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 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) 

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