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Sunday, May 16, 2010

What's On YOUR Mind "Shakespeare"? THAT is the Question.

This is the place to start a topic for discussion or leave a "lengthier comment" on whatever voting topic is current here on the blog if you like, etc. Is there a question you might have about anything you see here at Shakespeare Place? This is the thread to ask it. Maybe you don't have a blog--or would like to discuss something more you saw someplace but the comment line petered out? Something "Shakespeare" bugging you? --What is it?

I'm not exactly what one might call a super blogger. Nope. Not even close. That is, when it comes to making it my job to actively and assiduously seek out current interesting (or sometimes uninteresting) bits of information here or there as topics people might want to comment on. But I do have a penchant for discussion. In fact, I write more on other blogs than I do on my own. That's just the way it happens to work out at present. Maybe that will change when I have more time. In the meantime, if there's anything at all you'd like to have the power to make a subject of discussion, feel free to give any topic (and me) a jump start on whatever might, in your opinion, merit some talk.
This is Your Space at Shakespeare Place--you're invited...Welcome. JM


  1. Friend, follower, and Clown Care performer extraordinaire, Steve Goldstein writes on Facebook: "What was his middle name?"

    He was christened: Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakespeare. (or Shaksper, Shakespere, Shakspere, Shakspear, and a few other variations.) Back then you could spell it like you heard it--spelling bees hadn't been invented.

    "filius"-Latin for "philosopher's child" -Oh , how Mr. & Mrs. S. did prophesy on their son.

    Steve will probably have some fun with the answer. He's a clown who often "speak[s] more than is set down for [him]. He's not, however, "villainous".

  2. I'm very new to the whole acting side of Shakespeare, so please forgive a question that has probably been discussed since the beginning of theater. When Hamlet enters the scene in Act III, Scene 3 after Claudius has confessed, does he hear the confession? Is this always left open to the discretion of the director? When I read the play, with only the words to guide me, I am led to believe that he enters after the confession, while Claudius is deep in prayer. Each interpretation has subtle implications for the ensuing action...

  3. Hi Ren,
    Interesting question.
    In the Folio, Claudius finishes his prayer with "All may be well." Then there's the stage direction Enter Hamlet, separated by an unmistakable spacing that would indicate that Hamlet doesn't hear the prayer, but simply sees Claudius on his knees in the act of prayer. Thus Hamlet's line: "Now might I do it pat, now he is praying,"/.

    Although the Norton critical and The Riverside editions I have insert a stage direction AFTER Claudius is finished praying--[He Kneels]--immediately before [Enter Hamlet], there isn't such a direction in the Folio.

    Your question is the more interesting because if the stage direction is ignored or placed elsewhere (sometimes we can't be exactly sure if a compositor made the decision as to where to place a stage direction, or whether or not it was added later on), it would add another element for Hamlet to consider consciously--he would know that Claudius outwardly has admitted to and shows at least some remiss for his crimes. But interesting as that might be for us to consider dramatically, it might over-complicate things as I don't think Hamlet's lines take that into consideration, even though it might be assumed that he might assume that Claudius is "praying" because he just got caught out there, and the act of his praying would be in repentance for the very subject concerning Hamlet's revenge. Of course that last idea could always be legitimate subtext for both the actor and the reader. I've always imagined that Hamlet "knows" why Claudius is "praying" because of that very assumption. It logically follows, even though the text indicates that technically he doesn't hear the prayer.

  4. PS Ren,
    The Second Quarto of Hamlet, most of the time conflated with the Folio version to make up the editions we read today, also has simply "Enter Hamlet" after Claudius' "All may be well."

  5. Hi Joe, thanks for your opinion. Of course, there's a Shakespeare backstory to my question. I'm kind of tempted to start my own, but I'm not sure if I have enough in me to make my own blog... anyway, thank you.

  6. Ren, I hope I was able to at least partially answer your query. I always go to the text for the answer if at all possible.

    Write on if you like. As I said above, you're welcome to start a discussion on a subject here at anytime, or suggest a topic, and I'll be happy to give it its own space in another thread should interest and attention warrant. Cheers, Joe

  7. Hey JM,

    You still monitoring this post? I can't find a direct way to contact you. I wanted to make sure that you saw this invitation:


    I don't know if you want to play or not, but I didn't want you to miss it.

  8. If you Shakespeare you have to check this out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgEeF2Es5Mk
    It's called Shakespeare on a Stick, there's more to come but it really is a nice innovation to such a classic icon!

  9. Great scholarly tidbit: In Shakespeare's lifetime, his plays were never divided into five acts -- who knew? So how DID he structure his plays? Read more online at: http://www.philipgraham.net/2011/02/whats-structure-got-to-do-with-it/

  10. Sorry to be getting to this just now.
    I knew. I found out many years ago from one, copies of the First Folio, and two, a little known book, "On Producing Shakespeare", by Ronald Watkins,1950. Watkins conjectures rather smartly on what it was like to stage a play at the Globe, based on the Folio structure of the plays, some of which have no act/scene divisions. Proscenium architecture is what has given us the arduous five hour Shakespeare, with attempts at realistic settings and interminable scene changes. Imagine standing for 5 hours in the midday sun? The action moved much more swiftly and was continuous and flowing, not halting and chopped up as we know it.

  11. Hello,

    We are mounting a production of Measure for Measure set in contemporary New York City. We were wondering if you might be willing to post about the show and possibly mention our kickstarter campaign for the show. We have huge ideas for the production but cannot execute them without the help of our backers. Let me know if you would be willing to try and rally your blogs fans to support us.

    Here is the kickstarter link to the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bedlamensemble/measure-for-measure?ref=live

    Thank you,
    Graydon Gund
    Associate Producer, Measure for Measure

  12. I was in 'The Globe Theatre' one time. I thought i saw a book about 'Shakespeare and the Bible'. But i may be wrong. I cannot find it. Perhaps it was a book about the english language & Shakespeare instead. Do you know them?

    1. DRD,

      --Here's one--"Shakespeare and the Bible" by Steven Marx
      I haven't read it, but from the description, it looks like I might like to. You can find it at Amazon--the following link.

      Hope it's the one.
      Best, JM

  13. While studying Shakespeare, I have found something which begs discourse. Three of his plays share a portion of his name, recognizable as such on their own. Each of these plays are also connected by verses that share the idea of water to deep to measure.
    As You Like It, ACT V, SC. 1: William born in the Forest of Arden/ William born to Mary Arden Shakespeare. As the character William, Shakespeare he even had himself interviewed by the aptly named Touchstone.
    The Tempest, ACT I, SC. 2, 206: 'trident shake'/ trident =spear, spear shake or Shakespeare.
    Henry IV Part 1, ACT I, SC. 3, 198: 'the unsteadfast footing of a spear'/ unsteadfast footing=shaky, shaky spear or Shakespeare.
    These signatures combined with the connecting idea of immeasurably deep water; ( The Tempest, ACT V, SC. 1, 56, 'deeper than did ever plummet sound') led me to a message hidden in plain sight, in the wording of these plays. From what I have found, I believe that contrary to popular opinion he was very concerned about the survival of his works. I have published an essay with the title William Shakespeare Conjurer, at booksie.com, in which these ideas are more clearly defined. ( No anagrams are involved.)