Monday, 16 January 2012

Friendly Blogs II

After writing my last post, I got some feedback on twitter. One of the tweets was from someone who's opinion I value very much @EHChalis If you are on twitter, you should follow her. Anyway, Elaine suggested that I read Shakespeare out loud. I have actually tried it, albeit whispering. Well today I gave it the full treatment. I had the house to myself and I went up to my bedroom picked up Julius Caesar, not Coriolanus. And like a true Shakespearean (ham) actor I read half a dozen pages out loud. I think it helped but if it did or didn't, I really enjoyed doing it. I didn't try it with Coriolanus as I've nearly finished it, so I thought I'd try it on a "new play". I'll tell you something, I'm going to love Julius Caesar. And I think I will invest in the old DVD with Brando. Ive got a funny feeling he doesn't actually play Caesar. I'm pretty sure in fact, that Caesar isn't the main character in the play. is it not Brutus? and is that not the part Brando plays? I shall find out. Anyway, whether it's because I have a little knowledge of the story or it was the reading out loud, what ever. I can't wait to get into The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.

This is not the original path I was going to take on my Shakespeare journey. I intended to start, well not start as Ive been reading random plays up until now. Macbeth, Othello and Romeo and Juliet. My thinking was to read Henry IV part 1 and 2 then Henry V. I was dying to read all about Falstaff. That's another thing. I was watching University Challenge a while back, one of the questions was. In which play does Falstaff first appear? well I made a right arse of myself, shouting out Henry IV Part 1. That's wrong, to my family's joy and my red face. I'm sure they said it was The Merry Wives of Windsor. I think I was right all along, because I consulted my copy of Jane Armstrong's brilliant, The Arden Shakespeare Miscellany and she says that The Merry Wives of Windsor was supposedly written as a request from Queen Elizabeth, who according to tradition wished to see Falstaff in love. So to my thinking, unless the Queen made up the character of Sir John Falstaff and I don't believe that for a second, how else would she have known about him? She must have saw him in Henry IV Part 1. This may all be totally wrong and you may think I'm barking up the wrong tree, but don't worry about me, I'll work it out in the end, It's all part of the journey. My original path. My original path was sidelined by Coriolanus. The reason being, the new movie coming out and because I didn't have a clue of how the story went, I wanted to be familiar with the play. As Ive said in my last post I found Coriolanus a challenge and it was when his mother Volumnia came into the play that opened the door for me. I have a strange copy of Coriolanus, well its more awkward than strange. All the names of the characters are abbreviated, and with my stupid bad memory I struggle to remember who is talking. I'll persevere with it, then maybe when I come to re read it I'll choose a better copy. So that's my reading lined up for the next few months. Coriolanus, Julius Caesar then Antony and Cleopatra. Henry and Sir John F will still be there when I get round to them. All a part of my Shakespeare Journey.

I'd like to say a few words on a couple of books I bought recently. Shakespeare and Co by Stanley Wells and William Shakespeare A Documentary Life by Samuel Schoenbaum. I haven't had time to get into them yet, but I am very exited about them. They both came highly recommended and I think they may loom large over my future posts.

Thanks for reading and many thanks for you kind encouragement on twitter!

So long for now


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Friendly Blogs

In the last few weeks I have been reading a lot of blog posts. Everyone of them have been so helpful. From Shakespeare BT to Shakespeareana. I also enrolled in Getting to know Shakespeare with Paul Edmondson, a free online course from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I am so greatful to them for making the course available.

I have been reading Coriolanus since before Christmas and to be honest, it's been a bit of a struggle. I think I know what the problem is. It's so obvious I feel foolish writing it down. It's the first play I've read where I didn't know the story already. So for the first time, I found it a real challenge. All of Shakespeare's writing is challenging. But for me there is always a key that lets me in. This happened in Coriolanus in Act IV With his mother Volumnia, that is when it takes off for me. I would love to see it on stage, to make sure I've understood what is actually going on. The movie of Coriolanus is out at the end of the month, really looking forward to seeing it.

I read a really great blog post frome Shakespeareana. It was all about a technique for reading, well actualy performing Shakespeare, called Hall's Pause. It's in a book by Ron Rosenbaum called The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Publiic Fiascoes, Palace Coups. I am going to try and read the plays this way. Basically it means taking a tiny pause after every line. I've tried it and I think, it works for me. The only thing is it takes ages to read the play. But, because it takes longer, it enhances the love of the writing. If you are reading this, like me, you must love the writing. Shakespeare's writing. We all love it!

Before I finish I would like to urge you to enrol in "Getting to Know Shakespeare" it really is an excellent course. I owe a great deal of gratitude to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and I would love to visit them in the near future. Hopefully this summer. To walk in Shakespeare's footsteps and be part of it all would be amazing.

So long for now