PTS 07/042: Mr Sandman, Dream Me A Dream …

BH Paul Berry sandman
A still from Paul Berry’s wonderful short film

PTS Shakespeare read-through – Richard III, Act I sc iv.

Back in early 1997, I discovered that my eldest son was on his way.  The pregnancy was unplanned, and to say the least a shock to a frankly very immature young man who was focussed on nothing but wine, women and song – not necessarily in that order. To be fair to him, books sometimes made an appearance, too.  He was, I like to think, a completely different person to the one who’s writing this evening – I look back on him with some shame (on sleepness nights), listing the apologies I owe people.

Anyway, that night, I dreamed that I was eating scissors – large pairs, practically garden shears – but as I chewed them, they transformed into soft, grey liquorice (which I happen to enjoy, luckily).

Disturbed, I went to my mum, who has the folk wisdom of the ancients in some things, and absolutely no common-sense when it comes to others (oh, the stories I could tell).  She does, though, have an almost medieval belief in dreams.  I told her my dream, but not my news. And she told me that although I was expecting, dreading hard times ahead, I’d find that what I feared would actually be far, far better than expected.

She was right …

So I’m interested, with a lower case ‘i’, in dreams, with a lower case ‘d’. I have many very lucid dreams, and lots of nested dreams, a bit like the film Inception, where through effort I can transfer from one dream to another. They fascinate me, even as they unsettle me.

And if there’s another Shakespeare play in which dreams loom as large, I’ve yet to read it …

Continue reading “PTS 07/042: Mr Sandman, Dream Me A Dream …”

Quote of the Week: 16 October

BH brittle gloryLaura Ashe, Richard II: A Brittle Glory (Penguin: London, 2016)

Emboldened by the excellent ‘Penguin Monarchs‘ volume on Edward II, I looked out which other volumes were available: the first that arrived in the post was this one.

Ashe‘s approach seems different to Given-Wilson‘s on Edward. Where he was reassuringly chronological, she deals with Richard’s reign (and I’ve seen this as a criticism of the volume online) thematically. It has, nonetheless, given me some useful insight into a king who I’ve always vaguely felt I owed a debt: I fell asleep watching Jeremy Irons in the title role – in Stratford, of all places – back in 1986/7. To this day, I blame the large lunch I had before the matinee performance …

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 16 October”

PTS 06/036: Losing My Religion

BH old man yells at cloud

Titus Andronicus, Act IV

Secular authorities had (and still have) every investment in discouraging revenge.  If citizens perceive that the law no longer serves them, then we get the kind of situation that Francis Bacon famously warned of:

‘Revenge is a kind of wild justice’

And this is a point that Jonathan Bate develops, quoting Fredson Bowers:

Private action undermines the authority of the state:  Elizabethan law felt itself capable of meting out justice to murderers, and therefore punished an avenger who took justice into his own hands just as heavily as the original murderer.  The authorities, conscious of the Elizabethan inheritance of private justice from earlier ages, recognised that their own times still held the possibilities of serious turmoil; and the were determined that private revenge should not unleash a general disrespect for law.

Act IV however adds the dimension of the breakdown of DIVINE justice to the individual’s decision to subvert the legal process.

Continue reading “PTS 06/036: Losing My Religion”

PTS06/033: Thou Shalt not Suffer A Queen To Live

(Ponytail Shakespeare read-through) Titus Andronicus:  Act I

My experience of Shakespeare’s Rome is the city where Cinna the Poet is torn apart by the mob for his ‘bad verses’ (Julius Caesar, III.iii), and the antagonistic opening to Coriolanus. So, what first struck me as the play opened was just how thin the veneer of civilisation proved to be.

Continue reading “PTS06/033: Thou Shalt not Suffer A Queen To Live”

Quote of the Week: 28 August

BH macaulayMACAULAY, Thomas Babington: The History of England from 1485 to 1685 (ed. Peter Rowland) (The Folio Society: London, 1985)

Before we look at Macaulay, let me give you one of mine from the classroom.  It’s always an attention-grabber – you can see students falling into a few different categories:

a) people who clearly haven’t considered the issue before but are now thinking rapidly;

b) those who panic at the agency I’m potentially giving them; and

c) the ones who get a twinkle in their eye and would like to test my theory but daren’t.

I hardly ever get a d) can’t be bothered or not listening …

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 28 August”

Quote of the Week: 24 July 2017

BH The-Princes-in-the-Tower-by-Alison-Weir

Alison Weir, The Princes In The Tower (London: The Folio Society, 1992)

A slight rearrangement of this section.  Instead of one huge sticky post, it’s easier to post as and when I come across something worth sharing.  You can see the previous mega-post by clicking here.

This week’s quotation is attributed to Elizabeth Wydville, widow of Edward IV.  She was, at this stage, in sanctuary with her youngest son, and determined to preserve their lives – and hers – by keeping the two boys separated.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 24 July 2017”

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 …

Continue reading “Age cannot wither him …”