The Bard's Tube


Monday, December 24, 2007

I swear by the Bard himself....

I'll have some video material up soon. (And some help can come by way of a certain Loya who made an ironic quip in my comment section, considering the two segments are half-edited on his hard drive *cough*.)

I've been working with some folks at Theatre West on some scenes from MACBETH. With any luck, this will turn into the full-fledged multi-media extravaganza that I've been planning for twelve years. I already have a Producer interested so cross your fingers, kiddies!

The rehearsals are going really well! We had some casting hiccups but I'm THRILLED with who I have working on the piece! We get into some really deep character discussions.

We watched the BBC's version starring Ian McKellen and Judi Dench and believe me, when you can watch those two do Shakespeare and come away from it saying, "Hell, I can do better than that," you're on the right track! (Just wait until you see Lady M's unsex me speech! Wow.)

Oh! And I found my prop for the fourth video installment! So that's alright.

I have a cold and it's Christmas Eve. So I bid you a Merry one and I head for rest. I'll see you all in 2008 - because if you think this will be updated before then, you're crazy.

; )

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Kids, I swear we're working on it's been a hectic few months, but I now have personal editing software, so updates will hopefully be more frequent! Thanks for your patience (both of you) and I'll be back soon with several already-planned episodes, I promise!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

But, soft! What sights through monitors shine!

Fear not, loyal PENTAMETER followers! (....both of you....) Parts Two and Three are half-way through the editing process and should be up within two weeks! Then comes the FUN stuff... you have no idea what I have in store!!! (Evil "Mwoohahahahaha" whilst rubbing hands together ala Lady Macbeth.)

In the meantime, anybody have any suggestions for a fun Halloween costume?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Matt's Pentameter: Number 1

Welcome to the premiere episode of Matt's Pentameter. It's a little "get to know you, get to know me, get to know Wonder Woman." Very important to this blog is YOU!! What would you like to know? What would you like to SEE and HEAR about or by Shakespeare? Email me and let me know! Bring on the Bard!

Monday, September 10, 2007

So sad...............

Actors question Bard's authorship

Actors including Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance have launched a debate over who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare.
Almost 300 people have signed a "declaration of reasonable doubt", which they hope will prompt further research into the issue.
"I subscribe to the group theory. I don't think anybody could do it on their own," Sir Derek said.
The group says there are no records of Shakespeare being paid for his work.
While documents do exist for Shakespeare, who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, all are non-literary.
In particular, his will, in which he left his wife "my second best bed with the furniture" contains none of his famous turns of phrase and it does not mention any books, plays or poems.
Illiterate household
The 287-strong Shakespeare Authorship Coalition says it is not possible that the bard's plays - with their emphasis on law - could have been penned by a 16th Century commoner raised in an illiterate household.

The group asks if one man alone could have come up with his works. It asks why most of his plays are set among the upper classes, and why Stratford-upon-Avon is never referred to in any of his plays.
"How did he become so familiar with all things Italian so that even obscure details in these plays are accurate?" the group adds.
Conspiracy theories have circulated since the 18th Century about a number of figures who could have used Shakespeare as a pen-name, including playwright Christopher Marlowe, nobleman Edward de Vere and Francis Bacon.
"I think the leading light was probably de Vere as I agree that an author writes about his own experience, his own life and personalities," Sir Derek said.
The declaration, unveiled at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, West Sussex, also names 20 prominent doubters of the past, including Mark Twain, Orson Welles, Sir John Gielgud and Charlie Chaplin.
'Legitimate question'
A copy was presented to Dr William Leahy, head of English at London's Brunel University and convenor of the first MA in Shakespeare authorship studies, to be launched later this month.
"It has been a battle of mine for the last couple of years to get this into academia," Dr Leahy said.
"It's a legitimate question, it has a mystery at its centre and intellectual discussion will bring us closer to that centre.
"That's not to say we will answer anything, that's not the point. It is, of course, to question."

I will respond to this with the post I wrote on Myspace:

Re: the raging debate in the world, and with Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance about trying to disprove William Shakespeare as the writer of the Works of William Shakespeare:

Here's some new information!!!!!!!

According to my sources, the works of Plato were actually NOT WRITTEN BY PLATO, but were, in fact, written by Socrates and simply ASCRIBED to Plato!

Somebody help me raise some money and start a huge debate to bring this truth to light! If Plato actually took some of Socrates's unfinished manuscripts and published them under his name, the world could be going under the terrible assumption that brilliant work written by someone hundreds of years ago was actually WRITTEN BY SOME DIFFERENT BRILLIANT PERSON HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO!!!! Please immediately stop reading anything ascribed to these two literary giants, stop learning from thier insight and genius, and just try to figure out who wrote what! History is counting on us!!!!!

(please tell me that anyone reading this blog can understand written sarcasm and will not respond to me as a 35 year old in Maryland did by saying "I have heard this as well, but find it incredible.")

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Shakespearean anagram

"In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten" is a relevant anagram of the first three lines, discovered in 1996 by Cory Calhoun.

To be or not to be, that is the question;Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Spine, Not Skull

I just read a great essay by Wayne Narey, a fellow at Arizona State. It focused on a videotape he was asked to watch about teaching Shakespeare (‘cause why else would this story end up in my blog?). He was nonplussed, to put it politely. In what sounded like a very cheap video made by an uber-academic, it suggested teaching ROMEO AND JULIET by asking questions of the students like, “Pretend you’re Romeo – what would you do in the situation?” Balogna. I quote from his article:

‘"But," I can hear the teacher asking, "don't we need to make it relevant, to give them INFORMATION, details, and get them INVOLVED?" In a word, no. Help them to appreciate the play and its greatest asset, the language, which usually teachers perceive as the greatest liability in teaching Shakespeare's plays, and which, it becomes assumed, presents problems for both the teacher and the student. The language represents the point where the teacher must begin, whether at the high school or college level. Vladimir Nabokov makes this point through his character John Shade in the novel Pale Fire, offering the best piece of advice I've ever heard regarding Shakespeare: "First of all, dismiss ideas, and social background, and train the freshman to shiver, to get drunk on the poetry of Hamlet or Lear, to read with his spine and not with his skull." As a university professor, of course, the fictional John Shade doesn't live in the real world. At some point in weeks of study on Shakespeare, a teacher must offer something about ideas and, it must be admitted, social background. Writing his novel in the early 1960s, poor Nabokov had no idea about to the New Historicism school of criticism, and so did not, in his ignorance, know that Elizabethan culture really penned and staged Romeo and Juliet, much as the New York of the early '60s wrote Bernstein's score and choreographed "West Side Story." Anyone creative in those days wrote musicals with a lot of dancing on rooftops.’

I couldn’t agree more (especially that “dancing on rooftops” bit). First of all, why are we teaching Shakespeare in the first place? Is it so that students can somehow see that they have the same problems that Elizabethan kids had? No. Is it so that they can learn a great story that will impact their lives? Not really. So, why?

Because no one in the history of the English language (quite a bit of which he created) has been able to express the Universal themes, emotions and characteristics of the human being as has Shakespeare. He was in no way original in his choice of story, but he presented those stories in such an affecting way that they have lasted throughout the centuries, as most of his source material has not.

The study of Shakespeare can be viewed in some ways through a “Dead Poet’s Society” view of the glory of poetry and it’s expressiveness, but while “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” may be able to stand on it’s own as a piece of thematic poetry, one cannot say the same for the equally-if-not-more famous “Is this a dagger which I see before me?” from the same work. One could argue that the study of drama in it’s truest form should be one of the requirements at school, as the basis of drama and theatre is to “hold the mirror up to nature” and show us ourselves. Film, the modern derivative, is today far more frequently used as pure senseless entertainment and sheer spectacle rather than really showing us who we are as human beings and the gamut of our emotional landscape. What, especially in today’s society of apathy, warfare, divorce and laziness, is more important to instill in our youth than the self-realization of emotion in their lives. We shut down so quickly these days that any chance to experience a healthy emotional life should be welcomed with open arms.

This is one of the main reasons that “Brave New World” is one of my top ten books: we’re moving so much closer to Bokanovsky’s Process and the lack of genuine feeling that the Savage finding and cradling the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and using it as his Bible is no coincidence – The Complete Works is essentially a Bible of Human Emotion, something profoundly lacking in Huxley’s dystopic morality tale.

Pick any one of Shakespeare’s plays and you will find, if not every human emotion represented, then most. But perhaps the most notable work is Hamlet – every emotion is on display here from anger, love, jealousy, sadness, envy…. The list goes on. It’s no wonder that Hamlet is his most popular and oft-quoted work – of course, it doesn’t hurt that it contains some of the most concise and beautiful poetry in the folio. I’ve written about it before, but it bears repeating:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Fight through the haze that immediately clouds the brain when hearing an all-too-familiar phrase and try to think of the MEANING and not just the words. “Live, or die: which shall I do?” Nary a person on the planet has not thought this at least once in their lifetime.
To die, to sleep;To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;For in that sleep of death what dreams may comeWhen we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause:

But obviously, not everyone on the planet has made the decision to off themselves. “To die; and to re-awaken in another world…… hmmm… not knowing whether that world will be a Heaven or a Hell, I’d probably better re-think this whole offing myself thing.”

This is some heavy thematic material. “Life and Death,” though a cliché phrase in today’s society, is really the end-all and be-all (another Shakespeare-ism, incidentally). What else is there? Okay, taxes, but what else? Nothing. And as death is such a palpable concept, especially in our younger years when we first become cognizant of mortality, this speech above all others is one that should not be “read with the skull,” but indeed, with the spine. It is to be felt in order to be understood. Such is the case with all of Shakespeare’s work: the feeling is the understanding.

Is it therefore my suggestion to teach death to high school kids? Of course not. The point is to CONNECT with students. And connecting emotionally is the best way to connect with anyone, especially teenagers who don’t think that anyone understands what he or she is going through. Not only do we all know what they’re going through, but so did people in the 1500s and beyond. That connection to similar emotions creates an understanding, which in turn creates an interest.

Interested students? That’s a pretty good starting place in a classroom, isn’t it?


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