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!” 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:


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