Local Author Tom Delise: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book

Always looking for a reason to plug some of the incredibly fantastic and amazing local talent we have here in our own back yard, I thought I would pass this on.

Last February I had the pleasure to see Baltimore Maryland’s The Shakespeare Factory perform what turned out to be my favorite version of The Comedy of Errors (The review can be found here). I also  had a chance to meet their artistic director and founder Tom Delise, whom I’d been chatting back and forth with by email for a while. Both of us sharing a passion for the Blackfriars in Staunton. Turns out Tom is also the author of the book  “That is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book”.

“That is the Question” is laid out as a series of Quiz’s covering 17 of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, instead of just random trivia questions, you can sit down with friends and test your own Shakespearean knowledge. Starting with “Section I. “Quoting Shakespeare”. Down to “Section IV: Film, Stage, and Literature”.

I love Shakespeare’s language so here’s one for me.
Quiz 82, Wild and Whirling Words, Shakespearean Vocabulary:

1) Clodpole
A. Bedroom   B. Quarreler  C. Dunce   D. Wrinkled apple.

3) Welkin:
A. Sky   B.Day   C. Officer   D. Noose

And on this next one, I thought a “Sith” was just some bad guy from the Star Wars films. But no’ according to Shakespeare:

25) Sith
A. Stitch   B. Since   C.Also   D.Alas
(Darth Vader – “Lord of the Stitch”  sounds like some tough guy tailor in a sewing circle conspiracy… That can’t be right.)

I think the synopsis from the Barnes and Nobles gives a good description:
“So you think you know Shakespeare? Are you a fan of Shakespearean film and stage productions? Are you a student or teacher of Shakespeare? Or would you just like to learn more about the man, the myth, and the literature? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll welcome That Is the Question: The Ultimate Shakespeare Quiz Book, a fun and unique glimpse into the fascinating and timeless world of William Shakespeare.It contains more than 2,000 questions organized into six sections: * Play and poem quizzes-Identify the works through quotes, plot descriptions, etc. * The characters-Identify pertinent major and minor characters from all plays through quotes, descriptions, etc. * Specialized quizzes-From the expected to the surprising: medicine, mythology, and creatures to settings, songs, and “Star Trek”! * Film and stage-Hundreds of questions about actors and actresses, Academy Awards, even other writers associated with the Bard. * Individual plays-Separate “20-questions” quizzes for each of Shakespeare’s 17 best-known plays. * Just for fun-Shakespearean puzzles, word searches, anagrams, and more.”

“Who produced a book that is enjoyable for quiz freaks, useful for teachers, and a treat for fans? Tom Delise.” — Ralph Alan Cohen, Executive Director and Director of Education for Shenandoah Shakespeare, and Professor of English at Mary Baldwin College

For more information and where to buy, here are some links:

Barnes and Nobles


For more information about: The Shakespeare Factory in Baltimore (Bard to the Bone) http://theshakespearefactory.com

CSC’s Pub Night Last Night: Shakespeare in Love, or for the Love of Shakespeare

Members of the Chesapeake Shakespeare staff with guest.

The  Chesapeake Shakespeare Company held their Pub Night at Bertucci’s restaurant in Columbia Maryland last night, and if you weren’t there you missed out on a great time. As the 25 or so people showed up, I could tell this was going to be interesting and fun, by the steady flow of handshakes that went out to each new person as they walked into the room. The setting was very intimate, being a small side dining room, where you had the comfortableness of facing the person in front of you, as opposed to going to a lecture hall for a discussion where your staring at the back of someone’s head.

At around 7:30 Jenny Leopold (Associate Director at CSC) started the evening with a brief introduction about the topic for the night, “Shakespeare in Love”, and then opened the floor. Now I’ve been to quite a few talk back’s and lectures after a play where the Actors and Director’s do a Q&A. These talk back’s are very informative, but the information is usually passed along in only one direction, from the artist to the audience.  But the pub night was surprisingly different as everyone had a chance to take the floor. The thoughts and idea’s flowed freely in all directions, one person’s conception, seemed to become the next person’s inspiration.

Patrick Kilpatrick in the CSC production of Hamlet - June 9th

The conversation drifted easily down the various avenues touching on “Love” in Shakespeare’s writing. From romantic love,  to brotherly love. From the  love of power, to the love of a child.  Many of these points emphasized with live readings from the plays and sonnets, from both the CSC staff, and anyone else who had something to share.

“Shakespeare in Love” turned out to be a fun and interesting theme to examine.  I have to admit I haven’t seen the movie “Shakespeare in Love”, and was relieved that it didn’t come up all night (with me being unprepared and all). But instead, I’m glad to say, it turned out to be a group of like-minded people enjoying dinner together, not only discussing Shakespeare in Love, but sharing their Love of Shakespeare.


Much ado about Nothing and Hamlet – Starting June 9th, 2010

Shakespeares Birthday is Next Month: And theres always plenty going on. But where?

Last April there were quite a few happenings to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in our area. There was cake and music,  lectures and dramatic readings,  and generally fun stuff for the whole family, most of it free. The only bad thing about all these events going on, was the fact I didn’t hear about them till AFTER they happened!

The problem is that most of these events weren’t really advertised. And the ones that were, you had to hunt all over the internet to find. So consider the calendar at Maryland Shakespeare as a free public service. This year I’m gonna start looking early for the event’s so they can get t posted. If you know of any events let me know and I’ll get them on the calendar for everyone else.

(The “Shakespeare Calendar” is located towards top right of this web page)

Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide – 4) Listen to the audio drama


I’ve just added a new section to the Layman’s Guide covering Audio Dramas, particularly by Arkangel Productions. I’ve had some good input on this guide and have made some changes. So let me know what you think, cause the internet is my editor

Keep in mind, it’s still not complete.

“at every step I feel a deeper and deeper understanding. I know I could take a Shakespeare class first and learn everything they think I should know. But this way I’m learning by listening and watching, and thus able to form my own opinions. I remember reading that the Winter’s Tale is considered one of Shakespeare’s lesser works. Really? I love that play. I’m glad I read that opinion after seeing the play.” – The layman’s Guide.


Link:  Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide

“Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide” updated with “Step 3) Watch the DVD”

Wow, creating  this “Laymans Guide” is taking more time then I thought it would. I had started Step 3 two days ago, had it typed up for the most part, then lost half of it and had to start over again.

I love watching Shakespeare on DVD, the section “Step 3″ describes the methods I use to track down the best versions to watch. I hope you find it helpful.

Heres the link: Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide

Shakespeare Radio Theater Recorded Live in Washington DC

Now this sounds cool, I stumbled onto a group called  Lean and Hungry Theater that performs live Shakespeare here in Washington D.C. But here’s the cool part,  “Actors read and record the plays in front of a live audience, with live sound effects and live original music. The recordings are then available as a podcast, Webcast, broadcast, and/or audio CD. “
They just did “A Winters Tale” this last December (2009), and prior to that they did “Twelfth Night,”. This year they have “The Merchant of Venice” scheduled for June 4 and 5, 2010 which I will add to our calendar.

I accidently stumbled onto them while doing a Google search and really wish I’d known about it last year. If you know of anything else like this, that’s Shakespeare related, drop us a note so we can pass it on.

Please feel free to visit to their site at http://www.leanandhungrytheater.com where you can check out audio samples and see their schedule for up coming plays.

Capulet’s Tragedy from Romeo and Juliet (After finally seeing and reading the play)

Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light” – Capulet

I haven’t seen the movie since High School, and never read the play, so I was glad to hear that the Maryland Shakespeare Festival were putting on Romeo and Juliet… I knew the basic plot as most people do (There’s a family feud. A boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl die. The end.), but other than what we “Think” we know from the 1 minute synopses, I was completely engaged in the subplots and motivations… What surprised me most about this play was my reactions to Juliet’s father who in the play is simply known as “Capulet”. From what I thought I knew about this play, I expected total hatred and venom between the family’s, but in reality that is not completely true.

From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Though there may be an old grudge between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s, after the opening scenes and the Princes speech, Capulet seems to have completely buried the hatchet and put away his animosity.

Tis he, that villain Romeo.

Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone;
He bears him like a portly gentleman;
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth:
I would not for the wealth of all the town
Here in my house do him disparagement:
Therefore be patient, take no note of him:
It is my will, the which if thou respect,
Show a fair presence and put off these frowns,
And ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.

After seeing, and then reading the play, I find these words make this play all the more tragic. Juliet’s father not only has zero animosity towards Romeo, but shows him due respect. Which is more they can be said for how he treats his own house hold, berating his wife, nurse, and anyone else who contradicts him. But I can’t help but think, that it wouldn’t take much persuasion to convince Capulet to allow Juliet to marry Romeo. I’m sure the Prince would push the union, even if only to heal the family’s feud and bring peace to the town.

And thus’  even is the tragedy all the more.

In my opinion this  was a fantastic play to read. If you’d like a good example of what this play has to offer,  read the poetic interchange between Romeo and Juliet at the ball.  I was dazzled by  the way the words seem to dance and flow across the page keeping time with the music that you could almost hear.

I also have to say of the 20 or so plays I have read, this and Richard II are the two I enjoyed reading the most.  But that’s  because I had such low expectations for both going in  (Hamlet and Macbeth being the high water mark). Now that I have seen this play live, and then read it.  I’m now looking forward to watching Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet on DVD this weekend. Once I do that, I’ll let you know what I think.

Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir;
My daughter he hath wedded: I will die,
And leave him all; life, living, all is Death’s.

Richard II: Convince me to spend the money

Update: Feb. 18, 2010. We  finally made a play at the Sidney Harmon Hall, where we happened to meet:
Sidney Harman Hall  House Managers Extraordinaire

Well’ I’m going back and forth on this one…

I have seen Richard II  once before, but the production was my least favorite of the 20 or so Shakespeares I’ve seen live. I actually left the play feeling kinda bored… But then after reading the play (Which was great!),  I saw the DVD version with Derek Jacobi and was dazzled. After that it became one of my favorites… So now the question is, do I want to spend the bucks to see Richard II performed by The Shakespeare theatre Company in DC? I’ve never been to the Sidney Harman Hall to see a Shakespeare theatre  Company performance, but I understand they do a fantastic job. Normally I go to smaller venues because I believe Shakespeare is best experienced in an open, lights on kinda fashion… All the glam in the world cannot make Shakespeare sound better.

But there is a wide range of ticket prices from $20.00 to $72.00 for this production. So for $20 am I stuck in nose bleed seats catching maybe every other word? Or for $72 do I get caviar and a foot massage?

I guess I’m just hoping someone will convince me to spend the hard earned cash, and let me know what the best seats are for the buck… Cause after reading the play and then seeing the DVD I really want to give this play another chance live.

You can email me at Jamie@marylandshakespeare.com or just click on the comment link below.

FREE! April 7th Romeo and Juliet: A Staged Reading at the University of Baltimore

romeo-and-julietJust got an email (Thanks Aaron) about a FREE  staged reading of Romeo and Juliet… Since I haven’t seen a full blown production of this play yet, I think I’ll skip this.  But if I had seen it already, I would most likely go, close my eyes and just absorb.

University of Baltimore Student Center Performing Arts Theater

Tue Apr 7 at  8pm

21 W Mount Royal Ave Baltimore, MD

Jump the link for more detail:



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