May Is So SLOOOOOWWW This Year!

Well’ May this year is turning into a barren desert for local Shakespeare fans in the DC area. Where locally last year we had the Montgomery County Players doing Midsummer, and the Folger’s doing Hamlet. This year, there’s nothing around here for May.

My question is, with the recent demise of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and the lack of event’s in our area, is this a disturbing reflection of the times? The Washington Post ran an article last year stating:

“Reflecting the growing hunger among Washington’s nonprofit theaters to expand their audience base and diversify their offerings, Shakespeare Theatre Company will serve as the launching site for a national tour of the original production of “Fela!,” the unconventional, Broadway-tested musical about the life of the Nigerian singer-activist Fela Kuti.”

Link to post article

I’m almost afraid that when they say that Washington’s nonprofit theaters, and the Shakespeare Theatre Company, are looking to expand their audience base, what their really saying is that the bucks aren’t flowing for Shakespeare so let’s try something else. For example I noticed there are plenty of plays and things going on with the Shakespeare Theatre Company for the month of May… and no yet  no Shakespeare.

http://www.meetup.com/DC-area-Shakespeare-explorers/

DC-area Shakespeare explorers

And yet’ do not lose all hope! There are others in the area looking for Shakespeare happening’s at the grass-roots level. For example I hang out at the local Meetup.com group called “DC-area Shakespeare explorers.” It’s brand new place on the web to hook up with local Shakespeare fans.  There’s  been so far (I believe) three meetups, I’ve been to a two, and looking forward to the next.

So’ even if there are no “Official” Shakespeare offering’s for May,  we can still make something happen. Jump to the site for DC-area Shakespeare explorers and check out the offerings, or even throw out a suggestion or two. I,  among others have hosted a “Meet up”, and we are in the hopes that you can too. Shakespeare readings? Movie night? Gather before or after seeing a play? It’s a great way to do Shakespeare on the cheap, and meet others in the process!

So’ pop in and support the DC-area Shakespeare explorers

Most likely if you go to an event, you’ll get a chance to meet me there. If you see me, say HI!…

Don’t take Shakespeare in the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC area for granted.

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

Amazon

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

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

Okay…

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.

Thanks

Link:  Learning Shakespeare: A Layman’s Guide

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.

PROLOGUE
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.

TYBALT
Tis he, that villain Romeo.

CAPULET
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.

CAPULET
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.

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