My Year Of Shakespeare Shakepeare

My personal journey into the world of William Shakespeare

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I have always been aware that there was this dude named Shakespeare and that he influenced, well, everything. It seemed like a good time to read up on him and read what he wrote.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Rough times.....Indeed!

What a violent time Shakespeare wrote and lived in.
"Other than the Tower of London, which housed England's arsenal, about the only places to come by some of the larger weapons were the public theaters, where they were used to give a touch of realism to staged combat."
With friends such as actors who had access to the only other arsenal in England, who needed enemies?
Yet, there were quite a few enemies to be had. It seems a group of armed actors were headed to a theatre (not their own) to tear it apart and relocate it, against the will of the landlord. There was in fact a site all set for a theatre, but no building. Hey, let's go tear down that one, we don't like them anyway.
Rough times indeed.
Then there is the fact that many actors of the time were skilled at fencing. Many arguments among the actors, who spent long hours together in close quarters, were probably solved at the point of a very sharp blade. And, get this, there was a legal argument from medieval times that allowed a prisoner to escape hanging by reading his "neck-verse." This law allowed literate persons to escape the gallows by reading from the Bible in latin. A fairly easy task for classically trained actors of the time. This is what passed for entertainment in 1599. Go figure.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Getting started

OK, I read the preface and let me tell you....Maybe everyone else but me is well versed in reading Star Dates but when there is a reference to (2.2.524) in Hamlet, I think that the Planet2 in Sector2 has Moons524. OK, I figured out that it means Act2 Scene2 Line524 but like so many others, James Shapiro, author of much Shakespeare stuff shouldn't assume that the everyday reader knows this. Take a moment, explain, I won't be offended.
Now I do appreciate the knowledge being given so I won't quibble (much) and say that I am really very excited see "the English pass their time, learning at the play what is happening abroad." as noted by Thomas Plater, a Swiss tourist who visited England and saw plays there in 1599. Now, that is the kind of detail that makes this look at Shakespeare seem, at the very least, very well researched. The author notes in his preface that the First Folio of 1623 put together by John Heminges and Henry Condell, who had worked alongside Shakespeare since the mid 1590's, instead of putting the plays in there sequential order, which they would have known, "decided to shoehorn them into the categories of comedies, histories, and tragedies..." and even then they aren't even in sequential order within these groups. Since I plan to read them in chronological, sequential, historical or some such order, it seems that I have my work cut out for me to find an accurate semblance of order. First, the history. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pre-Reading 10/16/2005

This is the beginning of my year of Shakespeare.
I have always been aware of the bard and his influence on, well, everything and have finally decided to get to know him, and especially his works.
After much thought on where to begin, I have chosen A Year In The Life Of William Shakespeare by James Shapiro published by Harper Collins.
Stay tuned.