Saturday, May 7, 2016

Shakespeare follow-up

This is just a quick follow-up to this post.  While it was a bit of a mad rush at the end to meet the Sing-for-your-supper deadline, I did start writing the piece that weekend.  I definitely think creating my own work was the most meaningful way of celebrating Shakespeare, rather than solely being a culture consumer.  I'm starting to feel that I will have the time to write several of these pieces (they have been incubating long enough!), and revise some of the other pieces.  I am particularly intrigued by Toronto Cold Reads and think I'll ship off a number of pieces to them, maybe even including Corporate Codes of Conduct to see if I can get the second Act to flow better from the first.

One trend that I don't care for in all this Shakespeare worship is rewriting the plays as novels mostly, since it just means even more oxygen taken out of the room by Shakespeare.  Or maybe what really grates at me is that they are commissioning these pieces from the most famous writers around: Atwood, Winterson, Anne Tyler, and Howard Jacobson, who is redoing The Merchant of Venice, which is one I will absolutely avoid (since I find Jacobson drastically overrated and dislike The Merchant of Venice with a passion).  I guess there is nothing terrible about these projects, which I consider safe bets, but it does seem to deflect attention from artists who could really use the attention.  I suppose I will be hypocritical in the extreme if I ever do finish my retelling of King Lear, though I am leaning against tackling that for a variety of reasons I'll eventually disclose.

I left it at the library in their Shakespeare display in case anyone else wanted it, but no one did, so I brought home Shakesqueer, which is pretty much what it says on the tin.  This is an edited volume of queer studies essays on Shakespeare.  A few look interesting, and the rest are kind of forgettable, which is pretty typical.

In the biggest stretch, I am thinking back to the Richard III that I saw this March, and pondering the incredible coincidence that Leicester City won the Premiere League (at 5000-to-1 odds) the year after Richard's bones were discovered and buried in a more proper tomb.  Actually, it was pretty stunning that they found the bones in the first place.  And this will be a year that no one will forget in UK football.

In any case, moving from UK sports back to the arts, BBC Radio 3 had a number of programs on April 22 and 23 that involved music and Shakespeare in one way or another.  They are generally still available for another 2 weeks.  I'll try to post if there are any I find particularly intriguing.  There are 5 new urban sonnets written in response to Shakespeare, and these are by much more obscure UK poets, so I am a little more receptive to this commission.  The programs (15 minutes each) should be archived here but will vanish in about 2 weeks.

Another interesting program is on Radio 4 where they are taking 20 objects from Shakespeare's era and using them to discuss Elizabethan England.  It's the same general idea as History of the World in 100 objects, which was such a huge hit.  It appears that the original 100 and 5 more Silk Road objects can still be downloaded directly as podcasts.  (There is no regional restriction if one is in Canada, though I haven't tested from the U.S.)  I presume that the Shakespeare ones will also remain available and not time out in time more weeks, but I would go ahead and download now just in case.  Here is episode 8, which focuses on urban strife in Shakespeare's day.

I know there are quite a few pop-up Shakespeare things, including some secret show at Red Sandcastle, but I can't recall the details, and if it is that hard to track down, I am not going.  I do see that in addition to Driftwood's production of The Taming of the Shrew coming to Withrow Park in July, Shakespeare in the Ruff will be doing Romeo and Juliet in Withrow in August.  I'll probably go this time around (I skipped Macbeth last season).  There will almost certainly be a few Shakespeare plays at Fringe this year, so I am not worried about not getting enough Shakespeare this year.

Now I should go outside before I waste the entire day.  {Exit chased by bear...}

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