What country, friends, is this?

BH castle-dracula
The hotel didn’t look like this in the brochure … !

Subtitled:  Vampire hunting in Shakespeare …

Five down, one to go.  The end of the penultimate half-term of the school year brings a sense of giddy euphoria.  And, just for once, I’m actually having a holiday … I’ll be spending next week in Transylvania.  This is the final instalment of a ‘Dracula’ pilgrimage which has seen me move eastwards: from actually being quite scared at the Bram Stoker museum in Dublin; to standing in schoolboyish excitement on the beach at Whitby, on the spot where the Demetr would have grounded, vomiting Dracula onto the shore in the form of a huge black dog; and now to the Carpathians

Has this got anything to do with Shakespeare?  Shouldn’t I just blog about this somewhere else?

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The Long Goodbye …

BH long goodbye

If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.  (Brutus, Julius Caesar:  Act V, scene I)

This morning, at 9am, my Y11 students sit their first GCSE English exam – 1 hour, 45 minutes on The Tempest and Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four … and so begins the ‘long goodbye’ …

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PTS: 03/019: There can be only one

BH highlander
Don’t make me chop your head off …

Henry VI part III (Act IV)

Edward V, like Edward II, like Richard II, like Macbeth, maybe even like Richard III, seems to think that the crown’s enough.  Whilst there can be only one, physical possession of the golden round really isn’t a given.  Everyone else has to believe you’re king – not just you!

They are but Lewis and Warwick; I am Edward,

Your King and Warwick’s and must have my will. (IV.i.15-16)

That’s all very well, but if it that attitude couldn’t save Julius Caesar:

‘I rather tell you what is to be feared / Than what I fear: for always I am Caesar’ (CAESAR, Julius Caesar I.ii.210-211)

– and he was a dozen times the man you are – then your goose is cooked.  You have married in haste, and now you’re going to repent at leisure.  Frankly, if Richard says so, it’s good enough for me:

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PTS 04/018 It’s Not You … It’s Me

BH christopher sly

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’, 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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You don’t read Shakespeare. Shakespeare reads YOU.

BH reading shakespeare

Whilst it sounds trite, I’m increasingly beginning to believe this.

Part of this comes from the Pony Tail Shakespeare project, I’m sure. With a gap of 400+ years now between the works and our readings, we’re constantly confronted with attitudes which are at a variance with ours.  Example?  This month it’s The Taming of the Shrew, with some ‘interesting’ ideas about marriage, domestic violence, and ‘men vs. women’.

Mostly, though, it comes from being a teacher of Shakespeare …

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PTS 03/017: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes …

BH DavidBowie-portrait
Is it me, or would Bowie have made a terrific Richard?

Henry VI part III, Act III

RICHARD: ‘I can add colours to the chameleon,

Change shapes with Proteus for advantages’  (III.ii.191-192)

I’ll come back to Bowie’s song when I finally hit Richard III in August, because when I revisited the lyrics, I couldn’t avoid staring thoughtfully for a while.  I will remind Richard that:

‘And every time I thought I’d got it made,

It seemed the taste was not so sweet.’

Like Bolinbroke in RII, like Macbeth – like almost everyone in Shakespeare, let’s face it – the anticipation, the chase, is far better than the conquest, when it comes to the crown.

In the meantime, nothing seems to stay the same in Act III …

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The first disabled Richard III?

BH mat fraser as riii
Mat Fraser

‘I am the first person who owns the body portraying the man. It’s hugely exciting for me.’ 

I’ll read or listen to almost anything about Richard III, and chanced upon this today. I’ve not seen the programme, but some of you will recognise Mat Fraser from American Horror Story:  Freak Show.  For those of you who don’t know him, he describes himself as a ‘thalidomider’.  He’ll soon be playing Richard in Hull …

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