WordPlay™ Shakespeare

Now, Half the Page is a Stage...

Age (In)appropriate?

Objections

Always beneath the surface with Shakespeare's plays: how do 21st Century teachers handy the sometimes bawdy and violent imagery and language in Shakespeare? In Western Australia, principal Ted Kosicki feels that certain texts — including Romeo and Juliet — need to be reviewed, and possibly removed from the curriculum. A tricky subject, and also proof again of the value Shakespeare provides, by exciting discussion and thought.

Writing While Under the Influence...

George North Manuscript
Shakespeare did not write in a vacuum, and scholars today confirm that he was heavily influenced by Holinshed's Chronicles, and Plutarch's Lives (properly titled Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans.)

Now, an amateur and deeply capable scholar — Dennis McCarthy — has, in collaboration with Professor
June Schlueter, ferreted out what is likely to prove a powerful third influence on Shakespeare, the writing of one of Queen Elizabeth I's ambassadors to Sweden, George North. An obscure diplomat until now (his Wikipedia entry starts onFebruary 8, 2018 — 4 days ago!) he had an elegant turn of phrase that clearly caught Shakespeare's attention and imagination. The book that sparked Shakespeare's — and now our — interest, was A Brief Discourse of Rebellion & Rebels. Read the New York Times article here.

Sounds About Right!

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.42.14 AM
David and Ben Crystal provide a genuine service to Shakespeare lovers (and doubters too, really) by hypothesizing on what Shakespeare's language might have sounded like in its original pronunciation. In addition to being intrinsically interesting, it has an impact on performance, if actors and directors wish to provide an "original" production to their audience. Very worthwhile video clip.

May I Misquote You?

Owen Wilson
Always fun to track down a misquoted quote. Here, the offending (and never-written-by-Shakespeare) quote is:
People usually are the happiest at home Writer Mark Fisher goes on to cite a real quote (from Henry V) which highlights how the initial sense of an Shakespearean phrase can often be the exact opposite of its actual meaning: "Men are merriest when they are from home", where "from" means "away", rather than "at".

A Titan Passes

John Barton

An absolute giant in the Shakespeare world has passed away. Read more about John Barton in his
obituary, and his Wikipedia page. To see him at his avuncular and incisive best, watch some of his work on Playing Shakespeare.

Fundamentally Dishonest, or Fundamentally Cautious?

web-titus-globe-rex
The discussion about trigger warnings lapped on to Cambridge's shores late last year, with the news that English literature students at Cambridge received trigger warnings about sexual violence and assault in regards to Titus Andronicus and Comedy of Errors. Professor Mary Beard and Cambridge Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director David Crilly reacted strongly against the move.

Shakespeare: The Cure for Intellectual Lazyness?

Skull with Crown

(Simón Prades for The Washington Post/For The Washington Post)
A good (if not slightly harsh) review of modern perspectives on Shakespeare. Are we too timid with our productions? Is "relevance" overblown"? More.

A Hofstra Hamlet that "Would Make Shakespeare Proud"

Hofstra Hamlet

Hofstra launches its 68th Annual Shakespeare Festival with a well received Hamlet. More.

It's All Just Vector Space Mathematics to Me (Or Maybe Not...)

Monty Python, John Cleese
Fascinating (and a little over our head) article in MIT Technology Review about how computers may one day be able to detect sarcasm, and other subtle linguistic tricks. More.

Analogy Lovers, Start Your Engines!

Image of Leonard Cohen wearing a bolo tie
The Guardian proposes that Leonard Cohen is to Bob Dylan, as John Donne was to Shakespeare. Discuss...More.

Shakespeare in Mandarin

Poster for a performnce of Shakespeare's Hamlet in Mandarin Chinese
Tremendous article in the Financial Times detailing the possibilities and pitfalls in translating Shakespeare's works into Mandarin. More.

Comparing Hamilton to Henry IV, part 1.

Graphic of Hamilton as Henry V, with a castle as a backdrop
Isaac Butler, compares Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, with Shakespeare's Henry IV, part 1 -- (proper title: 1 Henry IV) in this complex but well reasoned piece for Slate. More.

What do the words "magazine", "coffee", and "alcohol" have in common?

A panel of Emojis
This delightful article by Madeline White in the Brisbane Times provides the answer: provenance. These three words are very much part of today's English lexicon, but all three originated from the Arabic language. The point? That historically, the English language has proved very adept at incorporating elements from other languages into the vernacular - with Shakespeare in the lead as an arch-shaper of that language, and emoji as the latest digital import into English. Ms. White makes the case better than we can! More.