Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My Shakespeare Festival

The brilliant Sky Arts 2 HD, have just run a full week, celebrating Shakespeare's birthday. I recorded everything, from documentaries, ballet, Opera, I love the ballet and Opera. Then of course the plays. A few of them were recorded live from The Glob theatre in London. King Henry IV Part 1 & 2, Othello, As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet. There was Macbeth from London's Roundhouse and Jonathan Millers Merchant of Venice, with Sir Laurence Olivier. It is going to take me some time to watch them all, it's going to be great catching up. I decided to have my own little Shakespeare Festival, haven't thought of a good name for it yet, like the Sundance Festival, if you have any suggestions, feel free to mention them. The opening ceremony started Monday night, sound's grand. It was me reading The Tempest in bed, after watching half of Henry IV Part 1. Day two was delayed, forgot I had promised to take Mum and Sister out for lunch at the garden center, Mum loves a garden centre. When I got home I watched the rest of Henry IV P1. I've been looking forward to it for ages and I was not disappointed. Armed with my Arden copy of the play, I sort of followed along, not quite reading it at the same time, but knowing who the characters were, as they entered and exeunt the stage. I found myself laughing alone at the antics of Sir John Falstaff, Prince Hal and all their cronies in the Boar's Head Tavern. I could see that, the relationship between these two, would end in sadness for Jack. At the same time, there is great tension between the King and his son. He doesn't approve of his life style. But, The civil war that leads to the battle of Shrewsbury, sees Hal fighting Hotspur and killing him, showing he is a man of courage and fit to be a future King. In Part two, we have the aftermath of the battle, there is still unrest as the rebels have not yet been defeated. The King is ill and dying. Once again It is Falstaff's play, but when the old King dies, Sir John goes to the young Kings coronation and thinks he will be looked after and have a wonderful future. Henry disowns and renounces his old friend. Falstaff is Left a broken man. Pure pathos. This was all filmed at The Globe, it was magic, I have to go, just have to. At the end of each play, all the actors came on the stage and performed a song and dance. Do they always do that? It was hilarious and totally natural. I want to be there one night, to be part of it all. That was part 1 of my Festival, a one man Festival, because no other jooker I know, likes Shakespeare. Part 1, because I have decided to extend it. Two and a half day's is to short a time, I'll give it another two day's, Sunday Monday. This post is part of the Festival. So this is end of part one. George

Sunday, 1 April 2012

But I am constant as the northern star,

I have just spent the last few weeks, reading and studying Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Finishing up with watching the DVD. The old black and white one, with Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius and Louis Calhern as Caesar. I love doing that, first reading the play, then watching it. Just wish I could more of them in the theatre, in the flesh. But as I've said before, in previous posts. I love my DVD collection and its getting bigger. I found Julius Caesar a relatively easy play to read, I read it twice, that is probably because I knew the story quite well. It is quite a short play, just over half the length of Hamlet. Its the story of Brutus, Cassius and other Roman Senator's who conspire to assassinate Caesar. The actual assassination and the civil war that follows.

At first, I thought Caesar was the main character, then I thought it was Mark Antony. But for me, I think, it's the story of Marcus Brutus. That's what interested me the most. Now, this is where I get nervous writing my blog. I wonder if I've missed the point and I doubt my ability to write a proper account. I'm here to write my thoughts and not to win prizes. So here they are. The conspiracy. Cassius, Caska, Cinna and some others, conspire to kill Caesar. Cassius speaks to Brutus who I feel reluctantly takes up with them. All through the play, it appears to me, Brutus is the only one who is doing it for the right reasons. He wants to end tyranny and make Rome a better place for her citizens. I'm not sure Caesar was a tyrant. After all He refuses Mark Antony and the the plebeians three times the opportunity to become King or Emperor. This was the end of Rome as a Republic, Which Caesar wanted to preserve. By killing him, they brought on a civil war and that led to Imperial Rome, with Octavius becoming first Emperor of Rome. Augustus Caesar. The Assassination. Beware the Ides of March. Caesar is warned by the Soothsayer. His wife Calphurnia, has a terrible nightmare in which she calls out, Help ho: they murder Caesar. There is a massive storm, with thunder and lightning and all the omens are bad. Caesar goes to the Senate, Mark Antony is led away and Caesar is murdered. Brutus has persuaded the others and against Cassius better judgment, to spare Antony's life. I think Cassius was right, they should have done the job properly and killed them all. Brutus allows Antony to speak to the citizens at Caesar's funeral. In a clever speech and a bit of play acting, he turns the people against the conspirators. And so. The Civil War. Mark Antony and young Octavius unite and cold bloodily, reek vengens on them all. Brutus and Cassius, at the head of there own armies meet and have a big argument. Another scene in which Brutus comes over as "The noblest Roman of them all" as Mark Antony calls him, over his dead body at the end of the play. Cassius thinks they should stand their ground and let Antony and Octavius come to them. Brutus thinks they should attack them, which they do. They are defeated and both fall on their swords. Brutus may have been noble, but he was very naive. I really enjoyed Julius Caesar. But, when I think about it, don't know if it's right to do this, I don't think it's as good as Coriolanus. Probably it's unfair to compare them. I still loved it and I will certainly come back to it in the future. There are lots of famous quotes in it like "Cry havoc and let slip the dog's of war" that's great! When Brando says it in the movie, he's really angry and roars it out, gives you shivers. Et tu Brute, Caesars last words which feel like a dagger through the heart and the look on James Mason's face is heartbreaking. The title of this post, "But I am as constant as the northern star" Which Caesar says just before he is murdered. That really annoyed me, trying to remember where I'd heard it before. It came to me in my wagon, courtesy of my ipod! It's in a Joni Mitchell song, A Case Of You. It's on her Blue album. I was playing it the other day, when it jumped out at me. I knew I'd heard it before!

So that was part of my Journey. Julius Caesar. What next? Well I'm tempted to go onto Antony and Cleopatra, but I'm not sure, maybe I've had enough of ancient Rome for a spell. I've not been so scientific about the way I go on my Journey. I could have read them in the order they were written. Or the way they followed each other historically. That would be the twenty first century way to do it, I think. When I was reading Julius Caesar, I was looking for references to Coriolanus, as if it were a sequel. I enjoyed doing that, as if Shakespeare was like Bernard Cornwall and his Sharpe storys's. Hell that's OK, I hope. We all love Shakespeare differently and I don't mean any disrespect and I hope I'm not being trivial, because that is not my intention. It's just the way my brain works, ho hum! I was in Rome, recently, for a weekend break and when we were looking round the ancient ruins of Rome, I kept looking for Coriolanus. Like Al Pacino looking for Richard. Oh god! I think, If you are still with me on my Journey, you will have noticed I go on about Coriolanus, a lot. I have no doubt at all that it is my favourite. When I started on this long road, I thought it would be Macbeth. I dearly love Macbeth, but no. It's definitely Coriolanus. I don't think I'm obsessed, but I feel as if its My Play. I wonder if others feel that way, about one of the plays. Or maybe even more than one. It's as if, I have some how discovered it and I am the first to read it. I know, I'm talking rubbish but that's how I feel. So that's it. Started talking about Julius Caesar and finished with Coriolanus, As usual.

Well as I said, that's it. feel free if you see anything that's not right, to let me know. Thanks to all you guy's who have encouraged me to keep trying to write. You know who you are. Hope you like it, so long for now.