Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sportive Tricks

I'm not an overly patriotic person (and certainty not a major lover of sports) but I was moved by the Olympic opening ceremony for the London 2012 games. And what kind of ceremony wound it have been without at least one nod to Billy-Boy Bard.

So it was delightful to see the great Kenneth Branagh quoting from 'The Tempest' Caliban's description of his own Isle of Wonder. 
"Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices,
That if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again, and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again."
Act III, Scene 2

And of course that first line is also inscribed upon the gigantic 23 tonne Olympic Bell that was struck but Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins to mark the start of the ceremony. So the Bard was catered for and, thanks to Branagh and Bradley's mutton-chops, so was the Beard!


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Quote #020

"Could I come near your beauty with my nails,
I’d set my ten commandments in your face."

Duchess of Gloucester - 'Henry VI Part 2', Act I, scene 3


20 - King Henry VI Part 2

Be prepared for a Battle Royal! Last man standing will take the kingdom!
I found this second part to be far superior to all the running around France in part one! So here's hoping that part three continues the trend rather than doing a Star Wars!

Which of course sets my mind off at a tangent by first imagining 'A Star Wars of the Roses' (with Ewoks!) and secondly by thinking of loads of Shakespeare / Star Wars mash-up quotes:

"To be or not to be, the question that is! Yes!"

"This isn't the changling boy you're looking for"

"Spys! Bothans! Countrymen! Lend me your stolen Death Star plans!"

"The game's afoot - but let the wookiee win!"

"Now is the Winter of the planet Hoth made glorious Summer by the twin suns of Tatooine!"

JULIET - "My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite."
ROMEO - "I know"

PETRUCHIO - Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon! 
KATHARINA - That's no moon! It's a space station.
PETRUCHIO - I say it is the moo... No you're right! (Shit!)

And Finally – Warwick goes all Columbo on viewing Gloucester's dead body, piecing together that he didn't die of natural causes but was rather done in! It's CSI Bury St. Edmund's!


The 'Brilliant Bard Channel'

When I started this 'Challenge' (which far more of a pleasure than a hardship) I was mindful that everyone was talking about Dickens while I was going on about Shakespeare. So I am very glad that everyone else has now caught up with me! Particularly the BBC. Their Cultural Olympiad inspired season 'Shakespeare Uncovered' is a marvellous companion for my Journey.

I was already dipping into the excellent back catalogue of BBC Shakespeare productions which I remember watching in the 70's-80's. But Now there is so much more on offer on both radio and TV that I can hardly keep up. Highlights in the documentary stakes have been 'Simon Shama's Shakespeare' and the titular 'Shakespeare Uncovered' programmes. It was worth watching the Joely Richardson episode alone to see the amazing shots of snow falling in the Globe Theatre. There have also been screenings of some of the better film adaptations, but best of all new re-workings by the BBC themselves.

Unfortunately I'm more than a little anal and have told myself not to watch a performance of a play until I've re-read it. Hence I missed the RSC's Julius Caesar with an African setting and Kenneth Branagh's film of 'As You Like It' as this hit the screen a little too soon. But with with the relevant Histories under my sword-belt I am revelling in the 'The Hollow Crown' series which runs through the plays 'Richard II' to 'Henry V' with a stellar cast. 

The first play, Richard II, had a phenomenal performance from Ben Whishaw in the title role and Rory Kinnear as Bolingbroke and not forgetting a stand-out 'John of Gaunt' portrayed by Sir Patrick Stewart. Now I can't wait to the watch the rest of the series and in particular to see another Shakespearean stalwart Simon Russell Beale, in the part of Falstaff, along with Tom Hiddleston playing Hal / Henry V (who as Loki stole the show in The Avengers movie). Here's just hoping the French don't have a Hulk! ("Puny Plantagenet!")


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Town Called Shakespeare!

On a dusty road, in the 'Bootheel' of New Mexico you'll find a small town called Shakespeare. And, rather fittingly, it's a 'Ghost Town'! Originally a stop on the stagecoach route it had a brief life when a mine opened up nearby. But when the mine closed in 1929 so did the town.

Wouldn't it be great to perform one of the Bard's plays there? But which one? Which play would suit a Western / Ghost Town setting? Personally I do The Tempest... 

Prospero, originally the mayor of the large town on Milan is now a hermit living in a ghost-town, speaking to the Native American spirits that inhabit the land. Rather than a tempest at sea a dust-storm deposits the travellers from Milan within the realm and at the mercy of the deposed mayor and his daughter. Now read on... 

Shakespeare, New Mexico

Shakespeare Ghost Town