Monday, September 12, 2011

The Rest is Silence...

Well, my summer stint of Shakespeare in the Park ended on Labor Day, and I am now Shakespeare-less until October when PAE is doing Richard III. Very much looking forward to that.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to getting my Tempest DVD (if I ever do... Amazon seems to doubt its release). In wandering through the Official Site I found clips of the music... strange. Very strange. And definitely more electric guitar / synthesized stuff than I'm positive I'm comfortable with. I'm still hoping it will all work together with the movie, and disparate pieces will make a powerful whole... but I'm also steeling myself for something... weird.

All this conjecture makes me wonder why everyone decides to do certain plays at the same time. In the last two years I have seen three live productions of the Tempest. Add the movie to that, and I think it's time to let the play rest for a while. I saw two separate productions of All's Well That Ends Well this summer, one in Pennsylvania and one here. In the spring, PSU did Hamlet; this winter, NWCTC is doing Hamlet... and next summer PAE is doing it also. I realize there are a finite number of plays (and an even more finite number of crowd-pleasers among that group), but it's not that finite a number. And the odd ones come up multiple times as often as the better known ones. NWCTC did Cymbeline last year, and in February PCS is doing it.

Maybe it's just a side-effect of stalking Shakespeare. I don't suppose it affects your average play-goer as much as it does someone who is committed to seeing as much Shakespeare as she possibly can. But I do still wonder how these things all seem to happen at the same time (relatively speaking).

Well... as soon as Amazon decides that the DVD of the Tempest really ought to be released sometime close to the Blu-Ray release (I'm so confused!), I'll post my full review. And then I hope to let this particular play rest for a while. Till then!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

60-Minutes With Shakespeare

Normally I stay as far away from the "Who Was Shakespeare Really?" debate. I find it irritating, lacking any kind of substantial proof on either side and, to be quite honest, just plain dumb. Then again, I've never been a huge fan of conspiracy theories.

But more than that, I feel like the debate completely misses the point. Why do we go on whinging about who wrote the plays, making up "evidence" on all sides and attempting to re-write history, when instead there are 38 plays out there full of life and energy and amazing, amazing thoughts? In one sense, who cares who wrote them, so long as they were written? The plays themselves live on, caring not a whit for who wrote them. They contain some of the most poignant insights into human nature. They still resonate today, 400 years later. They are truly remarkable.

On the other hand, if you like a little debate now and then, there's a really amusing and fairly informative "online conference" (whatever that means) called 60-Minutes-With-Shakespeare on the authorship issue. Sixty "experts" (I'm still working out what that means) were each asked a different question about the issue, and they each had one minute to answer. Some of the stuff is fairly basic; the debate has been going long enough that if you've been around Shakespeare-dom for any length of time, you've probably heard some of it. The best part is possibly Stephen Fry going on and on about the issue.

I will say that even though I come down on the Stratfordian side of things (as does this conference), I felt like the questions asked and scholars picked were rather one-sided. There is a debate out there and, like it or not, there are people on the other side. I didn't listen to all the questions, but it didn't feel like the opposition got much chance to defend themselves. Not that they have all that much to say, really... but still. I guess I'm just a journalist at heart and the whole "objective and balanced" thing is deeply ingrained. The better way to present the issue, IMNSHO, would be to let the Oxfordians et al hoist themselves with their own petard.

Question 41 is good, if you're looking for kind of an overview. Mom brought Question 28 up the other day, and Antony Sher answers it better than I did, that's for sure. And definitely check out Stephen Fry (Question 57).

Anyway... just another Random Shakespeare Whatsit in a long and strange list of Random Shakespeare Whatsits.