The 2018 Shakespeare Top 10

Forget the Oscars, here are some winners that REALLY matter to me …

BH Ardens
Not – quite – my collection of Ardens … soon, soon!

We HATE lists, don’t we?

Except, actually we bloody love them, if it’s something we’re interested in.

No, really.

That said, the last thing we want is a list that agrees with our perceptions – the dopamine rush of validation is very short-lived compared to the opportunity to passionately argue our disagreement.  We LOVE subjective opinions.  Trust me – my wonderfully fulfilling University years were full of essays arguing the toss – why, for example:

  • Dracula should not be judged for his ‘special dietary requirements’, whereas Van Helsing and his bunch are vindictive bastards;
  • we ought to respect Edward Hyde for his refreshing honesty, as opposed to Henry Jekyll‘s hypocrisy; or
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s (RIP) The Left Hand of Darkness, whilst a superb book, had no place in the Science Fiction module

You get the picture:  English Lit is a tailor-made subject for those who are argumentative and prepared to do the spadework to back-up their cockiness …

Continue reading “The 2018 Shakespeare Top 10”

Quote of the Week: 29 January 2018

The ‘tribes’ that make up an audience can be just as entertaining as the show itself …

BH arden ass
This bit’s funny, everyone!

Malcom Evans, ‘Deconstructing Shakespeare’s Comedies’, in Alternative Shakespeares (ed. John Drakakis), (Methuen:  London, 1985)

Why do we go to spectator events?  What’s in an audience?

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 29 January 2018”

PTS 08/049: No Weddings and No Funerals

Not everyone gets their just desserts as our RomCom ends …

BH CoE finale
Do I know you?

The Comedy of Errors, Act V

Shakespeare has plenty to do in the 400-odd lines of Act V.  The general confusion needs to create a crisis before we can have our happy ending – in this case, perhaps an equivocal, unsatisfying one, but more on that later.

Continue reading “PTS 08/049: No Weddings and No Funerals”

PTS 08/048: Man is not truly one …

Antipholus (E) is NOT a twenty-first century role model – but was he a sixteenth-century one?

BH jekyll hyde

… but truly two.’  Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

PTS read through:  Comedy of Errors, Act IV

In 2018, the notion of what it means to be a ‘man’ feels ever more opaque, with behaviours and attitudes being scrutinised as never before, perhaps.  As a gender, we sometimes appear confused about the path we ought to take to find a satisfying and yet socially acceptable direction or self-definition.

Maybe it was ever thus.

In yesterday’s post on Macbeth I touched upon the fragility of our hero’s notions of himself when his masculinity was challenged by his wife.  Macbeth is largely a play about what it means to be a man, but that’s way down the line in terms of my reading schedule.  Reading Act IV of Comedy of Errors felt like one of those non-comic interludes towards the end of plays like Much Ado About Nothing, and instead of laughing, I found myself thinking about what Antipholus (E) implies a ‘man’ should be.  It’s not an attractive picture …

Continue reading “PTS 08/048: Man is not truly one …”

2017: In Bed With Shakespeare

What I read in 2017, what YOU should read in 2018, and what to avoid like, ahem, the Plague …

BH Hathaway bed

Announcing my Ponytail Shakespeare read-through back in January did something to me; maybe several things.

Firstly, it made a public commitment. I’m just a bloke, and a busy one at that, being an English teacher, but I am still following the schedule – albeit several paces behind.

It also made me realise that however confident I might be, there was/is an awful lot I don’t/didn’t know for someone who enjoys being the ‘go-to’ at work for all matters Shakespearean – those ‘known unknowns’ were simultaneously a cause for embarrassment and a spur to do better.

These two ingredients combined to make me jump into bed with Shakespeare in 2017 …

Continue reading “2017: In Bed With Shakespeare”

Seventy-Five

So many books. So little time …

BH 75 mugInspired by some course or other on children’s literacy, I’ve been keeping a ‘reading river‘ since January 2013.  It sounded infantile, but I’ve kept to it remarkably more faithfully than logging my reading on Goodreads, or anything else.  It’s become a diary, of sorts, something to idly flick through and recall times, places and people, such as the stay at my parents’ when I devoured all the Earle Stanley Gardener and other Penguin Green Series crime paperbacks I could find on my dad’s shelves in a matter of days.  That year, coincidentally, I read 75 books.

Continue reading “Seventy-Five”

PTS 08/045: Oh, no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is …

You just can’t tell some people that you wouldn’t HAVE Blackadder without Shakespeare …


Ponytail Shakespeare read-through The Comedy of Errors: Act I scene I

‘Which is it today?’
The Comedy of Errors.
‘Ugh!’
‘It’s about two sets of twins, separated at birth, who find themselves-‘
‘Stop! Enough!’
Continue reading “PTS 08/045: Oh, no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is …”