Monday, September 27, 2010

Global Shakespeares archive

MIT's Global Shakespeares video archive has gone live, with an amazing range of footage and commentary (and a lecture by yours truly where Sulayman Al-Bassam's Hamlet adaptation ought to be):
This is part of the lab we'll be touring on Friday, Oct 8.  Meanwhile, check it out online!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Romeo and Juliet and Vampires

The young adult market has cashed in on the trend of vampires and the supernatural and put a new twist on an old tale. Here is the summary for Romeo and Juliet and Vampires:

"You are deluded, Romeo. Vampires do not have the capability to love. They are heartless." 

The Capulets and the Montagues have some deep and essential differences. Blood differences. Of course, the Capulets can escape their vampire fate, and the Montagues can try not to kill their undead enemies. But at the end of the day, their blood feud is unstoppable. So it's really quite a problem when Juliet, a vampire-to-be, and Romeo, the human who should be hunting her, fall desperately in love. What they don't realize is how deadly their love will turn out to be—or what it will mean for their afterlives. . . . 

This riotous twist on the ultimate tale of forbidden romance is simply to die for.

This re-working of a classic to suit a new generation is an interesting new trend in the young adult world. Romeo and Juliet and Vampires fits right in with books such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Android Karenina, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. While I personally would not have the desire to read a vampire version of Romeo and Juliet, I do think that there is a potential market for a book such as this. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gnomeo & Juliet

The English language's most famous love story has been adapted yet again. Coming soon to theaters near you is Touchstone's Gnomeo and Juliet. Judging by the preview, the film is a colorful adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, featuring warring garden gnomes and jokes for parents and children alike. I think such an artistic rendering warrants a class field trip.

Two Shakespeare References

This weekend, I spent the day in Bluemont, Virginia at a fall fair. While perusing the local arts and crafts for sale, I found these:
They were purses made out of shells of classic books. I saw a few Shakespeare ones. It's not a huge or intellectual reference to Shakespeare, I just thought it was a funny way to use the books.

Also, another small Shakespeare reference I've found was in my Italian book. I am taking first semester Italian, and in the first chapter of the book, in the section about the verb "essere," which means, "to be," there is a picture of a teacher pointing at a blackboard that says "essere, non essere," or, "To be or not to be." Just a small funny reference to Hamlet I wanted to share.

Monday, September 20, 2010

HyperHamlet quotation database

A just-released research tool that can provide some interesting material (or just hours of nerdy procrastination) for our class: the HyperHamlet quote database.  They have compiled quotations from all kinds of contexts, in an astonishing array of languages.

The web site says:
Search four centuries of Hamlet quotations in context – a completely new kind of evidence for the cultural position held by Shakespeare and his language.

Find quotations by 3259 authors from different periods, languages and genres.

Find out which texts use quotation marks or indicate Hamlet as their source.

Browse the core collection of 7930 quotations, attached to the lines they refer to or sorted by the characters and scenes they mention.

Or investigate the complete collection of 9047 entries, which includes indirect references, vague anonymous traces and even earlier occurrences of phrases found in Hamlet.

Have you come across any Hamlet quotations recently? Contribute your findings to the database!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Russian Hamlet

Grigori Kozintsev directed Boris Pasternak's translation of Hamlet in this movie, released in 1964. This Wikipedia Article does a good job (I think) of talking about how it was adapted and the style used. Noticeably, the Russian version focuses heavily on the political aspects of Hamlet, which is something we discussed in class (Eastern European appropriations focusing more heavily on political messages).

If anyone is interested, the entire movie (in 15 parts) can be found on youtube, starting from here

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Schizophrenic Caliban: Aaron Posner's Tempest

I want to mention this in class today: what happens if we see Shakespeare's Caliban in terms of class and social belonging, not necessarily colonial imperialism and race?

This was one innovation of Aaron Posner's production of The Tempest at the Folger Theatre (Washington, DC) in 2007.  More on this amazing production here, and a negative review here.  Above, Caliban (Todd Scofield) has a conversation with his imaginary friends, Trinculo and Stephano. (Photo by Carol Pratt.)
If you've ever walked around DC, you can imagine the effect of a highbrow Shakespeare production (in a theatre right on Capitol Hill, in Northeast DC) that turned a major character into a contemporary street person, schizophrenic and alcoholic.  He was completely recognizable, and some of his lines (e.g., the music he alone hears) made a new kind of sense.  His sock puppet versions of "Stephano" and "Trinculo" were mostly sad rather than funny.  It was really a Caliban for our time and place.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

LFO and Shakespeare

In memory of Rich Cronin, the lead singer of '90s boy-band LFO, who recently died, my friends and I decided to listen to some of the band's most famous numbers. LFO's hit West Side Story features a couple profound references to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:

"Everyday, I see her friends talkin' 'bout me
But I know there's somethin' there that no one can see
It reminds me of Romeo and Juliet
Montague and Capulet"

This incorporation of Shakespeare into a '90s pop ballad demonstrates Shakespeare's pervasiveness in our culture. To listen to the song, click here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On Sonnet 66 - overflow

There is much more to say about Sonnet 66 and Manfred Pfister's article.  If you have further thoughts that you didn't get a chance to express in class, please go ahead and post them as comments to this message - we can have part of the discussion online.

Shakespearean Insult Gum

I heard about this awhile ago and luckily just remembered about it. It is product that is sold using Shakespeare's name and his insults. The gum is packed as seven of his books, including the plays Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, Richard III, King Lear, Macbeth and Henry V. Each set includes different Shakespearean insults along with some gum.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Simpsons & Shakespeare On Stage

A shining example of the many different ways Shakespeare is present in modern culture. Rick Miller staged Macbeth as a one-man show using voices of Simpsons characters. He did over 50 voices during the staging, using mostly Shakespeare's original words. Check out the review at ""> and the website of the show - "">

The Reduced Shakespeare Company

The Reduced Shakespeare Company is a three man stage troupe that performs ridiculously hilarious abridged versions of Shakespeare's plays. They performed all of Shakespeare's plays (including lesser known ones such as Troilus & Cressida) in an 88 minute long movie entitled The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. In this brilliant piece of work, the Reduced Shakespeare Company combines all of Shakespeare's comedies into one play, performs Hamlet backwards, and raps the story of Othello. Their witty and creative productions give Shakespeare and all of his classics a new twist.

Ophelia by Millais

The British painter John Everett Millais did a painting based on the scene in Hamlet right before Ophelia drowns. The painting captures the moment where Ophelia sings while floating in the river, blissfully unaware of her impending doom.

The most interesting aspect of the painting to me is Ophelia's facial expression. Her gaping mouth and dazed eyes suggest that she has retreat deep into madness, unable to

Shakespearean Insulter

This is a fun website that randomly creates Shakespearean insults, using different combinations of "bad words." It's really interesting to see, because many of these terms would have been considered the very essence of depravity, and yet today we have no idea of their etymology, what they mean, and why they were so derogatory. And it's just always fun to insult someone and have them completely befuddled as to what you mean.

Shakespeare for Kids

I found this website that has adapted two Shakespeare plays for elementary school students. I find it odd that Shakespeare would be adapted for children. Shakespeare's plays have very mature and complex plot lines, with complicated writing style and language. Yet, to simplify the plot and language would lose a lot of the beauty of the original. Although it's awesome to expose youngsters to Shakespeare, I almost feel it would be better to wait to expose them and keep the meaning of the original plays true so that kids' image of what Shakespeare is is not tainted by the first impression they had from the adaptations.

Macbeth in Space and Other Childhood Memories

Luckily I remembered this from my childhood. It is from Jimmy Neutron an old kid's show and is about the school's production of 'Macbeth in Space". It was already pretty funny, but with the information we know now about plays and Shakespeare interpretations in particular it is simply hilarious.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Shakespeare goes viral

In a series of youtube videos created by The Second City Network, the female leads of Sheakespearean tragedies have their deaths prevented by a character known as Sassy Gay Friend.
In a "what if" moment before each woman takes her own life/accepts death, Sassy Gay Friend quickly intervenes and convinces each one to live rather than die.
It's a very interesting and modern twist that brings Shakespeare to youtube.

Watch as Sassy Gay Friend saves the lives of Juliet, Ophelia, and Desdemona.

Warning: The videos, though quite amusing overall, are a bit explicit language-wise and can at points become slightly offensive with their stereotypical portrayal of gay men.

Shakespeare Themed For Kevin Spacey Fanatics !

For those of you who are fans of Kevin Spacey like myself, he will play Richard III from what I understand, there is still limited information online about it. Although the collaboration between Spacey and Mendes I am certain will make for great entertainement ( American Beauty).

P.S. Here is the link because I still have a hard time figuring out how to post it .

Science/Art Interests :)

From an Artistic p.o.v I found this pretty exciting as I like to sculpt, but there is more science to it .. they have recreated what they believe William Shakespeare would have looked like

P.S. I hope you are lead to the site, if anyone has problems let me know, it is my first time blogging.