Sunday, March 5, 2017

March 2017

We have yet to survive this year’s Ides of March but we’ve come this far. Much of our Shakespeare activity since the last report has involved Much Ado About Nothing. I’ve always loved the play but this time the darker side seems important, and that’s what I wrote about (see link below). We haven’t chosen our next play yet but it’s always an exciting moment to get started on a play.

Now, to the report for March.
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Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Donal Ryan’s novel All We Shall Know Melody Shee is going to teach traveller Martin Toppy to read but realises that she only has such material as Shakespeare and Yeats.
  • Beloved Swedish actor Björn Granath has died. Dagens Nyheter informs us that he is known, amongst much else, as a Shakespearean actor and he was scheduled to play Buckingham in the upcoming repeat performances of Richard III with Jonas Karlsson. We were fortunate to have seen him in this role in 2014.
  • In Alison Weir’s fascinating biography of Elizabeth I Shakespeare pops up frequently. Here are some of the most interesting sightings:
    • Some of Shakespeare’s plays were performed at court, ‘usually at an average cost of £400 each.’
    • Employed by the queen was ‘Monarcho, an Italian fool, who is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.’
    • Elizabeth was ‘painfully aware that, since a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II in 1597, some of her subjects saw in Essex a second Henry of Bolingbroke, who might overthrow her as Henry had overthrown Richard.’
    • In 1601 Essex in fact ‘paid a reluctant Shakespeare and his company of actors…forty shillings to stage a production of the inflammatory Richard II, with its banned abdication scene, at the Globe Theatre in Southwark.’
  • In Doctor Who, now played by Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor, the Doctor is undercover as a caretaker in Clara’s school and he thinks her colleague who wants to talk about Shakespeare is her boyfriend. The Doctor approves, but it isn’t her boyfriend at all.
  • In A Hard Day’s Night, recently watched for perhaps the twenty-first time, Paul hams it up with, ‘Oh that this too, too solid flesh…’ The first time I saw that in 1964 I had no idea it was Shakespeare. Probably not the next 19 times either.
  • In Ben Aaronovitch’s third Peter Grant novel, Whispers Underground, Peter’s mentor Nightingale speaks of wizards he knew who had given up their magic, calling it ‘breaking theirs staffs.’ Later, one of the suspects in Peter’s murder case, the annoying Zach, says smugly to Peter: ‘Let’s just say that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,’ then informs him, ‘That’s Shakespeare, that is.’
  • In Dagens Nyheter there was a review of the ‘completely corny and freely improvised’ Henry V. Peter Viitanen’s Henry is described as ‘flopping about,’ skinny, cheeky with a crown that keeps falling down over his eyes. A clever satire, according to Pia Huss.
  • In English Society 1580-1680 by Keith Wrightson uneasiness over the threat of mob violence, which in reality was minimal, is described thus: ‘…fears and protestations were given some colour by reported expressions of class hatred worthy of Shakespeare’s Jack Cade.’
  • In Dagens Nyheter just today there is a review of Hamlet now on at Folkteatern in Gothenburg. It even quotes Jan Kott. Otherwise the review rambles. I think the critic Tomas Forser liked it. Frustratingly, the play will be going while Hal and I are in Gothenburg but it collides with my lecture on Shakespeare at the Language Teachers’ conference.

Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: Much Ado about Nothing
  • Watched five versions of Much Ado About Nothing.

Posted this month

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