Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday November 17 2014

Yesterday evening we watched our last version of The Tempest, the Globe production we saw in the summer of 2013. What a pleasure it was to see it again! See the link below if you want to buy it (highly recommended!).  There will be a short review of it in connection with my text on the play, to be posted next week. Suffice it to say at this point that Roger Allam and Colin Morgan, though they’ve done a different interpretation of their roles as Prospero and Ariel than I have done, are brilliant and a pure joy to watch.  And now our longing to be back in London and going to the Globe has been reawakened (it never slumbers deeply...).  But for now, a Monday report.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Poland in Shakespeare’s time was a major power, ruled by Swedish king Sigismund. England was worried about Swedish-Polish aggression. Oddly (or is that just misplaced patriotism on my part?) Poland is mentioned in Hamlet, A Comedy of Errors and Measure for Measure while Sweden is not.
  • Prague was known in Shakespeare’s time as “one of the most prominent marketplaces of ideas, where learning and new ideas were highly valued.”  It is mentioned in Twelfth Night but only marginally.
Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel The Last Man by Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), there are countless references to Shakespeare.  Here are some of the more interesting:
    • The narrator, Lionel Verney, compares the woman who would become his wife, Idris, to “Miranda in the uninvited cave of Prospero”.
    • His sister Perdita (the name itself is from Shakespeare of course) he compared to Othello because she could say “To be once in doubt, / Is – once to be resolved.”
    • In their political discussion of how to achieve democracy and equality in this England of the late 21st century, Perdita’s husband Raymond says, “Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?”
    • After a battle in the Greek wars Lionel compares the devastation to Timon’s last feast.
    • When the plague, which in the second half of the book slowly kills off the human race, arrives in London. Idris’s brother Adrian, who had been a dreamer all his life, rises to his princely responsibility, “Like to a lark at break of day arising, / From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate.”
    • While the plague rages, people still flock to the theatre. Lionel goes to see Macbeth and notes that Shakespeare “had not lost his influence even at this dread period; but was still ‘Ut magus’, the wizard to rule our hearts and govern our imaginations.”
    • Fewer and fewer people are alive and Lionel reflects: “We had called ourselves the ‘paragon of animals’, and, lo! we were a ‘quintessence of dust’.”
    • And in the end, when Lionel is the last man, he retreats to await the end, taking Homer and Shakespeare with him.
  • In some old American crosswords I found and started solving this week, I have seen two clues
    •  Horatio is one of the Danes in this play
    • The starting word in a Shakespeare play. The answer is “All’s”
  • Malala Yousafzai tells us in her autobiography I Am Malala that she missed her copy of Romeo and Juliet when she and her family were forced to move to another town because of the threats of the Taliban.
Further since last time:
  • Watched with Hal: The Globe version of The Tempest.  Available at  The Globe Shop
  • Watched the rest of Season Two and the beginning of Season Three of the Canadian series Slings and Arrows, received from friends KJG and JG, about a theatre troupe putting on Shakespeare plays. Macbeth ended well but there are problems galore with King Lear.
  • Edited: the rough draft of “Ariel’s Freedom” in The Tempest.  If all goes according to plan it will be posted next week.
  • Recorded from TV: Romeo and Juliet with Orlando Bloom. Friend LR has already watched it and says that Juliet is better than Romeo.  I’m curious to see it but it might take awhile. We have a few films of Shakespeare plays we haven’t seen yet and we’ll have to find a strategy.
Posted this week:
  • This Monday report
  • Report on Shakespeare the Biography by Peter Ackroyd

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