Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shakespeare in Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

Bachman, Richard (pseudonym of Stephen King). The Running Man. New York: Signet, 1982.

I haven't read a lot of Stephen King. It took me a while, in fact, to realize that one of the great films of my youth—1986's Stand By Me—was based on a Stephen King novella (The Body, for those of you keeping track).

How did I learn that?

From a student.

I wonder if students are aware of how much their professors learn from them. If they ever found out, they might start charging us tuition!

As you can imagine, it took me a while to learn that Richard Bachman was Stephen King. And it took me even longer to realize that the novel The Running Man was decidedly different from that great film of a little later in my youth—1987's The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I read The Running Man this semester, and I noted something very Shakespearean about it. First, King wrote very dark novels—dark even for him—under that sobriquet. I imagine Shakespeare might have published Timon of Athens or even Titus Andronicus under the pen name Richard Bachman if the times would have allowed it. He could have explored more pessimistic ideas under a name that wouldn't sully the comedic gold brand name of Shakespeare that way.

Second, there seemed to be a reference to Macbeth about two-thirds of the way through the novel. Richards (our protagonist, who is running for his life) is helped by a man named Elton who is injured and who bleeds copiously in the driver's seat of his car. Here's the passage (sensitive readers may wish to skip the rest of this post):


"Ah," I hear you say. "Ah, but that isn't necessarily a reference to Shakespeare. We see the similarity between that and Lady Macbeth's line 'Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?' (V.i.34-40), but it's not the same."

I hear your cries—and I admire your ability to cite so accurately by Act, scene, and line number from the Riverside edition. But a passage later in the novel is even closer to the original quotation:


King, writing a dark novel under a pseudonym, alludes to (and very nearly quotes from) one of Shakespeare's darkest tragedies to explore that darkness.

Links: The Film, which probably does not have any Shakespeare—though I haven't re-watched it—at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Shakespeare in Mansfield Park

Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Mansfield Park was another novel I read with an eye to Shakespeare.

A scene some way into the novel is remarkably similar to a scene quite early in Little Women. Our younger protagonists are planning to put on a play, Tom insisting that it would be fine while Edmund thinks it is a bad idea:
“By Jove! this won’t do,” cried Tom, throwing himself into a chair with a hearty laugh. “To be sure, my dear mother, your anxiety—I was unlucky there.”

“What is the matter?” asked her ladyship, in the heavy tone of one half-roused; “I was not asleep.”

“Oh dear, no, ma’am, nobody suspected you! Well, Edmund,” he continued, returning to the former subject, posture, and voice, as soon as Lady Bertram began to nod again, “but this I will maintain, that we shall be doing no harm.”

“I cannot agree with you; I am convinced that my father would totally disapprove it.”

“And I am convinced to the contrary. Nobody is fonder of the exercise of talent in young people, or promotes it more, than my father, and for anything of the acting, spouting, reciting kind, I think he has always a decided taste. I am sure he encouraged it in us as boys. How many a time have we mourned over the dead body of Julius Caesar, and to be’d and not to be’d, in this very room, for his amusement? And I am sure, my name was Norval, every evening of my life through one Christmas holidays.”

“It was a very different thing. You must see the difference yourself. My father wished us, as schoolboys, to speak well, but he would never wish his grown-up daughters to be acting plays. His sense of decorum is strict.”
Later, Fanny, steadfast and true to the morals of the manor, unwaveringly advises against it.

The line "How many a time have we mourned over the dead body of Julius Caesar, and to be’d and not to be’d, in this very room, for his amusement?" reminds me of an exchange from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Cassius begins the exchange, marveling at the fame that is now theirs for all time:
                          How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown! (III.i.111-13)
Brutus responds with equal optimism:
How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis [lies] along
No worthier than the dust!  (III.i.114-16)
They're both right, and it's a wonderfully self-reflexive moment within the play. Mansfield Park adds to the layers of metatheacricality by being one of the places where the lofty scene is acted over.

[As a side note, the line about Norval refers to John Home's Douglas, a 1756 Scottish tragedy.]

Let me give you the scene quoted above in greater context (click on the image below to enlarge it):



Shakespeare is mentioned a few times in Mansfield Park. Astonishingly, speeches from Henry VIII move Fanny very much:



In one of the last references to Shakespeare in the novel, his work forms at least one point of common ground between two otherwise dissimilar people. Could love of Shakespeare spark true love between polar opposites?



The lesson for us all is, I believe, that we should read more Austen—and that doing so will make us read more Shakespeare. And I think even Mrs. Norris would agree with that! 

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).



Monday, December 26, 2016

Shakespeare in Little Women

Alcott, Louisa May. The Annotated Little Women. Ed. John Matteson. New York: W. W. Norton, 2016.

I've read broadly this semester, largely in helping our senior English majors with their Senior Thesis Projects (also called Capstone Projects).

As always, I've kept my eyes peeled for Shakespeare.

In Little Women, it didn't take long to find. In the first chapter, the little women are planning to put on a dramatic performance, and Jo wants to do it up right, responding pseudo-modestly to an exclamation by Beth:
"I don't see how you can write and act such splendid things, Jo. You're a regular Shakespeare!" exclaimed Beth, who firmly believed that her sisters were gifted with wonderful genius in all things. 
"Not quite," replied Jo modestly. "I do think The Witch's Curse, an Operatic Tragedy is rather a nice thing; but I'd like to try Macbeth, if we only had a trapdoor for Banquo. I always wanted to do the killing part. 'Is that a dagger that I see before me?'" muttered Jo, rolling her eyes and clutching at the air, as she had seen a famous tragedian do.

"No, it's the toasting fork, with Mother's shoe on it instead of the bread. Beth's stage-struck!" cried Meg, and the rehearsal ended in a general burst of laughter.
That's all quite delightful, but I wanted to provide a bit of "value-added" content, so let me point you toward a new release this year by W. W. Norton: The Annotated Little Women. It's quite a delightful work, and it helps contextualize and explain a lot of the book. Here's the run-up to the scene I just quoted:



With the annotations, we're able to learn that Alcott herself saw Edwin Forrest play Macbeth—and that she was not impressed.

Now it's off to the film versions to see how much Shakespeare we can find there!

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bill

Bill. Dir. Richard Bracewell. Perf. Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, and Martha Howe-Douglas. 2015. DVD.

An alert reader alerted me to the existence of Bill.  And I'm extraordinary pleased to pass along the alert.

This odd, quirky, hilarious version of Shakespeare's lost years provides an imaginative account of how Shakespeare found the right career.

Let me offer you two sample scenes to convince you of its merits. In the first, Bill is summarily dismissed from his position of lead lute in a group called Mortal Coil.

video

I think the Back to the Future flavor of the scene is deliberate.

The next clip offers a musical take on many of Shakespeare's dramatic themes:

video

I'm sure that I've convinced you, but I could also mention the intrigue of Philip II of Spain attempting to infiltrate England, the tension of Anne Shakespeare's interaction with her husband, the mentorship Kit Marlowe provides the young Bill, and the musical thrill that is "Dueling Lutes." 

Give this version of the lost years a try—it will not disappoint.

Links: The Film at IMDB.


Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book Note: Will's Words

Sutcliffe, Jane. Illus. John Shelley. Will's Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk. Watertown: Charlesbridge, 2016.

I found this in my library system and gave it a try.

You should, too!

It's a good account both of what the theater of Shakespeare's would have been like and what words or phrases Shakespeare coined or made popular.

The gimmick is that the description of what's going on as Shakespeare writes and rehearses and puts on a play contains the words or phrases that we know best though Shakespeare.  On the facing page, we get an inset that explains the words he used.

The best way to explain that further is to show you. Here are two spreads from the book (click on them to enlarge them):




I love the detail (this is a nice, large book—ideal for pouring over) and the explanation of the words and phrases. It's very nicely done—and would make a great gift for the Shakespeare lover (of whatever age) in your life.

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Excellent Shakespeare Exhibit at the Newberry Library in Chicago

Creating Shakespeare. Shakespeare 400 Chicago. Sponsored by Rosemary J. Schnell, Exelon, the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and Paul C. Gignilliat. The Newberry. Chicago. 23 September 2016-31 December 2016.

I was privileged to be able to see the Creating Shakespeare exhibit at the Newberry a few weeks ago. Two huge exhibition halls are filled with remarkable Shakespeare-related material. Once side is devoted to telling the story of how Shakespeare became Shakespeare; the other concentrates on what happened to Shakespeare when he got to the United States of America.

You only have a month left to see this exhibit—and I only have a few minutes to tell you about it (before I plunge back into the grading that was the reason I didn't tell you about this immediately after I went to the Newberry).

Let me give you some of the highlights—and you can get there to see the rest for yourself.

First, it's free. That is, in itself, pretty astonishing, considering what you'll find there. But when you actually consider what you'll find there, you'll be even more amazed at that fact.

There are quartos and folios aplenty. True, some of the folios are second and third folios, but there is at least one first folio in the exhibit. There's also a quarto of Much Ado About Nothing—printed in 1600—and . . . are you ready for this?

They currently have the first folio of Hamlet (printed in 1603). That's right. Q1 of Hamlet. The bad quarto. The quarto so bad it's good. One of only two extant first quartos known. It's there. Right there. It's the first time it's travelled across the Atlantic, finding itself within a stone's throw of the only other Q1 of Hamlet in existence. Well, that assumes you can throw a stone from downtown Chicago to San Marino, but they're much closer than they've been in a long time. It was a thrill to see it, and utterly amazing that the Newberry convinced the British Library to let them borrow it (along with many other things).

They have some early examples of the "book of the play"—handwritten copies of the play for the propter to use during a particular production of the play.

They have some early diaries related to Shakespeare performance.

There are postage stamps and songs ("Caliban's Jig," anyone?), modern artistic printings of the plays, a copy of a poem written by James Boswell during the Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769, and a vast array of Shakespeare miscellanea.

In the "Shakespeare in America" section, an array of early advertisements featuring Shakespeare were on display. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but the Newberry kindly supplied me with some images of the ads. One of them heads this page: it details how Libby, McNeill, & Libby's Cooked Corned Beef will help us have men about us who are fat.

Since I'm from St. Louis, I have to include this advertisement from Anheuser-Busch. Note: Bardfilm does not thereby condone the drinking of alcoholic beverages or of this particular brand of alcoholic beverage.


I find that fascinating, though I'm not sure why they claim that Shakespeare's "favorite eating place in London was the celebrated Falcon tavern." Perhaps the Mermaid didn't serve Budweiser.

We're also shown how "The gravedigger with his meal of canned meat pauses at his task and listens" while "Hamlet moralizes o'er the death of Yorick." He seems to be about to eat the best ox tongues—making us wonder why the can isn't printed with the line "That skull had a tongue in it once."


And a joke on whether wherefore means where or why is never out of place:


There was talk of Shakespeare and film in the exhibit, but only one video clip on display—but that one was a rare doozy! Ruth Page, the famous ballet dancer, put together modern dance choreography to provide the sense of three Shakespeare heroines in what might be called interpretative dance. The Newberry has provided a bit of that on YouTube (see below), but you'll have to get to the exhibit to see the full thing:

video

All of this—and a series of tremendously informative charts, labels, and explanations—like the one below, which takes us on a tour of Shakespeare in America:


The long and the short is that this exhibit is not to be missed. Get there before time (and 2016) runs out! 

Links: The Exhibition at the Newberry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet

Hamlet. Dir. Robin Lough. Perf. Benedict Cumberbatch, Sian Brooke, Leo Bill, Ciarán Hinds, Anastasia Hille, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Jim Norton, Karl Johnson, Matthew Steer, Rudi Dharmalingam, and Ruairi Monaghan. 2015. Simulcast. National Theatre Live, 15 October 2016 and 15 November 2016.

I wish I had a lot more time at my disposal to tease out my thoughts on this production more fully. While we're at it, I wish that a DVD release of this film were coming soon.

Instead, I have a backlog of rough drafts to get back to students . . . and I'm not sure that the National Theatre Live is prioritizing getting its holdings out on DVD.

Therefore, I'd just like to get a few thoughts out there–and please feel free to join the conversation.

Benedict Cumberbatch was quite a marvelous Hamlet. His Hamlet is intelligent and immature, capricious and calculating, lucid and incomprehensible. He delivers the lines exceedingly well—having just thought of them, he delivers them to us. His is a very in-the-moment Hamlet, and that brings out a great deal in the play.

The production itself made a lot of interesting choices—many of which succeed admirably and many of which fall flat.

The overarching impression I took away from the play was that its stagecraft was marvelous. The production's greatest strength, in fact, is not Cumberbatch but the stagecraft. It was tight and fast and meticulous and gigantic.

The acting of the rest of the cast was very uneven. Indeed, I learned that a truly remarkable Hamlet can't make a production successful overall. It enabled me to realize that one of the great things about the Kevin Kline Hamlet is that every single person in the cast is at the very top of the game.

Those generalizations arise out of these specific points:
  • The opening is intriguing. We skip the usual opening with the soldiers' (and Horatio) viewing of the ghost, but we get the lines. Hamlet is listening to an LP of Nat King Cole (a theme that comes back periodically through the film) when he hears a noise. "Who's there?" he cries.
    "Nay, answer me," he demands. A bit later, Horatio enters and they have an exchange about Horatio coming back from Wittenberg (but not a conversation about any ghosts that might be in the offing). The effect of this is to give us a Hamlet that is almost exclusively from Hamlet's perspective.
  • During a couple of soliloquies, this Hamletcentric theme is developed; the rest of the cast goes into slow motion while Hamlet tells us his thoughts. It was an effective device, not overused.
  • The ghost was quite tremendous. He sounded a lot like Lawrence Olivier—the same catches in his voice from time to time. The actor doubled as the gravedigger, and gave us a marvelously funny performance there.
  • Claudius and Gertrude were not very good. Indeed, I was quite struck with Claudius' one-level ranting at one particular point in the play. Hamlet had just said to the players, "suit the action to the word, the word to the action" and "O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably." Enter Claudius who does just that.
  • We don't get to know Ophelia too well—I think primarily because the play centers on Hamlet's perspective.
  • Horatio is played as an outsider—something of a hipster, I suppose.  At one point, he comes in complaining about people buying commemorative plates with Claudius' picture on them (while obviously having bought one himself.  I guess he bought his ironically, so that makes it okay.
  • Polonius and Ophelia have no sympathy. I wondered why she would be upset at the death of someone so distant—but it made me wonder if she was upset because she felt such relief and freedom at her father's death—and if guilt from that was part of what drove her mad.
  • The text was modernized here and there, and some lines were simply added to it. When they did that, they did try to make the lines iambic. Some modernization made sense, but others did not. Why would Gertrude need to say "cast thy nightly color off" instead of "nighted color"? And, in all my years of teaching Hamlet, I've never had a student ask, "What do they mean by 'jump at this dead hour?'" Does it need changing to "just at this dead hour" for clarity?
  • Ophelia starts to write a note to Hamlet in the middle of the nunnery scene. Great choice—but there was no follow-through. I was hoping Hamlet or Claudius would chance upon the note and know that Ophelia is either more (in the first case) or less (in the second) to be trusted.
  • Hamlet's madness was played as a person trying to act like a comedy would think lunatic would act. Cumberbatch played it well, but it wasn't a subtle choice, and I'm not sure it worked.
  • Ophelia's madness scenes contained snatches from dialogue in the rest of the play (as well as some of the traditional songs). That worked marvelously well.
  • The part after intermission was generally very bad. The palace had been filled with charred bits of wood and other rubble—knee-deep or higher in some places—without much preparation. It was a neat idea, but it didn't organically fit the rest of the vision of the production. Additionally, that part was extremely rushed and didn't always make a lot of sense. Claudius suddenly says, "Do not drink, Gertrude" after Hamlet chases Laertes down and stabs him back. She's choosing that moment to have a quick nip of wine?
  • Speaking of wine, we do not have a Claudius who drinks very much. We do have a Hamlet who's often polishing off a goblet of wine. It's a nice touch—his complaints about "We'll teach you to drink deep" are then transferred from his own problem to Claudius'.
  • "To be or not to be" is placed extremely early. I think that's a good choice. We're not building up to it and preparing to judge it by the others that we have heard. It seems more spontaneous and straightforward. I think they followed Q1's placement of the speech there.
All in all, the production gives us lots to think about. But if I owned a DVD (which I will—if you release it, O National Theatre Live—and please do), it would not become my stand-by full Hamlet for students to watch in their entirety. Cumberbatch is brilliant, but he can't hold up the production on his own.


Links: The Film at IMDB.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Subtle Shakespeare in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Dir. Nicholas Meyer. Perf. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Ricardo Montalbán.  1982. DVD. Paramount, 2009.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn never made it to my post "Shakespeare and Star Trek Complete" (for which, q.v.)—perhaps because the reference was visual rather than auditory or perhaps because the references to Moby Dick and Paradise Lost overshadow it.

Today is the anniversary of the 1851 publication of the English edition of Moby-Dick (titled The Whale). And plenteous references to Melville's novel can be found in the Star Trek universe. But I'm always interested in the Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare in Wrath of Kahn is found in the image above. Among the expected volumes—Inferno, Paradise Lost / Paradise Regained (in one convenient volume), Moby Dick, Paradise Lost (in one large volume) the Bible, and Statute Regulating [the Something Something], we find King Lear.

The film itself doesn't offer much in the way of plot elements drawn from King Lear—the vengeful hunt by Kahn for the white whale of Kirk is uppermost.  But imagine what great quotes Kahn could have hurled at Kirk had he spent more time with that volume of King Lear and less with Moby-Dick:
The bow is bent and drawn, Kirk!

Now, Kirk, stand up for bastards! [Would Kahn have known about Kirk's illegitimate son?]

These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us.

I will have such revenges on you, Kirk,
That all the world shall . . . I will do such things—
What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be
The terrors of the earth!
For best effect, read all of those in Ricardo Montalbán's unique accent.

Links: The Film at IMDB.


Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Note: Desdemona by Tony Morrison

Morrison, Toni. Desdemona. Lyrics by Rokia Traoré. London: Oberon Books, 2012.

This play (perhaps verse drama would be a better description) by Tony Morrison recently came to my attention.

In my Literary Studies class, we study Rita Dove's Darker Face of the Earth. Her verse drama retells Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, recasting it in the antebellum South.

Toni Morrison's play doesn't retell or recast the story of Othello. Largely, it gives the impression of the characters meeting in the afterlife to discuss the events of the play.

That leads to some interesting discussions—for example, Desdemona's mother has a brief exchange with Othello's mother.

But Desdemona herself is the main voice we hear.

She reports on the stories Othello told to woo here (here's a brief sample—there are more stories related in the middle of the play):



I find that intriguing—but even more fascinating was the use Morrison finds for Barbary. Readers of Othello may recall that, near the end of the play (and therefore—spoiler alert!—near the end of her life), Desdemona recalls a maid her mother used to have:
My mother had a maid call'd Barbary;
She was in love, and he she loved proved mad
And did forsake her: she had a song of "Willow,"
An old thing 'twas, but it express'd her fortune,
And she died singing it. That song to-night
Will not go from my mind; I have much to do,
But to go hang my head all at one side
And sing it like poor Barbary. (IV.iii.27-33)
The moment is thrilling and moving and complicated—Iago had early alluded to Othello as "a Barbary horse" (I.i.111-12)—"Barbary" meaning "Arab" (according to M. R. Ridley's Arden edition) or "The Saracen countries along the north coast of Africa" (according to the OED in def. II.4.a).

Barbary and Desdemona meet in this play, and the sensitive and touching memory is undermined by Barbary's declaration "We shared nothing" and her accusation "you don't even know my name."  I'm including that scene in its entirety:








I find that to be a marvelous riff on that part of the play.

All of these scenes are interspersed with songs written by Rokia Traoré. They provide a different and poetic, lyric voice to many of the characters.

The work is short, but the doors it opens lead to long corridors.

Click below to purchase the film from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Note: Vinegar Girl

Tyler, Anne. Vinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold. London: Hogarth Shakespeare, 2016.

My criteria for a novel that retells the plot of a Shakespeare play include (1) its ability to tell us something about the play that we hadn't noticed, seen, or thought deeply about and (2) its status as a novel in its own right.

Those two criteria sometimes fight with each other. If the work becomes too much its own thing, it may not have that much to say about the play (cf. Tempestuous). If it doesn't become much of its own thing, it may not tell us anything about the play (cf. John Marsden's Hamlet).

When the Hogarth Shakespeare Series was announced, I was expectedly thrilled. When great novelists take on Shakespeare plays, the result will surely be excellent, inventive, inspiring. It will also be useful in my Modern Shakespearean Fiction class.

The Gap of Time was the first, but it proved to be pretty disappointing (for which, q.v.).

And I'm afraid I have to say something of the same for Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl. I had even high expectations for this, having enjoyed some of Tyler's novels in the past. And I did start to enjoy it and find some depth in it after about a hundred pages.

The plot involves a scientist father who is largely absent, a daughter whose shrewishness is largely a tell-it-like-it-is attitude, a much younger sister who is falling for her high school Spanish tutor, and a lab assistant from Russia whose visa is about to expire and who therefore needs to marry an American as soon as possible.

I appreciate the inventiveness of that last plot element. Perhaps it helps to explain why a woman would marry a man quickly while still not particularly caring for him. The sample below gives a taste of that part of the relationship:


The one part of the novel that called our attention back to the play itself for realization, reconsideration, and reflection comes at the very end of the novel. Note: This is something of a spoiler. Here's how things wrap up:


Overall, the novel doesn't fit my criteria. But the attempted translation of Katherine's "I am ashamed that women are so simple" speech does have considerable interest in it—enough to provoke some good discussion both of it and of Shakespeare's original.

So let's start some! What's your impression of Anne Tyler's version of the speech? Is it a fair modernized version of the speech? Does it radicalize the speech or return it to largely-conservative territory? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Note: William Shakespeare: Scenes from the Life of the World's Greatest Author

Manning, Mick, and Brita Granström. William Shakespeare: Scenes from the Life of the World's Greatest Author. London: Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2015.

I chanced upon this book at my local library—and it just goes to show that a trip to the local library is very seldom wasted.

This recent children's book provides an invaluable survey of Shakespeare's biography in an engaging yet highly informative way. Not only do we glance at Shakespeare's history and culture, we get a number of very large spreads with careful (albeit brief) summaries of the plays.

I'm providing a couple of the spreads as examples. Click on them to engage them.

First, we have the "Lost Years." There's speculation here, but it's presented as speculation rather than fact. It seems a bit heavy on the "Shakeshaft" theory (see the sidebar in blue), but it does present a balanced position on that idea:


Second, here's a two-page spread on Henry V that gives us the plot of the play—together with some speeches and some audience annotation.


Finally, a small quibble (that is, I'm afraid, an uphill battle) with part of the text. In a section about Shakespeare's theatre (one that nicely re-tells the story of the parts of The Theatre being used to build The Globe), the book tells us that The Theatre—built in 1576—was "the first purpose-built theatre" in England. Although there's not absolute scholarly agreement on the subject, many scholars consider the Red Lion (in use from 1567) to be the first purpose-built theatre in England. But they do get the bear baiting (and good old Harry Hunks) right:


The books is pretty terrific, and I'm certainly going to add it to my library. I highly recommend it for libraries—public and private—as a tremendous introduction to Shakespeare's life, times, and works.

Click below to purchase the book from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2016 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest