Monday, April 28, 2008


It has been a few years since I read a Shakespeare play. While I have reread one since high school, I have not taken time to read one on my own. I actually miss being taught Shakespeare especially the tragedies where there is so much going on. Othello has high drama, and at first, I liked the Othello character because he seemed innocent, honest, and devoted, but since this is a Shakespearean tragedy, he also has to be in some way foolish and/or mad. He believes too easily that Desdemona is cheating on him; he has some self-hatred and doubt about his love for her as well. The play is rather chaotic with its deceptive machinations by Iago and uncontrolled end, not to mention the narrative's time issues. Once Othello stops loving Desdemona and thinking the worse of her, it really is the climax and all order seems to go out the door in the scenes that follow:
Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul,
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
--Othello, III.iii

Everyone seems to be contradictory or double-sided. Iago is obviously not honest. Othello has integrity and strength in public life or batle, but can not control his jealous and violent rage. Emilia is oblivious to Iago's nature, but seems to be aware of gender relations and disparities. Desdemona is both faithful and submissive, but at times, independent and lively. Iago is annoying. He's manipulative, calculating, and is a bit of a loon really. He does all this because he is jealous of Othello; jealousy drives many of the characters in this play. I feel sorry for all those caught in Iago's web of lies: Othello, Desdemona, Cassio, and even poor stupid Roderigo. Why does he even listen to Iago in the first place? The end left me dissatisfied. Even more than other Shakespeare tragedies I've read. Maybe it's because we do not even see Iago die, but he does not repent or even any suffer weakness. I doubt I will reread this play as much as Hamlet or even King Lear, but I think it would be fantastic to see as a play form. The play is wonderfully dramatic with its jealous and violent characters.

Crossposted from Aquatique.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review: Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing
by William Shakespeare
crossposted at Educating Petunia

Ah, Shakespearean rapture! How pleasing is thy sound. How tantalising thy taste. How did I abide so long without thee?

I've just finished Much Ado About Nothing and again name Shakespeare the master. The wickedness of Don John; the nobility of Benedick; the purity of Hero; the redemption of Claudio. It is all too marvellous.

"How much better is it to weep at joy than to joy at weeping!"
Claudio, a young soldier just returned victorious from battle, falls in love with the virtuous Hero. His friend, Prince Don Pedro, woos her for him behind a mask at a ball, winning her hand but also giving the Prince's jealous and villainous brother, Don John, an opportunity to cause mischief. Meanwhile, Claudio's other devoted friend, Benedick, who has sworn off marriage and brags of his fortitude in avoiding the wiles of the fairer sex, is to be the butt of a joke; he is to be fooled into thinking Hero's cousin, Beatrice, a woman set against marriage as much as he, is secretly in love with him. Likewise, Beatrice is to believe that Benedick pines away for her. But while this young love is blossoming, there is a much more sinister scene being hatched.

This is most certainly a comedy but it also has some very dramatic moments. I must critique honestly, I was left a little dizzy from the abrupt switches from humour to drama and back to humour again. I loved it all but sometimes the jokes seemed out of place when hearts are being broken and death has intruded. It seems inappropriate to laugh at such times. But then one has to remember that this is a play, meant to be performed. There are pauses in between lines. There are intermissions here and there. It is not as abrupt as it is in written form.

"When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married."
My favorite character was Benedick. He is so confident in his views, even as they contradict from one moment to the next, but he recognises innocence despite the appearance of contrary evidence presented by questionable characters. And the idiotic Dogberry made me laugh out loud. "Oh that I had been writ down an ass!" Too funny.

I leave you with this piece of art I found depicting the most dramatic scene from the play, Hero's accusation. The line at the bottom is spoken by her father, Leonato.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shakespeare's Plays Were Written By A Jewish Woman

Thanks to Shakespeare Geek (see sidebar) for this article.

Here's eight kinds of proof Amelia Bassano was the real Bard

For hundreds of years, people have questioned whether William Shakespeare wrote the plays that bear his name. The mystery is fueled by the fact that his biography simply doesn't match the areas of knowledge and skill demonstrated in the plays. Nearly a hundred candidates have been suggested, but none of them fit much better. Now a new candidate named Amelia Bassano Lanier—the so-called 'Dark Lady' of the Sonnets and a member of an Italian/Jewish family—has been shown to be a perfect fit. Here are eight reasons that are sure to convince you...

See the link above for the 8 reasons why she (might be) the author.

I don't know anything about this at all, I have never heard of Amelia Bassano. I just report whatever I find on the authorship debate. Although I might do a litle research.

If you are wondering why I havent blogged here for a while - there are 2 reasons.

1 Is that I got a new job, and
2 I havent read any new shakespeare books in the last 2 months for this challenge. I have 2 months to go to read 3 books. I better get cracking. How can I not complete my own challenge. (GASP!!). Because I am too busy reading for everyone else's challenges. (LOL)

What Patrick Stewart Does for Fun

Thanks to Shakespeare Geek (see sidebar) for this article.

CNN Interview with Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart is best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the USS enteroprise ion the Sci-fi Tv series Star Trek, The Next Generation. STTNG is in fact my most favourite of all the Star Trek series. And Picard - being a french man - was my favourite captain, and character. I also liked Data as well.

This recent article is a pretty good biography of Patrick, and covers the fact that he is a huge Shakespeare fan, and that Shakespeare was his means of living, his bread and butter. Now Patrick is much more well known for Star Trek and The X-Men.

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare

Apparently it was Shakespeare's birthday on April 23rd. I missed it by 2 days. Oh dear. He would have been 444 years old, if he was still alive.

Shakespeare - Roman Plays Symposium

I have not blogged here for 2 months. Thats bad.

However, I have been asked to post a notice of a new Shakespeare Symposium happening in Washington DC on Saturday May 10th (in 2 weeks).

Here is the release.


A Discussion Series Exploring Shakespeare’s Roman Plays

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In conjunction with its rotating repertory productions of Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, the Shakespeare Theatre Company presents a Roman Repertory Symposium in the Forum of Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street, NW) on Saturday, May 10. The symposium explores Shakespeare’s Roman plays and their settings and includes discussions on Roman Repertory in Performance, Conspiracies in Shakespeare’s Rome, Rome as Metaphor, and The Private Lives of Public Citizens through the Lens of “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Directors David Muse and Michael Kahn, notable scholars Robert Miola and Sara Munson Deats, and International Spy Museum Director Peter Earnest will lead panel discussions. James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, will give the closing key note address. Tickets for the general public are $20 and $15 for STC subscribers, seniors, military and students. To reserve a space at Symposium events, visit or call the Box Office at 202.547.1122.

Symposium Sponsor
The Roman Repertory Symposium is sponsored by The Aspen Institute. Founded in 1950, The Aspen Institute is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The Institute is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Its international network includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Bucharest, and leadership initiatives in Africa, Central America, and India. The Shakespeare Theatre Company has previously collaborated with The Aspen Institute in 2005 by presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Institute’s 2005 Ideas Festival in Colorado.

• The Roman Repertory in Performance (10 a.m. – 11 a.m.). Join STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn, Associate Artistic Director David Muse and a guest artist in conversation about producing Shakespeare’s Roman plays, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra.
• Conspiracies in Shakespeare and Beyond (11:15 a.m.– 12:15 p.m.). Join International Spy Museum Director Peter Earnest and Bob Goldberg, Director, Tanner Humanities Center, University of Utah.
• The Private Lives of Public Citizens through the Lens of “Antony and Cleopatra” (12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.). Join Scholar Sara Munson Deats in conversation with commentator Ken Adelman. This panel features a performance by members of the STC acting company.
• Break for Lunch from 1:30p.m. until 2:30 p.m. (lunch is not provided)
• Rome as Metaphor (2:30p.m. - 3:30 p.m.). Join Professor Robert Miola in conversation with Hunter Ripley Rawlings III.
• Closing key note by James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare. (3:30p.m.- 4:30 p.m.)

About the Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s innovative approach to Shakespeare and other classic playwrights has earned it the reputation as the nation’s premier classical theatre company. By focusing on works with profound themes, complex characters and poetic language written by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the playwrights he influenced, the Company’s artistic mission is unique among theatre companies: to provide vital, groundbreaking, thought-provoking, vibrant and eminently accessible theatre in a uniquely American style. The Company annually produces eight mainstage plays in its two downtown theatres and one free play in Rock Creek Park’s Carter Barron Amphitheatre. Artistic Director Michael Kahn has led the organization for 21 years, establishing the company as “the nation’s foremost Shakespeare company” (The Wall Street Journal) and “the best classical theatre in the country, bar none” (The Christian Science Monitor). For more information about the Shakespeare Theatre Company and its artistic and educational programs, visit

For more information, please contact

Lauren Beyea
Shakespeare Theatre Company at the Harman Center for the Arts
516 8th Street SE, Washington , D.C. 20003
T: 202.547.3230 ext. 2314
F: 202.547.0226