Monday, December 7, 2015

December 2015

The Henrys continue and we’ve finished reading Henry V but still have two films to watch. Surprisingly, I’m not getting the Henrys mixed up in my head, though I go from IV to V several times a day. And soon the VI’s will start.
Slowly, slowing information about Shakespeare Calling – the book is spreading. The British Shakespeare Association is promoting it as is the Swedish Shakespeare Society. Thank you both for that! (see further under ‘Further…’ below). Below you will find the links for on-line purchase. Please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it! And once again, thank you all for visiting the blog throughout the years and for supporting this project.

Shakespeare Calling – the book

For those of you in the UK, Sweden and the rest of Europe:
or Adlibris, CDON or Bibliotekstjänsten

For those of you in the rest of the world and/or those who usually shop at Now also available as a Kindle book.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
  • Wales is such a fascinating place. We really must go there one day. Shakespeare mentions it a lot of course, in the history plays and Cymbeline. It has a long and interesting history and it was more often than not in conflict with England but in the 1470’s a Welshman by the name of Tudor ascended the throne and by Acts of Parliament in 1536 and 1542 the two were united. Sort of.
  • Wednesday is a good old day, named for the Norse god Odin. It’s mentioned in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Parts One and Two, Coriolanus, Othello, and The Winter’s Tale.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In The Whispering City by Sara Moliner (translated from the Spanish Don des lenguas) linguist Beatriz points out to her cousin Ana that literature is filled with conflicts over inheritance and mentions Lear as an example.
  • In Jeanette Winterson’s novel The Daylight Gate, Shakespeare’s plays are not only mentioned but he is a character himself:
    • Magistrate Roger Nowell and independent woman of means Alice Nutter discuss having seen The Tempest, a play suspiciously about ‘magick’ in London. It will soon be performed in their part of the world, Lancashire.
    • Prosecuting clerk Potts calls Shakespeare ‘an upstart crow’ (hm, a stolen quote from one of Shakepseare’s playwright rivals) and a traitor and is very suspicious of the play Macbeth.
    • Later Shakespeare discusses Catholicism with Nutter and argues with Potts Nowell about black masses and magic and sympathy with King James
    • Potts compares his own writing of trial reports with the inferior writing of Shakespeare.
  • In Nation by Terry Pratchett
    • one of the leaders of the island Nation makes a speech before a battle with the invading Raiders worthy of ‘the Agincourt speech from Henry the Fifth. Or at least what it might have been if Shakespeare had been small and dark and wore a little loincloth instead of trousers, or tights in Shakespeare’s case.’
    • on the last page one of the descendants of Mau, one of the main characters, reflects: ‘What a piece of work is Man…’
  • In the excellent book The Year 1000 what life was like at the turn of the first millennium by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziner
    • We are reminded that Juliet’s birthday is on ‘Lammas eve’, one of the oldest English country festivals. It has nothing to do with lambs or religion but celebrates ‘hlafmaesse, loaf-mass, the day when the hungry gap ended and the first loaf could be made from the new harvest.’
    • We are also reminded that Macbeth was a historical person who was better at keeping the Vikings out than his southern colleague Ethelred. The three sisters’ ‘skin of frog’ has its basis in the fact that this to us unpleasant ingredient has in fact psychedelic qualities – ‘medieval morphine’ as the authors put it.
  • In the first season of The Third Rock from the Sun the subject of death comes up and Harry says: To die, to sleep, / To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub, For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, / Must give us pause. Dick says: ‘What’s that from?’ Harry answers, ‘Oh, some Mel Gibson film.’  This might be the best exchange of the whole series…
  • Seen in the tube station: an advert of Hamlet, premiering at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in January. Maybe we’ll make it to this one?
  • In Arthur C. Clarke’s very silly but almost endearing novel about the colonisation of Mars, The Sands of Mars, the crew watch an old film of Hamlet and the main character Gibson compares himself to Falstaff for becoming giddy upon going out into the green fields (I told you it was silly – Mars? Green fields? It seems to have kangaroo-like natives too…so, endearing, in its way).
  • On Swedish TVs Kulturnyheter there was an item about invented languages and it started with a clip of ‘To be or not to be’ in Klingon.
  • The second season in The Last Tango in Halifax mentions Shakespeare several times:
    • Caroline’s school is doing King Lear and she suggests that the new baby be called Cordelia. Or maybe Goneril or Regan, though that’s a joke. Later she says the play was good and she’s proud of them.
    • When Judith accuses John of stealing her story he says, ‘It’s my family. It’s my story, you don’t even know them.’ And Judith answers, ‘Shakespeare didn’t know Richard the Third but that didn’t stop him writing a shitty play about him!’
  • Celia and Alan are playing Trivial Pursuit and Celia is disgruntled over getting a category she doesn’t like. Before Alan even reads the question she answers, ‘Sherlock Holmes, the Beatles or Shakespeare!’
  • In My Fair Lady Professor Higgins reminds Eliza Doolittle: ‘Remember, your language is the language of Shakespeare.’
  • In Deborah Moggach’s Something to Hide Petra suggests that she and Jeremy go to see the King Lear playing just down the road but they don’t bother. Later Petra gazes at the pillow upon which Jeremy’s head had so recently rested and thinks, ‘…oh happy horse, to bear the wright of Antony…’  
  • In Mark Haddon’s The Red House there is some Shakespeare:
    • Melissa is directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at school. This allowed her to smoke. Um….? And the logic here is…?
    • Shakespeare, the pyramids, human beings are in Daisy’s list of what’s astonishing
    • In another long and strange list of obscure things by someone – I haven’t figured out who, it’s quite a confusing book, but very good – Cymbeline is mentioned. I supposed it could be considered obscure. 

Further since last time:
  • Saw:  the excellent Macbeth with the Stockholm English Speaking Theatre in Old Town in Stockholm. I wrote on Facebook (and it will be coming in Swedish in the Swedish Shakespeare Society’s magazine any day now):
    • With a cast of three and a crowded 14th century cellar in Stockholm’s Old Town, Macbeth is brought to very close-up life. The three sisters do not appear physically but their eerie voices (one of them remarkably like Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films) are very strong. Sound effects and lighting create all the imagination we need for the abbreviated story, one of the spectators in the front row was given the chance to play Banquo’s son Fleance by holding Banquo’s sword and lantern. The play was performed both in the tiny bar and in the almost-as-tiny theatre. Very atmospheric but sorry – not for wheelchairs, barely for crutches.The cast – Keith Foster as Macbeth, Kristina Leon as Lady Macbeth and the versatile and hard-working Richard Asker as Banquo, Macduff and Seyton – are brilliant. To mention a few examples of many: The domestic scenes with husband and wife – other than having a murder on their minds, excellently ordinary. Lady Macbeth’s ‘out damned spot’ monolog, Macduff’s ‘all dead?’ monolog and Macbeth’s ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’ monolog with his wife’s dead body in his arms - – all heart-breaking. 
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: Henry V
  • Watched: the Globe version of Henry V, which sadly was a disappointment. Read more next time at the end of the text on the play.
  • Ordered: Making Shakespeare: from Stage to Page by Tiffany Stern
  • Shakespeare Calling – the book now is now being promoted by:
  • Shakespeare Calling – the book is now being promoted by: Swedes, you should definitely join this society! 

Posted this month
  • This report
  • ‘Mo’ Henry Blues’ in Henry IV Part Two

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