Ingenious(?) Shakespeare on Film

There’s certainly no shortage of these lists, but I haven’t linked to one in a while.   Flavorwire delivers their list of Top 10 Ingenious Shakespeare Adaptations, but as always I’m never really sure what criteria these sites use for such a list.

All the usual suspects are on this one, and probably nothing that long time readers hadn’t seen mentioned before (Scotland, PA, which I still haven’t seen, being the most unknown).  But how do you make a list that includes both McKellen’s Richard III and Luhrman’s Romeo+Juliet with 10 Things I Hate About You, O, and Strange Brew?

I’d love it if somebody made a list with a constraint that we could all agree upon, like “Shakespeare adaptations as musicals” or something.  Hint hint, content authors.  Get to work.

The Real Housewives of Shakespeare

This hysterical production from the Great River Shakespeare Festival is making the rounds on Twitter.  I gave it a pass at first since I never watched the original tv show and figured that I wouldn’t get most of the jokes.


If you’ve not seen it yet, do what I did — try to identify all the wives before they’re introduced.  They had me at “what is that knocking WHAT IS THAT KNOCKING!?  🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S. – I’m going to let Juliet’s use of “like” slip by…once.  That was like, like, fingernails on a blackboard.

He’s Mine, Now.

So this story is only vaguely related to Shakespeare, but anybody that knows me will appreciate it.

See if you can follow this.  I have a “work wife”.  This woman and I had worked closely on a team of just three people and it didn’t take long for the usual workplace flirting to get kicked high enough into the stratosphere that everybody just started referring to us as a work couple.  No biggie.  I’m married, she’s not, my wife knows about my work wife.  It’s fun.  Work wife meanwhile has started dating one of the new employees.

Yesterday, out of the blue, one of my coworkers forwards me an event notification for a Shakespeare Open Mic night.  She apparently missed that it happened a month ago.  The particular event was at a cafe in Salem, MA, for Shakespeare’s Birthday (I’ve been to it).  I appreciate the notification.  Like I’ve said before, I like that people spot Shakespeare things and send them to me.

Anyway, this new employee, who is dating my work wife, suddenly pops his head over the wall and says, “Wait, what’s this you’re talking about?  Really?  That sounds cool.”

I try to decide if I’m being mocked.  He assures me that no, he’s into Shakespeare.  He’s one of those “really didn’t like it in high school until I finally got a teacher that showed us how awesome he is” kids. Now he wants to talk about Shakespeare and asks about where in town he can see a good show.

I give him my usual warning – “You sure you want to open this door?  You’ve heard what happens when you start me talking about Shakespeare, right?”

At this point along comes work wife to see why the two men in her life are chatting.  I let her know that yes, we’re talking about Shakespeare, and I’m not giving him back.  He’s mine now.
We start talking about the obvious option, Commonwealth Shakespeare in the Park (doing Coriolanus this year).  I tell him that I go every year, we make a picnic out of it, get some PF Changs, couple bottles of wine, hang out on a nice summer night.  He decides that now it sounds even more convincing.

I came home and told my real wife that this summer we’re double dating. 🙂  How’s that for awkward?  Maybe my real wife and my work wife can hang out and chat while I talk Shakespeare with my work wife’s boyfriend. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Shakespeare vs. HP Lovecraft

Something for the horror fans was waiting in my inbox this week – “Shakespeare v Lovecraft: A Horror Comedy Mash-Up featuring Shakespeare’s Characters and Lovecraft’s Creatures
.”  From the product description:

Prospero, driven dangerously insane by prolonged exposure to the dread Necronomicon, makes a terrible pact with the titanic alien beast known only as Cthulhu. Now only his enchantress daughter Miranda and a handful of history’s greatest heroes are all that stand between humanity and blasphemous eternal subjugation. 
It’s a bloodbath of Shakespearean proportions as Cthulhu and his eldritch companions come at our protagonists from all manner of strange geometric angles in a hideous and savage battle for supremacy. 

Never read any Lovecraft myself, so I can’t speak to the subject too much.  But I thought that folks out there might like it.  As a Kindle title it’s only a couple of bucks.  Let us know in the comments if you pick it up!

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

I admit that a long time ago I thought this was from Shakespeare, alongside “Tis better to have loved and lost…”  Now I know better, but that doesn’t mean that word has spread.

No, this is not by William Shakespeare.  It is in fact Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese – Sonnet 43, in fact:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.


This is actually a nice reminder that the art of the sonnet neither began nor ended with Mr. Shakespeare.  Others were pretty good at it, too.


A Shakespearean Rosetta Stone

Take a controversial line from a controversial play, and then look at how that line is interpreted in 100 different languages.  That’s the goal set by Dr. Tom Cheesman of Swansea University.

The play?  Othello.

The line?  “If virtue no delighted beauty lack, Your son-in-law is far more fair than black”.

Perhaps somebody can explain to me the controversy in that line?

I suppose the idea is interesting, and it brings to mind that old Hamlet in the Bush story (which, until now, I thought was a real thing) where a researcher attempts to demonstrate the universal appeal of Shakespeare by reading the play to a bunch of African natives.  They don’t get it.  They don’t see the big deal of Claudius marrying Gertrude, because of course the wife of a deceased man marries his brother.  And why did Hamlet even think about listening to the ghost? The only concept of ghost in their language is “demon”, so of course it would have been up to no good.  And so on.  Does anybody know if that piece is legit, or was done as a joke?  I’d always assumed it to be real but when googling for it I found it linked on a April Fool’s Day site, so now I’m not so sure.

On a related note that combines both those stories I’ll point out my own little experiment in this arena.  I ran “To be or not to be” through a translator into a whole bunch of different languages to see how it differed, then made a poster out of it.  I think it came out pretty cool, and it’s been one of the better sellers in my shop.

Coriolanus Read By CEOs

Here’s an interesting project up in my neck of the woods (Boston) : a staged reading of Coriolanus by local chief executive officers.

Shakespeare and the law has now evolved into Shakespeare and business. On Thursday, a who’s who of Boston executives will take their positions at the Cutler Majestic for a reading of an edited version of “Coriolanus,” and then they’ll participate in a panel discussion about the leadership and management themes raised by the play. The cast/panelists will include Boston Foundation CEO Paul Grogan, Eastern Bank CEO Richard Holbrook, Boston Globe publisher Chris Mayer, Mass. Convention Center Authority director Jim Rooney, Tufts Health Plan CEO Jim Roosevelt and Bain & Co. senior advisor Phyllis Yale.

The project is co-sponsored by Boston’s own Commonwealth Shakespeare, who will be performing Coriolanus on Boston Common beginning July 25.

Branagh to do The Scottish Play Next?

I missed this article last week where Kenneth Branagh received the Founder’s Directing Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival

Through the ‘90s, Branagh had a run of films that were met with mostly positive critical feedback, including two more Shakespeare adaptations with “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Hamlet.” In 2000, he hit a bit of a bump with his “Love’s Labour’s Lost” adaptation, an experience that he found humbling, though not debilitating to his career. Branagh explained, “It would be hard to say what exactly is ‘authentic Shakespeare’, but people have an idea of what it might be and they sometimes get disturbed when a strong or dominating or even disruptive idea comes in like setting it as a Hollywood musical in 1939. 

…but I’m glad they took the trouble to highlight the gem of the article for me in the title:

“I would like to make some more Shakespeare films. The film that I would like to make next has a title that I cannot mention in this building. But it’s a play by Shakespeare about a Scottish king.” 

Woohoo!  Branagh Shakespeare movies are always a good thing.

Need New Shakespeare Books?

I wonder if this is a regular thing – Six New Titles on Shakespeare, explaining exactly who wrote each, what they’re about, who might like them, and so on.  Something to check out if you’re interested in upcoming Shakespeare books but not normally in a position where you get access to this information.

The “Shakespeare’s Shrine” one looks interesting, detailing Stratford and how it became what it is today (thanks in no small part to David Garrick, of course).

Must See Movie Event Of The Summer

Did Julie Taymor and Russell Brand leave a bad taste in your mouth?

Christopher Plummer’s The Tempest is coming to the big screen!

This looks ridiculously good.
Even better?  Unlike many other Shakespeare films that barely see any widescreen release (ahem Coriolanus), the web site actually lists every movie theatre in every state where it will play!  And it’s close to me in Massachusetts!
Note, however, that this is a *one time event* — Thursday, June 14, 7pm.  Now I just have to hope I can make it!