tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
Michelle Terry: 'I won't be directing while at Shakespeare's Globe'

Instead, she plans to act in productions.

Obligatory comment about Emma Rice / shared lighting:
Terry revealed that it had been written into her job contract that no amplified sound or 'imposed lighting rigs' will be used in theatre productions.

She commented: "I hadn't worked here under Emma [Rice]'s tenure, so what I know is the space: a raw naked space. And for me it's less about what was added on than what was missed when you have that. So what you want to do is reach out and touch the hand of those people."

The article also mentions that one of the plays next year will be about Aemilia (Bassano) Lanyer; I don't know how I feel about that. Given that she is a poet in her own right, it's always irritating that she only gets mentioned (even in novels that purport to be about her) because A.L. Rowse had a theory that she was Shakespeare's "dark lady." What would be awesome if the play just didn't even involve Shakespeare at all - there isn't any actual evidence that they ever even met, as far as I know - because there could be real scope for a play that's actually about her, along the lines of the Globe's recent Nell Gwynn (how forever-sad am I that I couldn't see Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the eponymous role?), or the RSC's current Queen Anne (also forever-sad that I can't see Romola Garai in that play).

But I also just have a deep lack of interest in stories about Shakespearean sexytimes, Shakespeare in Love excepted (I really think of it as a fanciful film about the writing of R&J, and about theater in general, that happens to have romance in it), so...


Aug. 13th, 2017 12:31 am
tempestsarekind: (all the world's a stage)
Film investors’ fear of the Bard is burying my Richard II, says James Ivory

I remember hearing rumors about this a couple of years ago…This is the first time I've read that he had another Richard II film in mind, back in the '90s:

This is not the first time Ivory has tried to get Richard II off the ground. It appears that Kenneth Branagh put the kibosh on a previous production in 1992, around the time Merchant and Ivory were making The Remains of the Day.

“I had another cast. Daniel Day-Lewis as Richard II and Kenneth Branagh as Bolingbroke, or Henry IV as he becomes, and Emma Thompson as the queen,” said Ivory. “And then, unfortunately, Branagh said ‘I couldn’t play Bolingbroke, I’d have to play Richard’.

“We were about to make another movie anyway, so I let it go and we didn’t proceed with it.” (my emphasis)

That would have been something to see… (the Emma Thompson part, I mean; Branagh doesn't really strike me as the Richard II type, though I could perhaps imagine him as Bolingbroke)

(There's a conspicuous absence of any mention of The Hollow Crown in here, unless I just read the article too fast. I wonder why that is?)

There's also another iteration of "if Shakespeare were alive today, he'd be writing screenplays!" at the very end - which always irritates me slightly, as the implication is that there's nothing to draw a writer to the stage these days, even though I think the idea behind the comparison is that movies are analogous to Elizabethan plays. I'm just not totally convinced - in part because cinema is so focused on realism, in a way that I think can actually make it harder to adapt Shakespeare's plays for film (voiceover soliloquies, bane of my existence, I'm looking at you).
tempestsarekind: (all the world's a stage)
I ask because the Folger Shakespeare Library dropped a link to this podcast interview with Craig Pierce and Shekhar Kapur, where they talk about creating the new TV show Will, into my inbox this morning:


Will I listen to it? (Another way of asking the same question as before.)

...I mean, I probably won't, because between the two of them, these men are responsible for three films that I really don't like - the Lurhmann Romeo plus Juliet and Kapur's two Elizabeth films, which lucked out by having Cate Blanchett in them, but are not actually, like, good, or nuanced, or even comprehensible. But if you have a higher tolerance for this whole "Shakespeare is totally punk rock, yo, not all stuffy like the Man says!" thing, here you go.
tempestsarekind: (geoffrey (not) at work)
"We also learn that Will’s father was gruesomely disemboweled for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith and embrace Protestantism. He periodically appears to Will à la Hamlet’s father’s ghost, one of many references to the Bard’s work that have an Easter egg-y, Shakespeare in Love aspect.

from this review of the TNT show Will:

I just…

I mean, look. I watched Due South and Slings and Arrows (to say nothing of, y'know, Hamlet), so like, in theory, I really love it when characters talk to the ghosts of their fathers, or others that they care for deeply. I just…don't trust this show to do a decent job of it? There's already so much nonsense piled up in the trailers I've seen; where would they even find the space for an actually illuminating heart-to-heart between Will and his unexpectedly deceased dear old dad?
tempestsarekind: (very few dates in this history)
UGH. I hate it when Shakespeare (the person) shows up in historical fiction novels where he was NOT SUPPOSED TO BE and really has no business being. Like, if he is not going to bring anything to this party, let the man stay home, you know?
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
This Trailer for the Present-Day Midsummer Night's Dream Movie Includes a Man With a Literal Buttface:

That's it, culture, you win. I give up. Your Shakespeare is clearly not my Shakespeare, and you're bigger than I am, so - you just win. Okay.
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
I had no idea that the WSC had put up recordings of some of the talks and panels!

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: (queen of fairies)
I am mildly upset that no one told me about this book:

Shakespeare's Ghost - Mary Hoffman

From A Midsummer Night’s Dream onwards, Shakespeare’s plays are often peopled by fairies, witches, ghosts and apparitions. In Shakespeare’s Ghost Mary Hoffman imagines why that might be, by giving the poet a familiar spirit who urges him to include more and more paranormal events and characters in his work.

Meanwhile, Ned Lambert, a boy player in Shakespeare’s own company, The King’s Men, has been having inexplicable experiences of his own, with a beautiful and elusive woman in green, who is not of this world.

It is 1610 and Jacobean London is full of dangers, from the plague to plots and revolutions. And Ned – now a man on and off stage – is caught between fears and temptations. The poet is his friend, as is the popular young Prince of Wales, but is Faelinn friend or foe?

And here's a review:
tempestsarekind: (martha at the globe)
In case you want to think about something else today - this is the first thing I've heard about this show that sounds worthwhile:

‘Will’: Jasmin Savoy Brown Joins TNT Drama About Young William Shakespeare
(link to Deadline)

I don't know who she is, but she's going to be playing Aemilia (Lanyer) Bassano. So that could be interesting (although I still can't get over that playwright in the trailer being scandalized that Shakespeare "made up words" - like Elizabethan writers didn't do that all the time!).
tempestsarekind: (viola giggle)
More specifically, I am puzzled by its removable nature.


I'd like to know when they actually get to take it down!

TNT's Will

May. 25th, 2016 10:36 pm
tempestsarekind: (wtf?)
So…the TNT show Will (which has apparently been picked up for ten episodes) has released a trailer:


1. Well, that looks cheap and terrible.
2. Seriously, why are the costumes so awful?
3. I guess you can tell that this show is "modern and edgy" because that One Woman (™) in the trailer basically wears her hair like a current-day high-school student.
4. ahahahaha ha what, can you imagine any Elizabethan playwright ever complaining that "you can't just make up words"??? Oooooh Will, you rebel, you made up words! Just…like everyone else in your profession!

Seriously, what even.

I hesitate to even put this under the "costume drama" tag, but I guess I'll go ahead.
tempestsarekind: (viola reading (tears))
If you’ve ever struggled to read a Shakespeare play, don’t feel bad: Ian McKellen is here to assure you that reading Shakespeare is impossible. In fact, he argues, actually reading and interpreting a Shakespeare play is a task meant only for actors, in much the same way reading sheet music is a task meant only for musicians. In both cases, the audience should ideally hear the final product, not just read the behind-the-scenes text. At least that’s the thinking behind his new iPad app, Heuristic Shakespeare, which gathers together some of Britain’s best Shakespearean actors to make Shakespeare’s work more comprehensible.


I mean, the app itself sounds interesting:

But could we put this "Shakespeare never intended his plays to be read, so you are KILLING THE CHILDREN by making them have to read Shakespeare" thing to bed? I am so over it. Also, even if Shakespeare didn't intend his plays to be read - and I think Lukas Erne would argue with you on that point - John Heminges and Henry Condell were a-okay in favor of it in 1623:

But it is not our prouince, who onely gather his works, and giue them you, to praise him. It is yours that reade him. and there we hope, to your diuers capacities, you will finde enough, both to draw, and hold you: for his wit can no more lie hid, then it could be lost. Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe: and if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him. and so we leaue you to other of his Friends, whom if you need, can bee your guides: if you neede them not, you can leade your selues, and others. and such Readers we wish him.

I feel like this argument never goes the other way; I don't know anyone who teaches Shakespeare who actively discourages students from seeing the plays performed, but actors frequently declare that Shakespeare shouldn't be read, only seen.
tempestsarekind: (facepalm)
Okay, see, now this is what I mean when I say that PBS is terrible at letting me know about programs I'd want to watch - especially if they involve Shakespeare. I happened upon this on the website while I was looking for something on the PBS News Hour page:

Shakespeare's Tomb

So it airs TOMORROW, which means I would totally have missed it if not for a random fluke of the internet search process. Thanks a lot, PBS.
tempestsarekind: (eleven is awkward)

Every time I read anything about Emma Rice in the Guardian, it worries me still further:

Rice’s appointment at the Globe, succeeding Dominic Dromgoole, raised eyebrows in some quarters, especially since she cheerfully admits to not having read many of his plays. Her job, she said recently, was to allow artists to tell great stories in an exciting way. “I bring story, I bring humanity, I bring event and I bring wonder.”


Well, that's all very nice, dear, but doing good Shakespeare does actually require being willing to spend the kind of time with the language that makes it worth doing Shakespeare, and not just a modern retelling of Shakespeare. I'm all for "wonder," but I keep thinking, is she ever going to say anything that suggests she cares about the text?
tempestsarekind: (all the world's a stage)
As part of the whole #shakespeare400 thing, the Guardian is posting videos of various actors (among them Adrian Lester, Roger Allam, and Eileen Atkins) performing Shakespeare speeches, starting on February 1:


There's a trailer up now, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

And while I'm here, an opinion piece about Shakespeare's language, and Emma Rice's suggestion that it's better to change "chimney-sweepers" to "dandelions":

In defence of Shakespeare's difficult bits

And some letters in response to that piece:

I admit that I've been kind of worrying about this ever since I read that article in which the author mentioned that Emma Rice changed the name "Fidele" to "Ian." I don't know anything about her, really, so I guess we'll wait and see, but...
tempestsarekind: (oh noes)
Young William Shakespeare TNT Pilot ‘Will’ Casts Lead, Shekhar Kapur To Direct


(Deadline is marked as spam on LJ, so I hope this will get around it)

*runs in singing 'I hate everything about this paragraph, la la la'*

Elizabeth helmer Shekhar Kapur is directing the pilot, which comes from Craig Pearce, the longtime writing partner of auteur filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. It tells the wild story of young William Shakespeare’s (Davidson) arrival onto the punk rock theater scene that was 16th century London – the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. It’s described as the hot, contemporary, dangerous version of Shakespeare’s life, played to a modern soundtrack, exposing all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.

*runs back out again screaming 'look it's not your grandma's Elizabethan period, aren't we soooo contemporary'*

ugh ugh ugh

(also, weirdly, I can't tell whether this has any connection to that "Shakespeare-in-Love-meets-Game-of-Thrones" CW pilot that involved witches and conspiracies or whatever, or if this is in fact an entirely different Shakespeare pilot.)
tempestsarekind: (berowne [david tennant 2008])
An article from the Guardian with some potentially interesting quotes from Emma Rice (newly appointed artistic director at the Globe):

'One audience member tried to punch an actor': the battle to shake up Shakespeare

For Kneehigh’s Emma Rice, soon to take over at the Globe, it’s all about storytelling. When she staged Cymbeline – “an impenetrable text” – they changed the script freely. Imogen’s alter-ego became Ian, not Fidele. “It’s not the text that’s leading,” says artistic director Emma Rice, “but it is the story.”

The response was, at times, vitriolic. Critics pooh-poohed it. They weren’t alone. “Late in the run, one audience member tried to punch an actor.” There is, she believes, a level of protectionism. (Witness, too, the recent fuss over moving “To be or not to be” in Hamlet at the Barbican.) “It’s guarded by the few people that have dedicated their lives to understanding it’s [sic] richness, but 99% of people who come and watch a play have not made that pact. If we’re to keep telling stories, we have to change them.”

As one of those people who has dedicated her life to understanding Shakespeare, I suppose (that sounds so silly), I don't think I'm protective of Shakespeare, as such - but it's sort of like historical drama about real people: most of the "innovations" made in the guise of "freshening up" the story are not as interesting or dramatically satisfying as the original, and often feel like they've just been pasted on top and don't spring naturally from the material. (grumble mutter Tilbury speech in Elizabeth: The Golden Age mutter grumble.)

(Just as an aside: haven't directors been moving "To be or not to be" around for ages? Did they put it someplace really weird at the Barbican? Like in a shoe or something?)

...Also, is the name "Fidele" particularly impenetrable? (I recognize that this is only a small example, and probably not one that Emma Rice actually gave.) I mean, I don't know what the name "Ian" means, either, but if you tell me that's a character's name, I will accept it and move on. I also don't know anyone named Posthumus Leonatus, either, so… At a certain point, Shakespeare is just not our contemporary - and that's okay, I think. It's okay that parts of Shakespeare are strange to us, as long as the company putting on the play creates a world for us in which they make sense. (This is actually why I think a lot of modernized Shakespeare doesn't quite work, even though there might be a lot of good things about the production; the director hasn't really given us a reason that cellphones and duels over honor exist in the same place - even though there's no reason that they couldn't; but you have to make it feel natural somehow.)

Then there's this bit:
It’s telling that these alternative companies are often shunted towards Shakespeare’s lighter, fanciful fare: the Tempest’s magic, Comedy of Errors’s anarchy, Cymbeline’s fairytale. It’s mostly a case of matchmaking – suit the play to the players – but it’s problematic too, a case of pigeonholing artists.

Why are Hamlet and Othello the preserve of big-name actors and mainstream directors? What might an alternative approach to the Histories look like? It’s almost patronising. Do what you will with Twelfth Night, but keep your hands off Titus Andronicus.

“Nick Hytner asked us to do A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the National,” remembers Simon McBurney. “I thought ‘Fuck that.’ Everybody wants to see Complicite’s fairies. I decided to take a really political play instead.” He ended up directing Measure for Measure and, shortly after 9/11, putting Paul Rhys’s Claudio into a high-security prison in an orange jumpsuit.

Shunted. Shakespeare's lighter, fanciful fare. Because comedies are just for lesser artists and chumps, of course. (Also, oooooh, an orange jumpsuit! Bring me my smelling salts!) And I would say this, but Twelfth Night is actually really hard to get right. I have seen a lot of dismal productions of this play, precisely because everyone thinks it's just an easy lark, and forgets that it's a play about a miracle. /the same Twelfth Night rant that I give all the time

(I have still never seen a live professional production of Midsummer, because my life makes no sense, but I think it has the same problems, based on the filmed versions I've seen: people think it's easy because it's got fairies and kids perform in it or get taken to see it, and they completely forget that it needs to have an actual heart to work properly. Playing all the lovers as actually interchangeable ciphers, or not letting us sympathize with what is for Hermia and Helena real pain, or playing Titania in love with Bottom so broadly that her love doesn't resemble any real emotion, just kills the play for me; I can't laugh at it when I don't care about it. I think people think that it should be the opposite - if the emotions are real, then they won't be funny - but for me, at least, comedy doesn't work when there aren't people involved. /shoddily disguised dissertation rant )
tempestsarekind: (austen snark is the best snark)
Black and Deep Desires: William Shakespeare, Vampire Hunter. By, of all people, Graham Holderness.


From the website:

As the novel opens, William Shakespeare, recusant Catholic, joins Guy Fawkes and his cluster of co-conspirators in a plot to dig under the walls of parliament, to plant enough gunpowder to kill the King. When the plotters hit a wall (quite literally), Fawkes heads to Europe to find workers, and is eventually led to a shadowy eastern European aristocrat, who offers him a small company of strange nocturnal labourers, who travel to England in wooden boxes.





*pun actually not intended, but I like it, so I'm keeping it.

ETA: Graham Holderness has a lot more to say about the book here:
tempestsarekind: (she runs lunatic)
This is a telling realization, as my "comedy is hard" tag gets frequent use.

Anyway, has anyone else read this article from 2014?

Shakespeare's Bloody Problem: Why the Tragedies Almost Never Work Anymore

Here's the central argument:

I can’t help noticing, as I watch them through splayed fingers, how all four [plays] are structured. In their first halves, Shakespeare dramatizes the intersection of intimate relations and political power, employing the most imaginative theatrical poetry ever written to knit the complexities together. But having climbed these wonderful stairways of insight, they then take a slide down Bloodbath Mountain. All the marvelous thickness of family intrigue in Lear and Hamlet, all the madness of marital love in Macbeth, all the knottiness of psychopathology in Richard [III] seem to dissipate around the middle of Act Three, replaced by swordplay, death skits, war scenes, howling, eye-gouging, head-­severing, and pageants of frenzied murderousness. It’s almost as if Shakespeare didn’t trust his audience, or the part of it standing in the yard with oranges, to hang around for the second half unless he threw them a bone or ten. Of course, there’s still high-class poetry scattered amid the Grand Guignol for the groundlings, some of it as beautiful as ever. But it now floats free from the binding of story, like marooned islands of fat in a broken mayonnaise.

I'm trying to decide what I think about it: it's true that I've often felt that the second half of a performance of one of the tragedies doesn't live up to the first half, but I feel that way during a lot of performances of the comedies, too. (Intermission is a hard thing to come back from.) I don't know that it's specifically because of the violence - although I do often feel as though the violence is staged to no particular purpose or design; it's often just sort of…there.

Anyone else have any thoughts?


tempestsarekind: (Default)

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