News & Events 2012-13 Only December entries for 2011 are shown here. I have placed all entries for 2010 and 2011 into separate Archives. Please let me know if there is anything that you would like to retrieve.
Posted 06.10.2013:BBC to release 1,000 hours of Shakespeare: LORD HALL, the director-general of the BBC, is to release every surviving Shakespeare play and sonnet the corporation has recorded since 1922 in a return to Reithian values after an “annus horribilis”. Funding for television arts programmes will rise by 20% as Hall, who in April was parachuted in to steady the BBC, lays out plans to secure renewal of its royal charter in 2016 and guide it towards its centenary in 2022: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Arts/article1323894.ece .
Posted 16.08.2013: Richard III: King's reburial row goes to judicial review: The king's remains were found in a car park near Leicester Cathedral. Distant relatives of Richard III have been granted permission for a judicial review of the decision to rebury the king's remains in Leicester. The Plantagenet Alliance launched a legal challenge to the decision made by the Ministry of Justice in May.: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-23726011 . Posted 15.08.2013: An Edinburgh Festival production of Hamlet by the innovative Wooster Group takes place against a backdrop of Richard Burton's 1964 Broadway film version. "The images on the huge video screen ... wobble and tremble, black-and-white figures slither hazily in and out of focus. Burton's voice leaps from nowhere, and seems to fill the theatre. This isn't so much a screening, we gather, as a seance. Perhaps an exorcism": http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/aug/12/hamlet-wooster-edinburgh-2013-review .
Posted 06.08.2013: Today's Guardian G2 (pp. 16-17) has a preview of Coriolanus that is being performed at the Edinburgh Festival (20-21 August) by a Chinese company (above) and directed by the controversial Lin Zhoahua. The production will feature two heavy-metal bands (Miserable Faith & Suffocated) and is described as "a high-voltage experience": http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/aug/06/guitar-hero-coriolanus-edinburgh .
Posted 22.07.2013: The file above contains comments on All's Well That Ends Well from Simon Read's Dear Mr Shakespeare: Letters to a Jobbing Playwright. Thanks Stella....!
Posted 21.07.2013: The death is reported of Mel Smith, aged 60. He became a household name during the 1980s when TV sketch shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones were at the height of their success. But he was also a writer, actor and acclaimed director whose love of performing started at an early age. He was a memorable Sir Toby Belch in the 1996 film of Twelfth Night directed by Trevor Nunn with Nigel Hawthorn as Malvolio. Obituary: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23394871 .
Posted 15.07.2013: Who Edited Shakespeare...? Saul Frampton (Guardian Review 13.07.2013) makes a case for claiming that John Florio (above) was the editor of the First Folio (1623). See 'Bibliography' page under 'More' tab above for a link to the article.
Posted 15.07.2013: Rupert Christiensen (Telegraph, 15.07.2013) would rather read Shakespeare's plays than see them. Click file (below).
Posted 25.06.2013: Throughout the summer the RSC in collaboration with a number of visiting companies will be staging FREE performances of several of Shakespeare's sunniest plays - and a rare performance of Venus and Adonis - at The Dell, a small open air stage situated on the banks of the River Avon, in Avonbank Gardens, near Holy Trinity Church. Full programme: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/events/the-dell.aspx#08062013-01092013 . Leaflet and map: http://www.rsc.org.uk/downloads/dell_leaflet_2013.pdf . Posted 18.06.2013: During the midsummer weekend (21-23 June) the RSC in co-operation with Google will be offering MND"through the eyes of the internet". During the course of the weekend the play will be performed "by an Acting Company in real time" directed by Greg Doran and culminating in a wedding and a day of events which you can attend in Stratford on Sunday 23 June. Full details: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/midsummer-nights-dreaming/ .
Posted 18.06.2013: Richard Lutz's review of Titus Andronicus for The Birmingham Press: "This is Revenger Tragedy at its bloodiest and Shakespeare must have known his audience, an audience which regularly went to bear baiting, cock fighting, beheadings and the occasional heretical burning. The crowd knew blood, the writer knew blood and it all made for good entertainment. The RSC knows it is a museum piece. But once you get past the incessant gore or the threat of it, it is a straightforward headstrong story about power, vengeance and the crawl up the bloody pole to gain the top seat at the table.": http://www.thebirminghampress.com/2013/06/17/review-stuffing-revenge-down-your-enemys-throat/.
Posted 14.06.2013: Richard Lutz reviews Middleton's A Mad World My Masters currently playing at the Swan Theatre. "It’s a rude, hilarious take on a 16th century Jacobean comedy. And boy, it can singe the ears. As the director Sean Foley himself admitted:It’s the filthiest play I have ever read.’ And I can see why. A guy sitting next to me whispered, more or less to himself, at one point: Did I just hear what I think I heard?’ Well, yes, you probably did": http://www.thebirminghampress.com/2013/06/14/review-a-mad-world-my-masters/ .
Posted 10.06.2013: Kenneth Branagh is to return to the stage to play and co-produceMacbethin a deconsecrated church for the 2013 Manchester International Festival. His co-director will be Ron Ashford. He last performed Shakespeare when he played Richard III at the Sheffield Crucible in 2002. Alex Kingston will play Lady Macbeth: http://www.mif.co.uk/event/macbeth . The production will be filmed and broadcast by National Theatre Live: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout4-macbeth .
Posted 29.05.2013: Shakespeare rules the world.... [See article above].
Posted 28.05.2013: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is to stream its upcoming production of Richard II starring former Doctor Who actor David Tennant to UK schools. The sold-out performance of the 13th November Stratford-upon-Avon show will also be shown live in cinemas."We want to bring the work we make... to the widest possible audience," said RSC artistic director Gregory Doran: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22686410.
Posted 20.05.2013: In Saturday's Times Review (18.05.2013) Libby Purves enthusiastically reviews the new autobiography by Trader Faulkner, Inside Trader. "He has never been a big star, but every triumph, setback or small humiliation has been equal grist to his storytelling mill". Despite losing his first Shakespearean role for missing a cue because he couldn't pull up his tights quickly enough, now 85 he acted under Gielgud and in 1955 played Sebastian to Vivien Leigh's Viola at Stratford.
Posted 08.05.2013: William Shakespeare was the first great "writer entrepreneur" and his financial success gave him artistic independence, an Oxford University researcher claims. Dr Bart van Es says the turning point for Shakespeare's writing career was when he became a shareholder in a theatre company which effectively separated him from the world of the "jobbing playwright": http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22435649 .
Posted 05.05.2013:Hamlet as Danish Noir....?
Posted 04.05.2013:Roger Allam plays Prospero at Shakespeare's Globe.Guardian: "I've seen Prospero played as a benign schoolmaster, colonial overlord and Faustian necromancer. But Roger Allam brings something new to the party by suggesting that Prospero is first and foremost a father: what we see, in this riveting performance of Shakespeare's usurped protagonist, is a man torn between possessive concern for his adored Miranda and recognition that she is an agent of reconciliation with his enemies". http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2013/may/03/the-tempest-globe-review . Telegraph review - "Jeremy Herrin’s production, with beautiful Jacobean costumes and genuinely enchanting music by Stephen Warbeck, captures all the wonder of this play about forgiveness, with its tough acknowledgment that it isn’t always possible to redeem the hardest of hearts – even with the help of magic": http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/10036539/The-Tempest-Shakespeares-Globe-review.html .
Posted 30.04.2013: Lambeth Palace retrieves stolen collection of extraordinary rare books. Early edition of Shakespeare - Henry IV Part 2 - and historic accounts of expeditions among 1,400 'priceless' books discovered in attic. The thief had taken around 1,400 books, many from the libraries of the Elizabethan and Jacobean archbishops John Whitgift, Richard Bancroft and George Abbot, dating back to the library's original foundation collection in 1610. The theft included engraved, illustrated volumes from Theodor de Bry's America, from the early 1600s; a book about Martin Frobisher's search for the Northwest Passage in the 16th century, A True Discourse of the Late Voyages of Discoverie for the Finding of a Passage to Cathaya; and a book about French surgery from the late 1500s, of which only six or seven survive in the world. Full story:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/29/lambeth-palace-stolen-books-retrieved . Posted 30.04.2013: The Guardian has an article on the new £188m Birmingham Central Library - the biggest public cultural project in Britain. T he builders have left and the librarians are about to move in. The article includes: "The Shakespeare Memorial Room, complete with Victorian bookcases and decorative plasterwork, and contents including one of the world's largest Shakespeare collections of books, pamphlets and memorabilia, has already been carefully installed in the golden pillbox-shaped chamber crowning the structure, intended by the Dutch architects Mecanoo to be seen from far across the city". Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/apr/29/birmingham-library-ready-books .
Posted 24.04.2013: The Shakespeare Institute Players are presenting performances of Thomas Middleton's A Yorkshire Tragedy (2-4 May) to cellebrate the 60th anniversary of the Institute founded by the eminent theatre historian, Allardyce Nicoll in 1953. A brief history of the Institute is in the File (above).
Posted 24.04.2013: The Chipping Campden Literature Festival 2013: 30 April - 5 May. Lectures on Shakespeare are by Prof. Jonathan Bate (Warwick) and Peter Whitfield who speaks on Illustrating Shakespeare. He will discuss how works of art have influenced our image of Shakespeare's plays. Full details at: http://www.campdenlitfest.co.uk/ . Members may also be interested in the Chipping Campden Music Festival (5-18 May):http://www.campdenmusicfestival.co.uk/contentok.php?id=40 . Posted 23.04.2013: Shakespeare's 449th Birthday....! To mark the occasion the BBC has a page in support of the local boy's' to be the author of his own work: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22206151 .
Posted 09.04.2013: "I have the heart and stomach of a king - and a king of England too ...": For a comparison between Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth I see the article (above). Posted 09.04.2013: Shakespeare may have spent some of his so-called "lost" early years working as a schoolmaster in a Hampshire village. Local historians in Titchfield near Southampton believe the Bard worked as a schoolmaster at a school there for three years between 1589 and 1592. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22064636 . [Thanks for this Paul]
Posted 01.04.2013: The Sunday Times(31.03.3013) reports that recent research at Aberystwyth University suggests that Shakespeare was a a tax dodger and a profiteer. See the file above for the relevant articles.
Posted 30.03.2013:Joan Shuttleworth has passed to me a number of amusing limericks (all scrupulously devoid of smut) inspired by Shakespeare's plays (see below). It may take a few seconds for each of the three pages to download:
Posted 16.03.2013: Today's Times Review (pp. 4-5) has an interview with Ben Wishaw (Richard II in BBC's Hollow Crown series). Posted 12.03.2013: The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture for 2013 will be:'An Artistic Director Prepares': Gregory Doran in conversation with Michael Dobson. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and The Shakespeare Institute are delighted to present the commemorative Shakespeare Birthday lecture at The Shakespeare Centre, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. Friday 19 April at 4pm. Tickets cost £10 and to book tel. The Shakespeare Bookshop on 01789 204016.
Posted 01.03.2013: Celebrating its 6th year in 2013, The Stratford upon Avon Literary Festival is a delicious mixture of debate, ideas, celebrity author events, workshops and humour. This year speakers include Michael Palin, Michaels Morpurgo, Tony Benn, Kate Humble, Baroness Julia Neuberger, Sebastian Faulks, Salley Vickers etc etc.. See the discussion: 'Shakespeare and Marlowe: The Myths and the Genius of the Elizabethan Poets and Playwrights' on Friday 26th April 4.30. Full programme and booking details at: http://www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk/ .
Posted 14.02.2013: Yesterday's Telegraph has an article by Hannah Betts about two contrasting images of Queen Elizabeth I painted by Marcus Gheeraerts (or his studio) - one showing her wearing 'the mask of youth', the other showing an ageing queen "less fairy than harridan". We are also reminded of an Order of the Privy Council in 1596 "seeking out unseemly portraits which were to her 'great offence' and therefore to be defaced and no more portraits to be produced except as approved by [the] Sergeant Painter". Full story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/9865184/Age-has-withered-Elizabeth-I-after-all.html .
Posted 10.02.2013:Jonathan Miller complains of ageism in the arts: "When you get to my age, there's a certain point at which you're assumed to be dead," says Jonathan Miller, explaining why there has been a five-year gap between plays he has directed. "Or if not dead, then almost certainly rotting. So they don't ask you at all." Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21382072 .
Posted 07.02.2013: Planning permission has been granted to build a theatre on the site of a playhouse where the young William Shakespeare worked. A six-storey theatre and cafe will be built above the remains of the what was known to the Bard as simply "The Theatre". Visitors will be able to peer down to the foundations through glass panels in the ground floorThe remains were found in Shoreditch, east London, during a 2008 dig. The Theatre opened to audiences in 1576, just to the north of the City of London, beyond the authorities' jurisdiction. A year later, another playhouse, the Curtain, was opened nearby. Both were polygonal wooden structures like the reconstructed Globe Theatre on London's South Bank. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21293824 . The image (above) from about 1600 is thought to show the Curtain (just right of centre with a flag in the background)
Posted 23.01.2013: "You need a partner with a proper job...". Today's Guardian G2 (p. 20) has a fairly lightweight Q&A article with theatre designer, Tim Piper, Associate designer at the RSC. Productions which he has designed include the Histories cycle (2006-2008): http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/series/portrait-of-the-artist .
Posted 15.01.2013: The death is announced of the actor Jon Finch (b. 1941)who played the title role (above) in a memorable film production of Macbeth directed by Roman Polanski in 1971. Finch himself regarded as the highlight of his career his playing of Henry Bolingbroke in R2 (1978),and H41&2 (1979) in the BBC's Shakespeare History Cycle. He also played Don Pedro in the BBC's Much Ado (1984). Full obituary: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/jan/13/jon-finch .
Posted 29.12.2012: 'Shakespeare is German': We tend to think of William Shakespeare as wholly British - but Stratford's greatest son has a rival fan club abroad. His plays have now been translated into over 90 languages and the first of these languages was German. There are records of touring productions of German adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet as early as the first decade of the 17th century. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 10.00 today (Saturday) and available for listening at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pgnbk .
Posted 24.12.2012: For members with a latent scientific bent there is an interesting chapter on 'Shakespeare's Zero' in a recently published book by Daniel Tammet called Thinking in Numbers. Telegraph review at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/9480478/Thinking-in-Numbers-by-Daniel-Tammet-review.html. Don't be put off even if you have NO scientific background - it is very much in the 'General Science' category - and you will recognise a number of examples that I have pointed out during our own discussions. I bought my own copy today at Stratford Waterstones.
Posted 21.11.2012: An article by Emma Graham-Harrison in today's Guardian G2 (p. 5) giving a solder's eye view of the war in Afghanistan has some interesting parallels with the field of Agincourt. "There is no privacy or freedom," says one marine. Instead, there is the camaraderie, cliched but true, of men forced together for months at a time, facing stress and danger"; one sticker in FOB [Forward Operating Base] Delhi says "Marines Fear Only God. No Others". Full article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/20/us-troops-helmand-uneasy-calm .
Posted 11.11.2012: Michael Billington (Guardian) reviews the production of The Merry Wives of Windsor currently playing at the RST: "Shakespeare's great revenge comedy gains immeasurably from being staged in modern dress. But, while other directors have opted for the materialistic 1950s, Phillip Breen's excellent new production offers us a totally up-to-date Windsor-on-Avon: a world where cosy country suppers coexist with buried, middle-class rage ... Class lies at the heart of this comedy; and, while racking up the laughs, Breen brings out beautifully the bourgeois sadism that still lurks in the heart of middle England". Full review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/nov/02/the-merry-wives-of-windsor-review . Telegraph review: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9651936/The-Merry-Wives-of-Windsor-Royal-Shakespeare-Theatre-Stratford-upon-Avon-review.html .
Posted 06.11.2012: Jenny Agutter has teamed up with Michael Gove to help revive the teaching of Shakespeare in schools. See the Sunday Times article (above) and access the Shakespeare Schools Festival web site via the link below: http://www.ssf.uk.com/ .
Posted 24.10.2012: The Guardian review s a production of MND at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh: "Towards the start of Shakespeare's comedy, the fairy queen Titania tells her lover Oberon how their quarrel has turned nature upside down. 'The seasons alter', she says, and the 'mazed world … knows not which is which'. Much later, as the play nears its conclusion, would-be husband Demetrius confesses that his love for Hermia is now 'melted as the snow'.... This particular Midsummer Night's Dream is set in the depths of winter: fairies in white toss snowflakes into the air, the "rude mechanicals" huddle in their overcoats and, at moments of greatest tension, blizzards blow up. To prove their mettle in front of Helena, rivals Demetrius and Lysander strip down to their bare chests in a feat of icy endurance". http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/oct/23/midsummer-night-s-dream-review .
Posted 24.10.2012: Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (until 13 January, 2013): The Lost Prince: The Life & Death of Henry Stuart. When the eighteen-year-old Henry, Prince of Wales, died in November 1612, the hopes of a new generation had been dashed. For the Prince, eldest son of James I, and brother of the future Charles I, epitomized the yearning of those who wished England to lead Protestant Europe in a great crusade against the might of Catholic Spain. He simultaneously embodied the aspirations of a new era in the arts, creating a court which would have rivaled those of the Medici grand dukes in Florence. The profusion of elegies at his death compared him with admired heroes of the past: King Arthur, Achilles, Alexander, Edward the Black Prince - and Henry V. Details at the NPG: http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/the-lost-prince-the-life-and-death-of-henry-stuart/exhibition.php . Telegraph article at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/9609896/The-Lost-Prince-National-Portrait-Gallery-review.html .
Posted 23.09.2012: Bryan Appleyard in the The Sunday Times Culture Magazine (16.09.2012, pp. 10-11) interviews Greg Doran as he takes over as Artistic Director of the RSC. Adrian Noble "abandoned the RSC's custom-built London home at the Barbican .... It was an absurdity. Doran's big task is to find a proper base in the capital". Posted 22.09.2012: "Seventeen years after he famously deserted a West Endproduction just days into its run,Stephen Frywill make his return to the stage this summer. Fry will play Malvolio in the Globe's revival of its all-male Twelfth Night, first seen in 2002, which runs for three weeks from 22 September. Mark Rylance, who was the theatre's artistic director at the time of the original run, will reprise his acclaimed performance as Olivia, the lady in mourning with whom Malvolio, her steward, is helplessly in love" [Matt Trumann in the Guardian]:
Posted 13.09.2012: Today (Thursday) Dame Judi Dench and her brother, Jeffery are launching a new Shakespeare CD in Stratford. The album is called Shakespeare: Exits and Entrances - A Celebration in Words and Music and Dame Judi will be signing copies in the Upper Circle Bar of the RST at 4.15. The CD combines original music by composer Jackie Williams with more than 20 tracks of Shakespeare's best know work. Other performers include Oliver Dench, Emilia Fox and David Suchet. A short YouTube promotion video can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvMm3QQYOVg . Posted 13.09.2012: A new Shakespeare Film Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon: The month of October (6th-21st) will see a two-week festival featuring a programme of iconic films and adaptations of Shakespeare's works with guest speakers talking about the dramatist's impact on cinema across the ages. The Festival has been developed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust with Stratford Picturehouse and has as its patron Sir Kenneth Branagh. Screenings will be at the Stratford Picturehouse and the Shakespeare Centre. Details and programme at: http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit-the-houses/whats-on/shakespeare-film-festival.html . Posted 13.09.2012: Yesterday's Guardian (p. 35) reviews Daniel Evans's production of Macbeth, currently playing at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. "Evans's new in-the-round staging goes the same way: a rugged, well-paced, early medieval Macbeth with lots of gore and some fine supernatural effects. But it takes a bizarre turn when an incomplete slaughter of Macduff's household leaves Geoffrey Streatfeild's Macbeth quite literally holding the baby. Full review at:
Posted 12.09.2012: Richard III dig: Search team uncovers human bones. Human remains have been found by archaeologists searching for the lost grave of Richard III. The king died at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 and was recorded as being buried in a Leicester church, which was later demolished. A team from the University of Leicester has located traces of the church and it is now confirmed they have found human remains. The bones, believed to well preserved, are undergoing DNA analysis. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-19561018 .
Posted 24.08.2012: Lyn Gardner (Guardian) reviews the Rape of Lucrece at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. "The stage is bare but for a piano and piles of dusty manuscripts. The manuscripts seem to be there to remind us that what we are watching is a narrative poem – published by Shakespeare in 1594, and written to be read rather than performed. In this tale of lust and betrayal, not a fully fledged theatre piece but a performance with songs, they serve their purpose". Full review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/aug/23/rape-of-lucrece-edinburgh-review . Posted 24.08.2012: Details are now available of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Winter School, Wed. 9th to Sat. 12th January, 2013.
Winter School 2013 will be based around the RSC’s productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor directed by Phillip Breen (Wednesday evening) and starring Desmond Barrit as Falstaff; The Orphan of Zhao - sometimes referred to as the Chinese Hamlet - directed by Gregory Doran (Thursday evening) and Boris Godunov directed by Michael Boyd in his final production as Artistic Director of the RSC (Friday evening)./ Full details: http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/visit-the-houses/whats-on/winter-school.html .
Posted 21.08.2012: This week's Times Magazine (18.08.2012, pp. 15-17) has an article by Giles Coren in which the Olympic Games are likened to Shakespeare's 'Arcadian' plays (MND, AYLI, Tempest). The Olympic Park became a dream world: "All the rules of life were suspended, and magic ruled the earth". Posted 18.08.2012: What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare: Created by award-winning actor Mark Rylance, 50 actors will fall into conversation with the public bringing to life Shakespeare's most famous characters – who are en route from university, shipwrecked or carrying a lover's message. The public will hear Shakespeare's most famous and evocative speeches, bringing pop-up moments of wonder to everyday London. More information at: http://festival.london2012.com/events/9000961917 .
Posted 11.08.2012: Straight from the RSC Fringe Festival, after last year's triumphant 'Romeo & Juliet', Shooting Stars Theatre Company return with our version of 'Much Ado About Nothing'. We set one of Shakespeare's funniest and best-loved comedies in a modern context that's accessible to everyone. Stratford-upon-Avon and then touring. More information at: http://www.shootingstarstheatre.com/Much-Ado-About-Nothing.html .
Posted 09.08.2012:National Theatre Wales' Coriolanus in St Athan hangar: An aircraft hangar in the Vale of Glamorgan has become the stage for a multimedia Shakespeare production. National Theatre Wales will put on a modern day-take of Coriolanus as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.The audience will mingle with actors in the disused hangar at RAF St Athan, moving around, watching TV screens and listening to action on headphones. The decommissioned 90m x 50m aircraft hangar at St Athan is big enough to allow car chases and large crowd scenes. Full story at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-19168482 .
Posted 04.08.2012: For information about Shakespeare at the Edinburgh Festival 2012 (9th August- 2nd September) see:
http://www.eif.co.uk/news/world-shakespeare-festival-edinburgh-international-festival-2012 . Main Festival productions will be T.R. Warszawa’s spectacular 2008: Macbeth; Dmitry Krymov’s riotous mingling of two works into A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As you Like it); and Camille O Sullivan’s one person twist on The Rape of Lucrece. As usual, the Fringe will have its own wide range of Shakespeare-inspired productions. Explore the Fringe website at: http://www.edfringe.com/ .
Posted 30.07.2012: London 2012: Shakespeare is no Olympic champion. "Death always seems to hover whenever it appears, whether killing is the object of the exercise (as in hunting and falconry) or the result of things going horribly wrong; Hamlet and Adonis in Venus and Adonis both die when engaged in sport, the latter less than heroically killed by a boar. In As You Like It's second scene – which repeats the word "sport" several times to ensure we get the point – a jolly day's wrestling leaves three men dead and one apparently a vegetable." Full story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2012/jul/27/london-2012-shakespeare-olympic-champion .
Posted 25.07.2012: Today's Times T2 (p. 8) has an interview with Roger Lloyd-Pack (Trigger in 'Only Fools and Horse'). He is currently playing Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night at Shakespeare's Globe (Stephen Fry as Malvolio). Later in the season he will play Buckingham in Richard III.
Posted 22.07.2012: The death is announced of the actress
Angharad Rees (above). Probably best known for her role as Demelza in the 1970s TV drama Poldark, she had also acted on stage in A Winter's Tale, Richard II and Romeo And Juliet. More at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18940018 .
Posted 21.07.2012: Britain's first black community in Elizabethan London. "The reign of Elizabeth I saw the beginning of Britain's first black community. It's a fascinating story for modern Britons, writes historian Michael Wood". The black trumpeter John Blanke (above) played regularly at the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Full story at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18903391 . Posted 20.07.2012: Members may be interested in the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival at Woodstock Wed. Sept. 12 - Sun. 16 : Full details and booking at: http://blenheimpalaceliteraryfestival.com/ .
Posted 18.07.2012:Vikki Heywood (above), the outgoing Executive Director of the RSC, will take over as Chair of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). Vikki, who was recently awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to theatre, took up her post at the RSC in 2003. She is due to step down in September this year, alongside Artistic Director Michael Boyd, and she will take up her position at the RSA in October. Full story: http://www.stratford-herald.com/local-news/5741-vikki-heywood-moving-to-the-rsa.html .
Posted 18.07.2012: Today's Guardian (p. 11) has an article on the exhibition opening tomorrow (until 25 November) at the British Museum - Shakespeare: Staging the World. The exhibition will include a range of objects including paintings, manuscripts and jewels, including items like the Lyte Jewel (above), presented to Thomas Lyte in 1610 in recognition of his work tracing James I’s genealogy back to Banquo, as featured by Shakespeare in Macbeth.
Posted 06.07.2012: Michael Billington in today's Guardian reviews The Taming of the Shrew directed by Toby Frow at Shakespeare's Globe. "The evening's most original feature is that Simon Paisley Day plays Petruchio less as a bumptious adventurer than as a quietly spoken gentleman who adopts sadistic wife-taming principally as a therapeutic device. It doesn't make this any more palatable, but it is given a certain rationale by Samantha Spiro's no-holds-barred Katherina, who knocks down walls with her fists and whose instinctive response to a prospective wooer is to kick him in the goolies ". Full review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jul/05/taming-of-the-shrew-review?newsfeed=true . The Globe's Shrew page is at: http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/on-stage/the-taming-of-the-shrew .
Posted 19.06.2012: A copy of the Complete Works of Shakespeare that inspired Nelson Mandela while he was in prison in South Africa is to go on display in London. The edition, which was smuggled into the Robben Island jail, includes notes added by Mandela and other prisoners it was shared with. The book - disguised as a Hindu religious book and dubbed the Robben Island Bible - will be part of an exhibition celebrating the playwright. Shakespeare: Staging the World opens at the British Museum on 19 July. More at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-18502371 and http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/shakespeare_staging_the_world.aspx . Posted 19.06.2012: Mark Fisher in the Guardian reviews a production of Macbeth in a National Theatre of Scotland production at the Tramway, Glasgow. Alan Cumming plays all the parts and is directed by John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg. More at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/jun/17/macbeth-glasgow-tramway-alan-cumming1 . Posted 19.06.2012: Lyn Gardner in the Guardian reviews an unusual staging of The Tempest: "'We are such stuff as dreams are made on,' suggests Prospero in The Tempest. There is a dreamlike quality to Retz's performance-cum-installation, the fifth part of a six-month project entitled O Brave New World, which retells Shakespeare's story in a disused shop in Hackney, east London. Enter through passport control at the back entrance, input the code to open a high-security door, and plunge into an alternate universe: an island ruled over by the secretive Prospero. Full review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jun/18/prosperos-library-review?newsfeed=true .
Posted 16.06.2012: Members may be interested in some forthcoming TV programmes on Shakespeare's works. The first of six programmes under the umbrella title Shakespeare Uncovered has Jolie Richardson introducing Shakespeare's Women and features AYLI and TN (Tuesday 19 June, BBC4, 9.00 p.m.). The programme discusses how the female characters in Shakespeare's comedies, most notably Rosalind and Viola, began a tradition of strong, feisty, sexy women that continues to this day. Contributing actors include Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave, Tom Hollander and Adrian Lester. More at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01k2l8w .
On Friday 22 June (BBC2, 9.00 p.m.) Simon Sharma in Simon Sharma's Shakespeare introduces a 2-part explanation of why WS's plays are "the most complete and indispensable expression of our national identity". Actors, directors and commentators will include Harriet Walter, Simon Russell Beal, David Edgar, Michael Boyd and Roger Allam. A short video clip can be viewed at:
15.06.2012: Today's Guardian has a review by Lyn Gardner of Henry V at the Globe. The production is directed by Dominic Dromgoole and has Jamie Parker as Henry. " ...I swear that if this Henry had strode off the stage and out of the theatre at the end, everyone would have followed him. Not that Parker's Henry is any kind of rabble-rouser: he is the still, intense centre in a production that elsewhere embraces toilet humour (the clerics plotting to take the country to war do their dirty business on the privy), or playing to the gallery when it comes to comedy". Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jun/14/henry-v-review?newsfeed=true .
Posted 08.06.2012: In yesterday's Guardian Michael Billington reviews Julius Caesar currently playing at the RSC: "This, of all Shakespeare's plays, badly needs a shot in the arm – and it receives a powerful one in this production by Gregory Doran, the RSC's artistic director designate, who has transposed the action to modern Africa. To see it played by an all-black British cast is also to be reminded of the wealth of classical acting talent available in this country". Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jun/07/julius-caesar-review?newsfeed=true .
Posted 08.06.2012: Last weekend current and past students of the Shakespeare Institute came together in Stratford-upon-Avon to celebrate the 60th birthday of the Institute, looking back on a diamond collection of memories. On a glorious Saturday afternoon, guests were treated to a panel discussion between the author Rosalind Miles, Tracy Irish of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Stanley Wells CBE, Shakespeare scholar and former director of the Institute. These three distinguished alumni of the Institute considered the topic of "Six decades in the Shakespeare business". More details at: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/alumni/news/items/2012/06/07June-Shakespeare-Institute-turns-60.aspx .
Posted 13.05.2012: The actress Felicity Kendal grew up in India where her parents ran an eccentric touring Shakespeare company called Shakespeareana. In a BBC2 TV film (Wed. 16 May, 9.00 p.m.) she returns to the land of her childhood to discover the full story of India's enduring love-affair with Shakespeare - from the first days of Empire to Bollywood and beyond. More information at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00rb3v3 .
Posted 12.05.2012:Shakespeare "a natural Tory": In the debate in the House of Commons that followed the Queen's Speech (09.05.2012) the Member of Parliament for Stratford-upon-Avon, Nadim Zahawi (above), observed that "there is no better embodiment of British values than this self-taught, self-made, and indeed self-created, man. He was a man who worked his utmost to put on earth and in our hearts a source of wealth that endures to this day. In fact, more than that, I would go as far as to say that the great bard was in his soul and actions a natural Tory. I commend the motion to the House". Full speech at: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2012-05-09a.6.0&s=speaker%3A24822 .
Posted 07.05.2012: Members may be interested in a forthcoming Exhibition at the British Library - Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands. Over 150 literary works, including many first-time loans from overseas and directly from authors: sound recordings, videos, letters, photographs, maps, song lyrics and drawings - as well as manuscripts and printed editions. "From William Blake to the 21st-century suburban hinterlands of J G Ballard, Writing Britain examines how the landscapes of Britain permeate great literary works. It will allow visitors to read between the lines of great works of English literature, discovering the secrets and stories surrounding the works’ creation, shedding new light on how they speak to the country today." The Exhibition opens on Friday (11 May) until 25 September and a book to accompany the exhibition will shortly be available from the BL Bookshop. More information and booking procedure at: http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/writingbritain/index.html .
Posted 05.05,2012: Lucy Mangan of the Guardian reviews the BBC2 TV series 'Shakespeare in Italy', presented by Francesco da Mosto. The first programme made "absurd claims" such as: Shakespeare spent the so-called 'lost years' in Italy; also, "Shakespeare was a Sicilian called Crollalanza who fell in love with a woman called Juliet and rented a house from a merchant called Othello – who, yes, since you ask, murdered his wife in a jealous rage – before emigrating to England, transliterating his name and putting his pen immediately to foolscap and dashing off Hamlet". Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/may/03/shakespeare-in-italy-tv-review .
Posted 05.05.2012: To mark the Cultural Olympiad, the London's Globe theatre is staging each of Shakespeare's plays in 37 different languages. The Bitter Pills theatre company from Nairobi rehearsed tirelessly at the National Theatre in preparation for their performance of Merry Wives of Windsor in Swahili. BBC Africa's Angela Ngendo reports at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17960227 . Andrew Gilchrist reviews the production in the Guardian - "visually intoxicating": http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/27/merry-wives-of-windsor-review . Posted 04.05.2012: Today's Times T2 (p. 10) has an interview by Dominic Maxwell with Tristan Sharps, director of The Rest is Silence, described as a "meditation on Hamlet". The play - performed by the dreamthinkspeak company - opens this week at the Malthouse Estate Warehouse in Shoreham-by-Sea as part of the Brighton Festival. It is described as "an ambitious textual and visual deconstruction of Hamlet, interweaving performance, film and installation to create a vigorous new interpretation .... Meditative and dreamlike in quality, the hallmark of dreamthinkspeak’s productions, The Rest is Silence will be performed within a specially designed and multilayered structure, allowing the action to unfold on different levels and on all sides". Malthouse until 8th June, then touring. More information at: http://brightonfestival.org/event/453/the_rest_is_silence/ .
Posted 02.05.2012: BBC to screen four Shakespeare history plays: Sam Mendes' films of 'Henry' plays (H41, H42, H5) and R2 to include Jeremy Irons, Julie Walters, Michelle Dockery and John Hurt. Other actors appearing in the four films include Tom Hiddleston (Prince Hal), Patrick Stewart (John of Gaunt), Julie Walters (Mistress Quickly), David Suchet (Duke of York), Lindsay Duncan (Duchess of York), Rory Kinnear (Bolingbroke), Michelle Dockery (Lady Percy), Maxine Peake (Doll Tearsheet), Iain Glen (Warwick) and John Hurt (The Chorus). Irons will play Henry IV, while Russell Beale is to be Falstaff. Eyre will direct Henry IV, and Thea Sharrock is the director on Henry V. Full story at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/may/01/bbc-shakespeare-history-films-mendes?newsfeed=true .
Posted 27.04.2012:The Telegraph reviews King Lear at the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow: "The coming together of a greatShakespearecharacter and an equally great actor is a rare and memorable event. From Laurence Olivier's Henry V to Mark Rylance's Hamlet, such performances are the theatre's equivalent of a lunar eclipse.One can now add to that illustrious list David Hayman's King Lear. After a more than 30–year absence, the revered Scottish actor returns to the Citizens Theatre Company he calls his "creative home" with a truly defining depiction of the hapless monarch. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/9231712/King-Lear-Citizens-Theatre-Glasgow-review.html .
Posted 27.04.2012: In today's Guardian Michael Billington reviews Shakespeare's Shipwreck Trilogy in Stratford - The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night & The Tempest: "...three plays about sea storms, separation and survival. Even if the productions are variable, it is fascinating to follow the links between the plays, and Jon Bausor's design, with its standing water, splintered timber and overhead gantries, certainly makes a strong statement". Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/26/comedy-errors-twelfth-night-tempest-review . Above is Jonathan Slinger as Prospero.
Posted 25.04.2012: Michael Billington in the Guardian reviews King John, currently playing at the Swan. "With its blend of party hats, pop music, pomp and circumstance and latex balloons, Maria Aberg's production of this unloved play is certainly never dull. But while I welcome its cynical, modern take on power politics and have no problem with its casting of women in two pivotal male roles, I feel there are times when Aberg's hunger for innovation dwindles into idiocy. Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/20/king-john-review . For another review by Maddy Costa: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/16/rsc-king-john-women .
Posted 22.04.2012:As the Globe to Globe Festival begins in London, the director of New Zealand's version of Troilus and Cressida explains how she put Maori culture at the heart of Shakespeare's Trojan tragedy. Full story at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17769799 .
Posted 21.04.2012: Today a bust of Professor Stanley Wells C.B.E., was unveiled at The Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon. It has been created by Greg Wyatt, sculptor in residence at St John the Divine Cathedral, New York. Above is a sneak preview, taken during the first sitting. Posted 21.04.2012: World Shakespeare festival: around the Globe in 37 plays. The World Shakespeare festival, with performances from across the globe in nearly 50 languages, begins this weekend. Andrew Dickson travelled to India to watch rehearsals for a Bollywood version of Twelfth Night and an All's Well about the opium trade in Mumbai. The full and very substantial Guardian Review article is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/20/world-shakespeare-festival-globe-theatre-rsc .
Posted 21.04.2012:An album of Shakespeare's sonnets set to music and played on Elizabethan instruments will be released on Shakespeare's birthday this year. Singers including folk star Eliza Carthy are backed by musicians playing replica instruments including lutes, a type of 16-string cello called a lirone and a massive stringed instrument called a theorbo. The arrangements on the album, which was the idea of renaissance music expert Robert Hollingworth, have not changed any of Shakespeare's words but have repeated some lines and moved others.
Posted 19.04.2012: In today's Guardian T2 Michael Billington reviews Richard III currently in production at the Swan as part of the 'Nations at War' season. The production is directed by Roxana Silbert and has Jonjo O'Neill as Richard. Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/18/richard-iii-review .
Posted 18.04.2012: Yesterday's Guardian G2 (p. 18) Maddy Costa writes on Maria Aberg who directs King John for the RSC. In this production "two roles have switched gender: the Catholic emissary Pandulph and, more radically, the firebrand Philip Faulconbridge, otherwise known as the Bastard, the child of Richard Lionheart ... If giving more Shakespearean roles to women can improve their acting, inspire today's playwrights and make audiences feel more connected to his plays, perhaps being faithful to the texts is a small price to pay." The image above is of Pippa Nixon as the Bastard. The full article is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/16/rsc-king-john-women .
Posted 12.04.2012: Today's Times T2 (p. 7) has an article by Nancy Durrant featuring Shakespeare themed events called 'Shakespeare in the Sky', including Tudor-style food and performances at the Windows restaurant, Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, London, starting 25 April. In conjunction with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Posted 12.04.2012:The Great Bed of Ware: Shakespeare used it as a byword for huge size and 26 butchers and their wives allegedly spent the night in it for a bet in 1689. Now the enormous Tudor bed that has been a centrepiece of the Victoria and Albert Museum for more than 80 years has a new temporary home. The piece of furniture in question is the Great Bed of Ware, which has left South Kensington to take pride of place in the tiny museum of its Hertfordshire home town for a year. Full story at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/apr/11/v-and-a-museum-great-bed-ware .
Posted 31.03.2012: Today's Times Saturday Review has an article (by Ben Hoyle, pp. 4-5) on how Shakespeare helped Serbs to cope during the murderous Belgrade spring of 1999: "In the Balkans Shakespeare is not a matter of life and death ... he is sometimes much more important than that". Full article in the Book Box. The Albanian National Theatre company will be performing H62 as part of the Globe to Globe Festival this summer. Performances in Albanian (12 – 13 May).
Posted 25.03.2012: Today's Sunday Times Culture magazine (pp. 18-19) has an article in which Dominic Dromgoole discusses some of the problems of organising the forthcoming Globe to Globe season in which all 37 of WS's plays will be performed in 37 different languages. From 23 April until 9 June.
Posted 24.03.2012: This year's RSC Shakespeare Summer School will take place 19-24 August at the Shakespeare Institute in Church Street, Stratford. The registration fee will be £155.00, excluding any tickets for performances. Booking should be made through the RST Box Office:
Posted 05.03.2011:The death is announced of the actor Philip Madoc. He was probably best known for his TV roles, achieving 'immortality' as a German U-Boat commander in the classic "Don't tell him, Pike" scene from the popular television sitcom Dad's Army. However, he also played a number of Shakespearean roles including Vincentio ( M4M touring) for the RSC 1991-92, King Lear (live radio from Globe) and Prospero in the 2001 Audio version of The Tempest. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17255287 .
Posted 04.03.2012: Today's Sunday Times News Review (p. 6) reviews Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England (Bodley Head at £20.00). See Book Box.
Posted 01.03.2012: Today's Guardian G2 (pp. 16-17) has an article featuring Simon Callow and Patrick Stewart's two shows depicting different approaches to Shakespeare's life. "Callow's piece, deftly scripted by Jonathan Bate, mingles biographical snippets with historical snapshots; and, although Callow describes Shakespeare and speaks his words, he never plays him directly. He explains: "We ask what it was like to be an Elizabethan baby, an Elizabethan schoolboy, a solider and so on, and then tried to connect that to what we know about Shakespeare's life. It's a sort of prism through which to view him." Stewart performs Edward Bond's play, Bingo, which "by contrast, goes the whole counterfactual hog. Subtitled 'scenes of money and death', Bingo imagines what life might have been like at the grand pile – the second largest house in Stratford – Shakespeare retired to a few years before his death in 1616". Full article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/feb/29/theatre-shakespeare .
Posted 25.02.2012: The BBC World Service broadcast today at 2.30 a.m. an edition of 'The Strand', its regular arts and entertainment programme. Today's programme focused on a group of actors from Afghanistan who will be presenting The Comedy of Errors as part of the Shakespeare Festival linked to 2012 London Olympics. Because of the dangers to female actors for flouting cultural prohibitions the actors are forced to rehearse in India for their own safety. A podcast of the programme can be accessed via this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00nwqqh/The_Strand_25_02_2012/ .
Posted 25.02.2012: In today's Times Magazine (pp. 36-41) William Leith talks to Mark Rylance ahead of the latter's return to Shakespeare's Globeas part of the theatre's 2012 The Play's the Thing season. Richard III starts its run on 14 July and Twelfth Night on 22 September. (020-7401 9919; shakespearesglobe.com . Posted 23.02.2012: The first two PhDs are to be awarded in a joint venture between the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and universities in the capital: Audience behaviour and its effect on actors - and on Shakespeare himself - are among the topics looked at by the academics. Angela Harrison reports that the young academic looked at Shakespeare's audiences past and present and the other at how Shakespeare was influenced by two different London venues - one indoor and one outdoor - and the audiences there. Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17073302 .
Posted 19.02.2012: Yesterdays's Guardian Review contained a supplement from The New York Review of Books in which the American academic Stephen Greenblatt gives a very substantial review of Ralph Fiennes's film of Coriolanus (and James Fenton reviews Downton Abbey). The first part of Greenblatt's review can be accessed at: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/08/man-principle-coriolanus/?pagination=false . The full review will be placed in the Book Box File.
Posted 17.02.2012: Michael Billington in today's Guardian reviews King Lear at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol (until 24 March). The reviewer is impressed by individual performances but feels Andrew Hilton's production lacks an "interpretative idea". Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/feb/16/king-lear-review .
Posted 14.02.2012: Today's Guardian reviews The Taming of the Shrew at the Derby Theatre until 25 February : "It's rare to see The Taming of the Shrew performed without any shade of irony. Directors either include the framing device of the tinker's dream, which has the effect of placing the action within giant quotation marks; or else Katherine's final speech about fealty to one's husband is undercut with such knowing insincerity that the inverted commas are apparent anyway. Pete Mekin allows the play to speak for itself, however unpalatable the things it has to say. Christopher Sly is dispensed with and the gender imbalance explained by transposition to the Victorian era, in which a wife's status as goods and chattels was not a matter for debate but a statement of fact": http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/feb/13/taming-of-the-shrew-review?newsfeed=true .
Posted 09.02.2012: Today's Guardian has a short review of R&J at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton: "...[A] production that's startlingly fresh. At its heart are Daniel Boyd and Catrin Stewart's affecting, often gauche teenagers, startled by a love that leaves them wrong-footed, tongue-tied, almost stuttering, and at times in pain. I've never seen a production that so clearly captures the internalised world of the adolescent: high as a kite one moment and in the depths of despair the next". Full review: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/feb/08/romeo-and-juliet-review .
For Dickens Shakespeare was "the great master who knew everything," whose plays were "an unspeakable source of delight". It has been well said that 'No one is better qualified to recognise literary genius than a literary genius', and no other author has had so profound effect on Dickens. From the outset of his career his achievement has been compared to that of Shakespeare, and it is a mark of his stature that to this day the comparison commands respect....'.
These are the opening lines of an essay entitled 'Dickens and Shakespeare' by Paul Schlicke of the University of Aberdeen. The entire essay may be accessed at the PDF File above.
Posted 04.02.2012: Benedict Nightingale (The Times T2, pp. 10-11) has a 2-page piece on Michael Boyd's ten years as Artistic Director of the RSC. The article also speculates on several possible successors. They include Greg Doran, Rupert Goold, Marianne Elliott and Kenneth Branagh.
Posted 02.02.2012: The Humanities Division and Brasenose College, Oxford, are delighted to welcome stage and film actress Vanessa Redgrave as the next Humanitas Visiting Professor in Drama. She will deliver lectures and take part in a symposium in fourth week of Hilary Term. The programme of events will focus on the theme of Theatre and Politics and includes lectures on King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. She will also be taking part in a symposium along with Guardian theatre critic, Michael Billington and playwright Simon Stephens. The opening lecture will take place in the Examination Schools on Thursday 9th February. Further details at: http://www.humanities.ox.ac.uk/events/humanitas/drama .
Posted 01.02.2012: Today's Guardian (Michael Billington) reviews Loves Labours Lost at the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme, by Barry Rutter's Northern Broadsides company: "You have to admire the bloody-minded tenacity of Barrie Rutter. He has kept Northern Broadsides going for 20 years; and, even if I have seen this magical early Shakespeare comedy achieve greater heights of ecstasy and pathos, this is a clear, visually graceful version that fills a large gap in the touring market. "Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/jan/31/loves-labours-lost-review .
Posted 26.01.2012: The death is announced ofNicol Williamson (b. 1936): "Nicol Williamson, the actor, who has died aged 75, was considered 'the greatest since Marlon Brando' by John Osborne and reckoned by Samuel Beckett to be 'touched by genius'; but his prickly temperament helped derail what might have been one of the great theatrical careers. Obituary at:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9039245/Nicol-Williamson.html . Detailed biography at:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0932116/bio . Above is a 6-minute video clip of Williamson as Hamlet in the graveyard scene (1969).
Posted 23.01.2012: Off By Heart - Be part of a BBC programme in the making at the RST Sunday 29 January at 3.00 p.m.. Nine teenage finalists will deliver some of Shakespeare's most famous speeches. Jeremy Paxman presents and the panel of judges includes Simon Sharma and Samuel West. Tickets £5.00. RSC Ticket Hotline 0844-800-1110.
Posted 22.01.2012: In today's Sunday Times News Review (p. 12) Stanley Wells is in conversation with Sian Griffiths. Wells - a former schoolteacher himself - laments that at a time when a recent RSC survey has shown that some 50% of the world's schoolchildren study Shakespeare "Poor teaching is making pupils loathe Shakespeare". "Before teachers are let loose on Shakespeare in the classroom [he] would like to see them required to get a special qualification in the playwright's work at university and in teacher training colleges". Full story in the Book Box File.
Posted 20.01.2012: In today's Times T2 (p. 10) Kate Muir enthusiastically reviews the film of Coriolanus directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes: "It was made to be a Balkan tragedy and the cast is flawless". She concludes that Fiennes "can be proud of his first outing as a director". See the official trailer below. Posted 20.01.2012: Yesterday Times T2 has an Kevin Mahler (pp. 10-11) in interview with Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes's film of Coriolanus is discussed together with other material.
Posted 12.01.2012: Faction Theatre's account of Twelfth Night (at New Diorama, London NW1) is terrifically fresh in its stripped-back - not to say, at one point, half-naked - inventiveness. It must be one of the few versions of Shakespeare's comedy of romantic yearning, gender confusion, madness and melancholy to include a scene of fugitive erotic ambiguity set in a sauna. Under Mark Leipacher's lithe and astute direction, there's an exhilarating sense here that the eleven-strong company have purposefully scrubbed their collective memory clean of the encrusted plaque of the play's performance traditions. Using hardly any props and no conventional "scenery" in the bare black box of the New Diorama, the actors bring alive the topsy-turvy world of Illyria through a continually suprising and persuasive group-physicality. Full review at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/twelfth-night-new-diorama-london-6287152.html .The Stagereview at:http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/34840/twelfth-night . Posted 12.01.2012: The Enchanted Island is a pasticcio (or pastiche) opera written by Jeremy Sams over the course of several years. Pasticcio operas, common during the 18th century and baroque period, are essentially a "cut and paste" of various works by different composers set to new librettos to create a brand new opera.
The Enchanted Island features baroque music from Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, Leclair, and more. In keeping with the music, the libretto is a sort of mashup of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest retold by Sams. Though the music is 18th century, Sams keeps the libretto in English and refrains from using pronouns like "thee" and "thou" in an effort to appeal to today's audience.Eminent conductor William Christie leads an all-star cast with David Daniels (Prospero) and Joyce DiDonato(Sycorax) as the formidable foes, Plácido Domingo as Neptune, Danielle de Niese as Ariel, and Luca Pisaroni as Caliban. Lisette Oropesa and Anthony Roth Costanzo play Miranda and Ferdinand.
Posted 08.01.2011: The film of Coriolanus with Ralph Fiennes in the title role and Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia opens in cinemas on 20th January. The official trailer for the film (2 mins. 25 secs) can be viewed via the link above or at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANmxMf9b16Q .
Posted 08.01.2012: From Benedict Cumberbatch in interview with Rosanna Greenstreet: Q - If you could edit your past, what would you change? Ans - I possibly might not have called Trevor Nunn 'Adrian Noble' at my first audition for him. [Guardian Weekend Magazine 07.01.2012, p. 13].
Posted 29.12.2011: Michael Pennington's Sweet William: The Oxford Playhouse, Friday 27 January 2012: In his acclaimed one man show, Michael takes you on a vivid journey through the life and work of William Shakespeare, celebrating the man and illuminating his plays.http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/show/?eventid=2076 .
Posted 28.12.2011: Members who will be seeing - or who have seen - David Edgar's Written on the Heart at the Swan Theatre may be interested in an article written by Edgar for the Guardian last February in which he explains at some length his approach to the subject of the King James Bible in this, its 400th anniversary year. Full article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/19/bible-king-james-version-david-edgar .
Posted 28.12.2011: Members may be interested in five In Our Time broadcasts (BBC Radio4) on the subject of 'The Written Word'. The programmes will be broadcast on consecutive days (2nd - 6th January) at 9.00 a.m. (repeated at 9.30 p.m.). The programmes will be presented, as usual, by Melvyn Bragg. Further details at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl/episodes/upcoming .
Posted 09.12.2011: Lyn Gardner in today's Guardian (p. 48) reviews an outdoor Winter's Tale in Camley Street Park, London: "It may be a bit nippy – there are braziers and mulled wine on hand to ease the chill – but it's hugely atmospheric, suggesting that the doomed young prince Mamillius is right when he declares that "a sad tale's best for winter...Trees are strung with fairylights, the route to the sheep-shearing takes you alongside the gaily coloured barges of the Regent's Canal, Leontes is discovered regretting his jealousy alone in a woodland glade with just a radio playing I've Got You Under My Skin for company, and Hermione's statue comes to life in a water garden. You quickly cease to wonder that the Sicilian court was built with high-speed trains in mind.This production has a ragged charm that captures the fairytale qualities of the story". Until 22 December. Details http://oldvictunnels.com/.
Posted 03.12.2011: Today's Guardian (p. 46) has a review by Lyn Gardner of Hamlet currently at the Barbican. "Less a tragedy and more a tortured comedy played out in the squelching mud and dirt of Elsinore, Thomas Ostermeier's Schaubuhne production shines [a] forensic light on Shakespeare. The result is brash and noisy, sometimes infuriating, frequently illuminating, occasionally heart-stopping and never, not even for the tiniest moment, dull. Full review at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2011/dec/02/theatre-shakespeare .