Tag Archives: william shakespeare

Our Fair William

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you an amazing playwright, a genius mind, the greatest bard of the Renaissance period… William Shakespeare! But you already know who is he and what is he famous for? Well, what we know about the most famous English playwright is really a lot and really… nothing. Why? Let me show you…

‘What’s in a name? A rose by any name would smell as sweet.’ (Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2) Continue reading

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West Side Story: The Updated Romeo and Juliet

JULY / AUG 2016: BY CAROL STARKEY

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Leonard Berstein took Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and made it applicable to more modern audiences. While no one would say Romeo and Juliet is irrelevant, Bernsteins’s story takes on a life of its own. With numerous musical numbers and strong actors, West Side Story is a musical not soon forgotten. Continue reading

Shakespeare’s World: The Globe

JULY / AUG 2016: BY MARIANNA KAPLUN

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All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players

What do we know about Shakespeare’s theatre? We always associate theatrical Shakespeare’s world with the name of the great English Queen Elizabeth I Tudor. And, definitely, it’s very true. In 1576 Elizabethan drama entered an entirely new era. James Burbage, a prosperous joiner, built a theatre in the style of an amphitheater near Bishopsgate in London and called it the Theatre (the word “theatre” had a meaning “the art of writing and producing plays”). Later, two others theatres opened north of the City of London: the Fortune in 1600 and the Red Bull in 1605. By then, on the south bank of the Thames on Bankside had appeared Rose in 1587, the Swan in 1595 and, finally, the Globe in 1599. Continue reading

Anonymous: The Authorship Debate

JULY / AUG 2016: BY LILA DONOVAN

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William Shakespeare is widely known all over the world as the talented writer of famous works such as Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, etc. He explores the human condition through his work and many of his characters are universal. At the same time he made his writing sound beautiful and poetic. Continue reading

We Will Show Our Duty: The Avenging Sons in “Hamlet”

JULY / AUG 2016: BY RACHEL KOVACINY

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Early in the first act of Hamlet, Claudius chastises his nephew for continuing to mourn his dead father, the late king. He says, “‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father.” He acknowledges that sons are “bound In filial obligation for some term To do obsequious sorrow.” But enough is enough, Claudius insists. Hamlet has fulfilled his obligations and should move on with his life now.

Hamlet, of course, disagrees. Continue reading

Of Crowns and Changing Fortunes: Shakespeare’s Richard II

JULY / AUG 2016: BY LIANNE M. BERNARDO

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For heaven’s sake let us sit upon the ground

And tell sad stories of the death of kings:

How some have been deposed, some slain in war,

Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,

Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed,

All murdered. For within the hollow crown

That rounds the mortal temples of a king

Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits […]

  • III, ii, 150-157

Richard II is a historical play written by William Shakespeare, the first of the Henriad preceding the War of the Roses cycle. Readers may be familiar with the play from the first series of the BBC production The Hollow Crown in which Ben Whishaw played the titular character, or from the recent RSC stage production starring David Tennant. The play holds a curious place among canon in that it’s not staged as frequently due to its introspective nature. Its structural nature is also different from many of his other plays, being one of the few completely written in verse. Nonetheless Richard II is an intriguing play worth checking out for all of its rich themes and characterizations. Continue reading

Becoming “Noble Harry”

JULY / AUG 2016: BY MARISSA BAKER

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I have no trouble answering the question, “What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?” (though it sadly isn’t asked very often). My answer has been Henry V since I first read it in high school. I grew up immersed in classical tales of adventure and heroism–stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne, legends about Robin Hood and King Arthur. In that context, my affection for Henry V comes as no surprise.

“Noble Harry,” as Shakespeare dubs the character, is the quintessential heroic figure. He’s a man of action, a brilliant soldier, a king committed to justice only where he cannot show mercy, a believer in God’s sovereignty, and a romantic figure in his wooing of Kathrine. Shakespeare is far too talented a storyteller to leave even his heroic figures one-dimensional, though. There’s much more to Henry’s character than being a perfect king. We learn this early on in the opening scenes of Henry V. In response to Henry’s claim on the French throne, the Dauphin (the French heir apparent) sends a messenger to say, “you savor too much of your youth” and that “there’s naught in France / That can be with a nimble galliard won; / You cannot revel into dukedoms there. / He therefor sends you, meeter for your spirit, / This tun of treasure” – a box of tennis balls (1.2.258-264). Continue reading

A Merry War: Romance in Much Ado About Nothing

JULY / AUG 2016: BY RACHEL SEXTON

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For me, the reason William Shakespeare earns his reputation as one of the greatest writers in human history is a combination of form and function. The use of beautiful poetry as the method for crafting a fictional play is something special. The audience gets an entertaining story AND language that can often be memorable. Add to this the deft observation of the universalities of the human experience that he was able to convey and it was inevitable  Shakespeare would reach a measure of immortality. This observation occurs in both tragedies and comedies, and today’s audiences can often easily spot the influences Shakespeare leaves behind in the entertainment of the present day. Much Ado About Nothing, for example, pioneered the bickering lovers archetype that continues to enchant romantic comedy lovers today. Continue reading

Bloody Will Be Thy End: Shakespeare’s Tudor Histories

JULY / AUG 2016: BY CHARITY BISHOP

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Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York!”

In Shakespeare’s times, plays performed at the mercy of English sovereigns. Theatre owners and playwrights fell in and out of favor according to topic. Financial assurances rested on a play’s ability to pass the censorship of the period. Elizabeth and other monarchs banned plays thought seditious or unfavorable to their reign. Shakespeare wrote up his histories on the War of the Roses, Richard III’s monarchy, and divorcing Katharine of Aragon, in such a manner as to please the crown. Continue reading

The Origins of Romeo & Juliet

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JULY / AUG 2016: BY SCARLETT GRANT

The inspiration behind this article was my sister telling me that when she had to study Shakespeare in school, the class chose between Macbeth or Romeo and Juliet. They chose the latter. She was unhappy. “Everyone knows that story, it’s boring!” she said.

Everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet… right? Continue reading