Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday January 27 2014


After the intensive Macbeth period things have calmed down now for awhile and the only real activity is reading Antony and Cleopatra.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Galen, a physician from the second century AD, turned from the use of magic to the use of scientific observation and experimentation in healing, and influenced medical practice for centuries. Shakespeare mentions him in The Merry Wives of Windsor, All’s Well that Ends Well and Coriolanus.
  • Davy Gam is the anglicized version of Dafydd ab Llewelyn, a Welshman who died for Henry V at Agincourt.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel Instructions for a Heat Wave by Maggie O’Farrel,l brother and sister Michael Francis and Aoife are standing at the railing of a ferry from England to Ireland in a storm and he says to her, “Enough with the King Lear-ing. Let’s go inside.”   
  • Continuing with London the Biography by Peter Ackroyd,
    • The twentieth century slang for policeman, “bluebottle” was used by Doll Tearsheet in Henry IV Part Two
    • The Boar’s Head in East Cheap, a real alehouse until 1831, was also vividly used in Henry IV, visited by Falstaff, Pistol, Doll Tearsheet and Mistress Quickly, and probably by Shakespeare himself.
    • There are still several pubs called Shakespeare’s Head in London (but we haven’t succeeded in finding any. Maybe next time.)
    • The distinct smell of the 16th and 17th century crowd was described by Shakespeare as “their stinking breaths” (Coriolanus).
    • The news from London has long fascinated the people of the country, though it was regarded as unreliable and fleeting.  This is reflected in several of Shakespeare’s plays. King Lear: “poor rogues/ Talk of court news.” Henry IV Part One: “the newes/ Of hurly burly innovation”. As You Like It: the new newes at the new Court.”
  • In the last of Mark Lawrence’s Thorn trilogy, Emperor of Thorns, the hero Jorg says to his companion, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Makin, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” And the sort of dead ghost type person Chella says, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”
  • The actor Jan Myrbrand was interviewed in Dagens Nyheter in connection with his fifty-fifth birthday. When asked about his dream role he said, “If I had been younger, Prince Hal in Henry IV but now I’m too old.”
Further since last time:
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: Antony and Cleopatra
  • Booked: the Premier Inn near the Globe, for easy access to the plays. It’s the same hotel as last summer and we’re looking forward to going back!
Posted this week:
  • This Monday report.


                       

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday January 20 2014

Finally, dear fellow Shakespeare freaks, the great Macbeth project is done for this time.  It has taken a long time because of other projects, and because I wanted to savour the work with this, my favorite (well, one of them) of Shakespeare’s plays.  It was quite sad yesterday evening when we watched the last of our Macbeth films, the one with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench.  We always save the best for the last, and such was certainly the case now.  Happily, we can look forward to the release of the DVD of the performance we saw at the Globe last summer. The friendly people at the Globe have informed me via email that Macbeth and The Tempest should be released in July. It’s a long time until then though and we should have read several more plays by then.  Coming up next is Antony and Cleopatra, which coincidentally is one of the plays we’re hoping to see at the Globe this coming June.  The other is Julius Caesar.
For this week though, I hope you enjoy the Macbeth material below.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Forres is a very old town on the Moray Firth not far from Cawdor of which Macbeth became thane to begin his ill-fated ascent.
  • The Furies are avenging deities of classical mythology who enforce curses on people who go against the laws of nature. They show up in Henry IV Part 2 and All’s Well that Ends Well. Not in Macbeth, though. 

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the Swedish novel The Readers in Broken Circle Recommend (Läsarna i Broken Circle rekommenderar)   by Katarina Bivald, one of the book loving characters doesn’t even have Shakespeare in her collection. (What kind of book lover is that?)  The author at least uses quotes as a chapter title: “What’s in a name?” (Vad finns i ett namn?) and the main character has read Shakespeare’s comedies at least.
  • Continuing with London the Biography by Peter Ackroyd, there aren’t as many sightings as one would expect, especially in the chapter about theatres. But there are some of interest:
    • Shakespeare and Jonson were supposed to have drunk at the Mermaid in Bredstreet.
    • The Cockney of Mistress Quickly was the authentic London speech that Shakespeare heard every day and it has remained surprisingly unchanged over the centuries.
    • Placing Falstaff in East Cheap , Shakespeare is presenting the London of two centuries earlier, which would be just about right historically.
    • When Trinculo says to Caliban, “When they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay our ten to see a dead Indian,” Shakespeare is showing that Londoners are fascinated with oddities.
    • In a print from 1833 by J.O. Perry a young chimney sweep is shown looking up at a poster for a performance of Otello.
    • Eccentric Benjamin Coates hired the Haymarket Theatre in 1810 in order to play Romeo for one night.
    • Ghosts from Shakespeare’s dramas were reported in the 18th century to haunt some theatres.
    • Newgate Prison existed for a long time and Bardolph describes a line of men to Falstaff as walking, “two and two, Newgate fashion.”
    • In an unspecified century, the melancholy tendency of Londoners to commit suicide was exemplified by a young man who, after attending a performance of Richard III, succumbed to “terrible convulsions.”
    • Policemen and their predecessors have long been figures of fun as is Dogberry of Much Ado about Nothing.
  •  In the excellent TV series Dancing on the Edge with several Merlin actors, including Angel Coulby (who has an amazing singing voice) and Anthony Head, people are reported to be walking out of a theatre because Paul Robeson is playing Othello.  The series is about racism in England in the 1930’s.
  • It’s Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this year, which will probably be mentioned a thousand or so times in the media. Dagens Nyheter has started with a small notice mentioning that there will be a lot of extra activity in Stratford-upon-Avon this year.
  • In an article in Svenska dagbladet, given me by my friend and colleague EÖ, the 450-year-anniversary is also mentioned in a long and interesting article about three new books that I’d like to read: 30 Great Myths about Shakespeare by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith, The Quality of Mercy by Peter Brook, and Shakespeare’s World by Neil MacGregor.  Oh, there are so many exciting Shakespeare books to read!
  • My Facebook friend DK in London sent me this message: “I found this - Shakespeare in Esperanto!”http://www.facebook.com/l/SAQHOdRRAAQHEFtKwBMpKFTLC7_Uu9y0GFoYGwtmllGduIA/esperanto.org.uk/eab/bookcat.htm%23sec15 Take a look! 

Further since last time:
  • Finished writing: the text about Macbeth
  • Saw:
    • Macbeth (1971 Polanski)
    • Macbeth (1949 Welles)
    • Macbeth Retold (2005)
    • Macbeth (1979 McKellen-Dench) 

Posted this week:














             


The Magic of Macbeth

The Magic
of
Macbeth

            It has put a spell on me, this play. The assignment at the University of Stockholm was to read a few pages from Macbeth.  Ever the dutiful student, I read them. And read them again. Then went home, sat at the kitchen table, alone in the flat, and read the whole play.  Aloud. And my life as a Shakespeare freak was firmly established.
            I’m not the only one, obviously, to regard Macbeth as one of the absolute giants of world literature. But what is it that caught me in its spell that day at the kitchen table, and continues to do so to this day? The answer is so obvious it’s almost trite, but still true. Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the three weird sisters. Far from the stereotypes they have become, these three characters (if I may regard the sisters as one) are so complex and mysterious that they continue to confound and elude us, and to fascinate.
            And so, a brief look at the witches, the lady and the king hereafter.
            The three witches open the play with some of Shakespeare’s most memorable lines:

First witch: When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Second witch: When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
Third witch: That will be ere the set of sun.
First witch: Where the place?
Second witch: Upon the heath.
Third witch: There to meet with Macbeth.
All: Fair is foul, and foul is fair,
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

            What an atmosphere these few lines create!  Storm, tumult, battle, paradox – “fair is foul, and foul is fair”.  It doesn’t bode well for the poor fellow Macbeth, whoever he is.  How much are the witches simply predicting, and how much are they engineering?  From the very beginning, there is the magic of uncertainty in the play.
            We meet the trio soon again in Act 1.3.  Again it is stormy and they are discussing a local sailor and his wife.  He’s on his way to Aleppo and they’re planning on sending a storm to destroy him? Why? What do the witches have against these two? There is a hint in the unkindness shown the witches by the wife who refused to share her chestnuts and told them to go away but more than that, the three aren’t telling.  They are outcasts, they are dangerous.
            Enter Banquo and Macbeth. Banquo describes them as “withered”, “wild”, “skinny”, “bearded” and possibly not of this earth, but he seems more amused by them than frightened.  They say little in the exchange. Simply the fateful, “All hail, Macbeth…thane of Glamis…of Cawdor…the king hereafter.” And to Banquo:  “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater…thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.”
            And so the paths of Macbeth and Banquo are set. Why are the witches doing this? “Are they responsible,” Stephen Greenblatt asks in the Norton introduction, “by magical influence or by planting the idea in his mind, for his decision to kill Duncan? Are they somehow privy to a predestined fate…Or… are they uncanny emblems of Macbeth’s psychological condition…?” (page 2573).  We don’t know.  Like all magic, we don’t know if it causes our fate to take place, or simply predicts it, or if it comes from within ourselves.
            The next time we see the witches is in Act 3.5 but here they are being chastised by their boss Hecate for taking their own initiative without letting her be part of the fun.  She’s very keen to be part of Macbeth’s downfall and willingly or not the three let her get involved.
            Which leads us to the famous “Double, double” scene.
            Both hugely comical and horrible, this scene has more or less brainwashed us in the past four hundred years into believing this is how witches are.  Who in the western world, and possibly the rest, has not heard, “Eye of newt and toe of frog” and recognized it as a magic spell? Who has not pictured all the yucky things being tossed into the cauldron, forever identifying this once everyday object – it’s just a big pot, after all – with magic?  “Poisoned entrails…wool of bat…scale of dragon…liver of blaspheming Jew [OMG!]…nose of Turk [these witches are terrible racists if nothing else]…Finger of birth-strangled babe…” Talk about having to laugh in order not to throw up!
            If Shakespeare tells us what they actually do with this ghastly potion, I’ve missed it.  I can’t see that Macbeth drinks it or anything.  And in fact after the famous line, “Something wicked this way comes”, announcing the arrival of Macbeth, the three witches step back, allowing their masters to give Macbeth the three prophesies: watch out for Macduff, don’t worry otherwise, you’ll be OK as long as you stay away from men not born of women and moving forests.  The role of the three witches now is to admonish Macbeth to shut up and listen. And then they vanish.
            They’ve certainly done their bit.  Macbeth is on his way to his violent doom.  But what exactly have they done?  The question remains unanswered.   “…the status of the witches in Shakespeare’s play remains uncertain and seems to be so by design,” writes Greenblatt (page 2574). Oh Shakespeare! You’re such a master of confounding and enthralling your readers! How can I not love these witches?
            Lady Macbeth, then.  Everyone loves to hate her. She’s one of the most hated women in literature. What’s magical about her?  Only that she has bewitched the world into seeing her as evilly ambitious when she, in fact, isn’t so different from the rest of us.
            Ambitious, yes, of course. Evil? Well, define evil.  Her role is so often played as a vicious sexpot and that is so wrong.  She is, when she gets her husband’s letter, happy for his success and aware of the aspects of his character that will make it difficult for him to step into the unexpected role of king.  She is a keen observer of character and an astute politician in an era when most kings are murdered so that their successor may take over the throne.  Her lines, as she reads and ponders the letter, should not be read viciously or insanely or lustfully but thoughtfully and with just a suggestion of enjoyment over their royal prospects.
            She does not then say, “OK, we’ll just have to kill Duncan because he’s in our way.” She says instead a whole lot of other things that show that the murder is fated and necessary and that to carry it out she will have to summon the power of the spirits to unsex her, to fill her with cruelty, to stop remorse, to bring darkness so that her  “keen knife not see the wound it makes…” (Act 1.5).  Lady Macbeth does not want to commit murder.  She finds no vicious joy in it.  She cannot, in fact, do it without the help of spirits to make her go against her nature. She cannot do it without the help of a kind of magic.
            Lady Macbeth’s following lines, in which she urges her husband to fulfill the masculine role demanded of him (not just by her, it must be emphasized, but by society), should be read not with vicious lust but earnestly, analytically, pleadingly.  Even the baby image, disturbing as it is, should perhaps be seen more as a symbol of how necessary the murder is (within the framework of the story) than as a literal crime Lady Macbeth would be willing to commit.  Or, it could be the sign that in calling on the spirits to give her the strength to kill the king, Lady Macbeth has already stumbled over the edge.  She has asked to be made cruel and remorseless, and for the moment, before the deed is actually done, she is.  And her husband admires her for it, for her “undaunted mettle” (Act 1.7).
            It doesn’t last long.  As she waits to hear from Macbeth that the murder has been committed she tells us, “Had he not resembled/ My father as he slept, I had done’t” (Act 2.2).  Already her cruelty and remorselessness is cracking and from this point onward, through the discovery of the body, through the banquet and through to her death, Lady Macbeth falls apart. She knows from the moment Macbeth tells her the king is dead that madness and fear are going to consume her.  “These deeds must not be thought/ After these ways. So it will make us mad” (Act 2.2). And, “You do unbend your noble strength to think/ So brain-sickly of things” (Act 2.2).  And, “Help me hence, ho!” (Act 2.3). And

Naught’s had, all’s spent,
Where our desire is got without content.
‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy
That by destruction dwell in doubtful joy (Act 3.2).

            Remorselessness didn’t last long, did it?  Be careful what you wish for…
            In the banquet scene Lady Macbeth becomes more and more frantic and confused as she watches her husband go mad.  Her own madness is not far off.  The next we hear of her is the gentlewoman telling the doctor of her agitated insomnia and frantic hand washing.  Then we see the tragic figure herself in one of the most heartbreaking scenes in literature:

Out, damned spot; out I say. One, two, - why, then ‘tis time to do’t.  Hell is murky…who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?...What, will these hands ne’er be clean?...Here’s the smell of blood still….look not so pale…To bed, to bed. There’s knocking at the gate.  Come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone.  To bed, to bed, to bed” (Act 5-1).

            And then, not much later, Seyton tells Macbeth, “The Queen, my lord, is dead” (Act 5.5).
            Killed by her own remorse, Lady Macbeth is not a brutal lustful vamp.  She is a true victim of tragedy, a woman who does what is demanded of her but who is able to do so only by conjuring spirits – dark magic, if you will – which then leave her once again to herself once the crime is committed. A self that is as frailly human as we all are.
            I love the witches and their magic. I grieve for Lady Macbeth and what magic does to her.  What then of Macbeth himself?
            “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.”
            The magic Macbeth works on me culminates and stuns me in these five words, the two preceding lines and in the following nine lines.  This monolog is the essence of the play and its magic. It’s the essence of…everything. For everybody.
            So much can be written about the character of Macbeth. Like Hamlet, every word he says can be pondered. Like Hamlet he is what we might be.  Unlike Hamlet we don’t want to be like Macbeth but we want to know him.  We want things to somehow turn out well for Macbeth, even though we know all along that they will not.  In the “Tomorrow” monolog we magically encounter the very depth of Macbeth, and ourselves.
            And there, in this monolog, to complete this discussion of the play, I will stay.
            Macbeth has just been told, “The Queen, my lord, is dead.” And he says:

She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It’s a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

            Hereafter. King hereafter. Died hereafter. King and Queen forever.  So they had been told.  So had it been prophesied.   “…she, like he, ought to have received what they were virtually promised: never to have died” (Mallin, page 99).
            But the Queen had gone mad and is now dead.  In front of him Macbeth has a bleak future of creeping days without her and now the days behind him, he sees clearly, have led to this moment. The yesterdays of his glorious victories in war, his meetings with the weird sisters who ignited his lust for power through their taunts and titles, have lit the way for him.  A fool.  He has been a fool not to listen to his own fears. He knew from the beginning that “this supernatural soliciting/ cannot be ill, cannot be good…If good…” he would not have immediately imagined the murder of Duncan.  He should have rejected the “horrid image”, the “present fears”, “the horrible imaginings” (Act 1.3).
            But his life became a shadow to his obsession for the throne, to his poor acting as a king who strutted and fretted and murdered and now here he stands, his beloved wife is dead, he has suffered the same madness of guilt that destroyed her, his kingdom has become his enemy.  He knows, even though he still tries to believe in what he has thought are prophesies of his invincibility, that soon he will be “heard no more.”  He knows that his life, his tale, which seems to have been so certain and successful, has in the last short time become the tale of an idiot who believed in his own delusions of grandeur.  He knows that the sound and the fury, his “dread exploits” (Act 4.1) have turned “th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice/ To our own lips” (Act 1.7) and that “these terrible dreams/ that shake us nightly” turn the fury onto himself and that he would “Better be with the dead...Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy” (Act 3.2).
            Macbeth has known all along that his tale, in spite of the sound and fury of his crazed ambition, his crimes of murder that tortured him before and after they were committed, is the tale of an idiot.  He has been so stupid!  And now his wife is dead and he soon will be.  It all signified…nothing.
            And so it is.
            The magnificence of this ultimately devastating monolog is the culmination of the magic of Macbeth.  The unbreakable spell of this funny, horrifying and tragic play.  This magic is not the magic of clever tricks. It is the magic of life itself and though it’s true that it signifies nothing, the magic is that at the end of the play, after the witches, after Lady Macbeth, after Macbeth himself leave the stage, we remain caught in the tragic web and we know that the sound and the fury signify…everything.

Works cited:
  • The Norton Shakespeare, based on the Oxford Edition. Ed. Greenblatt, Stephen et al. Second edition. 2008.
  • Godless Shakespeare. Mallin, Erik S. 2007.
  • “Intoduction” by Stephen Greenblatt in The Norton Shakespeare, based on the Oxford Edition. 

Spinoffs and Macbeth related films seen:
  • Throne of Blood 1957. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Cast: Macbeth - Toshiro Mifune; Lady Macbeth - Isuzu Yamada.  Oh what a disappointment! I had high hopes for a Kurosawa masterpiece and many people regard it as such. Not me. Boring!
  • Macbeth Retold, 2005. Director: Mark Brozel. Cast:  Joe Macbeth – James McAvoy ; Ella Macbeth – Keeley Hawes; Billy Banquo – Joseph Millson; Trash in collectors (Witches) – Ralph Ineson, Richard Ridings, Charles Abomeli.  Not a totally successful transformation into modern times but a powerful performance by the entire cast, especially James McAvoy. 

Films seen:
  • Macbeth, BBC, 1982. Director: Jack Gold. Cast:  Macbeth – Nicol Williamson; Lady Macbeth – Jane Lapotaire; Banquo – Ian Hogg; Witches – Brenda  Bruce, Eileen Way and Anne Dyson.  It’s very difficult to live up to my expectations of this play and the BBC version doesn’t.  Williamson is just not right for the part. Lapotiare, though she starts out sleazily, does well after the murder of the king but generally the production is hammy and overacted and the music is more irritating than atmospheric. Visually it’s beautiful though. Mostly done in a somber monochrome with effective flashes of brightness and colour.
  • Macbeth, 2006. Director: Geoffrey Wright. Cast:  Macbeth – Sam Worthington; Lady Macbeth – Victoria Hill; Banquo – Steve Bastoni; Witches – Chloe Armstrong, Kate Bell, Miranda Nation.  Set in today’s Australia in the midst of a drug lord war, this updated version works quite well.  It has its problems but I quite liked it.
  • Macbeth, 2010. Director: Rupert Goold. Cast:  Macbeth – Patrick Stewart; Lady Macbeth – Kate Fleetwood; Banquo – Martin Turner; Witches – Niamh McGrady, Polly Frame, Sophie Hunter.  I expected so much more of this version. It had its moments but as a whole, a big disappointment.
  • Macbeth, 1971. Director: Roman Polanski.  Cast:  Macbeth – Jon Finch; Lady Macbeth – Fransesca Annis ; Banquo – Martin Shaw; Witches – Maisie MacFarquhar, Elsie Taylor, Noelle Rimmington. This one is better than I remembered and the best of the actual films (as opposed to filmed stage productions) so far.
  • Macbeth, 1948. Director: Orson Welles. Cast:  Macbeth – Orson Welles; Lady Macbeth – Jeanette Nolan; Banquo – Edgar Barrier; Witches – Peggy Webber, Lurene Tuttle, Brainerd Duffield.  Another bitter disappointment, this one. Beautiful black and white, but boring, pretentious and silly. 
  • A Performance of Macbeth, 1979, Director: Philip Casson. Cast:  Macbeth – Ian McKellen; Lady Macbeth – Judi Dench ; Banquo – John Woodvine; Witches – Marie Kean, Judith Harte, Susan Dury. Oh see it, see it! It’s very good! 

All of these except the BBC version have been reviewed on http://rubyjandsmovieblog.blogspot.se/

Seen on stage:


           


Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday January 6 2014

Happy New Year! 
I hope it has begun well for you.  For us the old year ended and the new year started with Macbeth.  We’ve now seen several of the films and my text is well on its way.  We’re checking out the Globe’s program for the summer and thinking about a trip to London in June. It promises to be a busy Shakespeare year (aren’t they all?). But this first Monday report for 2014 will be the only posting today. Next Monday I have to work – first day of term – so I’ll be back the 20th, hopefully with the Macbeth text.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Fife, possibly meaning forest, was once an independent Pictish kingdom. In Macbeth’s time it was the home of Macduff and his ill-fated (in the play anyway) family.
  • Football is an old sport and in the 12th century King Henry banned it because it was taking too much time away from archery practice. In King Lear Kent insults Oswald by calling him “thou base football player.” 

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the film Inside Man Clive Owen tells us about the perfect robbery. “How?” he asks rhetorically then answers himself, “Therein, as the Bard would tell us, lies the rub.”  To make it even clearer, the Swedish subtitle uses “Shakespeare” instead of “the Bard.”
  • Not long ago I reviewed the film Island starring Ariel actor Colin Morgan http://rubyjandsmovieblog.blogspot.se/2013/08/island-2011.html Now I’m reading the novel by Jane Rogers on which it is based. On the very first page the narrator Nikki quotes Shakespeare: “’There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me.’ An Ophelia clone. I don’t think so.”
  • There was a review in Dagens Nyheter of the dance version of Macbeth at Stadsteatern (mentioned in the latest Monday report). Oh dear oh dear oh dear, it was the kind of review all theater people dread to get: “Flat, dreadfully boring, not much fun at all, eternally long first act, annoyingly exaggerated gestures, embarrassing, incomprehensible, unprofessional…” The critic liked the costumes though.   Hmmm. I certainly don’t always agree with critics but do I want to see this?
  • The novel The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is about how the world ends by the earth’s rotation slowing down.  But the characters don’t give up easily. The main character’s mother’s theater group still puts on Macbeth.
  • In the second novel of the Thorn trilogy by Mark Lawrence, King of Thrones, the violent but cultivated antihero Jorg, who lives in some kind of futuristic Medieval world, says, ”A coward dies a thousand times, the Bard told us.”
  • While looking for something else I found one of my favorite books about the English language, oddly enough in Swedish by Jan Svartvik, an eminent scholar of English.  The book is called English - Island Language, World Language, Trend Language (Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk) and the sighting comes in the first sentence of the introduction: “Four hundred years ago William Shakespeare wrote his dramas on the outer edge of Europe in an island language spoken by around five million people.” It’s a great book. I should read it again.
  • London the Biography by Peter Ackroyd is a lovely book. I expect there will be a lot of sightings. So far Lear and Cymbeline have been mentioned in the chapter about the period of the Celts and the Romans.

Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: Macbeth
  • Finished reading: Macbeth – A True Story by Fiona Watson. Throughout the book the historical Macbeth is portrayed as a pretty decent king. His queen Gruoch was fine too as is her son Lulach, who succeeded Macbeth to the throne.  It really is a very interesting book, but Shakespeare’s version isn’t bad either…
  • Received from cousin Pat the annual periodical of the Minnesota Opera who performed Hamlet last year (music by Ambroise Thomas, libretto by Michael Carré and Jules Barbier). Pat writes: “This was very good – I love the drama.”
  • Read: the introduction to Macbeth in the Norton edition and other analyses.
  • Started writing: the text about Macbeth
  • Saw:
    • The BBC version of Macbeth.
    • Throne of Blood
    • Macbeth (2006 Wright)
    • Macbeth (2010 Goold) 

Posted this week: