Sunday, January 31, 2016

February 2016

The new year progresses apace. Shakespeare is all about us, as always. Preparations are being made round the world to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Keep an eye out on this blog in April. For those of you in the Stockholm area things will be happening. A hint: The English Bookshop, SEST (Stockholm English Speaking Theatre)…
Meanwhile, Hal and I are in the Henry VI plays. I’ve decided to wait until we’ve read all three before writing an analysis of Henry’s long life. We only have the BBC box version of the plays to watch so it won’t take so long.  I wish The Hollow Crown series would hurry up and release their Henry VI! I see that Tom Sturridge will be playing Henry and Sophie Okenedo will play Margaret. Should be very interesting indeed. Alas, not this time.

Now the February report:

Shakespeare Calling – the book
Available on
or Adlibris, CDON or Bibliotekstjänsten
Please help promote the book by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it!
Once again, thank you all for visiting the blog throughout the years and for supporting this project.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary:
  • William was for centuries after the Norman conquest the most common English name though by Shakespeare’s day it was in second place after John. The name is used in Henry IV Part 2 and As You Like It, in very small parts. This item was included in the January report but interestingly, since then it has been reported that William was the most popular name for baby boys in 2015 in Sweden.
  • Windsor is about 20 miles west of London. It’s been there a long time. William the Conqueror built the castle, or at least fortified it. Legend has it that King Arthur and his knights met there. In Shakespeare’s day the Tudors expanded the castle. Windsor is mentioned in the Henry plays and of course The Merry Wives of. 

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Louis tells Addy that he had wanted to be a poet when he was young and memorized some of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
  • On Facebook the group ‘The Front against racism and growing fascism’  had a post about the sharpened border controls in Denmark under the heading ‘Någonting är ruttet i den danska staten’ (something is rotten in the state of Denmark). Sadly not only in Denmark…
  • In the novel Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley cheeky young Aza, who is dying of an unexplained condition but refuses to be sentimental about it, tells her English teacher that she was thinking about The Tempest because of the drowning twins. Her teacher points out that that was Twelfth Night which she finds a bit embarrassing. Later her friend Jason points out, ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,’ and she reminds him that she’s not Horatio and her hallucinations are due to her medicine. He replies, ‘Hamlet is all about hallucinations and meltdowns and early death.’
  • In the novel The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers an aging priest and nun, who had been childhood sweethearts, ran off and eloped, like Romeo and Juliet. Later, Abbé Paul reflects, ‘Words, words, words, as the afflicted young prince said, what were they worth?’
  • There was a big review in Dagens Nyheter of the King Lear production at the Uppsala Municipal Theatre. Flat, empty, far-fetched ideas and zero instruction, the Fool has evidently taken a Sabbatical, failure, clichés, so near a catastrophe it’s possible to be. Ouch.
  • Swedish TVs Kulturnyheter was a bit kinder. Marie Göranzon, playing the title role of Lear was said to be good but the symbols used throughout the play meant…what? The critic’s reaction was generally tepid.
  • In the novel Like by Ali Smith Amy’s daughter had played Ophelia well and Ash’s father told her he had done a lot of reading, including Shakespeare, on the ship during the Second World War.
  • In the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Edward tells Baby Jane that his father was a serious Shakespearean actor.
  • Dagens Nyheter had a review of the new film Macbeth and seemed to agree with me but gave it a higher rating (see below).
  • The Royal Dramatic Theatre was going to perform Hamlet but the whole project has been cancelled at the last minute because of the illness of the director Jenny Andreasson.
  • In Love Actually, watched recently in memory of Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant’s charming Prime Minister stands up to the creepy US President Billy Bob Thornton by pointing out that Britain is ‘a small country but a great one, the country of Shakespeare, the Beatles, Harry Potter and David Beckham’s right foot.’ 
  • Dagens Nyheter reports that there will be several new translations into Swedish of Shakespeare plays.
  • The Heart Goes First, Margaret Atwood’s latest novel, is a bit obsessed with sex and a group of gay men are going to do an all-male erotic production of A Midsummer Night’s Scream. The whole novel is a parody of sorts. 

Further since last time:
  • Seen at the cinema with Hal: Macbeth with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. A disappointment! See my review
  • Read aloud with Hal: Henry VI Part One.
  • Seen with Hal: BBC’s version of Henry VI Part One.
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: Henry VI Part Two. 

Posted this month
  • This report

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