Here’s a funny story that offers a glimpse into how I find some of the more unusual links I post here.
There’s a random Friends episode on in the background. They make a reference to a fictional character who’d performed in a Macbeth movie. They then pin it in time by saying, “They showed the trailer before Jackass.”
I find this weird 2003 version that is supposedly set in a surreal fantasy world where reality keeps changing.
Random browsing gets me interested in whatever happened to the Romeo and Juliet: The War movie that was supposed to be coming out.
It’s still in development so IMDB won’t let me see any details. I go googling and find this Variety article from 2015. There’s a comment on the bottom of that article from a guy named John Schnurr saying, “I just filmed this same plot, please don’t make this movie.”
<shrug> Sounds like a unique enough name. Found him! I look for Shakespeare credits (amid the pro-wrestling credits, strangely enough).
Sure enough, look what I found! I give you… Romeo 3000.
This looks *so* bad. I don’t mean the acting or the special effects. Got to love everybody rocking the Borg eyepiece, the oddly out of place steampunk villain, and Romeo with the Winter Soldier arm. Those are all straight out of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (oooo, the irony of making things sound sci-fi by adding 3000 at the end….)
No, I’m talking about the painful “This sounds like Shakespeare” writing. In the trailer alone:
“This be the year 3000…”
“This be not the story of star-cross’d lovers…”
“Romeo be the last of his line.”
“Romeo, Romeo, where arst thou Romeo?”
I’ll give them this, it looks like they sure went for it with whatever budget they had. It’s actually a good trailer, with a nice quality video that shows it wasn’t shot on a potato. The fight scenes look like they could be fun. Everybody’s acting their damnedest. And there’s some money left over for special effects.
Keep an eye out for the full-length version and report back if you ever get to see it!
Are you familiar with the service IFTTT, short for “If This Then That”? I’ve been using it for years to automate large parts of my online life. You understand how the concept of a “push notification” works on your phone, right? Some event happens, and you are alerted to that fact. Maybe the football game is over and you want to know the score. Maybe you got a text from a person on a particular favorites list.
What IFTTT does is extracts that out to a web service so it’s not limited to your phone, and the possibilities are endless. You can say things like “When the weather service says it’s going to rain tomorrow, text me to remember my umbrella” or “Every time I connect or disconnect from the car bluetooth, add a row to a Google spreadsheet” (so I can track my commute times).
Where’s the Shakespeare, you ask? I’m getting to that part.
It got started when I realised you could change a lamp post into a public swingball, and then that you could make that into a rhythmic game about iambic pentameter, and we could get people to say the text in public, if they were playing swingball.
That’s Anton Hecht, creator of the game. Sorry, “community-based game and public art experience.” When I saw the Reddit video I thought it was more about the challenge of having memorized a particular sonnet and having to recall it. But as the article shows, the words and meter are actually written down and posted on the pole so you can read at the same time (which definitely implies that somebody has to start with some knowledge of the subject!). It’s more about saying it out loud, and we all know the importance of that. Every time somebody asks about memorizing Shakespeare the first bit of advice that comes up is, “Say it out loud.”
I have to admit I kind of love the idea of randomly walking down the street and hearing people reciting Shakespeare while playing a game. What was it Caliban told us? Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Who’s to say that doesn’t apply equally to just walking down the street and taking in the ambient sounds around you?
I’m kind of wondering if Mr. Hecht is googling for references and might stop by. I don’t know that I’ve seen swingball very much in the US and I’m wondering if it’s primarily a European thing? Then again a game where you throw a beanbag at a slanted piece of wood with a hole in it (“cornhole”) is insanely popular here, so what do I know about what games people are playing and why?
So if anybody’s reading this anywhere in the world and saying to themselves, “I was wondering how we could breathe new life into our swingball set,” here’s your chance! Take it on the road. As the creator says, make it a public art experience. Don’t keep the Shakespeare in your back yard, share it with the world.
Are the original documents being published somewhere? Not that many of us can read secretary hand, but still. It’d be fun to try and decode the clues. (UPDATE – Looks like they’ll be available as part of Shakespeare Documented!)
Let me see if I can pull some bullet points from the article:
The documents Parry found include multiple writs against John Shakespeare, and record his debts to the Crown, including one for £132 – around £20,000 today.
That’s a pretty big number. I always thought that we’d been talking about petty amounts, like creditors chasing down somebody who stopped paying his credit cards.
A lot of people grumbled but settled [with “professional informers”]. For some reason in two cases John Shakespeare did not, and ended up targeted by the Exchequer collection system, which damaged his local credit.
I hate that “for some reason” is still in there. That’s kind of a big point. Seems like a downward spiral of getting yourself into debt in a way that doesn’t allow you to ever get out of it. But we still don’t know why he was targeted in the first place.
William grew to adulthood in a household where his father had fallen in social and economic rank, which sociologists and psychologists tell us leads to anger. They call it ‘downranking’.
Kind of puts Shakespeare’s desire for a coat of arms into a new perspective, doesn’t it?
What does everybody think? I know that there’s always a loony or two running around with a fancy new theory that will shed some light on Shakespeare’s life, and they always have a book to promote. But I’ve seen some respectable sources reporting on this, and it looks like these discovered documents could be the real thing? Has anybody explored in more depth?