RIP, Easy Shakespeare Rider

Sad days lately, with the death first of Gary Coleman and now Dennis Hopper.  I had no idea that Hopper was originally trained in Shakespeare, did you?

The Hollywood Reporter: You trained in Shakespeare, and then went to work with James Dean in 1955’s "Rebel Without a Cause."
Dennis Hopper: I thought I was the best young actor around, you know? That came out of Shakespeare. (But) I had never seen anyone improvise before Dean and I asked him if he would help me. So he advised me on various things, and it was difficult in the beginning. Then I went and studied with Lee Strasberg for five years, to solidify. []


In Francis Coppola’s monster he played the Puck-like maniac with the cameras, at the end of the river. As Kurtz’s disciple and p.r. front-man in Francis Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now." Who knows? Maybe he modeled the character on Shakespeare’s Puck. When he was a classically trained upstart Hopper took a meeting in 1955 with Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn, who suggested that an aide take Hopper away for six months in order to “take all the Shakespeare out of him.” Hopper told Cohn to scram. []

I can’t find any references to specific works he was in, though.  Anybody got more history on the man?

Callback Jokes?

So I’m digging through the texts recently, and I always enjoy this because it gets my brain working on a different way, focusing on individual lines instead of entire scenes. When I do this I tend to spot things I’d never noticed before.

Like, for example, in Midsummer:

THESEUS I wonder if the lion be to speak.

DEMETRIUS No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.

Despite the fact that Demetrius would have known nothing of Bottom’s transformation, I expect this line would have garnered raucous laughter from the audience, no? Surely deliberate on Shakespeare’s part.

Or, this one: (speaking presumably about actors)

The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst
are no worse, if imagination amend them.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.

Once I spotted that I could just picture Puck delivering his “shadows” in quotes as if to say, “Yeah, actors, that’s us that Theseus was talking about a minute ago.”

Am I imagining these? What about the epilogue from As You Like It, delivered by Rosalind?

It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue;

If I were a woman I
would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased
me, complexions that liked me and breaths that I
defied not: and, I am sure, as many as have good
beards or good faces or sweet breaths will, for my
kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.

If she were a woman?  If? So, basically, this is a written acknowledgement that Rosalind is speaking as the male actor who’d been performing a female role? 

Shakespeare Pickup Lines

Since I’ve got them all right in front of me I thought it’d be fun to highlight some real, legitimate Shakespeare lines that could be used to pick someone up at the bar.  No joke here, no twisty punch lines. I’m looking at a lengthy list of Shakespeare quotes and it struck me that some sound like pickup lines.  You’ll have to write back and tell me if any of these worked!

  • I would not wish any companion in the world but you.
  • Your heart’s desires be with you!
  • The very instant that I saw you did my heart fly to your service.
  • When you do dance, I wish you a wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do nothing but that.  Probably only useful after chasing down someone who’s just come off the dancefloor.
  • Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?  Yeah, I’ve heard you want to be careful starting out with the L word.
  • If love be rough with you, be rough with love; Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down. Especially useful when your target gives off that “recently broke up with somebody” vibe.

How's that wedding book coming? Why, thank you for asking…

UPDATED September, 2010 : My book is complete! Go get it now!  Shakespeare wedding quotes for everybody!

Hi Gang,

I’m happy to report that my wedding book project is coming along quite nicely and should be ready for its debut some time this summer.  I’ve got the bulk of content in place – thanks for all the quotes!  Searching gets tricky once you realize that not every good quote is going to have the words “love” or “marriage” in it,  you know. 🙂  Now I’m working on formatting for presentation as well as beefing it up with some other wedding related content, not just quotes.  Shakespeare bio, section on Elizabethan wedding tradition, that sort of thing.

Which brings me to my question.  Anybody got ideas for me on … unusual … ways to incorporate Shakespeare into the wedding?  It’s fairly easy to grab a sonnet for a reading, or offer up a toast, or scribble a love quote onto the invitations.  I’ve got all that.  Now I’m looking for more out of the ordinary ideas.  For instance, could you decorate the cake in a Shakespeare theme?  I have this wonderful (to me :)) idea about a Romeo and Juliet cake where the bride is up on the top tier, done up like a balcony, and the groom is down on the lower tier, done up like a garden or something similar.  (If anybody runs with that, please send me a picture!!)  Or here’s another one, I don’t know if anybody would ever do this but how awesome a wedding reception would it be if actors were hired to perform the final scene of Midsummer?  I mean, come on, YouTube is loaded with people who break out in a group Thriller dance at the reception, why can’t we have Pyramus and Thisbe?  This simply must be done.  Quick, someone out there get married so we can do this.

What else ya got?

Othello's Self-Hatred?

Just saw a thought go by on Twitter where somebody referred to Iago’s jealousy (fine), and Othello’s “self hatred”.

Really?  Guess I never thought about it.  Othello hates himself?  Why and where’s the evidence?  It may be obvious and I’m just not putting enough thought into it.

Shakespeare as History Lesson

So lately I’ve been playing with a database of over 5000 “Shakespeare” questions.  Not saying where I got it (I made it) or what I’m planning to do with it (you’ll see soon enough, Fates willing), but I am finding a whole slew of interesting meta questions to put  up for discussion.  I saw “Shakespeare” in quotes like that because, just like any major data repository, there are false positives to weed out.  I think I’m finally done with questions about “Juliet” from LOST :-/.

Today’s topic is about history.  Topics like Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Cleopatra show up frequently.  What’s neat is that you can’t always tell whether somebody’s asking about the play (“Does Brutus die in Julius Caesar?”) or history in general (“What did Cleopatra do for Egypt?”)  But unlike the Juliet/LOST example, in this case the answers overlap. “When did Julius Caesar die?” has both a history answer and a Shakespeare answer. What I think would be cool is if we Shakespeare geeks just banded together to storm Google a bit and take those questions as our own.  Why not have the questioner land on a Shakespeare answer?  Even if that’s not what he was looking for, maybe he’ll learn a bit about Shakespeare in the process.  What could it hurt?  It’s not like we’re giving anybody the *wrong* answers.  We can plainly tell them “In the play, Cleopatra does this…” and, if you know it to be different from the “real” answer, throw in the real answer as well.

So, fellow Shakespeare bloggers, there’s your call to action.  Looking for content?  Blast out some Julius Caesar / Antony+Cleopatra posts.  Who were they, what did they do, where did they live, when were they born and what did they do?  Assume that the searcher is a student looking for the historic answer, and give them the Shakespeare answer now that you’ve got them.  Bet you’ll see some traffic.  Hint, hint.  Big ol’ hint.

Come Not Between Ben Kingsley And His Wrath

You have to love this article which describes an interview with Sir Ben Kingsley about his role as the villain Nizam in the new Prince of Persia flick. The interviewer clearly doesn’t take it seriously:

But let’s be honest: Prince of Persia is based on a video game. It’s a mega-budget, effects-heavy tale about a street urchin-turned-prince, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), who finds a mysterious dagger that can turn back time. Its producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, is a spectacle-meister whose films are not usually lauded for their delicate subtlety.

Sir Ben, from the minute (earlier in the article) that she calls his acting “scenery-chewing”, disagrees:

“I do the same job. The background alters, and where the camera is placed, and the effects around me. But I am doing the same job. I serve Nizam as if Nizam was written by Shakespeare and he was called Richard III.
“Why waste my time trivializing a character or a film?” he continued, now fully engaged, his voice smooth and mellifluous. “If I trivialize it, it’s going to spoil three, four, five months of my life. Instead, I consciously think to myself, ‘Aim high, aim very high with Nizam. If the kids are going to come and watch it, let them see Richard III from Shakespeare. That will make them go, ‘Wow.’ Don’t give them a Punch and Judy show villain.”

I see both points. I don’t think, even if all the planets aligned just right, that any kid is going to walk out of Prince of Persia with visions of Shakespeare dancing in their heads.  But like he says, why waste your time trivializing the character?  There are certainly actors out there in the biz that just phone it in for the paycheck.  Sir Ben doesn’t appear to be one of them, regardless of what roles he takes.

What Shakespeare play was Robert Pattinson In?

Another one from the popular questions file that doesn’t seem to have an answer already by itself.

What Shakespeare play was Robert Pattinson in?

According to Robert Pattinson Unlimited, Robert played Malcolm in a stage production of Macbeth.  This was during his work with the Barnes Theatre Group, where he also had roles in Our Town, Anthing Goes, and Tess of the D’Urbevilles.  As far as I can tell there is no video footage available of these performances.