While doing the grocery shopping today I saw a man with an interesting tattoo. It was text that scrolled its way around his forearm. As I passed him I caught “To dream” out of the corner of my eye and thought, “No, wait….” and looked again. Sure enough, what it said was “To die, to sleep, perchance to dream” and I’m not sure how much more — there was more text but I couldn’t read it all. “Is that Hamlet tattooed on your arm?” I asked him. “Yeah,” he said. “Nice,” I told him. “I spotted that right away.” “Good deal,” said he. Walking away, he seemed pleased that somebody had noticed it. Not too talkative, we guys.
No, not of Shakespeare himself, but Cleveland University Library has made available some 400+ photographs of Shakespearean performances dating back to 1870. Make sure to click on the good ones to get the full caption, as well as details on the performance, and information about the collection from which it came.
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/09/25/entertainment/e122915D48.DTLThere’s been a book around for something like 50 years called “Shakespeare’s Bawdy” that serves as a dictionary for all the dirty words and puns that Shakespeare used. I have it, it’s a very dry read. But people seem fascinated with this idea of finding the dirty words, and it seems like every now and then somebody does a new project that somehow finds even more bad words. Or perhaps they’re just phrasing it differently, to keep up with the times.In the new book “Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s Most Outrageous Sexual Puns” we’re going to learn that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” really meant “Claudius has syphilis.” And that the real meaning of “Hey nonny, nonny hey nonny” would make our old English teacher Mrs Grundy roll over in her grave.
The very great irony of books and articles like this is how they titter and say “Yes, but what about the F word? Do you discuss the F word?” It’s an article about a book about what amounts to 400yr old literary obscenity. The joke is “The world’s greatest dramatist is being downright filthy right in front of you and you proclaim it a masterpiece”, and in trying to make that reference, we’re afraid to use our own dirty words. We’re fascinated by the ones he used because we’re so busy taking words out of our own language. It’s still impossible for somebody to look you in the eye today and explain what Hamlet meant by “country matters.” By the way, can somebody please explain the Love’s Labor’s Lost reference in the article? It says “the modern version [of the provided quote] is impolite and you wouldn’t read it to a bench of bishops.” But it doesn’t explain why, and I don’t see any obvious puns, unless of course it’s as easy as “dance” being a euphemism for, you know, that dreaded f-word. Although now that I look at it I am assuming that “needless” has to be some sort of phallic joke? Does that make Barbing (barb, thorn, something to stab with) a sex reference as well? It’s funny how paranoid you get, you can find a sex reference in everything.More Filthy Shakespeare …
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/music/rscmap1072.jpg Cute idea, breaking down all the major Shakespearean characters on various rail lines like “lovers”, “warriors”, “mothers” and so on. Bonus credit for the little icons, like having the sign for “Restaurant” over Titus. 🙂 Update: Some more links on the background history of the map:
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theatre/2007/09/all_the_stages_a_world.html http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/news/RSCshakesmap.htm http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/news/story/0,,2177000,00.html The map is part of a branding campaign for the RSC and we’ll soon see it on t-shirts, mugs, bags and so on.
It’s funny how meanings open up when you paraphrase things for children. This is another post about my kids and Sonnet 18, so if you’re bored with that, you can move on :). Since they have now memorized the first part and are driving us nuts with it, I’m trying to teach them the rest. At one point I got to the line that, in my own interpretation, “Is the most beautiful line in the most beautiful poem in the world: Nor shall Death brag thy wander’st in his shade, when in eternal lines to time thou growest. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” To me it means, quite simply, that as long as people continue to read this tribute to your perfect beauty, you shall never grow old, and you shall never die. Is there really anything greater to wish for your true love, than immortality? Shakespeare takes it one step further by not just wishing immortality, but claiming that he has the power to grant it. And then I thought, “And you know what? Shakespeare was right. It’s 400 years later, and we’re still talking about it. Dang, that’s some good stuff.” That’s when the irony set in. Somebody please tell me, who exactly he wrote Sonnet 18 for?
http://satiasprogress.blogspot.com/2007/09/1-king-john-225.html The other day I posed the “Which play would you skip” question, and said I would not bother reading/recommending King John. Several people jumped to the defense of the play. So I was particularly interested in the above blog, who also asks “Why read this play?” After, I’ll add, saying “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why this is not one of Shakespeare’s more popular plays.” No mention of The Bastard, by the way.
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=66943&in_page_id=34#StartComments Ok, once again there’s something I haven’t seen before. Surprised nobody ever thought of it. Take a police sketch artist who is trained in age progression, set her up with the necessary technology and some sort portraits of Shakespeare, and then have her work backwards to come up with an image of Shakespeare in his teens. Of course the validity is up in the air given the variety of portraits available, but still, it’s a cool idea.
http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/movie-news/coogan-and-keener-to-work-on-hamlet-2.php You can imagine that I did quite the double take when I saw “Working on Hamlet 2” in a headline. Turns out that the plot of this new movie revolves around a drama teacher who decides to write a sequel to Hamlet. Reminds me of all those tv sitcoms that ran with the whole “Re-imagining Hamlet” idea — Gilligan’s Island, Dick Van Dyke, Head of the class, etc.. Here’s an opening for you all. What’s the plot of a Hamlet sequel? Is it all about Fortinbras, or Horatio? Does young Hamlet make an appearance as a ghost? Or, option B: Every American television show that involves high school students has inevitably done an episode arc where the school play is Romeo and Juliet, or Midsummer. But how many can you name that have done Hamlet?
http://www.obsessedwithfilm.com/movie-news/kingsley-signs-the-will-of-shakespeare.php Well here’s an interesting idea. How about a novel based around Shakespeare’s deathbed as he updates his last will and testament? The new movie, based on the novel by Christopher Rush, will star Ben Kingsley in the title role (which, if you missed it, is a play on both Will as in Shakespeare and Will as in the legal document). I assume that it’ll be the standard movie fare where his “last moments” are actually little more than a flashback through his entire life. What will be interesting (I have not read the book) is to see how they deal with one of the most damning pieces of anti-Stratfordian evidence, that the will contains no mentions at all of any books, ownerships, or other ties to what has become the Shakespeare canon. How do you like Ben Kingsley for the title role?
So, did anybody watch Kid Nation? That’s the one where they put a bunch of kids into a ghost town with (supposedly) no adults around in an attempt to recreate Lord of the Flies, only without the violence and the sticks sharpened at both ends. It made quite a bit of press when the parents started poking around to see if they could file charges that the show broke child labor laws and endangered the children. Well, it premiered tonight. One of the aspects of the show is that the children earn money, and then they get to spend it in the store. And in this very first episode, on the first day that the store was open, did anybody see what Jared (11yrs old) bought? “Henry V, Julius Caesar, or King Henry VIII…..I picked King Henry V, by William Shakespeare.” I’m not kidding. Some kids bought candy, one kid bought a bike. This kid bought Henry V. I am going to assume that he bought it because he’s a geeky kid (in the good way) and not because the producer shoved it in his hand. But I swear if anybody busts out the St. Crispin’s Day speech in any later episodes, I quit!