of the pop charts back in the 80's with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Time After Time, True Colors and many others.

Today Cyndi Lauper did one of Reddit's famous AMA's, short for "Ask Me Anything". It's always interesting to see how these go. Typically with a celebrity there's no point in asking a question as yours will almost never float high enough to be seen, but it's fun to come in after and read the various summaries to see what you learn.

Check it out:

Cyndi Lauper's Reddit AMA (click to enlarge)
Wait, what? Did Cyndi Lauper just drop in an entirely out of context Shakespeare reference? Her biggest regret (well, one of) was "not doing SNL (Saturday Night Live) with all the wrestlers, because she always wanted to see them do Shakespeare with her."  (Brief bit of context for the confused, Ms. Lauper was the centerpiece in the 1980's of what became known as the Rock n Wrestling Connection due to her friendship with real life WWF manager Captain Lou Albano, RIP).

Where'd this Shakespeare interest come from?  To the Google!

An excerpt from her memoir (which I have not read), where she appears to be talking about an old boyfriend:
Cyndi Lauper : A Memoir (click to enlarge)

This is unfortunately the only reference I can find. It's obvious that she's got theatrical experience/interest/connections, look at her success with Kinky Boots. But now I'm curious about her background in Shakespeare! She must have some signficant interest in the subject for it to jump right to the top of her "big regrets" list like that.

Other snippets from the book include a note that her mother, "...wanted to be a Bohemian. She went to museums and read about Chinese architecture and yogis and Shakespeare."

Alas I can't find any information that suggests she's got formal schooling in Shakespeare, or that she may have ever acted in any of the works.  Neat idea, though. I know very little about Kinky Boots, but I hear it was very well received, so I'm left to wonder how much classic theatre practice went into its development.

Let's Talk About Globe on Demand

Everybody and their Uncle Pandarus is reporting on the Globe bringing their plays online for rental or purchase.  As a fan? I love the idea. As a technology geek I think it's a good first step, and for a number of reasons I hope they make some changes.

If you haven't seen the player yet, it's proprietary. Instead of teaming up with any of the plethora of other services available, the Globe is using their own. You register with them, pay them your money, and watch your videos on their player. This goes against what I see as the most common trends in this industry. As a consumer I want:

1) An "all you can consume" subscription option. You tell me you put 50 plays online and want to charge me $6.50 to rent each one, I can't help thinking "It's going to cost me over $300 if I expect to watch all of these." But tell me that for $99 I can have a year long access to watch the plays whenever I want?  Much better deal, and also far more likely to get more money out of me because I may have high hopes about watching all of them, but let's be realistic, I'm not doing that. Not only are many not available in my region, many are in foreign languages.  So if I end up watching less than about 15 of them, the $99 deal still puts the Globe ahead.

2) I want to watch on my television, not my computer. This is standard now. Between my Roku box and my Chromecast, anything that's worth watching is worth watching on the big screen. I'm relatively certain they don't have a Roku channel, but I'm honestly not sure if it works with Chromecast. It might.

3) If I choose to buy/own a video, do I get a DRM-free, downloadable version? I'm not going to try it to find out, but that's what I'd want. I want a file that I'll copy over to my home video system, where I'll be able to play it on my television (see point #2). I get the funny feeling that buying the video from the Globe means you still get to log back into the Globe site, check out your account, and watch your videos from there.

Has anybody plonked down some money yet and taken this one for a spin? What do you think? What did you rent?

Monday, November 03, 2014

Where You From?

I was looking at my site recently and while I noticed that the lion's share of my traffic comes from the US, expectedly, but according to Google there's 117 different locations where my readers have come from.

So I'm curious.  Where you from? What's the Shakespeare scene like over there?

Collier Shakespeare

On Halloween I asked for research into which edition added a stage direction for Hamlet to put down Yorick's skull.  Bardfilm tells me it was added in the Collier edition, but then disappeared before I could ask for more info on Collier.  So, I had to go look for myself.

Interesting!  From the Wikipedia page:
Collier used these opportunities to effect a series of literary fabrications. Over the next several years he claimed to find a number of new documents relating to Shakespeare's life and business. After New Facts, New Particulars and Further Particulars respecting Shakespeare had appeared and passed muster, Collier produced (1852) the famous Perkins Folio, a copy of the Second Folio (1632), so called from a name written on the title-page. In this book were numerous manuscript emendations of Shakespeare, said by Collier to be from the hand of "an old corrector." He published these corrections as Notes and Emendations to the Text of Shakespeare (1852) and boldly incorporated them in his next edition (1853) of Shakespeare.
More information here.  Did this guy just forge his sources? If there's such controversy over his edition why would the Moby edition, which is based on the 1864 Globe edition (thanks JM), have this line?

I would have thought the authenticity of this edition would have been seriously called into question just by looking at the first scene of Romeo and Juliet, anyway:

Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals. 
No, for then we should be colliers. 
That would be awesome. 
This is what I'm sayin, right? Colliers are the coolest. 
I hear you.  Ain't nothing wrong with being a collier. Colliers rule. 
You know who doesn't rule, though? Montagues.

Paterson Joseph, Shakespeare Mastermind

Personally I don't know who this gentleman is, I had to go look him up on IMDB. Seems he's done mostly work on UK rather than US features. Fair enough.  He popped up in my newsfeed this morning for a Shakespeare mention, and here's what he had to say:

Mastermind specialist subject
Shakespeare. When I watch Pointless and there are any Shakespeare questions I nearly always get them all, and I feel like I’d probably know more about Shakespeare than I do about anything else, as a sort of general knowledge thing. So yeah, it would be Shakespeare, but I’d have to read all 36 plays again.
Anybody else notice something odd right at the end, there?  36? I hear 37 most often, and sometimes 38, but I can't remember the last time I heard 36. When somebody says that, which play are they not counting? Henry VIII?

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Hamlet, Put Down the Skull.

So I saw somebody carrying a skull as part of her Halloween costume, and of course I had to come up with some jokes about Yorick, being quite chap-fallen, could not enjoy the Reese's Pieces he did love so very much.  So of course I had to pull up Hamlet's speech to get my quotes right.  I go to the MIT (Moby) version, because it's the easiest to search:

And I thought, "Wait... there's a stage direction that tells him to put down the skull? That seems oddly specific for a play that rarely states stage directions beyond who enters, exits and dies."

So I go look it up in the First Folio, as you folks have taught me to do:

Nope! Not there. I'm not surprised, I get that various editions get conflated over the years.  But the thing is, I checked two quartos as well as Second and Third Folio, and I can't find it in any of those, either.

Anybody know when this got added?  And possibly the more interesting question, why? Was there an edition where somebody went in and really got specific about such things, for some reason? Maybe David Garrick kept forgetting to put down Yorick and would end up carrying him through the rest of the scene until a director got the idea to write it into the script :)