tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
I had no idea that the WSC had put up recordings of some of the talks and panels!
http://www.wsc2016.info/world-shakespeare-congress-2016-audio-recordings/

In particular, I can't wait to listen to Adrian Lester's conversation with Ayanna Thompson about playing Othello; I remember several people mentioning it on my Twitter feed as a really great discussion. (And of course, Adrian Lester's Othello was phenomenal…)
tempestsarekind: (geoffrey)
In class on Wednesday, we were talking about the word "cousin" in Shakespeare, and how it gets used for close familial relationships even if the characters aren't literally cousins. One of my students declared that Hamlet calls Horatio "cousin" at one point; I was skeptical, but she was insistent, and I don't have the play memorized, so I let it go. I just looked this up using Open Source Shakespeare, though, and it turns out that there are only four uses of the word "cousin" in Hamlet - and every one of them is Claudius to Hamlet. I find this fascinating, that attempt to insist on closeness when there are onlookers present. "How fares our cousin Hamlet?"

(…oh no, now I am having feelings about the fact that Romeo calls Tybalt "cousin" in the Capulet vault; he's claiming him out loud as family in a way he couldn't do when Tybalt challenged him, this is the worst and everything is terrible.)

(also, there are apparently only three uses of "cousin" in Othello, and only two of those are terms of address - which makes a lot of sense, because Desdemona gets cut off from her kinsmen by joining Othello in Cyprus, and Othello has no community ties of that sort; they are both terribly isolated and vulnerable.)
tempestsarekind: (keep calm and rock on)
I bought a ticket to the NT Live broadcast of Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear's Othello! Yes, I know it's not until September, but I've been checking the website of the local cinema since I got the National Theatre's email - and they *did* run out of tickets for Jacobi's Lear, so I didn't get to see that one, so better safe than sorry. (That was largely my fault, since I was working on finishing my application for the dissertation completion fellowship - for which one needs two finished chapters - and it wasn't at all clear that I was going to be able to go to the screening until the last minute. But just in case.)
tempestsarekind: (viola reading (tears))
Today I was kind of a flake: I have a lot of school reading and dissertation reading that needs...er, reading, but instead I flaked out and read something for fun during lunch and after office hours were over: the first two chapters of Carol Chillington Rutter's book Enter the Body: Women and Representation on Shakespeare's Stage. I can't remember exactly when I checked this book out (again), but I had plans to read the relevant parts of it over Thanksgiving weekend, but someone has requested it, so. A couple of years ago now I read the chapter on Cleopatra, which I'm still divided about: I think half of it is great, and half of it is totally wrong and actually kind of unnecessary. And I can't remember why I read that chapter instead of the ones that are more relevant to me pretty much all the time, the ones on Cordelia and Ophelia, but I didn't then, so I read them today.

And--you guys. I'm not sure why, exactly, her books make me so happy: it's something to do with performance, and possibility, and the possibility of a criticism that isn't bogged down in demonstrating its own learning to the point of tedium. It's not that I always agree with her points, because I don't. But I read her work and come away energized, reminded of why criticism is supposed to be a good idea, and moved by possibility. And after the Ophelia chapter, I just want to think about the graveyard scene, which is the most unstable part of the play for me, probably: I change my mind about it all the time.

(Also, it reminds me of my recurring dream to teach a class on Hamlet and Hamlet-related stuff. *wants*)

I likely won't have a chance to read the chapter on Troilus and Cressida (which was probably the reason I checked the book out the first time, it occurs to me now: that chapter is about clothing and costume, so it would have possibly been relevant to my vanished dissertation topic), but I do want to read the chapter on Othello now, after rereading the play, because the chapter focuses largely on Zoe Wanamaker's Emilia (in Trevor Nunn's RSC production; I still haven't seen it because I keep forgetting the video exists!). And I adore Emilia. She breaks my heart, more than anything else about that whole play. There's a line that she has, that conjures up whole worlds of suffering worn like a badge, a refusal to break that is always vulnerable, that has nothing in common with stoicism:

Thou hast not half that power to do me harm / As I have to be hurt.

It knocks the wind out of me, you guys. I can only flail about it helplessly in front of my students and look like an idiot. What is her life like, that she can say such things?

So anyway, I'll probably read that tonight instead of something useful, like Thomas Wilson's The Arte of Rhetorique.
tempestsarekind: (freema squee)
"...the next few months will see [Adrian] Lester pop up in all kinds of places. He and his actress wife Lolita Chakrabarti have made a BBC documentary – When Romeo Met Juliet, about the challenge of staging Shakespeare’s play with Coventry school kids. A Hollywood thriller, Case 39, in which he stars as the supervisor of Renée Zellweger’s spooked social worker arrives in the New Year. And there’s another series of Hustle looming, in which he plays the charismatic, chameleon-like conster Mickey. Beyond that, in the far distance, there’s the tantalising prospect of his Othello at the National.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-features/6654482/Adrian-Lester-interview.html

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

When Romeo Met Juliet site:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/comingup/when-romeo-met-juliet/

I wonder when this aired, and if it would be possible to find it...
tempestsarekind: (freema squee)
"...the next few months will see [Adrian] Lester pop up in all kinds of places. He and his actress wife Lolita Chakrabarti have made a BBC documentary – When Romeo Met Juliet, about the challenge of staging Shakespeare’s play with Coventry school kids. A Hollywood thriller, Case 39, in which he stars as the supervisor of Renée Zellweger’s spooked social worker arrives in the New Year. And there’s another series of Hustle looming, in which he plays the charismatic, chameleon-like conster Mickey. Beyond that, in the far distance, there’s the tantalising prospect of his Othello at the National.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-features/6654482/Adrian-Lester-interview.html

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."

When Romeo Met Juliet site:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/comingup/when-romeo-met-juliet/

I wonder when this aired, and if it would be possible to find it...
tempestsarekind: (where is my romeo)
Lenny Henry is going to play Othello:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/4448250/Lenny-Henry-on-playing-Othello.html

The article is interesting as well. Particularly, for me, the bits about what it's like to study Shakespeare in the classroom--you often get these little educational histories of people playing Shakespearean parts, in articles like this, and it interests me to see what their experiences were like.

The article also says that the RSC (they're also doing the play) recently did an event called "Obama: Is he an Othello for our times?" which... My reaction is somewhere between "WHAT?" "um, NO," and "Dear lord, I hope not."
tempestsarekind: (where is my romeo)
Lenny Henry is going to play Othello:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/4448250/Lenny-Henry-on-playing-Othello.html

The article is interesting as well. Particularly, for me, the bits about what it's like to study Shakespeare in the classroom--you often get these little educational histories of people playing Shakespearean parts, in articles like this, and it interests me to see what their experiences were like.

The article also says that the RSC (they're also doing the play) recently did an event called "Obama: Is he an Othello for our times?" which... My reaction is somewhere between "WHAT?" "um, NO," and "Dear lord, I hope not."
tempestsarekind: (globe)
Last week, the day after Shakespeare's Globe: A Theatrical Experiment arrived from Borders, I got the Globe's production of Othello from Netflix. This is mildly inscrutable, because I emailed the Globe, back when I first learned that they were putting the production on DVD, and they told me that the DVD was only available as a Region 2 DVD. (And later they updated the website to say this, which it still does.) I sighed, hopes dashed, and went about my life, until a few weeks ago when, after I'd added a couple of Shakespeare films I hadn't seen to my Netflix queue, the Globe DVD popped up. And it didn't say anything about regions, and Netflix only delivers in the US, so I went ahead and added it, figuring that if I couldn't view it, I'd just stick it back in the mail. And the DVD came (actually, two DVDs), and it worked just fine, and it says "Made in the USA" on it, so now I'm totally confused.

But anyway. I couldn't watch it until yesterday, because once I'd ascertained that it worked, I knew I had to put it away or I'd get nothing done. I really enjoyed it, though that's not to say that I don't have questions or criticisms. But it's funny: in one way, I'm probably incredibly demanding in my expectations for Shakespeare performances, but in another way, I'm not at all. If they make the verse intelligible and moving, then I'm sold. I don't need fancy staging or elaborate lighting or a high-end concept--just the verse, and the actors--and in fact, that's probably part of why I love the Globe so much, even beyond my love of shiny Renaissance things. When the audience doesn't have all of those extra tools to aid comprehension (or torture the play into some modern semblance, if I'm feeling less charitable and the production's really bad), then the actors have to work that much harder with what little they have. And I love that.

And I love that--despite what some critics might say about the "touristy" or "academic" nature of the place (how those are both true, I can't figure out)--the audience at the Globe is just willing to go along on the ride. They're so quick to laugh, to participate; they're not alienated by the pillars, the clothing, the lack of sets. They just jump in. It's lovely to watch. I've seen four Globe productions--five if you count this DVD--and it's been true every time. I wish I could bottle that willingness and sprinkle some onto my students, somehow.

So. The production itself.

Othello at the Globe )
tempestsarekind: (globe)
Last week, the day after Shakespeare's Globe: A Theatrical Experiment arrived from Borders, I got the Globe's production of Othello from Netflix. This is mildly inscrutable, because I emailed the Globe, back when I first learned that they were putting the production on DVD, and they told me that the DVD was only available as a Region 2 DVD. (And later they updated the website to say this, which it still does.) I sighed, hopes dashed, and went about my life, until a few weeks ago when, after I'd added a couple of Shakespeare films I hadn't seen to my Netflix queue, the Globe DVD popped up. And it didn't say anything about regions, and Netflix only delivers in the US, so I went ahead and added it, figuring that if I couldn't view it, I'd just stick it back in the mail. And the DVD came (actually, two DVDs), and it worked just fine, and it says "Made in the USA" on it, so now I'm totally confused.

But anyway. I couldn't watch it until yesterday, because once I'd ascertained that it worked, I knew I had to put it away or I'd get nothing done. I really enjoyed it, though that's not to say that I don't have questions or criticisms. But it's funny: in one way, I'm probably incredibly demanding in my expectations for Shakespeare performances, but in another way, I'm not at all. If they make the verse intelligible and moving, then I'm sold. I don't need fancy staging or elaborate lighting or a high-end concept--just the verse, and the actors--and in fact, that's probably part of why I love the Globe so much, even beyond my love of shiny Renaissance things. When the audience doesn't have all of those extra tools to aid comprehension (or torture the play into some modern semblance, if I'm feeling less charitable and the production's really bad), then the actors have to work that much harder with what little they have. And I love that.

And I love that--despite what some critics might say about the "touristy" or "academic" nature of the place (how those are both true, I can't figure out)--the audience at the Globe is just willing to go along on the ride. They're so quick to laugh, to participate; they're not alienated by the pillars, the clothing, the lack of sets. They just jump in. It's lovely to watch. I've seen four Globe productions--five if you count this DVD--and it's been true every time. I wish I could bottle that willingness and sprinkle some onto my students, somehow.

So. The production itself.

Othello at the Globe )

yay!

Oct. 8th, 2007 01:40 pm
tempestsarekind: (globe)
http://www.globe-shop.com/prodshow.asp?id=776&cat=12

And I didn't get to see Othello, either--we got to London two days after the last performance. I'm hoping this is viewable on all DVD players; I suspect it would have to be, right? But I've emailed them to check, before I order it.

In completely unrelated news, I can't stop laughing at these commercials for the next SciFi Channel movie ("based on real events"), Wraiths of Roanoke. Starring the guy from Highlander. It looks to be pretty awesomely bad--though maybe not as bad as the one where Beowulf had a mullet and killed Grendel with a crossbow that shot lightning. Or something. The tears of laughter may have obscured some of the details.

yay!

Oct. 8th, 2007 01:40 pm
tempestsarekind: (globe)
http://www.globe-shop.com/prodshow.asp?id=776&cat=12

And I didn't get to see Othello, either--we got to London two days after the last performance. I'm hoping this is viewable on all DVD players; I suspect it would have to be, right? But I've emailed them to check, before I order it.

In completely unrelated news, I can't stop laughing at these commercials for the next SciFi Channel movie ("based on real events"), Wraiths of Roanoke. Starring the guy from Highlander. It looks to be pretty awesomely bad--though maybe not as bad as the one where Beowulf had a mullet and killed Grendel with a crossbow that shot lightning. Or something. The tears of laughter may have obscured some of the details.
tempestsarekind: (globe)
The last time I looked at the Globe website, the only cast information they had up for Othello was for Othello and Iago (which I remember because, hi, Lord Percy). But poking around on the NYT online, I discovered that Zoe Tapper is Desdemona! My brain is suffering a bit of whiplash from this, since the last time I saw her, she was far more cheeky mistress (as Nell Gwynn in Stage Beauty) than modest wife, but I wondered, last time I saw the film, what she'd gotten up to, so this was nice to stumble across.

(I don't think I ever wrote about how much my students disliked Desdemona this term. There was a lot of "well, she should have known the handkerchief was important and shouldn't have lost it," or "she should have known Othello was jealous," which was a bit too disturbingly blame-the-victim for me to be able to respond to with my wits about me--though I did remind them that Desdemona doesn't have the luxury of watching the scenes between Othello and Iago, so there's no real way she could have known. But maybe they would enjoy a Desdemona who was more like Nell Gwynn. At least then they might have more to take issue with than her carelessness with linens.)

I won't get to see her, since we'll be getting to London just after Othello closes, but since we've already bought our tickets for Merchant of Venice and LLL, trust me, I'm not complaining.

And finally--do you ever have one of those days when you realize that you always thought you knew the answer to some simple question, but it turns out that you don't? I'm reading here and there in Andrew Gurr's The Shakespeare Company, 1594-1642, because someone requested it and it goes back Monday. Something I read about doubling made me wonder how many actors there were at any given time in an Elizabethan/Jacobean company. ...And I've looked in every book I own, and so far have only come up with a vague "twenty to thirty" with no evidence as to how that number was reached. This is going to be one of those "how would they have learned Katherine's French speeches in Henry V?" questions, where I never find a real answer, I just know it. (Would the boy actress have known French? Learned them phonetically? What?)
tempestsarekind: (globe)
The last time I looked at the Globe website, the only cast information they had up for Othello was for Othello and Iago (which I remember because, hi, Lord Percy). But poking around on the NYT online, I discovered that Zoe Tapper is Desdemona! My brain is suffering a bit of whiplash from this, since the last time I saw her, she was far more cheeky mistress (as Nell Gwynn in Stage Beauty) than modest wife, but I wondered, last time I saw the film, what she'd gotten up to, so this was nice to stumble across.

(I don't think I ever wrote about how much my students disliked Desdemona this term. There was a lot of "well, she should have known the handkerchief was important and shouldn't have lost it," or "she should have known Othello was jealous," which was a bit too disturbingly blame-the-victim for me to be able to respond to with my wits about me--though I did remind them that Desdemona doesn't have the luxury of watching the scenes between Othello and Iago, so there's no real way she could have known. But maybe they would enjoy a Desdemona who was more like Nell Gwynn. At least then they might have more to take issue with than her carelessness with linens.)

I won't get to see her, since we'll be getting to London just after Othello closes, but since we've already bought our tickets for Merchant of Venice and LLL, trust me, I'm not complaining.

And finally--do you ever have one of those days when you realize that you always thought you knew the answer to some simple question, but it turns out that you don't? I'm reading here and there in Andrew Gurr's The Shakespeare Company, 1594-1642, because someone requested it and it goes back Monday. Something I read about doubling made me wonder how many actors there were at any given time in an Elizabethan/Jacobean company. ...And I've looked in every book I own, and so far have only come up with a vague "twenty to thirty" with no evidence as to how that number was reached. This is going to be one of those "how would they have learned Katherine's French speeches in Henry V?" questions, where I never find a real answer, I just know it. (Would the boy actress have known French? Learned them phonetically? What?)
tempestsarekind: (viola reading)
(I often think that a reading group with Pamela Dean's Tam Lin as the starting point, and then followed by some of the texts that get read or referenced, would be a fun time. Maybe it's just that I found myself reading Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and The Revenger's Tragedy in very short succession this term.)

But the reason I am quoting that novel's Robin today is to do with yesterday's section on Othello. It went better than I had expected, actually; after I vented about the play, I was in a much better position to be open to its merits. And because (as mentioned in my last post) we didn't have a batch of secondary materials, like we normally do, we could spend time only on the play, rather than trying to draw connections between the works and ending with me feeling that we neither generated any useful insights nor spent enough time dealing with Shakespeare's language, since we often wind up dealing with the plays in paraphrase. Yesterday, because I wasn't trying to do so many things at once, I was actually able to get them to look at some scenes, and they followed suit by directing each other to passages.

So that was an improvement, even if I don't know how to duplicate it when we go back to having supplementary materials that have to be covered. One unexpected side effect of this, though, was that I discovered that my students--at least the ones who attempted to cite passages by reading them--are not very good at reading Shakespeare out loud. By that, I don't mean that they couldn't *act* out passages, but that they read them in odd, choppy bursts, as though they were afraid that the language would get away from them at any second--as though they didn't understand the passages well enough to be able to read them aloud. I suppose this *shouldn't* have been unexpected, but I've been trying to juggle so many elements in this class that this one never occurred to me. Because I've had to force them to look at passages for most of the semester, I've been the one who reads the passages aloud (partly to save time, but partly because it's my natural inclination to read something aloud if I'm going to talk about it), which is why I guess I never noticed before. And there are too many things going on in this class to make reading out loud a priority (although I think I'm going to ask them to read more passages aloud now), but, for future classes:

How does one teach reading aloud, anyway? (This seems to be another one of those things, like close reading, that the department expects us to teach our students, without ever teaching us how to teach them. There are department prizes for memorization and speaking, but I don't think it's something we teach them to do.) I can't act to save my life, but I consider myself to be a decent reader-aloud of Shakespeare. In fact, one of the best compliments I ever got as an undergrad was from a professor who had me read the Duke's "Be absolute for death" speech from Measure for Measure at random; when I went in to talk to him about a paper topic, he said I'd produced one of the best spontaneous readings of the class (he had students do this fairly often). But I can't have always been good at this, and if I am good at it, I'm sure it comes from familiarity with Shakespeare. Is there any way to teach, or at least model, good reading aloud that doesn't depend on student affection for the text?

Or am I just being silly in thinking that this is an important skill in an English class? Is it even really a different skill? Or would greater comprehension automatically result in better reading?
tempestsarekind: (viola reading)
(I often think that a reading group with Pamela Dean's Tam Lin as the starting point, and then followed by some of the texts that get read or referenced, would be a fun time. Maybe it's just that I found myself reading Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and The Revenger's Tragedy in very short succession this term.)

But the reason I am quoting that novel's Robin today is to do with yesterday's section on Othello. It went better than I had expected, actually; after I vented about the play, I was in a much better position to be open to its merits. And because (as mentioned in my last post) we didn't have a batch of secondary materials, like we normally do, we could spend time only on the play, rather than trying to draw connections between the works and ending with me feeling that we neither generated any useful insights nor spent enough time dealing with Shakespeare's language, since we often wind up dealing with the plays in paraphrase. Yesterday, because I wasn't trying to do so many things at once, I was actually able to get them to look at some scenes, and they followed suit by directing each other to passages.

So that was an improvement, even if I don't know how to duplicate it when we go back to having supplementary materials that have to be covered. One unexpected side effect of this, though, was that I discovered that my students--at least the ones who attempted to cite passages by reading them--are not very good at reading Shakespeare out loud. By that, I don't mean that they couldn't *act* out passages, but that they read them in odd, choppy bursts, as though they were afraid that the language would get away from them at any second--as though they didn't understand the passages well enough to be able to read them aloud. I suppose this *shouldn't* have been unexpected, but I've been trying to juggle so many elements in this class that this one never occurred to me. Because I've had to force them to look at passages for most of the semester, I've been the one who reads the passages aloud (partly to save time, but partly because it's my natural inclination to read something aloud if I'm going to talk about it), which is why I guess I never noticed before. And there are too many things going on in this class to make reading out loud a priority (although I think I'm going to ask them to read more passages aloud now), but, for future classes:

How does one teach reading aloud, anyway? (This seems to be another one of those things, like close reading, that the department expects us to teach our students, without ever teaching us how to teach them. There are department prizes for memorization and speaking, but I don't think it's something we teach them to do.) I can't act to save my life, but I consider myself to be a decent reader-aloud of Shakespeare. In fact, one of the best compliments I ever got as an undergrad was from a professor who had me read the Duke's "Be absolute for death" speech from Measure for Measure at random; when I went in to talk to him about a paper topic, he said I'd produced one of the best spontaneous readings of the class (he had students do this fairly often). But I can't have always been good at this, and if I am good at it, I'm sure it comes from familiarity with Shakespeare. Is there any way to teach, or at least model, good reading aloud that doesn't depend on student affection for the text?

Or am I just being silly in thinking that this is an important skill in an English class? Is it even really a different skill? Or would greater comprehension automatically result in better reading?

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