We have a very small Shakespeare channel on our Slack group at work. Yes, I started it 🙂
This morning I posted, “Happy Shakespeare Day!”
Almost immediately a co-worker responded, “Flourish!”
And I thought, “You know, she probably means the stage direction, like ‘enter with a flourish'” or fanfare.
But then I thought, “Flourish also means thrive, too. That sounds like a wish to me, like ‘May you and your family prosper and be well on this illustrious day!'” And yes I said, “be well and prosper” in deliberate homage to the Vulcan “live long and prosper” because that crossed my mind at the time.
I wrote to her and she laughed, confirming that the stage direction was what she had in mind.
“Too late!” I replied. “New tradition born!” The double meaning makes it perfect for the occasion.
So if you catch me on Twitter today telling people to flourish, you can say you were there when the whole thing began.
UPDATE – Wow, I posted that whole original spelling it “fluorish” instead of “flourish”. I’m annoyed with myself, my spell checker, and my coworker (who spelled it that way originally), all in that order.
I have been doing whatever I can to get the word out about Rob Myles’ The Show Must Go Online project, where actors gather to perform Shakespeare virtually every week.
What I didn’t realize is that a bunch of people, including some in my own back yard, had the same idea!
Shakespeare Happy Hours comes from the Seven Stages Shakespeare Company which is right down the street from me in New Hampshire. (I’ve seen productions there though I can’t remember which. Hamlet, maybe?)
Seven Stages’ approach is a little different. They’re doing shortened versions – 90 minutes – but they’re doing them more often. Rob’s group goes once a week, while Shakespeare Happy Hours goes three times a week and have already put nine shows up in their archive! I’ve not seen them yet, I literally just discovered their existence today, but hope to check them out.
I’m probably the last guy on the block to post links of Shakespeare productions to stream, and I have no excuses. But it’s Shakespeare’s birthday and tradition dictates that we fill the day with content.
I like this list because it’s got a little of everything – some stuff on Amazon Prime, some on YouTube, some BBC and others. It’s no fun when you click through to a list and all you find is stuff on services you’re not subscribed to.
It’s also a good list because it doesn’t just serve up half a dozen different Hamlets. 12 suggestions, and I’d say no repeats but technically Henry V shows up twice as one of the suggestions is actually a trilogy.
I’m hoping that I get a chance to see some of these while they’re still up. In theory I’ve love to say I have all the time in the world to spend my days binge watching Shakespeare, but that’s simply not been the case. I can’t make the family sit through hours of productions, and I can’t disappear from them for hours. The closest I’ve gotten to Shakespeare is getting most of the way through The Crown with my wife. Get it? It’s a Queen Elizabeth joke. Help me, I’m losing my mind.
So we’re all sitting down to dinner when the following conversation leaves me quite speechless. My middle child, E, has a smudge of some sort on her forehead.
Oldest, K: (to E) You look like you just got back from church with your ashes.
Son, B: I was going to quote Shakespeare, but I decided not to.
We pay no attention to this and generally agree that yes, E has a smudge on her forehead.
B, excusing himself from the table to get something: God gave you one face and you make yourself another.
Me: Where did you get THAT?
B: I know Shakespeare.
K & E : Is that not Shakespeare?
Me: No, it totally is, I just didn’t think any of you would have known that quote. In all these years I can’t remember it ever coming up. Now who wants to guess which play?
E: Comedy of Errors.
Me: You have 37 more guesses.
K: Let’s think this through. Macbeth.
Me: Also nope.
Mrs. Geek: Hamlet.
Me: When in doubt always guess Hamlet.
K: Is that right?
Me: Yup, it’s from Hamlet. When Hamlet is yelling at Ophelia.
B: Right before he smothers her with a pillow.
Me: Oh, so close.
Every once in a while I dream in Shakespeare. That ever happen to anybody else? I always think it’s very cool.
This time there was a production of Hamlet. I can’t tell if I was in it, or directing it, or watching it. But the stage was littered with giant jigsaw puzzle pieces (it helps, of course, that in these quarantine times our house like so many others is busy doing puzzles). As he soliloquized he would pick up a piece, contemplate it, and then find where in the giant puzzle – because the stage itself was a giant puzzle – it fit.
I didn’t get to see the end but upon waking I thought that a great ending would be him reaching the end of the play without finishing the puzzle. But then the scene closes with Fortinbras, or maybe Horatio, picking up a puzzle piece and contemplating it.