Monday, December 29, 2014

The 2014 Year In Shakespeare

Happy Holidays, everyone!

As 2014 draws to a close I thought it would be fun to do something different and look at all the exciting adventures we've had in the wonderful world of Shakespeare.

We'll kick it off in February with my continuing efforts to bring Shakespeare into school as early as possible, when I visited my daughter's fourth grade classroom.

We also had this brief news story about the authentication of two new Shakespeare portraits. In hindsight I think perhaps I got a little over excited, as the story was never mentioned again and probably should have gone into the crackpot bucket.

In March, riding high on the success of my fourth grade visit, I nearly threw in the towel when I attempted the same feat in my son's second grade class.  It did not go as expected.  But there's a reason why I titled the post Ok, Worth It.

April as always brought us Shakespeare Day, this year being one of those special round numbers as we celebrated 450 years since his birth. I posted almost 30 times that day as is my tradition, so instead of linking them all I'll point you to where it all started and when our revels ended (for the day).

But wait! April wasn't done yet as I was brought back for an encore performance for the fourth grade, a story so big I had to post it Henry IV style  -- part 1 and part 2.

And what was the rest of Shakespeare world doing while I was corrupting young minds?  Well we might very well have found Shakespeare's dictionary.

All The World's A Stage

I got to see a whole bunch of Shakespeare this year, which was awesome.

In February you can see my reaction to learning that Teller (of Penn and Teller fame) would be producing his version of The Tempest.  Well in June I got to see it (front row!) and it was everything I expected.

Every August I head into Boston to see Shakespeare on the Common.  This year? Twelfth Night.

Even more!  The stars aligned this year and I was able to take my kids to see my beloved local group Rebel Shakespeare perform As You Like It. It's great to see professionals perform Shakespeare. It's even more special to see kids and teens perform Shakespeare, not because their teacher made them, but because they get it and this is what they want to do.

Flights of Angels Sing Thee To Thy Rest

Alas, no year end review is complete without a moment of silence for those we've lost. RIP Mickey Rooney, who brought us Puck many decades ago. Seriously, the man was credited with acting roles over 10 decades. It's hard to believe we were ever going to lose him.

We also lost two Iagos - Bob Hoskins and Philip Seymour Hoffman. As I wrote at the time of Mr. Hoskins passing, perhaps they can compare notes with the Master now.

Finally, an event that I can say has honestly still devastated me, was the passing of Robin Williams. At the time I posted a number of his Shakespeare links on Twitter, and honestly I wanted to do a tribute post at the time, but I couldn't. It was too much to bear.  Instead I'll leave his memory on a high note, from the Apple commercial voiceover he did at the beginning of the year.  What will your verse be?

<fade to black, commercial break>

A Year of Discoveries

It was back in 2012 that Richard III's skeleton was found in a parking lot, but this year we finally got DNA confirmation that it is in fact him - along with some surprises!

This brings us pretty much up to date, except....let me see, I could swear there was another story that snuck in there right at the end.... oh, yeah.




I think it's fascinating to have another copy, and I'm quite sure that we'll be poring over it for years to come, micro-cataloguing every mark and scratch on it. What intrigues me more, though, is the idea that this can still happen.  I'm going to borrow a quote from Men in Black  here:
Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.
Five years ago, Richard III's remains were lost to the ages. Now we're debating his DNA records. As 2014 began we all knew that there were 232 surviving First Folios. Now there are 233. We may even have an entirely new work, a dictionary Shakespeare may have used.

As Stanley Wells said in a recent Newsweek article, "There’s lots and lots of unexamined legal records rotting away in the national archives; it is just possible something will one day turn up."

I can't wait.

Happy New Year, Shakespeare geeks!

Newsweek on Shakespeare Authorship

Normally I would let an article like this one just quietly float past, without comment. But I found it so laugh out loud ridiculous that I can't resist comment.

Apparently a group of Shakespeare deniers (I don't particularly care to name them and give them any sort of Google juice) put up £40,000 to debate Stanley Wells' Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on the usual, and of course Wells told the buggers to go pound sand, that he's tired of rehashing the same old arguments.

The fun part comes at the end, where their leader gives us a perfect example of why it is impossible to argue logically with them:

“As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.’ We’ve got to the fight bit.”
First of all, yes, he really did compare his cause to Gandhi, so there's that.  The more amusing bit to me, however, is that the entire article is about the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's refusal to debate the topic.  So no, Mr. Anonymous, you've not got to the fight bit. You're barely at the ridicule bit, honestly. Most of us would prefer to keep ignoring you.

Thank you, though, for the demonstration in how to ignore facts when they're right in front of you and only state what supports your case.  Ironic, innit?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Peter Pan Live Had Shakespeare In It?

I know I'm a day late but my family tends to record things and watch them when it's a better time for the kids.

Last night was NBC's big #PeterPanLive event, as you may have noticed. I did not expect to blog about it.

But then this happened.  Wendy and the boys have gone with Peter to Neverland, where she is to play the role of mother and tell them the ends of all the stories.  And then...

Lost Boy #1:  Tell us the ending of Cinderella!
Wendy: Well, the glass slipper fit, and Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after.
All:  Hurray!
Lost Boy #2:  Tell us the ending of Sleeping Beauty!
Wendy:  The prince kisses her, and she wakes up and they all live happily ever after.
All:  Hurray!
Lost Boy #3:  Tell us the ending to Hamlet!
Wendy:  <blank stare>  Umm....well.....Hamlet dies, and the king dies, and the queen dies and Ophelia dies, and Laertes dies....
All: ...
Wendy: ....but everybody who's left lives happily ever after.
All:  Hurray!
I honestly have no idea if that's a new scene or if that is in J.M. Barrie's original in any form.