PTS 11/066: Alas, poor Richard …

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings …

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PTS read-through:  Richard II, act III (part ONE)

Witnessing the utter disintegration of a human being – even a fictional one – is, I’d suggest, an uneasy, distressing experience.  And yet … 

Voyeuristic shame accompanies the compulsion to keep spectating what is usually such a private affair.  My first experience of this type of slow-mo car-crash literature was Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, when I was about 12.  It scarred me – I’ve never quite been able to revisit Michael Henchard’s self-induced immolation; it also, I think, gave me my first seductive bittersweet taste of tragedy.  Like that initial stolen underage drink, whilst I wasn’t quite sure I liked it, I wanted another – just to be certain.

Richard’s collapse is the most devastatingly beautiful in Shakespeare, perhaps in the wider canon: it begins here, spanning three poignant acts. 
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Quote of the Week: 09 April 2018 (#36)

We all have something we can’t part with when we go abroad, surely?

BH suitcase-full-of-books

Kent Cartwright, ‘Introduction’ to William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (Arden Third Edition), (Bloomsbury Publishing:  London, 2017)

Her:  [hefting my Arden Third copy of Richard II in her hand] ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit heavy to take on holiday?’

Me:  [defensively] ‘It’s as heavy as it needs to be.  That’s why you pay more for the Ardens.  And anyway, that’s the text I’m writing about at the moment.’

Her:  ‘But we’re going away.  You can access the play online.’  [statement, not a question]

Me:  That’s not the same!

Her:  [giving a silent ‘look’ and the merest suggestion of a shrug with one shoulder]

You probably know that look …

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Bear-like, I must fight the course …

BH Project Mayhem 2subtitled, Project Mayhem approaches fruition?

They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,

But bear-like I must fight the course.  What’s he

That was not born of women?  Such a one

Am I to fear, or none.  (MACBETH:  V, vii,1-4)

How can I apologise, in fact why should I, for the current political flavour of chatter at The Boar’s Head?  I, who spend my working life pitching Shakespeare as ‘relatable’ to the next generation (despite hating the word)?  After all, I managed to wangle my non-political holiday in.  And of course, it’s my blog.  So ‘NA na-na NA na.’  When the next World Cup comes, I dare say the public bar’s chatter will relate Shakespeare’s works to penalty shoot-outs, outrageous diving and dubious red-cards … can’t wait!

In the meantime, back to Theresa May … reportedly a ‘dead woman walking‘.

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Beat the Teacher (Part 2)

BH memory tricks

Our Y11 (15/16 year old) students have the first of their English Literature GCSE exams on Monday

This is the last year, at my school, when we will (effectively) have autonomy over the texts we teach.  Next year, we will only offer Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet at GCSE.  It sounds like a retrograde move, but what it does ensure – I suppose – is that we have teachers, multiple, who can deliver the texts, both in the classroom and – importantly, considering I am in school today (Sunday) – in revision sessions.  I am largely in school today because I’m the only one who can do The Tempestnobody’s fault but mine, as Led Zeppelin might say.

The AQA specification offers the following texts:

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PTS01/002: Shameful Complacency; Priapic Dolphins

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Henry VI Part 1:  Act 1

And off we go.  First-time visitor?  Click here and here to find out what Ponytail Shakespeare is all about.  Then come back, read, and comment – either here or at the Shakespeare Reddit sub.

On to the play, and post two of God knows how many in this project.

I wonder if I lowered my expectations too far …

To shrug and say it was fine, good, OK, would be to do the opening act of Henry VI part I a disservice. Sure, there were moments of clunkiness – not least when the French Master Gunner feels the need to declare – to himself, his son, and thereby the audience – his employment: 

‘Chief master gunner am I of this town’. (I.iv.6) 

But overall, it’s been an entertaining start.

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