All The World's A Stage - the Shakespeare thread

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by JozefK, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. Scope J

    Scope J Senior Member

  2. danasgoodstuff

    danasgoodstuff Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    Home (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan (River)) In normal years, I try to see at least one play here per year. And have also seen many other productions on both sides of the 49th.
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  3. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    New York, NY
    Clear to them. Nonsense in reality. And irrevelant, in any case. What we do with the plays that were left to us is what's important.
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  4. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Two years now without a Shakespeare reading at our house, after 25 years of at least four a year. We'll see if we're ready to go maskless early next year. And after four Zoom readings (Measure For Measure, Sonnets, selected passages, and Comedy of Errors), I'm Zoomed out. It's been such a huge part of my life it feels like I've lost a limb. Fortunately my gigs have begun to rebound, so I don't have lots of time to brood about it. We had to cancel our live Midsummer Night's Dream because of the Delta surge. I'm thinking Pericles for our next one back -- we were all enthused about two late collaborations that were new to almost all of us, Pericles and Two Noble Kinsmen, so it seems like a good reentry. I also want to get to The Merchant of Venice soon -- the biblical reference Shylock makes in I, iii has always baffled me, so I've done some research on both the bible story and its application to Elizabethan views on usury, and have a handle now on why it's there, although why Shylock goes out of his way to tell this to the despised Merchant (one of Shakespeare's more clearly gay characters) is beyond me.

    The argument from snobbery that Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare has always been weak, and would require a massive conspiracy of writers, printers, relatives and theatrical professionals to bring off.

    Duke Ellington -- Star Crossed Lovers

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2021
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  5. Scope J

    Scope J Senior Member


    How is it "nonsense"?

    Everything in de Vere's
    life lines up with the works,
    have you watched the
  6. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    New York, NY
    YES. Because the film makes no attempt to chronicle what the day to day working life of a theater collaborator/writer like Shakespeare would have been like - and, more imporatantly, give evidence of De Vere's direct involvement with the Globe's business. We have proof of Shakespeare's involvement. Nothing of De Vere's. It's right up there (or down there) with Anonymous (2011) in terms of credibility. Great free version here.

    "This whole business is trying to find out the man, the person, the living breathing, writing person behind the name. And the journey is fraught and long." - Sir Derek Jacobi

    I'd add, futile. The business of a playwright is not to reveal who he or she is, personally, but who we all are as human beings. Most of the people arguing for someone other than Shakespeare as the "true" author of the plays almost always have some personal/class/societal axe to grind. It's a central point in their arguments and it takes us away from the actual point of the plays, which are to show a glass to ourselves, not provide code for a private coterie of snobs.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2021
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  7. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA

    West Side Story (2021) -- MAGNIFICENT! Better singers than the original film, great dancing, tighter script. Two slight moves toward Romeo and Juliet references -- an indirect reference to Juliet's "You kiss by the book" in the balcony/ fire-escape scene and an ending somewhat more aligned with the play.
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  8. Mr&MrsPotts

    Mr&MrsPotts Forum Resident

    Co Down
    Been working through this (Arden) collection of the sonnets, pacing myself as I go.

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  9. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    SHAKESPEARE UNCOVERED: Just discovered this fabulous series. I'm getting it on Amazon Prime, third season free, second season $3 a pop, first season not available but I'm searching for other ways in. Each episode focuses on a single play, uses several staged versions for reference, interviews with scholars, actors, directors, etc. Very well done!

    Shakespeare Uncovered


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  10. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Saw and loved The Tragedy of Macbeth tonight -- Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as the doomed couple, directed by Joel Coen. Dark, claustrophobic, excellent -- I'll post a review in the next couple of days.

    This version has, arguably, the greatest opening sequence of any film or stage version I've ever seen, entirely due to the magnificent grotesque contortions of Kathryn Hunter as a witch. She blew my mind as Puck in the Julie Taymor version of The Dream, and she creates an image for the ages in her portrayal of all three weird sisters in this film. Must be seen! I can't find any film of her in this role, but here's a taste of her work in The Dream.

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  11. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA

    The Tragedy of Macbeth --
    the new Joel Coen film starring Denzel Washington and Francis McDormand. The couple is much older than most Macbeths and are played somewhat cooler if no less intense. The film is in black and white with odd, depersonalized sets, long featureless corridors, unadorned angular rooms, stark corners of fortresses, all of which generate feelings of isolation, disorientation, and claustrophobia. The film's opening is absolutely sensational, featuring the marvelous Kathryn Hunter (Puck in Julie Taymor's Dream) contorting herself into startlingly grotesque postures and movements, she commands the screen whenever she's on. Stephen Root as the Porter provides another small but delicious performance. The play as a whole is cut even more than usual, but the Macbeths' key speeches are all intact and powerfully delivered. Overall -- quirky, limited, but most definitely worth seeing for its memorable high points.
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  12. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
  13. sidewinder572

    sidewinder572 Senior Member

    Saint Paul, MN
    I have now read all of Shakespeare’s plays. Here are my ratings

    The Two Gentlemen of Verona 6/10
    2 Henry VI 6/10
    3 Henry VI 10/10
    Taming of the Shrew 3/10
    1 Henry VI 8/10
    Titus 6/10
    Richard III 9/10
    Comedy of Errors 7/10
    Loves Labor Lost 4/10
    Richard II 10/10
    Romeo & Juliet 9/10
    Midsummers Nights Dream 7/10
    King John 5/10
    1 Henry IV 10/10
    2 Henry IV 8/10
    Merchant of Venice 9/10
    Much Ado About Nothing 10/10
    Merry Wives of Windsor 3/10
    Henry V 9/10
    As you like it 10/10
    Julius Caesar 10/10
    Hamlet 10/10
    Twelfth Night 9/10
    Troilus & Cressida 10/10
    Othello 10/10
    Measure for Measure 10/10
    King Lear 10/10
    Timon of Athens 4/10
    Alls Well That Ends Well 8/10
    Macbeth 10/10
    Antony and Cleopatra 7/10
    Pericles 7/10
    Coriolanus 7/10
    Cymbeline 8/10
    The Winters Tale 10/10
    The Tempest 10/10
    Henry VIII 6/10
    The Two Noble Kinsmen 5/10
  14. misterjones

    misterjones Smarter than the average bear.

    New York, NY
    Pretty low for Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it is one of those plays where the production has to be first rate for it to be good. It typically isn’t. I’ve seen two awful productions in in Central Park, but I recall enjoying (I think) Peter Hall’s movie version. One of the Central Park versions I walked out of after the first act. It was being filmed. Here’s a sample. Painful to watch, though the bad acting is typical for Shakespeare in the Park productions (especially now). William Hurt’s Oberon was particularly bad.

  15. Some of these translate to reading better than others and some have to be seen with a strong production. It would be like judging a novel based 0n the synopsis;mit doesn’t give the full flavor of the play as plays are meant to be seen. Some, for sure, are lesser plays but considering how prolific the Bard was, there is bound to be some duds.
  16. sidewinder572

    sidewinder572 Senior Member

    Saint Paul, MN
    Ok some thoughts. My rankings were based on my immediate reaction after reading. If I’m thinking 10/10 during and right after then it’s 10/10. If I’m at maybe a 10 then it’s not a 10 but a 9. Also keep in mind that rankings are strictly based on the literature and language. It wasn’t important to me to understand everything little thing that’s being said. The language is what’s important. The 10s are 10s because they just sound good. You enjoy reading them because the language is so incredible.

    Hope that makes sense. My source was The Norton Shakespeare. My conclusions are that while not every play is a certifiable masterwork (a lot are) and some were a chore to read. I think it goes without saying that William Shakespeare is the top echelon of supreme literary genius in western civilization.
  17. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Well, here we are, almost a year later, and with the rise of Omicron we never did resume our live readings.
    I've hosted Shakespeare readings at my house for over 50 years. The current group of actors, writers, musicologists, etc. is the best we've ever had, but after four zoom readings during the pandemic I'm zoomed out. (We zoomed Measure for Measure, Sonnets, selected passages, and The Comedy of Errors.)
    I just sent out the first notice of a (hopefully) next reading in late June. I'll spare you the full letter since most of it is logistics -- my schedule has changed, so we need to find a new day of the week to read. But here's a bit of it:

    >>I think the time has come where we can – with guarded optimism – talk about reviving our reading group. We can now do it legally and, barring another threatening resurgence, we should be relatively comfortable meeting again.
    . . . I'm looking at the middle or end of June for our next reading. My inclination is to go for Pericles, which was the play we seem to like most of those we knew least. But I'm open to other suggestions<<
  18. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA

    The Arden editions are the best for text (Riverside is considered as good, but that's the unwieldy one-volume deal.) Arden is also the best for introductory material and supplemental texts, although Oxford is also first rate. The little Folgers are the handiest, and their website is of interest to all bardophiles:

    Folger Shakespeare Library
  19. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    OK, I'm only going to comment on the ones I think you've over- or under-estimated by more than two ratings. (Richard II is not a 10, but it's no lower than an 8, so I wouldn't comment on it.)
    I think you've hugely overestimated:
    Henry VI 1&3
    Julius Caesar
    Troilus and Cressida (I give it a 3)
    I think you've hugely underestimated:
    The Dream
    Antony and Cleopatra (both of which are 10s in my book)

    I thought most of your ratings were in the ballpark.
  20. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA

    Thanks for your responses! I'm thrilled and relieved to report that our little group will survive the pandemic! At this point we have fourteen on board:. . .
    Let's tentatively schedule our reading of Pericles for Monday, June 27th. Does that date work, and is a starting time of 6pm still good for all?

    Some preliminary notes on Pericles:

    The long lost wife in both The Comedy of Errors and Pericles turns out to be the religious leader in Ephesus.

    There is a fourteen year gap in the middle of the play, as there is a sixteen year gap in The Winter's Tale. These allow for the second generation to play major roles.

    "Marina stands at this play's imaginative center, as the doer of magical deeds, the performer of resurrections, bringing both father and mother back to life . . ." Garber
    TS Eliot wrote a poem entitled Marina about her.

    Poem: Marina by T. S. Eliot

    When we last read it, I don't think any of us had actually seen the play performed. I now have the BBC version on DVD, let me know if you would like to borrow it.

    In Shakespeare's day, Pericles was one of Will's most popular plays. Its first quarto was published in 1609, and a second quarto was published the same year – a success shared only with Richard II and Henry IV, part 1. The play had a remarkable total of six quartos printed, and it was the first play to be revived at the time of the Restoration.

    Unfortunately, all quartos derive from the first quarto, which is a bad quarto; and Pericles is the only play that has a bad quarto without a better alternative version. So we have always been stuck with what is almost universally believed to be a poor reconstruction of the original play.

    Pericles was not included in the First Folio. It was included in the second impression of the Third Folio, but the text from that is also derived from the bad first quarto.

    Lear was probably the play immediately preceding Pericles, and there are some similarities between the characters. Both suffer long and mightily at the hands of others and the elements, and both have moving reunification scenes late in the play with their beloved daughters. But Lear is the last of the late tragedies and Pericles the first of the romances, and the differences in plays is immense.
    Here's an excellent six-year-old piece from The New Yorker (prompted by a Trevor Nunn Pericles) that offers some insightful perspectives on the play and suggests that Shakespeare must have gone through some major personal change between the desolate late tragedies and the hopeful romances, which is to say between Lear and Pericles.

    The Continual Riddle of Shakespeare’s “Pericles”

    George Wilkins is widely (although hardly universally) considered to be Shakespeare's collaborator on Pericles, and the author of the first two acts. Wilkins was an innkeeper, a pimp, a man charged with many acts of violence against women, a pamphleteer and a successful if minor playwright associated with Shakespeare's Kings Men. The language in the first two acts is often clunky, but the dramatic action moves along briskly.

    This is from the recognition scene in Act V:

    O Helicanus, strike me, honour'd sir;
    Give me a gash, put me to present pain;
    Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me
    O'erbear the shores of my mortality,
    And drown me with their sweetness. O, come hither,
    Thou that beget'st him that did thee beget;
    Thou that wast born at sea, buried at Tarsus,
    And found at sea again! O Helicanus,
    Down on thy knees, thank the holy gods as loud
    As thunder threatens us: this is Marina.
    What was thy mother's name? tell me but that,
    For truth can never be confirm'd enough,
    Though doubts did ever sleep

    First, sir, I pray,
    What is your title?

    I am Pericles of Tyre: but tell me now
    My drown'd queen's name, as in the rest you said
    Thou hast been godlike perfect,
    The heir of kingdoms and another like
    To Pericles thy father.

    Is it no more to be your daughter than
    To say my mother's name was Thaisa?
    Thaisa was my mother, who did end
    The minute I began.
    V, i

    Does anyone have a problem with the June 27 date?

    Stay healthy and, like Pericles, live in hope!
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  21. MichaelH

    MichaelH Forum Resident

    Just wanted to say I'm a huge Shakespeare fan and have read all his plays, poems, sonnets and even apocryphal works. And I even own nine Shakespeare DVDs. Anyway I'd like to add my list of best to worst of Shakespeare's plays from 1 to 40:
    Measure for measure
    Merchant of Venice
    Henry VI part two
    Henry VI part one
    Romeo and Juliet
    Titus andronicus
    Timon of Athens
    Henry V
    The tempest
    Sir Thomas More
    Edward III
    As you like it
    Two noble kinsmen
    Love's labor's lost
    Comedy of errors
    Henry IV part one
    King John
    Much ado about nothing
    Julius Caesar
    Henry VIII
    Anthony and Cleopatra
    Henry IV part two
    Midsummer night's dream
    King Lear
    Taming of the shrew
    Merry wives of Windsor
    Two gentlemen of Verona
    Twelfth night
    All's well that ends well
    Richard III
    Richard II
    Troilus and Cressida
    Henry VI part three
    The winter's tale
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  22. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    New York, NY
    We just wrapped up a discussion of The Merry Wives in one of my study groups. Not crazy about this recent RSC production but it has its charms.

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  23. HorseyAnn

    HorseyAnn Equine-loving rhyme-artist

    This is 1 of my favourite Shakespeare plays to read. I've never seen it acted though.
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  24. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe 3 months since last false death report!

    This week's podcast episode of Film Week, KPCC's weekly film review program, featured a long interview with Joe Morton about his new theatrical production of King Lear.

    Not sure why a podcast devoted to theatrical motion pictures spent all this time talking about a play, but it's their show and they can do whatever they like. It sounded interesting, but it also sounded like it would really annoy Shakespeare purists.
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  25. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Joe Morton: Into the Storm of ‘Lear’
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