On his recent visit to England Barack Obama chose to tour Shakespeare’s Globe, on Bankside; and in the last days of his Presidency, interviewed about his reading habits, he spoke touchingly and revealingly of his admiration for Shakespeare’s tragedies, and of what they had taught him. ‘I took this wonderful Shakespeare class in college’, he said, ‘where I just started to read the tragedies and dig into them.
To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we brought you a new theme every month throughout 2016. From Women to Race and from Money to the Supernatural, we delved into complex subjects surrounding his life and works, exploring their relevance for a modern audience. With specially commissioned videos, articles, and interactive content from a host of Shakespearean experts, Illuminating Shakespeare presented the very best Shakespeare resources from across Oxford University Press. Take a look at some of our favourites from this anniversary year…
In 2015 the Alchemy Project delivered a pioneering ‘treatment’ for mental illness. It was modelled on contemporary dance training and was a different way of engaging with people and supporting their recovery. It was based on the work of Dance United and its proven, award-winning methodology. The premise was ambitious: that in just four weeks, participants would go from a place of no experience to a high-end artistic professional dance performance.
We all know the classic Shakespearean lines – “To be or not to be,” “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” or “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” — but how would these famous lines have sounded to Elizabethan audiences? Are we currently misinterpreting the Bard? This question has been on the mind of Shakespeare scholars, directors, actors, and audiences for a long time, and has proved a tricky problem.
We have always known already that Shakespeare was a collaborator; he was a man of the theatre which is an inherently very collaborative, social art. The news is that he also collaborated as a writer much more than we used to think he did. We can now say with a high degree of certainty that upward of third of his plays were co-written in some sense or other. In most film portrayals, Shakespeare seems to produce his plays in isolation.
Most people would assume that, since Gilbert and Sullivan have been so widely renowned for so many years, the availability of satisfactory performance materials for their works would be a given. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When we read Shakespeare’s Complete Works we are primarily, of course, reading Shakespeare. But as a bonus we also get, in the same volume, an excellent anthology of most of the important playwrights who were his collaborators. Shakespeare collaborated for the same reason that most people do: different members of the team are especially good at different tasks.
The recent media furore surrounding the publication of new findings about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works reassures us of one thing: people care about Shakespeare. Or, perhaps better stated, people care about caring about Shakespeare. A momentary venture into the ‘comments’ section to any of these news stories (a risky move at the best of times) reveals at least three camps of commentators.
While it is obvious that Shakespeare drew a tremendous amount of inspiration from Christopher Marlowe (note the effect of The Jew of Malta, Hero and Leander, and Tamburlaine on The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Shakespeare’s history plays, respectively), this kind of borrowing and […]
“Come and put your name on it,” is the first line in Rihanna’s song “Birthday Cake.” She is referring to her female anatomy as she dances in a hip-centered motion, reminiscent of Caribbean movement. Across the globe, reactions to the song’s connotation and the provocative dancing varied greatly, each individual interpreting the sequence of events based on their own experiences, culture, race and gender.
Why do some great Broadway shows fail, and mediocre ones thrive? How does the cast onstage manage to keep tabs on the audience without missing a beat or a line? Ken Bloom, author of Show and Tell: The New Book of Broadway Audiences, delves into the inner workings of the Broadway stage and the culture surrounding Broadway hips and flops.
In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Shakespeare’s plays were performed at professional playhouses such as the Globe and the Rose, as well as at the Inns of Court, the houses of noblemen, and at the Queen’s palace. In fact, the playing company The Queen’s Men was formed at the express command of Elizabeth I to […]
September marks the new Broadway musical season and the opening of fledgling shows like Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 and familiar revivals like Cats.
Reflective practice has the capability to facilitate deeper experiential understanding to enhance performance. It can release the dancer from the traditional ‘watch and repeat’ mode of dance training. Reflective practice and experiential learning is the crux of the process utilized in the Functional Awareness®: Anatomy in Action approach to somatic movement training.
Just as there were no real women on Shakespeare’s stage, there were no Jews, Africans, Muslims, or Hispanics either. Even Harold Bloom, who praises Shakespeare as ‘the greatest Western poet’ in The Western Canon, and who rages against academic political correctness, regards The Merchant of Venice as antisemitic. In 2014 the satirist Jon Stewart responded to Shakespeare’s ‘stereotypically, grotesquely greedy Jewish money lender’ more bluntly.
Fools, or jesters, would have been known by many of those in Shakespeare’s contemporary audience, as they were often kept by the royal court, and some rich households, to act as entertainers. They were male, as were the actors, and would wear flamboyant clothing and carry a ‘bauble’ or carved stick, to use in their jokes.