One of the problems with moving your company to Zoom is that you rapidly lose track of your coworkers’ lives. Wait, they got married? Who’s having a baby? I haven’t heard from so and so in weeks, apparently they left the company!
Such was the case when a new coworker was introduced (via Slack) whose last name was McBeth. “Oh my,” I thought, “I simply must introduce myself.” But how? I won’t bump into her in the halls. We’ll have no meetings together. Is it weird to send her a Slack message making Shakespeare references? It’s not like she’ll ever walk by my desk and see that it’s littered with Shakespeare memorabilia.
Turns out I didn’t have to. We have a company meeting every other week, and this week they broke up into smaller chats (“breakout rooms”) to get more social, and sure enough McBeth was in mine. After she’d introduced herself along with the others in the room I had to ask. “So do you get many Shakespeare references?” I ask.
She smiles, rolls her eyes and says, “You have no idea. It’s not spelled the same, so every time I have to read my name out, like over the phone with a credit card, or oh god, at a cash register or something when they see it, they always say Oh, Macbeth, like in Shakespeare!’
“My god think of all the people you’ve killed by saying the name!” I tell her. “As you might have noticed, I have a certain affinity for Shakespeare.”
That’s a stream of words I never thought I’d type. But sure enough, word is that Channing “Magic Mike” Tatum and Scooter “Taylor Swift Hates Me” Braun are teaming up with Amazon for just such a project.
“the story is said to center on a teenage girl who grapples with her own morality as she contends with the dreadful consequences of her ambition.”
Of course, if nobody had specifically written the Macbeth connection that could just as easily be Mean Girls.
I have no idea if it’ll be any good, or even ever see the light of day. I’d expect about as much of such a project as I do for any other teenage retelling of Shakespeare inspired stories. 10 Things really set the bar too high.
Should you ever decide to embark on a tour of the locations of Shakespeare’s plays you’d find yourself with a long itinerary. The bard’s quill pen roamed the world, from Egypt and Syria to Scotland – this blog has even provided a handy map. Some places, such as England and Italy, were, of course, frequently visited by his imagination. Others, such as Austria (Measure for Measure) and Cyprus (Othello) he only visited once.
Shakespeare shaped these foreign lands to suit his stories. Greece (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Timon of Athens, The Two Noble Kinsmen, etc.), Wales (Cymbeline, Richard II, Henry IV P1) and Turkey (The Comedy of Errors, Troilus & Cressida, etc.) were made the settings for comedy, tragedy, romance, and history. The world truly was his stage to dress – in fact, most of his plays are set abroad, the Globe Theatre, therefore, becoming an actual microcosm of our globe.
Some locations are famously linked with his plays. Who, after all, would not know that Hamlet is set in Denmark? Other links are, perhaps, a little more obscure. Lebanon featuring in Pericles, for example, or the former Yugoslavia (specifically, the area known as Illyria) in Twelfth Night.
Are visitors to Spain’s Basque Country aware that they’re following in the footsteps of the characters in Love’s Labour’s Lost? The location of the French court in All’s Well That Ends Well is a little unclear, but it isn’t hard to imagine Helena and Bertram amidst the grand buildings of Carcassonne. I’m also a fan of the vague Mediterranean setting of The Tempest, which allows me to imagine Prospero roaming Malta, or Menorca, or perhaps Sardinia.
How did Shakespeare know about these far-flung places? As the No Sweat Shakespeare blog once mentioned, even travel between Stratford-Upon-Avon and London was no mean feat. Shakespeare, therefore, didn’t have direct experience of these locations – it was 40 years after Shakespeare’s death when The Grand Tour made foreign travel popular amongst the English elite. Instead he took inspiration from historical texts and other stories (including Italian novellas) – Egypt, for example, has always been well-known to the western world and descriptions of its ancient sites would not have been hard to come by.
“The world’s mine oyster, which I with sword will open” – the world isn’t currently our oyster to open, but with Shakespeare’s stages on shores near and distant, perhaps we can, for now, take a little peek and plan for the day when we follow the footsteps of his far-flung characters.
Olly loves to travel and has visited over 80 countries and all 7 continents. He also likes to explore the world through the medium of literature and enjoys matching famous locations with the places he’s been to. Olly runs travel planning blog APlanToGo.com, on which you can download free, highly detailed itineraries for destinations across the globe.
My son is the last of my three still in middle school. As both of his sisters passed through his current grade they both read Romeo and Juliet, to mixed experience. I’ve been waiting to see if he’ll get to read it at all.
Son: “So I guess we’re not doing Romeo and Juliet this year.”
Me: “What? They decided for sure? How come?”
Son: “Nothing romantic anymore.”
Son: “I guess we’re not reading or studying any stories this year that have romance in them.”
I am assuming that he’s mostly misinterpreting some sort of ban on PG-13 material, perhaps.
Me: “Well that’s fine it doesn’t have to be Romeo and Juliet. That’s basically why schools do Julius Caesar in the first place, no romance. I can write to your teacher and suggest Julius Caesar, or maybe even Macbeth…”
Son: “I think we should do King Lear.”
Me: (impressed) “Bold move. You really think that in middle school kids will be able to understand King…”
Son: “I know thee not, old man.”
Me: …(not so impressed anymore)…”Oh, dude…”
Son: “No, I know that’s not from King Lear. That’s from Falstaff. I was just saying I want to see that play.”
Me: “Oh, ok, phew. For a minute there I was going to say you just made the blog, but you know what, you just made the blog anyway!”
Still have to write to his teacher and see if I can keep Shakespeare in the curriculum!
I have several different filters that collect Shakespeare references across various sites – Google, Reddit, etc… The signal/noise ratio is about what you’d expect, but I do find some good stuff often enough to keep doing it. Most of it lately is memes. Typically bad ones (hint – if you think your meme is funny, take two seconds to check your spelling rather than rushing to post it for karma? it’ll be that much funnier when you can include in your audience all the people that don’t think you’re an idiot.)
But lately it seems like the world has been taken over by two quotes in particular:
“You are a saucy boy” – Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet
“What, you egg!” – Murderer in Macbeth (stabbing optional)
No, seriously. Just looking at the front page of my Pocket queue today, here’s the links I found:
Using “egg” as an insult has always been one of those amusing things about Shakespeare that was a little off. But these days it’s become clear that saucy boy and egg have teamed up (usually with some stabbing at the end) and I’m just wondering where this came from? Was it a reference to a show I’m not watching? It’s getting pretty tiresome.