Forensic Friday (#10)

Richard II = Edward II = Prospero = Duke Vincentio = Henry VI = every useless boss you have ever worked for,

BH let us sit
Richard’s return from Ireland is NOT a happy one …

Richard II appears on my reading list for Edward II each year.  It’s not just me – this is what Jonathan Bate, who I recently gushed about, has to say:

Richard II’s relationship to Edward II is so obvious that it is not very interesting. The structure of the two plays is identical: the King is surrounded by flatterers and pitted against an assemblage of nobles with vested interests of their own, then isolated and uncrowned, stripped of his royal identity, thus forced to discover his inner self by means of a supple, reflective soliloquy delivered whilst humiliatingly in prison. In each play the Queen is pushed to the margins in part because of the king’s homoerotic leanings. Marlowe is bolder than Shakespeare in his explicit portrayal of the homosexuality and his neat device of joining the Queen with the rebels in revenge. [a]

It should be easy to find something in Richard which’ll look familiar to my Edward students, right?  Let’s have a go …

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Nicholl: The Reckoning (review)

Our victim was brash, talented, and stabbed just above the eye before his 30th birthday …

BH the reckoning

Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (Vintage:  London, 2002)

– – –

‘I am not trying to argue that Marlowe’s death has to have a meaning.  My reading tends only to a more complex kind of meaninglessness than that of a ‘tavern brawl’.

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Pay attention, there’s a test (part 2)

At 18, students ought to be able to handle History plays, but the exam boards don’t seem to like them?

BH KS5 texts

Following my recent KS4 post, I extended my research to A Level – that is the exams taken by 18-year olds before they hit university.  Again, I’d love to hear from students or teachers, especially in other countries.  Here are a few thoughts of my own:

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Pay attention, there’ll be a test!

For too many of the 600,000 students who sit that GCSE, it’s their final taste of Shakespeare …

BH KS4 Shakespeare exam boardsShakespeare is the only author that everyone over here has to study.  Unless, it appears, you live in Scotland (and someone might be able to correct me on that if I have misread the SQA specification) …

‘For divers unknown reasons‘ as Richard III would say, I’ve been engaged in a little research of what our exam boards offer at Key Stage 4 – that is for the 15/16 year-olds who sit their GCSE English Literature.  I think it throws up some interesting points:

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PTS 11/069: I’ve Wasted Time …

Be careful what you wish for, Bolingbroke …

BH richard ii ben wishaw

PTS read-through – Richard II;  Act V

Why’s it taken me so long to get this one written? To get this play finished?  To ‘officially’ say goodbye to Richard II for a few years, given I have no opportunity to teach it at either GCSE or A Level?  That question probably contains its own answer.

Or, the fact that it’s Romeo and Juliet next …

You know – if you’ve been reading along – how deeply I feel an affinity for Richard’s journey.  Perhaps when I (eventually) get to the end of the PTS I’ll reflect that the ‘most important things are the hardest things to say‘, as Stephen King tells us [a].  It’ll be interesting to look back and see whether the plays I found harder to connect with came and went rather quicker.

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Quote of the Week: 21 May 2018 (#42)

Let battle commence: Shakesparring was the highlight of last week …

 

Friday found myself and a colleague sacrificing a precious free period (one of only four per week) for the opportunity to Shake-spar … and what fun it was.

Let me set the scene – one of our colleagues in the department was unwell.  She also teaches A Level Lit to Year 12, and would have done so in period 2, when I’m free.  Two of the students in that class are in my form, so I casually said to them in the morning that if there were ‘any problems‘ relating to that lesson, they ought to come and see me.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised to find about a dozen girls at my door at about 09:55?

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PTS 11/068: ‘Team Richard’ T-shirt Time …

The power of beauty vs. the beauty of power …

BH CSF14 RII 86647
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 2014.  Image: ME

An emerging theme in my reading – and teaching – is the notion of being careful what you wish for.  For too many, Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ is ephemeral, evaporating once a goal is achieved.  To others, it is an insatiable addiction. What links both is the outcome: unhappiness and deep satisfaction – the former cannot easily retain their newly won goal; the latter need another, greater fix of achievement.
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