oh NOOOOOOO the white dude is playing othello
his scene partner already called him out but. i hope this goes so poorly for him. sorry white dude protagonist you were kind of endearing yourself to me but then u insisted on doing othello
on this, most auspicious of shakespeare days let me tell you all that it doesn’t matter how you came to be a bard fan! it doesn’t matter if you grew up hearing the original text as bedtime stories or bought a ticket for romeo + juliet because you’re a dicaprio fan. it doesn’t matter if you read the original folio editions or listen to the plays on tape because you find the language hard to process. it doesn’t matter if you’ve never read or seen a shakespeare play and only know the stories from adaptations like west side story and kiss me kate! shakespeare is for everybody, and it’s easy for academics to forget that the plays weren’t written for us: they were written for public consumption, in any way the public may wish to consume.
i’m like 5 minutes into complete works and i am TENTATIVELY ENJOYING IT??? there are only 5 short episodes oop
A reminder for today that supporting the idea that Oxford or Sir Francis Bacon or whoever wrote Shakespeare’s works is inherently classist and undermines the very essence of what makes Shakespeare great: the universality of his writing.
Shakespeare didn’t write to impress academics or to become reknown in literary circles, he wrote because he loved it and he loved acting and the theater, because he liked showing people up and he liked getting paid.
Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays where the main characters are noble, yes, but he wrote actors too — and teenage kids and poor grad students and nurses. His nobles aren’t memorable because they are grand but because anyone can relate to them, Hamlet’s not special to us because he’s a prince but because many of us can see our struggles in his thoughts and actions.
Do not let Oxfordians or Baconians take away what is special about Shakespeare: that he was an ordinary man writing plays not just for nobles or kings, for landowners or the highly educated elite but for ordinary people — for apprentices and butchers and merchant’s wives and maids. His company performed at court, but they also performed at the Globe, where you could get in for a penny if you didn’t mind standing in a crowd.
The Authorship Question isn’t really about discovering “who really wrote Shakespeare,” it’s about elitists being upset and confused and angry because the greatest works in the English language were written by the son of a well-off tradesman who never went to college.
I would also like to add that a lot of the Authorship Question also arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of early modern English culture. A lot of the records that we have for Shakespeare are business-oriented because those were the sorts of documents that were considered important. It’s not a fundamental disconnect from the solitary genius baring his soul though poetry (an idea that emerged via 19th century Romantics— before Wordsworth, sonnets were not considered to be confessional in nature). It’s just a matter of what archives were important to early modern people.
There’s not an absence of evidence, there’s an absence of archive, based on what Shakespeare’s contemporaries thought was important to preserve. We know about as much about Shakespeare’s life as we know about other Elizabethan playwrights. (This podcast offers more proof of this. The lecturer wrote for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and mentions that only seven lost years for an early modern subject was considered remarkably good going.) It’s only because Shakespeare was glommed onto as a secular Jesus in the 18th and 19th century (and the rise of biography as a genre starting with I think Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson) that knowing more about his life became an obsession, to the point where there were famous forgers and people began to think that an absence of evidence that they and their 18th/19th century contemporaries would have preserved was proof of a conspiracy.
As to the education argument— that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what English grammar schools were like during the Elizabethan era. The references and allusions in Shakespeare’s plays are perfectly consistent with the curriculum of a typical grammar school graduate. And speaking of the plays, they are fundamentally of the theater and for the theater. They flatter patrons (o hai there Banquo’s successively handsomer and kinglier descendants *cough*James I*cough), they play with what could and could not be done on a stage. They retell stories popular at the time (The Merchant of Venice is often considered to be a reaction to Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta).
Shakespeare wrote for people like him— for people like us. Not people who preserved the same things we do, or who learned the same things we do, but people who felt the same as we do.
shakespeare monologue meme: first chorus from henry v
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ‘tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.
In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, I thought it’d be fun to do a meme. The criteria are simple:
- Record yourself reading a Shakespearean monologue.
- Post it and tag it with “shakespeare monologue meme.”
That’s it. That’s the meme. What you read and how you read it is up to you! Playing multiple times is encouraged. :D
David Tennant as Romeo (and Adrian Schiller as Mercutio?) in the RSC’s 2000 Romeo and Juliet.
WELL HELLO THERE
WATCH THIS: Jamie Parker does the St. Crispins Day speech from Henry the V.
I got to see this production a couple years ago, with one crucial difference - it was raining that night, pissing wet London weather pouring down on the real groundlings, standing in front of the stage for 3 hours, wearing slickers (I had splurged for slightly better seats, I’m nobody’s idea of a hero). When Parker came down to do that last chunk (“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers / for he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, be he ne’er so vile*”) he did so at the lip of the stage, uncovered … getting soaked in the rain with all the groundlings. At the risk of sounding just too corny for you to keep reading, it was why we go to the theater at all. Dig in. And Happy Birthday Shakespeare.
*I’ve probably got a couple words wrong, but before you yell at me, I did it from memory.Exactly this! Thank you for sharing :)