Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 2017

As we move into February we are met daily with reports of racism and xenophobia both at the grass root level and the governmental. We can be encouraged that protests are strong and widespread and we have good reason to remind ourselves that Shakespeare, too, promoted humanism in the face of the fear and hatred of his time. Sir Ian McKellen, as many of you know, has done many stirring readings of the monologue Shakespeare wrote for his characterisation of Sir Thomas More. Please listen and share:

Grant them removed, and grant that this your noise
Hath chid down all the majesty of England;
Imagine that you see the wretched strangers,
Their babies at their backs and their poor luggage,
Plodding to the ports and coasts for transportation,
And that you sit as kings in your desires,
Authority quite silenced by your brawl,
And you in ruff of your opinions clothed;
What had you got? I’ll tell you. You had taught
How insolence and strong hand should prevail,
How order should be quelled; and by this pattern
Not one of you should live an aged man,
For other ruffians, as their fancies wrought,
With self same hand, self reasons, and self right,
Would shark on you, and men like ravenous fishes
Feed on one another.
O, desperate as you are,

Wash your foul minds with tears, and those same hands,
That you like rebels lift against the peace,
Lift up for peace, and your unreverent knees,
Make them your feet to kneel to be forgiven!
… You’ll put down strangers,
Kill them, cut their throats, possess their houses,
And lead the majesty of law in line,
To slip him like a hound. Say now the king
(As he is clement, if th’ offender mourn)
Should so much come to short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour? Go you to France or Flanders,
To any German province, to Spain or Portugal,
Nay, anywhere that not adheres to England,—
Why, you must needs be strangers. Would you be pleased
To find a nation of such barbarous temper,
That, breaking out in hideous violence,
Would not afford you an abode on earth,
Whet their detested knives against your throats,
Spurn you like dogs, and like as if that God
Owed not nor made not you, nor that the elements
Were t all appropriate to your comforts,
But chartered unto them, what would you think
To be thus used? This is the strangers’ case;
And this your mountanish inhumanity.

Now, to the report for February.
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.

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Shakespeare sightings:
  • In Louise Penny’s The Cruellest Month the victim and the suspects had all been involved with a production of As You Like It in school and there are other references to Shakespeare throughout.
  • In Extras
    • One of the actors on set is reading Frank Kermode’s book on Shakespeare for his PhD work and Maggie is very impressed (as am I!)
    • Patrick Stewart is doing Prospero and Andy says to his nasty mate, ‘While you were studying Shakespeare, I was shagging birds’ (or something like that).
    • In the episode with Orlando Bloom, Barry, Andy’s agent’s other client, is mentioned doing his one-man version of Romeo and Juliet.
    • Andy demands a proper role from his idiot agent – in a Shakespeare play or something.
  • In the final episode of The Wire, during McNulty’s fake wake, Jay says, ‘From which no traveller returns…’ but since they were faking it, McNulty returns. 

Further since last time:
  • Watched The Globe performance of The Tempest with Roger Allam and Colin Morgan
  • Started reading aloud with Hal: Much Ado about Nothing

Posted this month

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