The word chameleon is often broken down to mean "lion on the ground," which is quite odd for what are generally tree-dwelling lizards. But if you look further at the etymology of its name, it indicates it could also mean "small lion," potentially because some have head-crests that could resemble a lion's mane. Oh, and people in Shakespeare's time thought chameleons ate only air, an idea that can be traced back to Pliny the Elder's description in Natural History. This notion of eating air, or surviving for long periods with no food, also fostered the notion that chameleons represented strength to survive, as possibly referenced in the Bible, so it could be that chameleon really meant "small lion" for its strength, not its appearance. [more inside]
Ophelia feels that Hamlet is acting strangely. So she hires Titus and Dronicus, private investigators, to find out what's going on. (A three episode web series on youtube.)
Welcome to Haider, a Bollywood version of Hamlet set for a controversial, much anticipated release this autumn. Vishal Bhardwaj's latest Shakespearian adaptation turns the Prince of Denmark into a philosophy student from Kashmir, the former Himalayan princedom, who returns home from university after hearing that his doctor father has disappeared and his mother is in a new relationship. View the trailer here - captions available. [more inside]
Slings & Arrows (trailer) was an award-winning Canadian dramedy that enjoyed great critical reception on both sides of the border. It ran for three seasons from 2003 to 2006, produced by Rhombus Media with Niv Fichman as Executive Producer, and aired on Showcase, The Movie Network, and Movie Central. Co-written by Mark McKinney (of Kids in the Hall fame), Susan Coyne (a Canadian playwright, actor, novelist, Stratford veteran, and co-founder of Toronto's Soulpepper Theatre), and Bob Martin (a comedian, creator of The Drowsy Chaperone, which won five Tony awards), the show starred Paul Gross (possibly most famous for his role on Due South, also a Stratfordian actor), Martha Burns (a major Canadian actor and another founding member of Soulpepper, another Stratfordian), and Stephen Ouimette (another major Canadian actor who, unsurprisingly, has also spent time onstage at Stratford), as well as Coyne and McKinney. The show takes place in the fictional town of New Burbage, which is a stand-in for a thinly-veiled Stratford Festival, which most of the actors and creative team have acted and/or directed in. The writers take great pains to note that they aren't mocking Stratford in the series, but there are obvious parallels. The entire run of the series was directed by Peter Wellington. (There are many spoilers inside, and in the critical reception links, for those who haven't yet watched the show). Much [more inside]
The earliest Shakespeare quartos are over four hundred years old and constitute the rarest, most fragile body of printed literature available to Shakespeare scholars. Sold unbound and often read to pieces, they are among the most ephemeral books of the age and survive in relatively low numbers. In the absence of surviving manuscripts, the quartos offer the earliest known evidence of what Shakespeare might actually have written, and what appeared on the early modern English stage. Only about half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed in quarto during his lifetime (1564–1616), and before the first printed collection of his plays, the First Folio of 1623. They are living artifacts telling the story of how Shakespeare's Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Romeo and Juliet, to name just a few, first circulated in print.... Due to their rarity and fragility, the earliest quartos are often not accessible to those who need to study them. Today, six institutions in the United Kingdom and United States stand out as the main repositories of the pre-1642 quartos.... Through this international collaboration, many of the earliest Shakespeare quartos are now freely available for in-depth study to students of Shakespeare across the globe. You can read, compare, read annotations and overlay copies at Quartos.org.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be. 198 movies and shows cut together to reform, Voltron-like, as Hamlet
Richard Briers, TV, radio, movie and stage actor, died yesterday aged 79. Richard was most well-known for playing Tom, who gives up his 9 to 5 job to attempt a sustainable lifestyle, much to the horror of his posh neighbor Margo, in The Good Life (1975-78). [more inside]
Orson Scott Card adapts Hamlet into poorly written anti-gay screed. Welcome to Hamlet's Father. Gone are Shakespeare's language and philosophy, replaced with Card's trademark homophobia. Spoiler alert: Old King Hamlet was gay, and he molested everybody and turned them gay too!
David Warner, on being Hamlet at the age of 23 in 1966, has played at least three different species in the Star Trek universe. Notably, as Chancellor Gorkon in Strek Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. But another Shakespearean actor, playing General Chang, was more apparent in that movie. Of course there is far more Shakespeare in the Star Trek Universe.
"I HEREBY REQUEST that my body or any part thereof may be used for therapeutic purposes including corneal grafting and organ transplantation or for the purposes of medical education [...] with the exception of my skull, which shall be offered by the institution receiving my body to the Royal Shakespeare Company for use in theatrical performance." [more inside]
The Royal Shakespeare Company presents Hamlet, starring David Tennant as Hamlet, Sir Patrick Stewart as Claudius and the Ghost, Oliver Ford Davies as Polonius, Mariah Gale as Ophelia, and Edward Bennet as Laertes. Directed by Gregory Doran. [more inside]
Actor Brian Cox gives an acting masterclass on Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy to a young student (SLYT)
Coming soon, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead, probably the first movie to combine Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, and vampires. It is, however, not the first time The Bard and the undead have been seen together. [more inside]
To honor the Greatest's birthday, one could consider his greatest work by reading this excellent post by matteo which touches upon the religious issues facing our confused Protestant hero, the student at Wittenberg, who doubts orthodoxy, cannot decide if he is a scourge or minister, but ultimately accedes to a belief in divine Providence. Or, if you would rather dive into an
intriguing amusing royally f'ed up "unique" analysis of the play, check out this extensive theory (?) [cache] of Hamlet which corrects our accepted and flawed interpretation by explaining that a literal reading of the play tells us, among other things, that King Hamlet was never killed; that Horatio--our narrator--is the King's son and prince Hamlet's half brother; that the guy we incorrectly think of as Claudius is in fact King Hamlet; and that prince Hamlet's father is Fortinbras. Oops. Boy do we have egg on our faces.
Shakespeare in the Bush: in which an anthropologist tells the story of Hamlet to a group of Tiv, and ideas about the universal nature of literature get the worst of it.
The Death of Hamnet and the Making of Hamlet. In the spring or summer of 1596, William Shakespeare received word that his only son Hamnet, 11, was ill. In the summer he learned that Hamnet's condition had worsened and that it was necessary to drop everything and hurry home. By the time the father reached Stratford the boy—whom, apart from brief visits, Shakespeare had in effect abandoned in his infancy—may already have died. On August 11, 1596, Hamnet was buried at Holy Trinity Church: the clerk duly noted in the burial register, "Hamnet filius William Shakspere." It might have been possible that Shakespeare's Catholic father urged his son to have prayers said to speed the child's release from purgatory. The problem was that purgatory had been abolished by the ruling Protestants, and saying prayers for the dead declared illegal. Hence, the possible dilemma for Shakespeare was whether to risk punishment by praying for their deceased loved ones or obey the law and allow those souls to languish in flames. This anxiety regarding one's obligations to the dead, Stephen Greenblatt suggests, lies behind Hamlet's indecision about whether to obey his father's ghost and take revenge on his uncle Claudius.
It's like Cliff's Notes for Hamlet, but in song form: here's John Wesley Harding's take on the Shakespeare classic. A sure help to any struggling college literature student. (mp3 download)
Chris Coutts returns with (sort of) Shakespeare's Hamlet. (Flash) You may remember him for his l33t sp34k version of Romeo and Juliet. Coutts tackles another of the Bard's masterpieces and does him proud.
Beware the Ides of March! Take a little time today to think about Crazy Old Bill. There's a ton of Shakespearian stuff out there from the silly to the scary. (Even if you do think he's a phoney). Party Anon, dude.
taH pagh taHbe! (to be or not to be)