Monday, September 26, 2016

How Far That Little Candle Throws His Beams

I've got a question for you.

I'm going to assume, since you're reading this, that you like Shakespeare.  Maybe you're a theatre geek in general, or maybe like me you've got no particular connection to the theatrical world, you just love Shakespeare's work.  You've probably got a bunch of it memorized, too, if by pure repetition if nothing else.

So here's my question.  How many friends have you got that you talk about Shakespeare with?  Sure, if you're in a theatre group in the first place the answer to this question might be obvious.  But what about your friends, your family, your coworkers? If your life is anything like mine, most folks you encounter have little more than a passing high school knowledge of the man and his work. Most will never bother to learn any more than that, because they're adults now and their time for being told what they have to learn is over.  There's bills to be paid and fantasy football teams to draft.

Why can't we change that?

Why can't we introduce Shakespeare and his work to children from the time that they're born?  Fine, there's plenty of stuff in Shakespeare that's over the head of most college students, let alone toddlers.  Dr. Seuss wrote propaganda cartoons during World War II, too.  But I'll bet we can all quote Cat in the Hat.

How great would the world be if everybody you ran into on a daily basis was as familiar with "I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows" as they are with "One fish two fish, red fish blue fish?"

"To be or not to be" and "Wherefore art thou" have tipped over into cliche, but wouldn't you love to hang out with somebody who not only recognized "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises," but could complete it with, "sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not?"

Shakespeare is poetry.  Children learn language through rhyme and poetry.

Shakespeare painted pictures with words.  Children learn words through association with images.

There's absolutely no reason why somebody can't take Shakespeare's poetry and Shakespeare's pictures and put them in the hands of new parents to read to their children from day one. You know what happens when that happens?  Those kids like it. Those kids ask for it. Those kids want more.
Most importantly, those kids grow up with Miranda and Ariel and Titania and Oberon in their brains right next to Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and the Wild Things and the Lorax and Alice and the Mad Hatter...

Before that little candle can throw its beams, somebody has to light it, and that is precisely what Erin is trying to do.

I know I've bugged you all about this already, but her Kickstarter deadline draws near, and she hasn't hit the goal yet, so she still needs help.  Back this project.  Get this book into existence. I don't care if you've got kids.  Mine aren't going to read this.  But I backed it. Because I want others to be able to read it. Imagine one day going to the store (if they still have bookstores!) and seeing Shakespeare in the baby book section. Even better imagine buying it and giving something you love as a give to someone you love.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Maybe Angelina Should Try More Shakespeare?

When I heard that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have filed for divorce it wasn't that interesting to me.

Then I heard the rumor that they're divorcing because he's having an affair with Marion "Lady Macbeth" Cotillard, and now we've got something to talk about!

In case you missed it, here's our review of the 2015 Macbeth starring Cotillard and Michael Fassbender.

Although Pitt and Cotillard are apparently working together on a new project that hasn't come out yet, who knows? Maybe he saw her in that and liked the whole Shakespeare vibe.  I can't find any Shakespeare in Pitt's biography, but I do see that Gwynneth Paltrow, who went on to win an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, claims that after he broke up with her she was almost too distraught to audition for the role (item #10).

Perhaps Brad never knew that Ms. Jolie has some Shakespeare in her past as well?  No, I'm not talking about Cyborg 2 or Hackers, both classics in their own right.  Nor do I mean her epic Cleopatra project that was the star of the Sony email debacle a few years back.

I'm talking about Love is All There Is, a 1990's Romeo and Juliet re-telling set in an Italian restaurant in the Bronx.  Angelina plays our Juliet.  It also happens to be available in full on YouTube.

Please share and enjoy:

(Trivia -- looks like Paul Sorvino is in this, and then again in Romeo+Juliet just a couple of years later.  Apparently as a palate cleanser. :))

Monday, September 19, 2016

Three Projects To Get Excited About

When I read a headline that the Actors Hall of Fame was bringing back Shakespeare classics after 20 years I thought, "What, something like the Criterion collection? DVDs?"  Nope, I'm completely wrong. They're doing multiple ground-breaking things that look crazy exciting!

A MidSummer Night’s Dream will be produced as a state of the art family animated film, with the addition of new songs and dances from established and emerging artists. The film will be released globally in midsummer 2018.​
All my children's lives I've wanted "start of the art family animated film" versions of Shakespeare.  I just hope this one hasn't got gnomes in it.

The Taming of the Shrew will be produced as a 10 hour miniseries for broadcast/streaming, and will also introduce the next generation of characters in the lives of Petruchio and Katherina.
I've seen rumors that at least three major television networks are doing some version of a Shakespeare series, including a Romeo and Juliet sequel. The idea of a mini series is an interesting one, because you can tell a determined story arc without worrying about having to create ongoing material for several seasons.

Romeo and Juliet  the classic story of young love will make history by airing ‘LIVE’ on mobile and social media around the world starring today’s most popular young stars from film, television and music.
Since joining Twitter back in 2008 I've been inundated with every possible combination of live tweeting the plays in "text speak" from various accounts behaving in the persona of the individual characters, and I've never liked it. I'm at least curious what "airing live on social media" means because I am interested in the advancement of the technologies to do that, however.

Should be very interesting to keep an eye on these projects!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

More Strange Than True: Yay! More Midsummer Movies!

Look what I found in my browsing today!  Behold More Strange Than True, coming soon to a cinema near you (assuming you are in the UK):
After beheading her husband, Queen Titiana takes over the mystical woods where lost souls and ghouls wander about confused in this surrealist film inspired by William Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.
First thought:  "Wait, did they spell Titania wrong or did they do that on purpose?"  It's listed that way as well in the credits so I guess it's Tie-tee-AH-na instead of Tie-TAY-nee-ah.

Second thought: "After beheading her husband..." who the...what the.....huh?

I'm not quite sure what to expect out of this one, but I think Bardfilm is going to have a field day if this summary from the director is any indication:
Writer/Director Ben Rider originally intended to adapt A Midsummer Night's Dream into a musical. He abandoned the idea when he decided his vision to interpret the play as a post-modern homage to German Expressionist cinema, particularly the works of German filmmaker F.W. Murnau, mixed with the stylistic films of Guy Maddin, such as Archangel (1990), would be better suited to the surreal elements of Shakespeare's writing.
What? Who? How?  Is Death going to ride in on a bicycle with his scythe hanging out of a grocery bag like a baguette?

Anybody in the UK recognize any of these names, or their work?

Thursday, September 08, 2016

The World Needs Shakespeare Baby Books

This blog started in 2005, when my first child was just barely three years old.  She's now entering high school and has two younger siblings.  They've grown up with Shakespeare.  It goes without saying that if I could have found age appropriate Shakespeare material for them since birth, I would have been all over it.  True there was that short lived "Baby Einstein" series that had a "Baby Shakespeare" offering, but that was really just random poetry and nothing especially Shakespeare.

My kids are grown now and reading Shakespeare on their own, but I think about all the new and soon to be parents out there that are in the same situation that I was, that maybe want some Shakespeare stuff for baby, and aren't finding it, but don't have a great soapbox like I do :)

So that is the reason I'm very excited about this Kickstarter for Behowl the Moon,  a "board book" based on A Midsummer Night's Dream and aimed at ages 0-3.

It's important to get the word out about a project like this.  It's not the kind of thing that goes straight to viral and makes its goal in half an hour.  At the time of this post they're about 1/3rd of the way there, and I seriously hope that they make it.  I keep saying my kids are too old, but as my pal Bardfilm reminded me, one day I'll need something to read to the grand babies.  Can you just imagine?  Passing our love of Shakespeare down two generations?  I just can't even.

Projects like this seeing the light of day pave the way for other projects to do the same, and the world gets more Shakespeare for all ages, and before you know it there's generations of geeklets growing up with love, rather than fear, of the greatest writer the world has ever known.  Who says you can't change the world? Go big or go home.

I know that money's a funny thing and not all of us have the kind of disposable income we wish we had.  But I also know that I've got well over ten thousand followers, all with friends and family and followers of their own, so take a moment and hit whatever version of the "share" button you prefer and keep spreading the word! Let's push them over their goal and get this thing made!

Behowl the Moon: An Ageless Story from Shakespeare's MSND