“…the belching whale and humming water…”

Pericles, Act 3, Scene 1

William Shakespeare

Sorry for not writing for ages; I’ve been busy, busy, busy with the end of school and a history trip to Berlin, which was incredible. We saw the Berlin Wall, Wahnsee, the Jewish Quarter, the Sony centre, the Sachenhousen concentration camp and the Reichstag (my favourite) among others. But never fear! I’ve still managed to keep up with some Shakespeare work. I actually started a blog post on ‘Shakespeare Uncovered: Ethan Hawke on Macbeth’ while the weather was still dreadful and there was an element of pathetic fallacy about the play, but fortunately I’ll have to scrap that now, since the sun has finally come out!

On Tuesday last week, I went up to Oxford to interview Professor Tiffany Stern both about the English course there and about Shakespeare, as she is an extremely well-respected Shakespeare academic; I’m aiming to get her book “Making Shakespeare” soon. Anyway, she helped me establish that my title definitely needs to be altered for my EPQ; not significantly, but enough so that there is a fair competition against the language of Shakespeare. Maybe characterisation or perhaps philosophy, as Stern suggested? Comments are welcome. One especially interesting thing she pointed out was the fact that Shakespeare is translated by some of the world’s best poets into other languages means that sometimes the words can be modified so that they have more significance and resonance at the time, whereas for those speaking English, he will always be somewhat quaint and old-fashioned, needing footnotes. He is our history and their contemporary.  My titular quote today is from Stern’s favourite Shakespearean speech, which she said she liked because of its sudden elegance of poetry in the middle of a ‘spiky’ play, yet with a very solemn subject. I have to admit, I don’t know ‘Pericles’ very well at all, except that scholars think only around half of it was Shakespeare himself.

Apart from my interview, I’ve also been listening to the ‘My Own Shakespeare’ podcasts, which are great for snippets of the great speeches, and let you in on how famous writers, actors, singers and others choose their favourite Shakespeare speech. Following the link to the BBC’s website on Shakespeare at the end of those podcasts, I discovered ‘Shakespeare Unlocked’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00qbp3q These clips (I’ll have to try to find the programmes in their entirity) are fantastic; they show you the intricacies of Shakespeare’s characters and how actors and directors decide how to play them. Just WATCH THEM!

Coming up, I’ll be blogging about ‘Richard III’ starring Mark Rylance at the Globe, which I’m going to see this Sunday, Gissing’s novel ‘William Warburton’ which my lovely ex-History teacher has given to me, the exhibition on Shakespeare’s World at the British Museum, a talk with Jamie Parker (read back if you can be bothered; he played Henry V at the Globe and was great), and lots more. For anyone interested in lesser known productions of Shakespeare on at the moment, the Red Rose Chain are doing their annual ‘Theatre in the Forest’ in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, which I have helped out with doing front-of-house work for the past two years (though sadly not this year, as I’m away for a bit). They open next week, and are performing ‘King Lear’; they’re always good and truly make Shakespeare accessible to everyone. Though some would disagree, I love it when slapstick humour is incorporated into Shakespeare (when appropriate of course), which is what the Red Rose Chain have done with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Twelfth Night’, though I’m interested to see what they do with ‘King Lear’, tragic as it is.

http://www.redrosechain.com/page/theatre-in-the-forest

I think that’s it for now, though I’ll write again soon. Planning to watch the rest of the ‘Shakespeare Uncovered’ series, ‘The Hollow Crown’, Simon Schama’s Shakespeare and the African production of ‘Julius Caesar’ (which I’m going to see live with school in the autumn!), so should have lots to talk about then. Bye!

P.s. For anyone who hates reading (perish the thought!) or finds Jane Austen hard to access, Hank Green (famous author) has recently produced a vlog which transports ‘Pride and Prejudice’ into a modern-day setting, and the videos are slightly addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisuGP2lcPs&feature=context-gfa&playnext=1&list=PL6690D980D8A65D08

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