Magic Plays

Other than Midsummer, which of Shakespeare’s plays have some element of the magical in them? The Tempest, of course. As You Like It has the goddess Hymen showing up at the end, correct? And then there’s Macbeth‘s witches. Hamlet and Julius Caesar‘s ghosts. The more I think about it, the more there are!
What about The Winter’s Tale? I bring it up because recently I mentioned something about “Hermione pretending to be a statue” and somebody wrote back “I’m glad you’re with me on the whole pretending thing, you don’t want to know how many arguments I’ve had.”
Really? Were we ever expected to believe that this is a statue come back to life? I never thought of it as anything other than a trick of Paulina’s.

Who Could You Delete?

Sir Laurence Olivier famously left Rosencrantz and Guildenstern out of his Hamlet. So, play director for a minute. Who else appears to be a major character that you think you could get away with cutting? You are allowed to give that character’s lines to other characters, as necessary, but you can’t invent new characters to compensate. No merging to create a new and unique character (so no blending of Tybalt/Paris/Prince into a single entity ala Sealed With A Kiss).

A Shakespeare TV Series?

That certainly caught my attention, as I’m sure it did yours. I think, though, that the project is really better described as a series of made-for-tv movies?

Patrick Stewart, David Suchet and David Morrissey are among the stars confirmed for a new TV production of Richard II.

The season, which will take a fresh look at the bard’s life and works, will also include adaptations of his history plays Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, set in the medieval period and filmed on locations around the UK and mainland Europe. St David’s Cathedral and Pembroke Castle, in West Wales were used to film many of the scenes.

The screening of the films is linked to the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, which is billed as the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympics and Paralympics.
So, 4 movies. I’m unsure how that translates into a series, but we shall see.

Characters of Action?

Here’s a question. Who among Shakespeare’s characters do you think *says* the least, but is still most crucial to the play? Hamlet, as we know, never shuts up. I’m looking for his opposite. Somebody who manages to say very little but still accomplish great things.
The Prince from Romeo and Juliet would be an example, although only technically — he shows up to say “Look if there’s any more violence in the streets somebody’s going to be executed,” and then later, when there’s violence on the streets, he shows up to banish Romeo. Both important plot points. Technically he wraps the play up but I don’t count that so much among the “action” bits.
I say “technically” because he’s really a minor character who only shows up just to make these points. It’s not like he’s got much stage time.
Compare Cordelia, who disappears after her big opening scene for awhile, and then comes back strong at the end. But I don’t know how her line count would compare with some others.
Ophelia certainly doesn’t get to say much – but can we really count her in this list? Is she ever anything more than someone else’s pawn?
I’m not sure if I’m getting across my premise. Trying to drum up some conversation, it’s been quite here recently.

Iago's Jealousy

This is going to sound like a homework question, but you all know that it’s been a long time since I was in high school :).
Othello is typically described as a story of jealousy. When there’s even the slightest hint that his wife has been unfaithful, noble Othello is reduced to a snarling, violent animal who sees her death as the only possible outcome.

But what about Iago’s jealousy of Cassio? Doesn’t the whole play revolve around something that Cassio has, that Iago wants? It’s not just the promotion, is it? Cassio has Othello’s attention. When Othello needs something, he turns to Cassio. Iago wants to be in that position. I would say that Cassio has Othello’s love, but I’m not sure how accurate that is — Othello catches Cassio brawling at the bar and demotes him just as quickly. He doesn’t seem to lose too much sleep over it.
How are the two different? How are they the same? Discuss.

This Week's Most Popular Unanswered Questions

According to Google, the following are the most popularly asked questions that still remain unanswered. Who wants to be first with some answers?

Most of these don’t seem especially difficult, I just think that patience is required to formulate an answer. After all, doesn’t Romeo spend most of the play describing Juliet’s beauty? That’s a lot of text to cite 🙂
Thanks to everybody who’s been providing the answers!!

Missing Scenes

Its late on a Friday so I don’t expect this post to get much traffic, but we shall see :).
The post about Iago’s convincing of Roderigo to kill Cassio got me thinking — what scenes does Shakespeare *not* give us, that you wish he did? Imagine Shakespeare was alive today and we got a sort of “director’s cut” of your favorite play, including deleted scenes. What scenes are on your wish list?
The Iago / Roderigo example is a simple one (because its inclusion doesn’t really do much for the plot). Hamlet’s loaded with them — the initial confrontation between Hamlet and Ophelia (during his feigned madness), Ophelia’s death as Gertrude watches…
What else?

Bob Dylan’s Shakespeare Songs (Guest Post)

Today is Bob Dylan’s seventieth birthday. To celebrate, Bardfilm and Shakespeare Geek have compiled a list of his Shakespeare-related songs. It’s not just the ubiquitous “Shakespeare, he’s in the alley / With his pointed shoes and his bells” from “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” you know!

Bob Dylan’s Shakespeare Songs

Won’t You Come See Me, Queen Mab?

The Times, They Are A-Changin’: O Cursed Spite, That Ever I was Born to Put Them Right

Rainy Day Women #12 (Goneril) and 35 (Regan)

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, For The Rain it Raineth Every Day

Something’s Happening, but You Don’t Know What it is, do you, King Lear?

Fool Wind

It Ain’t Me, Ophelia

Come in, Gloucester Said, I’ll Give You Shelter from the Storm

Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Sack

Oh, Sister (Sung by Angelo to Isabella)

I Ain’t Gonna Work on Oliver’s Farm No More

Cordelia, Cordelia

Blowin’ in the Windy Side of Care

Stuck Inside of Ephesus with the Syracuse Blues Again

. . . and, of course, there’s Bob Dylan singing the plot of Measure for Measure, which you really have to see (and hear) to believe.

Happy birthday, Bob!

Our thanks for this guest post to kj, the author of Bardfilm. Bardfilm is a blog that comments on films, plays, and other matters related to Shakespeare.

So What's Up With Shakespeare Podcasts?

Some of my most potentially productive work time is during the commute. I’ve got a good hour a day where I’m going to be listening to my ipod *anyway*, so I might as well make use of it. Typically I’ll follow a variety of podcasts, and occasionally an audio book.
I’ve never been much for Shakespeare via audio. But, that can change.
So, this is an open discussion – who is putting out audio Shakespeare content? Tell me. If you’ve got your own show, this is your opportunity to plug it.
I’ll tell you what I’m looking for. I don’t want to listen to audio versions of the plays. I don’t have that level of concentration while driving. Likewise, i don’t want to listen to a show where people do nothing but talk about their own personal opinions of Shakespeare – that’s far more likely to bore me in the other direction. The ideal content for me would be a heavy amount of Shakespeare, condensed for presentation, if that makes sense. I don’t need two hours’ traffic of my MP3 player – how about doing selected scenes? Or encapsulating info on a play that maybe I’m not as familiar with, so that I can come up to speed? If somebody said “Here’s a series of podcasts where we spend 1 hour per play” I would almost certainly pick through it and grab the plays I’m least familiar with. But while I may find “Here’s a podcast on nothing but Hamlet” interesting, it wouldn’t be for me — for something like that I need to be able to read and skim, because I know that there’s an infinite amount to talk about and I want to decide for myself where the interesting bits are.
So, who’s got one?

Arguing Infinite Monkeys with Geeks

I bookmarked this conversation over on reddit too late to join in the fun, but I thought that my Shakespeare Geek readers might get a serious kick out of what happens when you put the problem in front of geeks of the more traditional sense.
I can’t really hold my own with the kind of mathematical experience they’ve got over there, but the way I’ve always imagined it is that “infinite” and “all” are, for the purposes of an abstract problem such as this, basically interchangeable. If you have a problem set of X possibilities, and then you say that you’re generating an infinite number of variations on X, then by definition one of them will be X.
Any attempt to discuss how long this would take, or the odds that it could ever happen, or comparison to atoms in the universe, seems to miss the point entirely.
The closest I’ve seen to an argument that makes me curious is the idea that by saying “monkey” you are not necessarily saying “a true random number generator.” Therefore you could argue that even with an infinite number of monkeys, your distribution does not follow a normal random distribution, and thus you can’t do predictions based on that curve.