QotW (#58): 15 October 2018

Can we just stop putting ideas in Shakespeare’s head, please?

BH atent-dead
GNU Sir Terry Pratchett

… just busy.

 

And increasingly grumpy … when I’ve found no time to blog, other than a single new Golden Dogberry.

Autumn Term is always a log-jam, and my least favourite of the three.  I told my better half today that whilst there had been a LOT of time at home and weekends where I was too busy to see her, there wasn’t really any ‘me time’ in there.  I haven’t read anything for weeks, and obviously, the blog has suffered.  At least our school has finally been inspected now after years of being on ‘DEF-CON2’, and with any luck we won’t see THEM for a while …

Let’s get back to it, shall we?

Continue reading “QotW (#58): 15 October 2018”

PTS 12/074: Carry on, Nurse (and Mercutio) …

BH carry on nurse
I see Queen Mab has been with you …

PTS read-through:  Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, scenes iii and iv

Why is R&J funnier than Love’s Labour’s Lost, or the Comedy of Errors?

Whilst Jonathan Bate tells us that Shakespeare:

borrowed certain techniques of dramatic cross-dressing and comic overhearing from John Lyly [a]

the spine of the comedy here is firmly character-driven, by Juliet’s Nurse and Mercutio. That’s why …
Continue reading “PTS 12/074: Carry on, Nurse (and Mercutio) …”

Quotation* of the Week: 13 August 2018 (#53)

Thankfully, we can’t have a third series of The Hollow Crown, but what about adaptations of the Roman plays?

Great Performances: The Hollow Crown - The Wars of the Roses: Henry VI Part 2

 

If there’s one thing my (currently stuttering) Pony Tail Shakespeare read-through project has given me so far, it’s a greater love for the History Plays.  Once the project is (eventually) finished, I’m looking forward to reading them again merely for pleasure.

Continue reading “Quotation* of the Week: 13 August 2018 (#53)”

PTS 12/072: A Game of Two Halves …

Maybe Prince Escalus should have gone to VAR … ?

BH mob-football-in-england
The keeper (left) tried to make himself look big, whilst under pressure from a swarthy Croatian defender, Harry Kane tried to nudge the ball home

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through: Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene i

Regular readers will understand my complex relationship with the notion of ‘England’.

The catchy simplicity of Three Lions (It’s Coming Home) turned from pleasantly nostalgic ‘earworm‘ – I well remember the song’s release for Euro ’96 – to a cankerous ‘worm ‘i the bud‘ [a] long before Wednesday’s almost inevitable defeat to Croatia.  The entire nation, it seemed, had been reduced to a vocabulary of just three words – a mantra which was unchallengeable, a self-evident truth destroyed in just 120 minutes (if only Brexit could fall as quickly.) As I watched people (including several students) spill out of The Sun – opposite where I was drinking – in a numbed state of shock after the match, I was glad I wouldn’t hear it for a while.  Having ‘sat like Patience’ I was now, almost, ‘smiling at grief’.  To no avail:  by 11am the next day – no lie – I was hearing “World Cup 2022:  It’s Coming Home” in the corridors of ‘C’ Block … sigh.

Has this anything to do with Romeo and Juliet?  Of course.

Continue reading “PTS 12/072: A Game of Two Halves …”

Quote of the Week: 16 April 2018 (#37)

The beard maketh the man, it seems …

BOTTOM:  What beard were I best to play it in?

QUINCE:  Why, what you will.

BOTTOM:  I will discharge it in either your straw colour beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow. [a]

Although The Guardian confidently proclaimed we’d reached ‘peak beard’ two years ago – in fact exactly two years ago today [b] – I stopped shaving before Christmas.  I’m far from a fashion victim: this was initially sheer laziness (I loathe shaving); now increasingly compounded by curiosity about exactly what I might grow.  After nearly thirty years of a more-or-less maintained goatee, I’ve gone wild.

It’s a work in progress (and had to survive a pre-Portugal pruning by She Who Must Be Obeyed), but I’ve ended up with a hybrid: think the hirsute love-child of Hemingway and Fidel Castro … the addition of a very disreputable cap during my Easter hols jolly to the Algarve has added, I like to think, a revolutionary aura to the whole thing.  Plus, some students have given it a name of its own, like a stray dog.  So, the beard is staying – for now.

Naturally, this started me thinking about beards and the Bard …

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 16 April 2018 (#37)”

Quote of the Week: 12 March 2018 (#32)

It’s a wonder Will didn’t end up in prison, when you think about it …

BH shakespeare censorship
image:  The British Council, Index on Censorship

This week’s quotation is from Germaine Greer, Shakespeare (Past Masters series), (Oxford: OUP, 1986), p.75

Classroom experience tells me that [massive generalization] today’s students are disinclined to think for themselves [/massive generalization].  It’s part of the resistance to Shakespeare that seems to be coded into some pupils’ DNA (and another day I might talk about the ‘generational’ thing), but we see it with other texts.  A while back, in Manchester, I taught the short film ‘The Virus’ – which I personally think is excellent:

– but it was met with howls of anger (only slight exaggeration) from students who couldn’t work out what had happened, why, and what might happen next.  Watch the film, if you have under ten minutes, and then ask yourself if the main character is alive or dead at the end.  Then, ask yourself why or how the answer couldn’t be obvious to 14/15 year-olds.  This happened with TWO classes.  I wasn’t just taken aback:  I was worried. Not least because they thought it was ‘rubbish‘ because they couldn’t figure it out.

To be fair, this probably isn’t new – had my students been alive at the time, and in possession of the attention span required to read it, they would have been part of the contemporary outcry over the ending to Great Expectations.  But Dickens‘ audience wanted their theories confirmed or refuted.  In 2018, it just seems endemic that people have no theories.  They just want to be told what to think … and that scares me.

Who do I blame?

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 12 March 2018 (#32)”

PTS 10/062: Wakey, Wakey …

I took you for granted for so long: I’m sorry …

 

BH MND11 76090
image:  Abel Guerrero

Being a Production Photographer has its moments – this is my favourite image from The Dream in Cambridge, 2012.

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V.

One of the things about a project like this read-through it that it gives you a certain discipline.  In this case, although my timetable may be only notionally followed, it has forced me to read or re-read plays that I might not have, otherwise.  Occasionally (Love’s Labour’s Lost, I’m looking at YOU), my reservations have been fully justified. On other occasions, this new-found steel in my soul has been intensely rewarding.  I might not otherwise have read the Henry VI plays, for example.  Or, indeed, re-read The Dream in any hurry (believing I knew it ‘well enough’), and that would have been a shame …

Continue reading “PTS 10/062: Wakey, Wakey …”