QotW (#67): 11 February 2019

“this it is, when men are ruled by women” – or at least by their groins …

Claudius & Gertrude

Although I’m never going to end up on stage, I often compare teaching to acting.

Non-teachers, think for a second: up to six performances a day, with audiences who require subtly different characterisations from you.  (My timetable goes from Y12 to Y7 without interval on a Friday afternoon, for instance).  That plus the teacher persona you can only shrug off when you’re safely indoors (because even walking down the street you end up intervening when you see pupils in uniform mucking about).  To say nothing of the range of people you have to be – in five minute chunks – at Parents’ Evenings …

No wonder I’m perpetually exhausted.

But if I were asked to play a Shakespearean role, what would be my top three choices?

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PTS 13/082 As in art, in life …

brexit sledgehammer
As Donald Tusk might say, there’s a special place in hell awaiting those who smash us out of the EU without a plan …

[Warning: you might want to stop reading now, if you voted for Brexit]

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through:  King John, Act V

It’s all a bit shabby, isn’t it, at the end of the day?

Act V holds Hamlet‘s ‘mirror up to nature‘ [a]: Shakespeare might be exploring the ‘Commodity’ of the times, but I can’t avoid building synaptic bridges to the realpolitik of the shameful goings on in the UK’s parliament over the past few years.  I ought to be far too old for the kind of idealistic rage I feel, but even at a relatively young age, I’m determined to ‘burn and rave at close of day‘ [b] …

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PTS 13/080: Remind me: who’s in charge here?

266_pius
OK, I want a good, clean fight …

February 1570:  in the blue corner, Elizabeth I; in the red corner, Pius V …

Commence au festival, as the Joker might say.

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through – King John, Act III

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QotW (#64): 21 January 2019

If there’s anyone more maligned than Greene who wasn’t actually a serial killer or worse, I’m struggling to come up with a name. 

jiminy cricket

Although it increasingly appears to have been abandoned in the twenty-first century, conscience is everywhere in the late sixteenth.  Hamlet, of course, blames it for his cowardice; Margaret curses Richard III with it; and it seems almost a rule that if you hire two thugs to carry out some dastardly act, one of them will prove reluctant …

It is also, it seems, only for the poor and the base – much like its cousin, Patience.  Even in moments of classic anagnorisis, I’d suggest we scarcely see it in our tragic heroes – a subject for another post, perhaps.

Anyway, to Robert Greene

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QotW (#62): 03 December 2018

Telling stories ABOUT stories seems to be my stock-in-trade when it comes to teaching Shakespeare.

10th circe campfire stories

Unusually, I’m going to start with the quotation of the week, from Stephen Greenblatt, rather than work towards it:

Humans cannot live without stories. We surround ourselves with them; we make them up in our sleep; we tell them to our children; we pay to have them told to us. Some of us create them professionally. And a few of us – myself included – spend our entire adult lives trying to understand their beauty, power, and influence. [a]

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QotW (#59): 22 October 2018

It’s no wonder we love soliloquy …

BH marlowe-and-shakespeare

Regular visitors know that I teach Richard III and Edward II at A Level – coincidentally, plays which seem to have appeared within months of each other, in or around 1592.  Marlowe doesn’t get discussed much in the circles I move in online, and Edward II often feels even more overlooked – so when someone wanted to talk about the differences between Kit and Will on /r/shakespeare (after watching a performance of Tamburlaine), I couldn’t resist diving in.  Here’s an edited extract of what I said:

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Cultural Capital 07: Tragedy

We loved a fall from grace as much then as we do now …

BH travolta tragedy
For Christ’s sake, can’t you see I’m busy, Ophelia? Get thee to a nunnery!

[this article first appeared in the in-house magazine I edit for our sixth-form English students]

Tragedy!  When the  feeling’s gone and you can’t go on …

It’s not that long ago that I appalled a class by stating that whilst the death of a pet dog might be ‘quite sad’, it definitely wasn’t ‘tragic’. ^

I definitely spend too much time in the late 16th century!

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