PTS 08/045: Oh, no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is …

You just can’t tell some people that you wouldn’t HAVE Blackadder without Shakespeare …


Ponytail Shakespeare read-through The Comedy of Errors: Act I scene I

‘Which is it today?’
The Comedy of Errors.
‘Ugh!’
‘It’s about two sets of twins, separated at birth, who find themselves-‘
‘Stop! Enough!’
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PTS 06/037: Don’t Push It

BH rambo don't push it
Titus:  Don’t push it … don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe.  Let it go.

Titus Andronicus, Act V

(subtitled, far too obviously for the UK football fans amongst us, ‘who ate all the pies?’)

I warned you!  I WARNED YOU!  Did I warn you?

Yes, I did.  And so did Francis Bacon.  And Jonathan Bate.  And Fredson Bowers.  We all said that revenge was likely to spiral out of control, because once you lose your faith in the law, and in divine justice too, all bets are off. And because every stroke in the ‘rally of revenge‘ is that much harder, has that much more spin on it than the last.  Let’s mix our metaphors again: in this particular poker game, someone, eventually, is going to see your stake and raise you with everything they’ve got, not caring any more whether they win or lose. The chips, and what they represent, are suddenly and utterly unimportant …

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Quote of the Week: 11 September

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BATE, Jonathan: ‘Introduction’, in Titus Andronicus (The Arden Shakespeare: London, 2003)

Some students see value in Literature as an end in itself.  Others need a bit of persuading about why they have to study poetry, novels, and of course Shakespeare in particular (sigh).

‘What’s Shakespeare got to do with me?  I want to be an air hostess!’

I was asked by a Year 9 pupil a few years ago.  Henry Peacham, via Jonathan Bate, has an answer.

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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.

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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.

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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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