Monday, December 4, 2017

December 2017

Approaching the Winter Solstice. It’s a good time to read Shakespeare and play the newly acquired Bard Game (see below). If we can figure it out.
In this dark (literally and figuratively) time, don’t let us forget to light candles, to hope and strive for equality and a strong healthy planet. Why not continue to find inspiration in Shakespeare?
Happy holidays to all!

As always, I will once again mention to visitors of this blog that Shakespeare Calling – the book is available for purchase. Please help promote the book by buying it, of course, and telling your friends about it, by liking and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bokus…. And please encourage your local book shops and libraries to buy it.  Thank you. Your support is needed to keep this project alive.

or Adlibris. Or contact the publisher

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Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Star Trek, season 1 (from the 60’s – the original!) Kirk and Spock are watching Arcturian Macbeth played by Kodos the Executioner. Then Lady Macbeth (a young beauty) quotes Antony and Cleopatra to Kirk. Later the cast does Hamlet for the crew of the Enterprise. Clever use of quotes throughout, including the episode title ‘The Conscience of the King.’ Come to think of it, this was one of my early exposures to Shakespeare, when I watched the series faithfully every week as a teenager in the 60’s.
  • Christopher Hill opens the epilogue of his The Century of Revolution with one of my favourite quotes: ‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
  • In Philip Roth’s American Pastoral Lou, the avid glove maker, refers to Romeo and Juliet and quotes, ‘See the way she leans her cheek on her hand? I only wish I was the glove on that hand so I could touch that cheek.’
  • In the last episode of Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer they are off to fight the evil god Glory: Spike – ‘Not exactly the St Crispin speech’. Giles – ‘We few, we happy few.’ Spike – ‘We band of buggered…’
  • The entire film The Dresser with Albert Finney and Tom Courtney is full of Shakespeare references. Finney plays a grand old Shakespearean actor. Great film. See it!
  • In Peter Ackroyd’s Civil War he mentions that
    • it is believed that Shakespeare introduced the masque in The Tempest to celebrate the marriage between James’s daughter Elizabeth to Frederick V of the Palatinate.
    • Frederick assumed the Bohemian throne and thus Bohemia became a concern for James though ‘it was a distant land of which he knew nothing, remarkable only for the scene of shipwreck in Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale, performed nine years before, in which it was miraculously granted a sea coast.’
    • The Tempest was performed before the king on 1 November 1611 and Ackroyd emphasises the importance of music to the play and to theatre in general at the time.

Further since last time:
  • Finished reading aloud with Hal: King Lear
  • Wrote: ‘Nothing’ in King Lear
  • Ordered, received but not yet played: ‘Shakespeare – the Bard Game.’
  • Gave: my lecture ‘Why Shakespeare’ at the English Bookshop in Uppsala on Tuesday 7 November. A full house!
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: Two Noble Kinsmen. Some by Shakespeare, more by Fletcher. Quite a strange play but not without interest.
  • Have booked: a book signing event, Saturday 9 December, with my alter ego Rhuddem Gwelin at the local bookshop Klackenbergs in Sundbyberg, Sweden. We hope to sign many copies of Shakespeare calling – the book and the Merlin Chronicles. Do stop by if you happen to live in the area!

Posted this month
  • ‘Nothing’ in King Lear
  • This report

'Nothing' in King Lear

King Lear

Cordelia: Nothing.
Lear: Nothing?
Cordelia: Nothing.
Lear: Nothing will come of nothing.

     Cordelia’s ‘nothing’ is everything. Lear has already destroyed the two older sisters by his blatant favouritism and he has already brought strife upon his kingdom by splitting it then refusing to really relinquish his power. Cordelia’s ‘nothing’, which in Lear’s defence could be interpreted as he did, was just one more frightening shift in a world already in doubt of its identity.
     Friends of numbers will note that the word ‘nothing’ is used eighteen times in Act One and thirty-four times throughout the play. Lear loses his hold on reality, Gloucester loses his eyes, Edgar loses his father, Goneril and Regan have lost everything long ago but don’t know it yet. These individuals – kings and lords and princesses – are supposed to have power. From the first scene onward their power crumbles, their control over their lives and their world – the control they believed they had had – is wrenched from them and their world explodes in storms and madness.
     Lear who had the most and who is the cruellest loses everything but so do the daughters he has destroyed. His most loyal friends commit treason for his sake, those loyal to the kingdom are vicious villains.
     Never never never never never.
     That’s what this play leaves one with.
     I’m beginning to appreciate that.