PTS 06/035: The Rally of Revenge

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Titus decides to deploy his ultimate weapon …

Titus Andronicus, Act III

Bear with me on this: I’m an English teacher, and I talk – no think – in similes and metaphors.  “It’s what I do!”, as David Mitchell might say in BBC‘s Upstart Crow.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 007

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Alas, poor Shakespeare fans …

In the dock for my latest Crime Against Shakespeare we find Kenneth Branagh and RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art).

Picture the scene (if you pardon the pun) …

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PTS 05/027: The Arch of Experience

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I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.                                                                                                                     (Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses)

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  Act 1

Recently, I wrote about bringing your personal baggage to your interpretation and enjoyment of texts. It’s why I re-read: every few years I genuinely believe I approach a text as a different person, changed in infinite, indescribable ways by my experiences.

This is my first time with the Two Gentlemen, though, and I approached this text with some trepidation. It has a reputation – despite being the first play performed at the newly-built Globe – and Dennis Carey‘s reaction on being asked to direct the play was not reassuring:

“I had only just read the play, and was badly shaken. Could the author really be grateful to anyone for preserving this youthful, unfinished, minor exercise?”

A read-through is a read-through, though …

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PTS 04/024: How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

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“‘Four!  Five!  Four!  Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!”  George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Ponytail Shakespeare:  The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV

KATHERINA:            ‘And be it moon or sun or what you please,

    And if you please to call it a rush-candle,

    Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

PETRUCCIO:              I say it is the moon.

KATHERINA:             I know it is the moon.

PETRUCCIO:              Nay then, you lie; it is the blessed sun.

KATHERINA:            Then God be blest, it is the blessed sun.’

(IV.v.13-19)

I so often say to students (usually when we’re looking at poetry) that you should ‘bring your baggage’ to a work.  It’s one of the things that makes re-reading an unexpected joy, as you arrive at a familiar work with fresh eyes.  The ‘baggage’ can, of course, be life experiences, or other works that you’ve read: regular readers will already know that I have a habit of conflating Caliban, Richard III and Frankenstein’s monster, to talk through a sympathetic lens about those three characters and the nature vs. nurture argument.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 004

BH futerfas 2Alan Futerfas: because being pictured with an enormous phallic symbol sends a powerful message to the world about you …

Please, pretty please, Mr Futerfas, leave Shakespeare out of things – it doesn’t lend you any gravitas: ‘they’ will NOT, in the words of Cole Porter, “all kow-tow” …

In fact, some might be tempted to suggest you are over-compensating, and use Curtis‘ words to Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew:

‘Away, you three-inch fool”  (IV.i.23)

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Lend me your ears: support Drew Dzwonkowski’s ‘foolish’ side project …

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(C) Drew Dzwonkowski

A running theme in the play is how Caesar’s assassination is going to be remembered and reenacted for centuries to come, so I drew the swimmers in modern clothes.

I had a ‘tense’ conversation with a Y10 lad today.  He has about a week to work on a 5-minute or so presentation.  The subject is entirely open to him, but it ought to be something he has sufficient interest in that he can produce a structured, coherent talk, with the ability to think on his feet and answer potentially tricky questions on it afterwards (if he wants to get a decent mark).  It contributes towards his GCSE qualification under the new specification, and he could be asked to reprise the performance at our school’s ‘Work-Ready Day‘ in two weeks’ time: an important shop window for pupils to get noticed by major local employers, where talent HAS been ‘spotted’ in the past.  And ‘scouted’.  Despite the fact that the students would rather eat their own tongues than do the presentation once, let alone twice …

Why am I telling you this?

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PTS 04/018 It’s Not You … It’s Me

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The Taming of the Shrew (Induction)

For a while now, it’s been a vague ambition of mine to catalogue, mind map, or in some other way classify Shakespeare’s comedy, both in the comedic plays and elsewhere.  In doing so I AM mindful (for those who know their SF) of the Asimov short, ‘Jokester’ (1956), where finally getting an answer as to why humans laugh results in humour dying forever …

Still, I’m always and increasingly drawing intertextual links between and beyond Shakespeare’s plays, and this is what strikes me about what Arden calls the ‘Induction’ – the Christopher Sly frame.  It’s a cousin, maybe an ancestor, of the Rabelaisean idea of ‘Carnival’ that appears later on in:

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