Monday, April 6, 2015

April 2015

Shakespeare Calling – the book is now at the publishers.  After very intensive editing work it was finally ready to send in last week and I’m now waiting for the proofs. If all goes well the book should be available in June.  This, I find, is quite astounding.
But the blog continues to develop and today I’m adding a new feature: Guest Bloggers.  As our first Guest Blogger I’m happy to welcome Warren King with ‘Shakespeare goes to Scandinavia.’  Warren wrote this specially for Shakespeare Calling. I came into contact with Warren when I happened upon his excellent blog Thank you, Warren!
April will continue to be an eventful month. We have two plays at the Globe booked, The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet at the end of the month, and who knows what other Shakespearean experiences London and Cornwall will have to offer.

All will be reported, but because of the trip, the May report will come on the second Monday instead of the first.

From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
  • Spain was the only European nation to border on the Muslim world and by Shakespeare’s time, Protestant Europeans had reason to fear the Spanish monarch Philip. His marriage to England’s Queen Mary was ‘extremely unpopular’ and fortunately for Protestant England it didn’t last long. Shakespeare was twenty-four when the Armada was defeated by Elizabeth’s ships (and the weather). Spain is mentioned, not always kindly, in Love’s Labour’s Lost, Henry VI Part Three, King John, Henry V, Julius Caesar, Othello, and The Comedy of Errors.
  • The Ten Commandments are mentioned in only two Shakespeare plays: in Henry VI Part Two as a joking term for the ten fingers, and in Measure for Measure, which as we remember uses religious laws in a most perverted way.
  • Thursday, named for Thor, is the day Juliet is scheduled to marry Paris.  It is also mentioned in Henry IV Parts One and Two.

Shakespeare sightings:
  • In the novel Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley the main character’s best friend Jazz is interested in drama and Shakespeare. She’s planning her Shakespeare monolog for an audition and one of the boys she has gone out with played Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • In Finding Merlin by Adam Ardrey the medieval Scottish rank of Thane is mention and the author reminds us that it’s a rank made famous by Shakespeare in Macbeth.
  • John Steinbeck also wrote about the Camelot legend in The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. He mentions on the first page how important Shakespeare was in his family when he was growing up but that he himself was much more enthralled with Camelot. In the letters to his agent and editor at the end of the book he mentions Shakespeare several times.
  • In the TV mini-series Lost in Austen Bingley says to Mr. Bennet, “You would have it that Lydia and I have been making the beast with two backs” which he vigorously denies. The actor playing Mr Darcy, Elliot Cowan, was doing Henry V when he was recruited to the series.
  • In the film The World’s End Gary King reminds his gang of pub crawlers that their English teacher had taught them the stage directions of “Exit chased by a bear” in The Winter’s Tale. This gang often had need of exiting as though chased by a bear so it was quite funny here too.
  • In Edna Ferber’s So Big Paula asks glum Dirk, “Why the Othello brow?”
  • Those of you with a very long memory and an eye for detail may remember that I have previously reported on The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.  I dearly love Charles Dickens but this has to be one of the most boring books ever written and it has taken me more than a year to finish it. But finish it I finally did and was rewarded by a single minor Shakespeare sighting in the form of a passing mention of the play Richard III.
  • In the notice about Terry Pratchett’s death DN mentioned that he had read a lot of Shakespeare.
  • In the silly novel Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel the teenage character Rebecca compares herself to Hamlet because she can’t get herself going. As she packs her bag to run away (she doesn’t do that either) she takes her complete works of Shakespeare. She compares her and her boyfriend’s sad tale to Romeo and Juliet and there was a fourth one but the post-it with the page noted just disappeared and I can’t be bothered to look for it.
  • Not in the book but in the film The World According to Garp, Garp is irritated because his mother’s bestseller has been translated into many languages, including Apache and he exclaims, “Not even Shakespeare or Dickens have been translated into Apache!”
  • In Hustle Season 3 the grifters are conning a filthy rich sweatshop owner who explains to them that Bollywood films, which he loves, are mainly Romeo and Juliet stories.
  • Stephen Greenblatt writes of the Renaissance: ‘As intellectuals emerged from the Church into an independent lay status, they had to reconceive their relation to power and particularly to the increasing power of the royal courts. For most, not surprisingly, this simply meant an eager, blind rush into the service of the prince; as Hamlet says of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they did make love to this employment.’ This in his Renaissance Self-Fashioning From, More to Shakespeare.

Further since last time:
  • Sent Shakespeare Calling – the book to the publisher. Proof copy should be available shortly.
  • Watched Shakespeare and the Brits Parts One and Two narrated by Simon Schama. Very interesting.
  • Started reading Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning from More to Shakespeare
  • Bought Peter Brook’s book: The Quality of Mercy – Reflections in Shakespeare

Posted this month
  • This report
  • Our first “Guest Blogger” text, ‘Shakespeare goes to Scandinavia.’ 

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