Well, perhaps not quite so eager, the day he landed at Il Palcoscenico di Carta towed by his mother – but this changed soon enough when we gave him a speech or two to read. You could see he loved it from the start: the atmosphere, the reading, the tale, the voices, being part of it, chatting with the real actors… Continue reading
Do you remember the Paper Stage – Canterbury’s public play-reading group? I told you about it some time ago.
What perhaps I didn’t tell you is that, after that post, Dr. Newman of the Paper Stage wrote to me asking: why not? Why not do it, why not set up an Italian chapter of the Paper Stage in my hometown?
And indeed… why not? Continue reading
I just discovered (thanks, M.!) Mya Gosling’s delightful blog, Peace, Good Tickle-Brain, where she hosts her Shakespearean* and non-Shakespearean web-comics.
Just to whet your appetite, and because it is highly seasonal, have a look at these New Year’s resolutions** by Shakespeare’s characters…
* No, Shakeaspeare didn’t vanish from Scribblings Wednesday at midnight. Neither did Marlowe. Just so you know.
** Maybe we’ll discuss those in earnest, next week.
Did you know you can now view Globe productions on demand on the Globe Player?
You can choose your play, read an introduction and a cast list, watch a preview and browse viewers’ comments. If you like what you see, you can either rent or buy the video for a very reasonable charge – or even send it as a gift, which is a nice thought for this time of the year.
You can also choose from a wide selection of foreign productions: Shakespeare in a rainbow of languages, under Globe To Globe.
And there is some free content as well, such as Muse of Fire, a series of interviews with Shakespearean actors and directors, about the relevance of the Bard in today’s world. And the bizarre but fascinating Sonnet Project NYC, a collection of small movies – one for each sonnet, filmed in New York to combine Shakespeare’s works with the city’s “urban poetry”.
A treasure trove for all of us who live far, far, far away from London and its theatres.
Look what I found: a collection of art inspired by Shakespeare, with a definite emphasis on XIXth Century paintings. You can browse by play or by artists.
And this slightly odd book of two hundred and thirty vignette engravings – all of them Shakespearean illustrations from designs of John Thurston. And there is also this 1909 Gallery of Shakespeare Illustrations from Celebrated Works of Art. Both books to browse online or to download from Internet Archive.
The University of Wisconsin’s Illustrated Shakespeare Collection takes some little effort to browse, but is well worth it.
Also, there should be the Oppel-Hammerschmidt Shakespeare Illustration Archive at the University of Mainz, but all links to it seem to be broken… Still, because the description sounds so promising, I post the link all the same, and if you discover something I missed, please let me know in the comments.
- New portraits of Bard of Avon found (thehindu.com)
There was this meme, once upon a time… Suppose it turns out you can summon characters out of books. And frankly, if I could summon characters out of books, I’d do it all the time, and spend inordinate amounts of time with them… er, yes – I’m that far gone. But for the moment, let us stick with the meme: which five characters would I want as company for a wild night out?
Well, I was reminded of this meme when my friend G. told me about a wonderful RPG she plays at college, involving randomly assigned literary characters. On being reminded, I sought and found the answer I wrote, once upon a time, on my Italian blog, and realised that, if I were to do it again, I’d choose different characters – at least most of them. After all, one wild night is one wild night, and a girl doesn’t have to want to hang out with the same crowd forever, right?
So, considering that my notion of a wild night, out or otherwise, includes (but is not limited to) endless and occasionally argumentative talk on a variety of subjects, impromptu theatre games, nonsense galore, and a certain quantity of eccentric mischief, here is my round of invitations:
1) Beatrice, from Much Ado About Nothing. Unbeatable at wordplay without being too waspish. Merry, witty company – and she sings too.
2) Sarah Thane, from Georgette Heyer‘s The Talisman Ring. A woman with a taste for absurdity and the right turn of phrase – and a prodigious liar when the occasion requires it. I’m sure we’ll go along very, very well.
3) Kit Marlowe – Anthony Burgess‘ version – strikes me as the sort who can be relied upon for vertiginous conversation about almost anything. And all the theatre one could wish for. The trick will be to keep him from becoming nasty when in his cups.
4) Alan Breck Stewart. A man with a dancing madness in his eyes, who can improvise extempore ballads at the least provocation sounds far too perfect to leave out. He has enough of a temper to cause trouble, and of course Scotland, England and Scotland and England as conversation topics are out of the question, but I’ll be careful.
5) Ned Henry, Connie Willis‘ historian-cum-time-traveller. He can be a tad scatterbrained, especially when time-lagged, but adorably so – and he is one of the nicest imaginary persons I know. Plus, he is a time traveller, and really, nothing would make my wild night like some time travel .
Well well well, considering that my first choices were Nicholas Christopher‘s Veronica, Emily Brontë*, Puck, Sidney Carton and Kit Marlowe, I’d say that this time I’ve equipped myself for a far jollier wild night, wouldn’t you?
And what about you? Which five characters would you invite out of books for a wild night?
* Yes, I was cheating. You could say I cheated again with Marlowe, but I mean Marlowe-as-a-character. Or else I just cheat at memes, so sue me.
Summer night, warm and damp to the point of stickiness. The lights are doused, and the chattering dies down to a trail of whispers. For a handful of moments, I can hear the crickets in the trees all around the theatre. One of those handfuls of moments calculated to break just when the audience has forgotten to breath – but I’m just eleven, and innocent of this kind of calculations.
“Way to start,” mutters A., in the next seat. And although she is thirteen and bewildered, she is right. Far more than she knows.
I am eleven, as I said, and this is my first Macbeth. My first Shakespeare. My first time at the Teatro Romano in Verona. My first less than traditional production. I know who Shakespeare is, but I never saw anything of his staged. As far as staged things go, my experience boils down to some children’s plays and a few nights at the opera – very traditional-minded productions. I’m not prepared for a tale of Medieval kings in Scotland changed – no, distilled to an affair of empty stage, shadows, cutting lights and nondescript, black costumes.
I’m not even sure I like it all that much. Why, truth be told, I’m rather disappointed. Everything is so grim, so dark, no tartan sashes, no cloaks, no swords, no crenellated towers, nothing of what I had expected…
And then, little by little, with no bells and whistles to keep my attention, I start to concentrate on the words. Not just the plot, but the way the words make the plot different from its synopsis. Yes, yes, the witches, the prophecy, the regicide, the folly, the defeat – it’s all there. But the creeping fear and guilt, the hoot of the night birds, the ghost, the blood stains that won’t go away, the boughs from Birnam Wood closing in… it all takes life from the power of the words, in a way no painted scenery, no elaborate costume could ever convey. And not just life, but truth.
And mind you, when we file out of the theatre I’m still eleven, and not entirely convinced of what I saw. I still much prefer crenellated towers and period costumes, and I secretly hope all theatre needn’t be like tonight, thank you very much. And yet, when Father asks did I like the Macbeth, I say yes, and it’s not a complete lie. I may not have liked it in the usal sense of the word, but I know I’ve gone through some rite of passage. A door has opened on something that I don’t fully understand yet, but looks meaningful. Something that has to do not only with tales, but the way tales are told. Something that I want to understand – and learn, if I can.
More than twenty-five years later, I know that what Shakespeare taught me that night was the power of words. A similar production of a weaker play would have just bored me to tears, but because Shakespeare’s words were so powerful, the young girl I was grasped the essence of the story – and something else too: a hazy notion that, while the production and the acting were modern interpretation, through the words the long dead Shakespeare was still speaking to me across the centuries.
It was very hazy back then, I grant you, but it was to grow, branch out, develop into several tenets of my faith in words, when it comes to history, literature, and writing. Not bad for one shakespearean night, was it?
I beg to differ from the Bard on this: I’m not all that sure a rose would smell as sweet if it were called, say, benzopyrene. Or, even if it did, would you really smell it to make sure?
Names matter. Names are not all the same.
And yes, I confess: I’m the sort who will stay after the film is ended, to read the names in the end credits. The sort who will sift through obituaries, other people’s old class lists and spam mail for names. The sort who, when playing D&D at sixteen, could agonize for weeks over the name of a Level 1 elf…
When I start writing something new, names are all important. I can spend hours poring over name lists in dictionaries, seeking The Right Name. And it’s hardly ever a matter of meaning. Mostly, it’s the sound. And of course, when writing historicals, other considerations weight in the choice, such as time period, custom and social suitability – but all the same, the name must sound right for the character.
Oddly enough, I don’t always choose first names I like. I’ve foisted on beloved characters names I’d frankly hate to bear, while some names I love never proved right for any character of mine. Odder still, last names work differently: they must not only sound well with the character’s first name – for some reason, I want to like them.
All this to say that there is this novel I’m slowly revising, in which two main characters bore names starting with A, and three different beta readers suggested that I should change at least one. It seems it’s not a good idea to have different characters’ name begin with the same letter. Readers might get confused.
Yes, yes – I know: I think I’d take offence too if anyone implied that I can mix up two very different characters just because they share an initial. And yet… what if someone got confused? What if they had to check again and again to make sure who’s who? What if they threw the book away before page thirty – because they can’t tell characters apart? Not good, is it?
So in the end I decided to give up one of my oh-so-carefully chose names, and I’m not enormously happy, because one I like, and the other is perfect for the character, and no amount of list sifting has yet produced a good alternative for either…
And no: my characters don’t smell as sweet by any other name. Why, one of them has even changed face in my mind – all because of the name I’m not sure I’ll keep… I dare say that, for once and as far as I’m concerned, Shakespeare just might be wrong.
- Naming Characters… and why I’d be a bad parent (rickywilkswriting.wordpress.com)
So, there is this theatre company based in my hometown of Mantova. They are seriously good. I’ve been working with them for the last three years. They’ve staged a handful of one-act plays of mine – and I love them.
When it happened first, it was a dream
come true. My wonderful Grandmamma used to take me to their Sunday matinées when I was a child, and I sat in their small theatre, lost to wonder and enchantment, and I wanted to play that game too.
It was because of this company that at ten, if asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer “a playwright.” It got me a few raised eyebrows – which was fun in itself.
So you see – when they first staged me, it was really a dream come true.
And now, they’ve commissioned me a stage adaptation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets for 2014.
No, of course it’s not “now”. It was done early, and with time to spare, so that “now” I am finished with the second draft, and next week I’m going to start a thorough editing, and then I’ll hand in the play for workshopping…
I’m not unhappy with what I have done. I’m incredibly excited about the whole thing. I can’t wait for them to start work on my Sonnets.
Who knows where this will lead in the scheme of one’s hopes and ambitions – not to mention the general scheme of things. But for now, I certainly am the playwright my ten-year-old self dreamt I’d become.
Not bad, for now.