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“Welcome to another #ShakespeareSunday! Today’s theme chosen by @246Theater: LOSS and HEARTBREAK!”

On seeing this tweet from @HollowCrownFans, I immediately thought of the heartrending scene in Henry VI, part 3 where the king observes two soldiers with the enemy soldiers they have slain: the first realises the corpse he is looking to rob is actually his father’s and the second realises the man he has just killed is his own son.

"Ah, no, no, no, it is mine only son! ... These arms of mine shall be thy winding-sheet; My heart, sweet boy, shall be thy sepulchre, For from my heart thine image ne'er shall go" Father who has killed an unknown foe in battle, only to find the corpse is his own son Henry VI, pt. 3 - II.v

The hideousness of civil war is here deftly shown – turning family on itself, and leaving none untouched.

Henry has just been wishing he were a lowly man rather than a monarch, thinking there would be little demands upon him then. Into this come the two soldiers, and he witnesses what demands there are on ‘ordinary’ men – fighting their own flesh and blood without realising, because they are at the mercy of the royalty and nobility who press them into military service.

Heartbreak and loss, indeed.

 

@HollowCrownFans are celebrating their 5th anniversary, and this Sunday tweeted:

“Good morning and welcome to another #ShakespeareSunday! Today’s theme: THE HOLLOW CROWN PLAYS! (Rich II, Henry IV, V, VI & Rich III)”

The Hollow Crown is a televised series of Shakespeare’s plays from the BBC – this banner has covered Richard II, Henry IV parts 1 & 2, and Henry V (first series) and Henry VI part 1, Henry VI parts 2 & 3 amalgamated, and Richard III (second series, subtitled The Wars of the Roses). The high profile actors involved are far too numerous to fully list (including – to name but a handful – Judi Dench, Julie WaltersSophie Okonedo, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch & Jeremy Irons), so do check out the above link!

@HollowCrownFans began #ShakespeareSunday and it has taken on in a big way – yes, it ‘trends’! Part of the fun of getting involved is finding new people to interact with on Twitter via the likes and follows gained when tweeting a quote inspired by the weekly themes put forward.

Here’s my offering for this five year anniversary…

 

 

5 year, congrats - Henry IV, pt 1 9th July 2017, Shakespeare Sunday

The quote comes from a time that Prince Hal (later Henry V, ‘the warlike Harry’) is joking / teasing Francis, ‘a drawer’ (tapster, barman). I like to think he’s also pictured here, along with Falstaff (wielding the sword), Bardolf (rednosed behind the sword, probably with Pistol and Nym), Hal, and likely Poins (the fine gentlemen watching).

I like to think Francis is the boy just in front of Falstaff – with those 5 years still to serve his apprenticeship – but he could be the chap coming up out of the cellar.

What think you?

This Sunday’s tweet from  @HollowCrownFans read “Good morning and welcome to #ShakespeareSunday! Today’s theme has been chosen by @PublicTheaterNY: FREEDOM & ART!” *

I was reminded of Nelson Mandela and the other anti-apartheid prisoners held on Robben Island. One, Indian prisoner Sonny Venkatrathnam, had a copy of the works of William Shakespeare covered in images from greetings cards depicting Hindu gods (the guards were unlikely to take a religious book).

This book was passed among prisoners, and leaders were asked to mark their favourite passages. This 2001 article ‘O, what men dare do’ is very interesting re. this, South Africa, Shakespeare and freedom.

Probably the most famous of the prisoners who marked the ‘Robben Island Bible’ is Nelson Mandela, who had a long relationship with Shakespeare’s words / ideas. Here you can see his signature and the passage he chose, from Julius Caesar…

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‘Freedom’ appears 33 times** in Shakespeare’s works and is included in the 306 occurrences found of ‘free’.

*(Public Theater were recently involved in controversy with their Trump-related take on Julius Caesar: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=public+theater+shakespeare+trump)

** opensourceshakespeare.org –  great resource!

@HollowCrownFans tweeted that “Today’s #ShakespeareSunday theme has been chosen by @Carnival_Films to mark 5 years of #TheHollowCrown! – POWER, DEFIANCE & SURVIVAL!”

I was delighted to find all three clear in this quote from the play Coriolanus, spoken by tribune Sicinius Velutus, an enemy of the general Coriolanus…

Coriolanus [III, 3] Sicinius Velutus: What you have seen him do and heard him speak, Beating your officers, cursing yourselves, Opposing laws with strokes and here defying Those whose great power must try him; even this, So criminal and in such capital kind, Deserves the extremest death.

It is clear the politicians know how to influence the people – whether it is to their own good or not you / a production can explore.

How do I know how many times certain words turn up in Shakespeare’s works?

I use opensourceshakespeare.org –  great resource!

I created this for @HollowCrownFans‘ great #ShakespeareSunday tweets – check them out and join in! Today’s word is ‘father’ – probably for Fathers Day, so this may not be quite in the spirit of such celebrations, but hey… it is Shakespeare!

Want to know the other times ‘father’ occurs in Macbeth? Search at opensourceshakespeare.org – great resource.

Father - Macbeth - 18th June 2017, Shakespeare Sunday

So, this Saturday – 23rd April – sees the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. You may have seen some signs of this about. 😉

Here you can listen to some major talent talking about his characters:
Shakespeare’s People – BBC Radio 4, Front Row

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Just a few of the actors, directors and writers who give their personal take on a favourite Shakespeare character 

 

 

 

Studying Shakespeare is made overly complicated by assuming that it is too difficult to understand, Professor David Crystal says…

How Shakespeare invented ‘unfriend’ 400 years before Facebook – Telegraph.

How Shakespeare invented 'unfriend' 400 years before Facebook - Telegraph