A Look Back and a Look Forward
Three Years of Shakespeare Calling
It is now more than a month since I wrote anything for Shakespeare Calling, even longer since Hal and I finished reading The Tempest. I miss Shakespeare like a dear friend who has gone on a long voyage with only the slightest possibility of infrequent and faulty communication. I know he’s alive and well and will return but I don’t know when. I don’t know how he and I will have changed when we meet again. I don’t know how Hal and I will accommodate him back into our daily lives. I’m filled with pleasant anticipation.
My thoughts are also filled with the three and a half years that have passed since starting Shakespeare Calling. If you’ve read the introduction “Why Shakespeare?” you may recall that after only sporadic contact with Shakespeare throughout our lives, Hal and I decided in 2008 to read all of the plays aloud to each other, which we did. And when we had done that we realised that we had to do it again immediately. There was so much to explore. And being addicted to writing, I had to write about it. And being interested in connecting to others, Shakespeare Calling came into being.
An astounding thing, a blog. SC has not become one of the internet phenomena with millions of hits and a film contract but I find it amazing enough that to date almost 30,000 visitors have found their way to the blog, from all round the world. Dear visitors, thank you for visiting and how in the world did you find SC?
The blog functions offer some statistics but not everything. I still find them interesting.
The countries from which the most visitors have come are the US, Sweden, the UK, Germany, France, the Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Australia and Poland (that’s as far as the list goes).
The posts most visited have been: “Who’s There? in Hamlet”, “Love is Strange” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Celia” in As You Like It”, “Is This Love?” in Much Ado About Nothing, “Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty (or Twenty-Eight), Adults vs. Kids” in Romeo and Juliet, the review of Marxist Shakespeares edited by Jean E. Howard and Scott Cutler Shershow, “Can You Do That to Shakespeare?” , the review of Eric Mallin’s Godless Shakespeare, “The Magic of Macbeth”, and “The Breaking of Katherine’s Spirit” in The Taming of a Shrew.
Most commented on: “Can You Do That to Shakespeare?”, “Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty (or Twenty-Eight), Adults vs. Kids” in Romeo and Juliet, the review of Shakespeare – The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson, “Does Anybody Like Antony and Cleopatra”?, “Who’s There?” in Hamlet, “She’s All That” in Henry VI Part One, “Love is Strange” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and “The Breaking of Katherine’s Spirit” in The Taming of a Shrew.
One husband, four colleagues/friends, one travel companion, two old friends, one niece, two former students and to my great surprise and gratification three complete strangers from three parts of the world. Thank you all for your interest and support.
When starting the blog I envisioned a lively discussion with Shakespeareans around the world. There has been less discussion than I had hoped for but in fact some very interesting comments have been written and a few discussions have taken place. One of the most interesting was with an unknown girl in South Korea who greatly admires Joan of Arc and she was politely upset about how her idol was treated by Shakespeare and me (“She’s All That” in Henry VI Part One). An amusing comment came from a rabid believer that Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare’s plays in response to my review of Contested Will by James Shapiro. The variety of comments throughout the blog is quite amazing really so thanks to all of you who wrote. A special kudos goes to blog follower Alexander, who tops the list by a mile with his witty, thoughtful and analytical comments on many of the texts. I’m not sure which is more enjoyable – when we agree or when we don’t.
It all started in the Dark Ages of the 1960’s when I saw Romeo and Juliet in a drive-in cinema with my then boy friend (who guaranteed was no Shakespearean). And continued when Hal and I saw Branagh’s Henry V and Shakespeare in Love in the 90’s. Since starting the blog and reading the plays this time round we have seen more than a hundred Shakespeare films and spin-offs. And we have a dozen or so that we bought after having read the play and so haven’t seen yet. And more Shakespeare films are being made every day.
That started seriously in 2008 when we were planning a trip to London and said, “It’s high time we saw a Shakespeare play in English!” It was early April so the Globe hadn’t opened yet for the season. Our first in-English-on-stage Shakespeare play was therefore what was on at the Roundhouse: Henry IV Part Two. Since then we’ve seen half a dozen or so productions in Swedish in Stockholm and surrounding suburbs and five at the Globe in London. In future? Two more at the Globe in April and one day it would be nice to see something in Stratford. And I dearly want to see Hamlet in English on stage.
First, Shakespeare Calling in book form. I’ve started the editing. It’s a big job and I’m afraid it will be a great fat brick of a book but my ambition is to release it in the summer or early autumn.
After that? All that is certain is that Hal and I are not finished with Shakespeare. We are going to read the plays again. But in what order? In what combination? Who knows?
What I do know is that Shakespeare has touched every aspect of my life and enriched it. I know that Shakespeare’s plays are living entities that continue to grow and develop and shed enlightenment upon us and our lives and our time in history. And I know that not just for me but for the whole world, for a long time to come, Shakespeare will call us.
I look forward to continuing to answer that call together with other Shakespeare enthusiasts around the world, new and old, on the blog.
See you on Shakespeare Calling.
All the best,