Who art thou, William? 1 in 3 pupils clueless on Shakespeare

In a not-so Comedy Of Errors, almost a third of secondary school pupils cannot say what William Shakespeare is famous for, according to a new survey.
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Finding Music in Shakespeare, Suffragists and Mitch McConnell

A rising star in musical theater, Shaina Taub is a fiercely political singer-songwriter who is writing the lyrics for her first Broadway show, with Elton John.
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Books News: Shakespeare and Company is Coming Back to the West Side and the Village

Despite Amazon and e-books, the famous book seller joins a robust range of independent bookstores that are thriving.
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Q. & A.: Edward St. Aubyn on the Challenge of Reimagining Shakespeare

In his bold modern adaptation of King Lear, St. Aubyn envisions Lear as an aging media mogul whose empire and legacy are under threat from his daughters.
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Reinventing Shakespeare, According to the Gospel of Joseph Papp

A new play about Papp, the founder of the Public Theater, sets the tone for a season of audacious interpretations of the Shakespeare canon.
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Artists Defend Shakespeare In The Park, Because Political Theater Matters

“Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater,” The Public declared.
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Review: ‘Will’ Serves Up a Very 21st-Century Shakespeare

TNT’s new drama about the formative years of this great playwright is full of excess, sometimes seeming a bit silly.
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TV Review: ‘Will,’ TNT’s Punk Rock Take on William Shakespeare

The oddest assumption “Will” makes is in assuming that William Shakespeare, the OG of the English language, needs the patina of punk rock to make him cool. I’m no expert on cool, but haven’t we all trod this ground many times before? The executive producer and writer of the pilot, Craig Pearce, wrote the screenplay… Read more »

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After His Mother’s Death, Oscar Isaac Turns to Shakespeare for Solace

Heading back to his theatrical roots, he stars this summer as the tortured, grief-stricken prince in ‘Hamlet.’
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‘Will’ on TNT: A Punk-Rock Shakespeare, Striving and Stage-Diving in the Big City

“Will,” which features the playwright in his formative years, is heavy on the tattoos and piercings.
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Artists Defend Shakespeare In The Park, Because Political Theater Matters

As critics denounce a Trumped-up version of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” actors, writers and illustrators are pledging their support for one of New York City’s most beloved cultural attractions.

Every summer Shakespeare in the Park arrives in New York City, bringing with it free stagings of the Bard’s best works, sometimes updated to appeal to modern audiences flocking to Central Park to see a play.

This year, that was certainly the case. The Public theater’s update of “Julius Caesar,” Shakespeare’s famous play about the assassination of the titular Roman dictator, features a Trumped-up storyline in which Caesar, golden hair and all, wears a business suit instead of a toga. His wife Calpurnia dresses in silk and high heels, speaking with what’s been described as a “heavy Slavic accent.” An American flag can be seen waving onstage. 

The decision to infuse the story of Caesar with the spirit of today’s political mania ― to base the main character on U.S. President Donald Trump ― was a bold one. (Though hardly unprecedented; for example, a 2012 American Conservative article recounts a version of the play with an Obama-esque Caesar.) Bold because in the production, the leader of Rome is assassinated, stabbed to death by senators who felt his death would be best for their troubled republic. So in director Oskar Eustis’ rendition, a figure that looks an awful lot like Trump dies at the hands of ardent critics every night of the play’s run.

When Fox News and the corporations sponsoring The Public Theater caught wind of the death, they, still digesting the bloody antics of comedian Kathy Griffin, bridled. Delta and Bank of America pulled their support for the play. Appalled citizens made their opinions known on Twitter, threatening to boycott the free program.

While the outrage machine seemed to be throttling forward, a few famous artists, actors and writers took to social media to disrupt the current of negativity and defend Eustis and the staging of “Julius Caesar.” While some did so by simply pointing out the fact that detractors were largely misunderstanding the very essence of the play, others began rallying support for the theater by pledging to see the show and donate to The Public. 

New Yorker cartoonist Tom Toro promised to give those who donated more than $ 25 to The Public a free print of a themed illustration, which reads, “Just when you’re about to lose your faith in humanity, you see Shakespeare in the Park.” Actress Amber Tamblyn and author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted their intent to see “Julius Caesar” despite Delta’s lack of support. Others, like Nia Vardalos, shared links to The Public’s donation page.

While those strongly opposed to the “Julius Caesar” play have expressed that they don’t want their tax dollars used to fund what they have perceived as an anti-Trump artwork, the National Endowment for the Arts cleared up those concerns quickly: “No taxpayer dollars support Shakespeare in the Park’s production of ‘Julius Caesar,’” it announced in a statement.

And in response to those choosing to boycott The Public, a few individuals have in turn suggested boycotting corporations like Delta, who’ve pulled their support unwisely. 

“Maybe we should be less concerned that Shakespeare in the Park staged Caesar & more that Caesar calls Trump to mind?” author Celeste Ng tweeted. “Just a thought, @delta.”

Those familiar with Shakespeare’s centuries-old work know the playwright presents Caesar’s death as a disastrous event for Rome. The murder is similarly depicted in The Public’s production as an inarguable mistake on behalf of those American democrats who felt deposing of a tyrant through violence and illegal means was an act of patriotism.

“’Julius Caesar’ is about how fragile democracy is,” Eustis wrote in a statement about the play before it even opened. “The institutions that we have grown up with, that we have inherited from the struggle of many generations of our ancestors, can be swept away in no time at all.”

In a more recent statement from The Public Theater, the organization affirmed that it stands “completely behind our production of Julius Caesar. We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion […] such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.”

The theater also reiterated that it in no way condones violence towards anyone. In fact, it makes the exact opposite point: “Those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save.”

Julius Caesar is slated to run at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater until June 18 as part of New York’s Shakespeare in the Park festival. Tickets are free.

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Adam Pascal Talks Crossword Puzzles, Sobriety And Taking The Role Of Shakespeare In Something Rotten On Tour

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I met up with Adam Pascal at the St. James Theatre where he, along with the rest of the talented cast, welcome theatergoers to the Renaissance nightly in the tongue-in-cheek Broadway show Something Rotten. Although the Broadway show will be ending its run on January 1st, Adam, along with Rob McClure and Josh Grisetti, will be taking the show on tour. I met up with Adam Pascal in his dressing room at the theatre. He’s still as good-looking as he was in his Rent days, and was introspective and thoughtful as we covered a wide variety of topics.

Is there something that you bring with you to every dressing room?
A crossword puzzle book. I’m obsessed with crossword puzzles. I find them very soothing and meditative. I’m not someone who puts up pictures and moves into dressing rooms. If it’s a good part, I’m not in the dressing room too much!

You live in California. Is your family still there?
Yes, it’s the real bain of my existence, being separated from them. But moving back here isn’t the right choice for us. We’ve been out there for ten years, so my kids have their lives and their friends out there. This is what I do, and I do love it. And as long as people keep responding positively to the work that I do onstage, then I’m going to strive to do it and keep getting better and expanding my perceived abilities.

What’s the best part of it for you?
Feeling like I did a good job. That’s why I prefer theater to camera work. You get a full complete experience; getting to the end of the story and knowing that you just entertained however many people, hopefully a full house. And you get a sense of accomplishment every day. You don’t get that immediate gratification, that reaction, in film and television work as its very impersonal, and I respond to the feeling of a job well done.

This show is, in part, a spoof on Shakespeare. How you ever performed in a Shakespeare production?
No, I haven’t.

Would you want to?
I don’t think I would. It’s not my thing. To be completely frank with you, I’m not moved by it, I don’t understand the language enough to be moved by the material. So I don’t strive to get to that level where I could be a Shakespearean actor. I think it needs to be in your blood. Maybe I’m too simple, but I’ve seen a number of Shakespearean productions and I was left feeling empty and bored.

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You’ve originated a lot of roles. This role was originated by Christian Borle. Is there a different kind of pressure taking on a role that someone else originated?
I find that there is less pressure, and I think that I prefer taking over a role originated by someone else. If I’m originated something, it’s a lot slower of a process. When you take over for someone, the hard work is done and you just have to slip into the costume, metaphorically speaking. I’ve found that I’m good at interpreting something that someone else originated and making it my own. I find it easier. I’m lazy quite frankly!

I thought you did a great job making it your own.
I wouldn’t know how to copy someone else’s performance; it would feel like stealing. And I love what Will and Christian did, but I wouldn’t know how to do it the way each of them did it because that was unique to them.

You have an accent for this role. Is that fun?
Yeah, I love it. I like to disappear as much as I can into a role. So the more makeup, the more accents, the better. That’s what makes it fun, to be as far removed from me personally as I can get.

How was it performing the day after the election results?
Coming back here, the day after the election, was a difficult experience, and the mood was reminiscent of coming here after 9/11. It was hard to come in that day, and the mood in the theater was grim.

The ultimate message of the show for me was about being true to yourself. What allows you to believe in yourself?
That’s a good question because I have a hard time believing in myself. Every job I get, I say “how am I here?!”. I feel like an imposter. I know that I’m good at it, but I have a hard time internalizing that I’m good at it. And I feel like, at any moment, someone is going to pull back the curtain and say “aha you suck!”. It’s really more of a question of this being what I know how to do. I’ve been successful for twenty years in theater so I’m going to continue to work in theater because it’s where I seem to have the most luck. And I feel incredibly lucky.

You have so many fans.
I grew up playing in rock bands. I will always be colored by the experience of, for many years, playing in empty bars and empty clubs, and what that feels like to pour out your creative soul and be ignored. So, to even acknowledge that I have fans, I feel like “wow there are actually people here.” It will forever be ingrained in my mind that I will walk out there and there will be a couple of people at the bar. So I’m incredibly humbled by my fans; it’s quite amazing and I’m forever thankful for them.

Do you have any kind of mantra that you live by?
Not really. I find that, if you have a mantra, you eventually break it. If you have a code of “this is how I live my life” you eventually break it. I’ve been sober for almost four years, and I definitely was somebody who said something and did another and I spent many years living like that. So now I just try to be good to my family and be honest and act in a way that I didn’t act when I was using. I guess you have a different perspective after you go thru that kind of thing. When you risk losing everything that matters to you, and you somehow come out of it without having lost it, for me, I just try to keep my head down and live my life the way I should live it. And not talk about it or preach to other people. Because no matter what anybody told me, I had to figure it out. And so, like I said, I want to walk the path that I think I need to walk, keep my head down and stay out of other people’s business. Look at the hypocrisy of this world – look at the president-elect – there’s no bigger hypocrite than that.

Hamilton is such a craze and it brings me back to Rent and the phenomena surrounding it, for different reasons than Hamilton, but similar in the sense of it being a movement.

There are such strong similarities. If anything, Hamilton is a bigger phenomenon because of social media and the internet. In 1995, social media didn’t exist. So our show basically was a word of mouth thing. Hamilton went nuclear much quicker because of social media. And yeah, I know some people in the show, and I’ve definitely watched them and was nostalgic about my experience. I was a little envious that they were able to have this type of experience without the incredibly heartbreaking loss that we endured, losing Jonathan Larson the opening night of our dress rehearsal off-Broadway. Our experience was, and always will be, colored by Jonathan dying right when this thing was taking off. I envy them not having this heaviness surrounding them, and being able to enjoy the experience without the sadness we had to deal with.

Something Rotten ends its Broadway runs January 1st. What’s next for you?
Me, Rob and Josh are going out on tour. We start immediately, on Jan 10th, and the following week we officially open in Boston.

See Adam Pascal in Something Rotten on Broadway, or on tour early next year. Get tickets here.

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Shakespeare at 400, Jack London at 100: Genius Lives

In William Shakespeare’s comedy, “As You Like It, a traveler named Jaques waxes poetical in lines that have achieved literary immortality.

“All the world’s a stage,” he says. “And all the men and women merely players;/ They have their exits and their entrances,/And one man in his time plays many parts.”

Three hundred years later, Jack London, another melancholy traveler, might well have spoken nearly the same lines and meant them to be about himself. Indeed, he once observed that he had half-a-dozen different “selves” and proved it in a short, brilliant life that spanned the end of the nineteenth and the start of twentieth century.

A writer, vagabond, sailor, farmer, public speaker, playwright, playboy, war correspondent, and a Bernie Sanders-like socialist, Jack London was born John Griffith Chaney in San Francisco in 1876. He died in Glen Ellen, California in 1916 at the age of 40. (London ran for mayor of Oakland twice and twice lost.)

Around the world this year, theatergoers and thespians, are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare in 1616, his age unknown.

There’s another big literary anniversary afoot, as well. In 2016, fans of Jack London, one of the most popular American authors of his day, are celebrating the 100th anniversary of his death.

Both anniversaries are well worth celebrating.

Indeed, if Shakespeare’s plays illuminate the Elizabethan Age better than the plays of any other writer, Jack London’s novels, including “The Iron Heel,” illuminate the Gilded Age and its aftermath better than most of the novels of his contemporaries, including those of Henry James.

To many, it will sound like hyperbole, but to the faithful London was the Shakespeare of his day. Like the Bard, he wrote tragedies as well as comedies.

Like the Bard, he was exceedingly prolific; in 17 years be wrote more than 50 books. Like Shakespeare, he created immortal character: Buck, the dog who devolves into a wolf; White Fang, the wolf who evolves into a dog; Wolf Larsen, the brutal sea captain who reads Shakespeare and analyzes his most famous character, Hamlet.

There’s also Martin Eden, the sailor who becomes a famous writer. And perhaps London’s best character of all: himself. As the literary critic, Alfred Kazin famously observed, “the greatest story Jack London ever wrote was the story he lived.”

For one hundred years, biographers have tried repeatedly to capture his elusive identity and to fix the nature of his nature as well as the nature of his art. Dozens and dozens of biographies have been written about him, including “The Mystery of Jack London” by his friend Georgia Loring Bamford.

Rose Wilder Lane beat Bamford to the typewriter. “Life and Jack London,” her fictionalized biography, in which she borrows from Jung and Freud, appeared in “Sunset Magazine” in eight installments in 1917 and 1918.

More biographies are on the way; conferences are forthcoming.

Biographers know more about London than they do about Shakespeare; thousands of London’s letters survive, along with voluminous documents, though as in the case of Shakespeare there’s no known birth certificate. With London as with Shakespeare mysteries abound.

Fans may never know all they would like to know about London’s biological father, William Henry Chaney, his mother, Flora, or what it meant to be a white boy raised as he was in the Bay Area’s African American community by an African American ex-slave named Virginia Prentice.

The evidence suggests that London felt like an orphan in the world and that he also had an abiding fear of falling into a kind of abyss, both physical and psychological, that derived in part from the poverty and emotional insecurity of his early years.

London himself embraced mystery and in his best work produced poetry worthy of Shakespeare. “Men, mere motes of light and sparkle,” he wrote in “The Sea-Wolf,” “ride their steeds of wood and steel through the heart of the mystery, groping their way blindly through the unseen.”

Like the archetypical man that Shakespeare’s Jaques describes in “As You Like it,” London was “Jealous in honor, /sudden and quick in quarrel,/ Seeking the bubble reputation.”

One hundred years after his death, the bubble hasn’t burst yet.

Jonah Raskin is the editor of “The Radical Jack London: Writings on War and Revolution.”

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Seattle Shakespeare Company’s The Comedy of Errors; A Fun Filled, Slapstick Vision That Entertains From Start to Finish

Seattle Shakespeare Company recently premiered The Comedy of Errors at the Leo K Theatre, and the show kept the audience in stitches from beginning to end. I am not much of a Shakespeare fan, and I usually study the plot beforehand just so I can follow what’s going on.
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I do enjoy the poetry of the verse, but without doing any pre-play study, I generally find the plots confusing. Not so with this production of The Comedy of Errors. It was brilliantly done in a way even I could understand what was happening without any knowledge beforehand.

And I now have some sense of what my father must have seen when he was a young boy and had the opportunity to watch the Marx Brothers trying out their movies in live theater before they were actually filmed. This version of The Comedy of Errors was like a Marx Brothers show, filled with physical comedy and so much slapstick that I almost expected someone to get a pie in the face. That didn’t happen, but characters were constantly barging in and out doors, running around every inch of the stage and bouncing off each other like ping pong balls.

All of this was occurring while the actors articulated every word of the play with eloquence and bravado. The only issue (for diehard Shakespeare fans) was that the audience’s laughing often went on for so long that it drowned out parts of the actors’ dialogue.

All in all, this production of The Comedy of Errors is a truly entertaining adaptation well worth seeing at least once. The Comedy of Errors continues through October 11 at the Leo K. Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

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First Nighter: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Outstanding ‘Merchant of Venice’ Is Screened

No one who knows The Merchant of Venice is unaware of the famous and often considered odious character Shylock’s being a Jew both sinned against and sinning. Rarely, however, have I seen a production of William Shakespeare’s play where the anti-Semitism is more acute than in Deborah Findlay’s superlative Royal Shakespeare Company account. It’s screening today (August 23) and at other times elsewhere (check local listings), and is highly recommended.

Findlay’s handling of the tricky work achieves something not often attained. Shylock’s inflexible insistence on the bond he made with Antonio for a pound of flesh were the 3,000 ducats not repaid — that’s to say, Shylock’s unrelenting stance as a broader revenge on the Christians who’ve tormented him throughout life as a usurer — is decidedly matched by his tormenters’ virulent prejudice.

These include not only Antonio (Jamie Ballard), whose misfortunes put him in Shylock’s debt, and Antonio’s swaggering cronies. They also include the usually more gracious Portia (Patsy Ferran) and even the judge presiding over Shylock’s case when it’s brought to court. At times, all of them are portrayed as nothing more nor less than leering, sneering bigots.

The extent to which Shylock (the Palestinian actor Makram J. Khoury) is so severely humiliated that it’s difficult to decide, as Findlay has staged it, whether he’s any worse in refusing to show mercy (which Portia explains is “not strained”) towards Antonio than any of the others in their steely intolerance of him. Shylock talks about being spit on by Antonio, but in Findlay’s startling literal presentation, Antonio actually grabs Shylock, pulls him inches-close and violently spits in the man’s face twice. Moreover, he’s not the only one so inured to the society’s anti-Semitic sentiments that they can’t speak the word “Jew” without wrapping it in hatred and spitting in demonstration of their disdain.

While the Shylock plot is the most discussed when The Merchant of Venice is a topic, there’s another thick tread to the play: the love stories, each written and presented here in a tone far removed from the coruscating Shylock exploration. Indeed, these seem more in line with Shakespeare’s comedies or with the late romance Cymbeline, which repeats an episode concerning rings given and surrendered against the giver’s request. (Shakespeare often stole from himself, of course.)

The most prominent Merchant of Venice love story is the one involving Portia and Bassanio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd), who wins her hand when he chooses the correct box of the three (gold, silver, lead) offered to Portia’s suitors for perusal. There’s also the Nerissa (Nadia Albina)-Gratiano (Ken Nwosu) alliance. Then there’s the love affair featuring Lorenzo (James Corrigan) and Shylock’s stolen daughter Jessica (Scarlett Brookes), who converts to Christianity–not, as Findlay and Brookes have it, without some remorse.

Findlay sometime unflinchingly, sometimes light-heartedly unfolds the intertwined tales on Johannes Schutz’s simple yet sumptuous set. The floor thrusting into the audience is glossy brass as is the reflecting upstage wall. (The brass, looking like gold underlines that theme of corrupting money that Shakespeare worked.) Just in front of the wall is a shiny ball on a long cord. It’s pushed with some force by Ferran when she enters as Portia. Subsequently, it swings pendulum-like throughout the play, as if unremittingly reminding the audience of time’s inexorable passage.

Only occasionally are pieces of furniture brought out, as the cast members, dressed by Anette Guther in very casual contemporary clothes, go about their poetic business. Tim Samuels as Launcelot Gobbo, encountered first in the audience and engaging a patron on his right, wears a painted-on mask, but otherwise no one is further gussied up. That’s unless a red party outfit Portia puts on counts as glamorous.

You could say also say that Antonio’s face is decorated with tears. As the action begins, he’s seen in the grip of acute sadness. Explaining his woe, he immediately establishes the high quality of the acting over which Findlay presides. Khoury’s Shylock and Ferran’s Portia deserve kudos and paragraphs for the range and subtlety — and when required — blunt anger they display. Their command of the characters’ complexities is complete.

No one in the cast is less than first-rate, and that goes especially for Albina as a lovely Nerissa, Fortune-Lloyd as an unabashed Bassanio and Nwosu as an irrepressible Gratiano. Brookes and Corrigan enact their beautifully-written “on such a night as this” scene with exquisite changes of mood.

The Merchant of Venice is often considered a problem play. Findlay and associates solve whatever problem there is by memorably attacking the dilemmas head-on. Cue heavy applause.

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Socksmith Women Shakespeare Socks ssw1287

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Oh Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou socks?

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Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare

Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare


Providing a unique perspective on a fascinating aspect of early modern culture, this volume focuses on the role of food and diet as read in the works of a range of European authors, including Shakespeare, from the late medieval period to the mid seventeenth century. The essays are international and interdisciplinary in their approach; they incorporate the perspectives of historians, cultural commentators, and literary critics who are leaders in the field.

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Shakespeare Mariner 8900 8′ 6db Vhf Antennawith Silver Plated Elements & Gold Connector

Shakespeare Mariner 8900 8′ 6db Vhf Antennawith Silver Plated Elements & Gold Connector


Shakespeare Mariner 8900 8′ 6db Vhf Antennawith Silver Plated Elements & Gold Connector . The Mariner 8900 features a maximum range antenna rig with an integrated extra-tough fiberglass radome. For windy conditions; high speeds and rough seas; this rugged unit stands up strong when mounted on hard tops; T-tops and radar arches. Silver plating beefs up performance for crystal clear communication. Includes no-solder gold centerpin; PL-259 connector. Application: Premium Marine VHF Gain: 6dB Length: 8′ Material: Fiberglass w/polyurethane finish Elements: Silver-plated brass Base Type: Stainless steel Lead: 20′ RG-8X Coax; PL-259 Warranty: Five years
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