Monday, 30 May 2011

Juliet is the Sun

Juliet is the sun. the whole quote is. But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun! Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon, It goes on as everyone knows, a very famous speech. I watched the DVD of Romeo and Juliet. It is the version with Leonardo DiCaprio, an up dated version. I did enjoy it immensely, so now I am reading the play in my little Penguin copy. The reason it is significant to me is, I was half way through the book when I realised, I'm starting to get the hang of this language, it was very exciting when I realised I'm actually starting to get it. Think it may be the most beautiful writing I have ever read. I would love to see the play in the theatre, or perhaps a more traditional movie version. Loved the up to date version but, to be honest it took a bit of adjustment. It wasn't that they called their guns swords or that they drove around in cars. It was things like the prince, Escalus being the chief of police, didn't feel right to me. Just a little thing. DiCaprio was very good as Romeo. Miriam Margolyes as the nurse and Pete Postlethwaite as the friar were fantastic. After I have read the whole text I will watch the movie again.

I have a fantastic book, The Arden Shakespeare Miscellany by Jane Armstrong. It was recommended to me by the Dainty Ballerina, here forth known as DB. if you have read any of my other posts you will know that it was DB's help, encouragement and inspiration that made me write this blog. Jane Armstrong's book has a wealth of information, its great to dip in and out of. I have always been a bit confused by the plays King Henry VI parts 1 2 and 3. Jane's book has given me a way in and I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into them. This is endless, I think I may go under. And how is my writing going to do it justice, to the whole Shakespearean journey. Its quite easy when I am describing my enthusiasm, its all very naive and like a kids writing. Its a different story when I try to get into a play. I feel a bit lost and out of my depth. DB has emailed me some helpful literature on how to write an essay, so maybe I can make it a bit more academic and less school boy

To finish this post. The DVD of Hamlet arrived, and I bought a little Penguin copy of the play. I love the Penguin books they are fantastic, with a commentary at the back. I'm building a wee library of them. So my next blog might be about Hamlet. Still to write about Henry V though. Absolutely loved that. Anyway that's for the future.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Start of the journey

The life and works of William Shakespeare are a vast subject, and for me, it is difficult to know how and where, to fight my way in. I have so many questions, opinions and ideas going round in my head. Its hard. The first thing, is probably the most obvious. The language. When I watch, usually a DVD or read one of the plays, I think, right now, I'm struggling to understand, not the words but the way they are put together. A friend has told me when reading the plays, to say the words out loud, its like learning french, god help me, though I do think, that will help. Watching the plays, I have no problem following the story, just feel I'm missing out a bit, I don't really have any worries it will come to me, eventually. After all that is what it is all about, the language of Shakespeare. I love it, when I hear one of the famous and well known lines or speeches. If music be the food of love, then play on. If that is not the correct quotation, feel free to set me strait. From Twelfth Night. I watched the DVD, with Imogen Stubs, Nigel Hawthorne, Ben Kingsly and Helena Bonham Carter. I thought it was absolutely outstanding. That is another thing I love. The actors. They line up to be in one Shakespeare's plays. When I was growing up, it was Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson, terrific players. Wish I had saw them on stage, chewing up the scenery, as Maggy Smith once said about Olivier, it was something like that. The actors of this generation are also fantastic. I really thought Imogen Stubbs was wonderful in Twelfth Night, as was Nigel Hawthorne.
I am coming to a lot of these plays for the first time, So I feel really privileged, excited and lucky. Some of them, I seem to know the story. as if through osmosis or something. But take Twelfth Night for instance, I did not know what it was about. I had heard of it, of course. You have no idea how delighted I was with it. Made me laugh and when I was laughing, I thought this is magic, it gave me such a buzz and I felt as if I had joined some kind of exclusive club of Shakespeare lovers. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think it will be to long before I watch it again. That is why I feel lucky. There are a lot of the plays like that, I will be seeing them for the first time and I'm sure a lot of them will have the same impact on me.
I seem to have been talking a lot about Twelfth Night. That might be the way I shall write this blog, picking on one play, each time. I don't know though, I would not like to put any restrictions or boundaries, on how I go on with my Shakespeare Journey.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

For Dainty Ballerina

My love for Shakespeare started when I was a small boy, at my little primary school in Stoneyburn. We were studying history, Scottish history. Most of it was about Bannockburn, Culloden, The Highland Clearances and the road system. All subjects I really liked. Maybe not so much the road system. One day we turned to Scottish Kings and Macbeth came along. I can remember the text book, in particular the picture. it was of a castle surrounded by trees. When we read the story we discovered that there was an army behind the trees. Found out today that Macbeth was a real King of Scotland around 1060's and Shakespeare based it loosely on him. I got mixed up between fact and fiction. This must have been my first introduction to the historical plays.
Years later, I was really lucky to see Kenneth Branagh. I think with his own company, at the Edinburgh festival. I wish I had the program, lost it years ago. That's a common thing with me. They performed two plays King Lear and A Midsummer Nights Dream. I had to jump through hoops to get time off work on two different nights. I will never forget it, my first time seeing Shakespeare live in the theater. And what a great cast, with Emma Thompson and Richard Briers. In King Lear, Briers played Lear, Branagh played Edgar and Directed. Emma Thompson was the Fool, unrecognizable all wrapped up in bandages. She was really creepy a bit disturbing and fantastic. A Midsummer Nights Dream, Directed by Branagh was magical and funny, very different from Lear. I remember it being a play within a play, and I was glad, at last to see Emma Thompson without all the rags and bandages, and looking beautiful.
That will do for now. If anybody ever reads this, I hope its not been to boring for you. I must warn you there will be more. I haven't even scratched the surface. Another warning, I am slightly dyslexic and I trust the spell check. Sometimes I will get mixed up with things like, no and know or been and bean, its always been embarrassing, but thanks to the spell checker, I can write like everyone else. Oh aye! I'm hopeless at grammar as well, so reading this will be more painful for you than me. One last thing. Not sure if this is the right place to say this, but hear it is anyway. Thank you to the Dainty Ballerina. You are a Princess.