Bored At Home? Talk To Shakespeare

So there’s a whole lot of Shakespeare going on during the pandemic. There’s so many “Zoom readings” there’s even a meme about it 🙂 (The granddaddy of them all, of course, is Rob Myles’ The Show Must Go Online. If you haven’t watched one of their productions yet, seriously, do yourself the favor.)

But I’m here today to talk about an entirely different kind of Shakespeare project – Bard in the Yard:

William Shakespeare, aka “The Bard”, is stuck in London during the plague quarantine of 1605. Quite literally stuck.He urgently needs to write his next masterpiece, but his parchment remains desperately blank. If only he could speak to an audience again, and rekindle the fire of his Muse! What’s that? You have a yard in which he could perform his greatest hits and reignite the Bard-blockbuster machine, all while maintaining a suitably safe distance?

What that means is a 45 minute one-person show featuring “The Bard”, using you the audience as his inspiration for a new play (tentatively titled, “The Lamentable Comedy of King Leonardo, his Three Daughters and Their Dog.”)

Here’s a few reasons why I think this project has the potential to be something a little different from the rest:

  • It’s original content. From what I gather it’s something of a “greatest hits” walkthrough as it’s scaffolding, but other than that it’s an all new story about Shakespeare. Great place to start.
  • There’s 23 different actors playing Shakespeare. By that alone every show is going to be completely unique.
  • It’s all about the interactivity. This is not a sit back and watch show. Expect Shakespeare to be talking to you, and expecting you to answer. It’s made for Zoom. You literally pay for your tickets by screen. Thinking in very “Mulan on Disney+” American terms I wondered why you wouldn’t just pay your ticket price and then invite a dozen people over to hover around the screen. “No no, ” they corrected me, “That would defeat the purpose. Even if you’ve got a bunch of people in the house that want to watch, have them all fire up the show on their own screen. That’s what makes it an individual experience.” This is not an improv show where there’s a hundred people in the audience and every now and then an actor calls out for movie styles and you never get picked. You get your own virtual front row seat.

This is a show about the actors. Right now live theatre is having a tough time as an institution. But underneath that “macro” problem is the micro problem that there’s actors not getting paid. This show was developed to address that. That’s one of the reasons why there’s so many different one-person shows. That’s one of the reasons why you pay per screen. So yes, you’re going to have to pay for tickets (unlike the myriad of Zoom readings we know and love), but they’re very open about that – you pay for this show so money can go into actors’ pockets.

So this one’s more than a bit about motivation. If you want to see some original Shakespeare related content, great. If, however, you know and love people involved in live theatre and know the struggles they’re having, and have been wondering how you can help give back to them? Here’s an opportunity. If you’re only one person, take the opportunity to pay it forward by donating some screens (the base ticket price is for three screens and goes up from there). It’s not even a hand out or donation. Actors get to do their job and you get a show. It’s for a great great cause.

Bard in the Yard – Coming this November, straight to your living room.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare et al.

I don’t think many of us here hold to the strictly orthodox view that Shakespeare worked alone. I have no problem believing that the plays were a collaborative effort in many cases.  Looks like somebody’s about to make this official, by crediting Christoper Marlowe as co-author of the Henry VI plays:

The Elizabethan tragedian’s name will appear next to the Bard’s on the title pages of Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three when they’re published under the New Oxford Shakespeare by Oxford University Press this month.

Is it me or is this a reallllly slippery slope?  Wasn’t collaboration the name of the game back then?  Wouldn’t we logically reduce to the conclusion that all of the plays (and not just Shakespeare’s) have multiple authors?  Isn’t equally likely that Marlowe himself had co-authors on his own work?  Or do we think that this is just an attack on Shakespeare personally?

Also, why is it always Gary Taylor’s name that’s associated with this stuff?  Some of you may remember that he’s also the primary driving force in deciding that Double Falsehood is really Shakespeare’s long lost play Cardenio.

Those seem like opposite ends of the spectrum.  Do we want to go out of our way to find works to which we can attach Shakespeare’s name, or to add other people’s names next to Shakespeare’s?

Maybe Angelina Should Try More Shakespeare?

When I heard that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have filed for divorce it wasn’t that interesting to me.

Then I heard the rumor that they’re divorcing because he’s having an affair with Marion “Lady Macbeth” Cotillard, and now we’ve got something to talk about!

In case you missed it, here’s our review of the 2015 Macbeth starring Cotillard and Michael Fassbender.

Although Pitt and Cotillard are apparently working together on a new project that hasn’t come out yet, who knows? Maybe he saw her in that and liked the whole Shakespeare vibe.  I can’t find any Shakespeare in Pitt’s biography, but I do see that Gwynneth Paltrow, who went on to win an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, claims that after he broke up with her she was almost too distraught to audition for the role (item #10).

Perhaps Brad never knew that Ms. Jolie has some Shakespeare in her past as well?  No, I’m not talking about Cyborg 2 or Hackers, both classics in their own right.  Nor do I mean her epic Cleopatra project that was the star of the Sony email debacle a few years back.

I’m talking about Love is All There Is, a 1990’s Romeo and Juliet re-telling set in an Italian restaurant in the Bronx.  Angelina plays our Juliet.  It also happens to be available in full on YouTube.

Please share and enjoy:

(Trivia — looks like Paul Sorvino is in this, and then again in Romeo+Juliet just a couple of years later.  Apparently as a palate cleanser. :))

Three Projects To Get Excited About

When I read a headline that the Actors Hall of Fame was bringing back Shakespeare classics after 20 years I thought, “What, something like the Criterion collection? DVDs?”  Nope, I’m completely wrong. They’re doing multiple ground-breaking things that look crazy exciting!

A MidSummer Night’s Dream will be produced as a state of the art family animated film, with the addition of new songs and dances from established and emerging artists. The film will be released globally in midsummer 2018.​

All my children’s lives I’ve wanted “start of the art family animated film” versions of Shakespeare.  I just hope this one hasn’t got gnomes in it.

The Taming of the Shrew will be produced as a 10 hour miniseries for broadcast/streaming, and will also introduce the next generation of characters in the lives of Petruchio and Katherina.

I’ve seen rumors that at least three major television networks are doing some version of a Shakespeare series, including a Romeo and Juliet sequel. The idea of a mini series is an interesting one, because you can tell a determined story arc without worrying about having to create ongoing material for several seasons.

Romeo and Juliet  the classic story of young love will make history by airing ‘LIVE’ on mobile and social media around the world starring today’s most popular young stars from film, television and music.

Since joining Twitter back in 2008 I’ve been inundated with every possible combination of live tweeting the plays in “text speak” from various accounts behaving in the persona of the individual characters, and I’ve never liked it. I’m at least curious what “airing live on social media” means because I am interested in the advancement of the technologies to do that, however.

Should be very interesting to keep an eye on these projects!