PTS 09/051: Women Weaken Legs (and Brains, too)

Lesson 1: Books, no matter how interesting, are not a girlfriend substitute …

BH Rocky and Micky
‘You lay off that pet shop dame.  Women weaken legs!’ ~ Mickey (Burgess Meredith)

PTS read through:  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act I

It feels appropriate to arrive at this play in the month when it seems you’re not a functioning member of society if you don’t add some kind of punishing denial to the post-Christmas blues:  Dry January, the unappetising-sounding Veganuary, or in my case, the Walk 1,000 Miles in 2018 challenge (already behind schedule).  Personally, I think we’ve enough to cope with, waiting for things to warm up and the nights to become appreciably longer.

Nevertheless, this is how the play opens – with a preposterous resolution by the foolish King of Navarre and three of his intimates to ‘abjure the rough magic’ of the fair sex. Unlike Rocky’s trainer Mickey, they’re worried about the intellectual rather than physical effects that women may have on them

I give them a maximum of ten minutes, stage time …

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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.

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PTS 05/031: I Don’t Know Whether To Laugh or Cry …

BH comedy tragedy

‘Good comedy is tragedy narrowly averted’ Jonathan Bate

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  Act V

Over the past year I’ve used the question ‘What’s in a name?’ more than once, dismissing labelling in its many forms, but this feels the best way of articulating my unease with The Two Gentlemen as I finish the play …

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PTS 05/030: There’s nothing ill …

BH mirror mirror
Mirror, mirror, on the wall …

The Two Gentlemen of Verona:  Act IV

Thus far, I feel like I’ve been quite objective about the play, glossing over the obvious errors about travelling by boat between land-locked cities, etc. I’m not one to lionise Shakespeare (whatever my other half thinks), but nor am I interested in joining the current fad I see online for ‘dissing’ him.

Having said that, Act IV begins with a ‘mote to trouble the mind’s eye‘, though – and more on it later, but Act V trumps even this episode. What am I talking about?

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Age cannot wither him …

BH 2017:2018 timetable

… nor custom stale his infinite variety.  (Enobarbus:  ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA:  II.ii.245-246) [bastardised by me, obviously]

Our timetables for next year were finalised last Friday, and this is what mine looks like – at least in terms of Shakespeare / EMP material.  It’s more of the same, basically – although I finally lost The Tempest – which Top Set Y11 had voted to study back in the day when I had complete freedom about what to teach.  I think it could be the last year I teach this combination – I want to make at least one change …

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Who would Shakespeare vote for?

BH polling station
Something for your dog to ponder as you leave him outside tomorrow

[SPOILER ALERT] There’s a UK General Election taking place tomorrow …

Setting aside my own lefty, ‘soft’ eco-warrior credentials, and using mostly contextual information or material from the plays (because, as Bill Bryson gently reminds us over the course of 200-odd pages, we know next to nothing about the man) I thought it would be fun to see how Shakespeare might have voted.

And, regardless of my – or your – political beliefs, for the love of God, please VOTE tomorrow, if you’re entitled to.  Never mind the hackneyed cliché: ‘people died so you could‘ argument – you have absolutely no right to complain about what happens over the next 5 years if you didn’t even make the smallest effort to effect a change

Anyway, I visited isidewith, and tried to answer the questions as someone who died 401 years ago … here’s a selection of the conundrums I was faced with, plus the (firmly tongue-in-cheek) result …

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Brașov your Shakespeare …

BH carpathian-mountains-large-view
It really WAS like this!

(with apologies to Cole Porter.  This is my all-time favourite bit of Shakespearean fan fiction – take a look here to see why …

It turned out that as well as simply bringing along the June 2017 Ponytail textTwo Gentlemen of Verona – I had packed the Complete Works with me for my trip, in my mind, at least. The plays haunted me wherever I went, fighting tooth-and-nail (if you’ll pardon the pun) against the constant impulse to declaim lines from Dracula in my best Bela Lugosi Romanian accent, to make even worse puns than the one I’ve just used, and to call my other half ‘Nadia’ (until she lost patience).

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