Othello

Top 5 “Romantic” (Meaning Crazy) Moments from William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare has been lauded with creating the most beautiful romantic moments of all time. Yet, as much as William loves marriage and romance, it seems most of his depictions of romance are also his depictions of total insanity. Here for this Valentine’s Day, here are Shakespeare’s most “romantic” moments; and by ‘romantic’, I mean delusional and very twisted.

5) Twelfth Night, Malvolio Dresses Crazy For Love (Act 3, Scene 4)
While Shakespeare may have fooled us into thinking it is the romance between Viola and Cesario that is the height of the play, it is clearly Malvolio who shows us the proper levels of passion for Valentine’s Day. When Maria sends him a letter pretending to be Olivia, Malvolio will do anything to impress her, including reading strange quotations from said letter and humiliating himself with a ridiculous outfit, crossed garters and yellow stockings. Love literally makes you crazy, and Malvolio is proof.

4) Macbeth, Lady MacBeth Councils her Husband Post-Murder (Act 2, Scene 2)

When you’ve got some stresses going on there’s no one better to help calm you down than your one and only. One of the possibly biggest stresses could come from your plan to murder the King in order to take over the throne, and thank god Macbeth has Lady Macbeth to help calm him down after this task. Essentially, Lady Macbeth just points out all the things he did wrong, and how she would’ve done this a lot better (and I don’t doubt that), but at the end, when he is feeling that guilt as he looks at his bloody hands, Lady Macbeth cleans them off for him. That’s probably the sweetest moment between the two… all in the middle of an insane murder plot.

3) Hamlet, Hamlet Calls Ophelia Many Things (Act 3, Scene 1)

Hamlet in general just seems like such a charmer; there’s nothing like existentialism to make a man seem attractive. Even more attractive is when, having done absolutely nothing wrong, you get called awful names. I think this is called “playing hard to get”. Ophelia runs into Hamlet and is not just insulted by Hamlet, but is insulted among all womankind. Not cool, Hamlet. And when Ophelia ends up throwing herself in a river, Hamlet acts all sad and that he loved her all along? Stop playing those games, Hamlet. To be or not to be a jerk, that is the question.

2) Othello, Othello and Desdemona’s Last Moment Together (Act 5, Scene 2)

Nothing like death to bring loved ones together, especially in Shakespeare. Does it count if death is being brought on by your loved one? By Shakespeare’s standards, essentially it’s the best you can do! And in the most romantic locations of all, one’s own marriage bed. Othello kisses his wife before attempting to smother her, and this death scene is ridden with romantic newlywed imagery. Thanks Shakespeare, that’s not creepy at all.

1) Romeo and Juliet, Balcony Scene (Act 2, Scene 1)
Well, what did you expect would be #1? This scene is the most talked about famous romance scene in Shakespeare, and it is pretty romantic to have your secret lover come to you in the middle of the night to profess his love to you… right? Some would say that’s trespassing, but we love that kind of stuff. Romeo and Juliet, however, are probably the most unstable of all of Shakespeare’s couples. First of all, they are 14, and probably going through many hormonal changes that would probably affect their decision making. Only knowing each other three days in the total time of the play, they end up dying for each other pretty much by accident. They literally could’ve waited an hour to see if the other were really dead and then made a rational decision on what to do next, but no, impromptu sacrifice is what Shakespeare encourages. Thanks Shakespeare for presenting the ultimate romance as ultimate insanity.

Don’t follow suit on your Valentine’s Day everyone.

By Yamini Coen

Shakespeare Everywhere- Shakespeare in Bollywood

The stories, themes, and characters in Shakespeare’s plays are not limited to only Western audiences. His works are celebrated and adapted all over the world (and have been translated into over 80 different languages!)
Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj has adapted and directed a trilogy of films based on Shakespeare’s plays. Maqbool (2003) is based on Macbeth, Omkara (2006) is based on Othello, and Haider (released later this year) is based on Hamlet. These films have been incredibly popular with audiences and have breathed new life into stories we have enjoyed for so many years.
Like many of us, Bhardwaj struggled with breaking through the Elizabethan language barrier, not allowing him to fully appreciate the Bard’s work. He explained this in an interview with The Times of India back in 2012:

“During my early days, Shakespeare was a scary thing because his language scared me and if you watch my movies that have been adapted from his works, you will see that I have taken a lot of creative liberty in making those movies.” But, he says, he was stupid. “When I finally started understanding his plays, I bought all his plays and read them in a year,” he said, adding, “Now I realize, I can live my life based on Shakespeare’s works, spend my life reading him,” said Vishal.

Check out the trailers for the films in the trilogy below!

Maqbool, 2003

Omkara, 2006

Haider, 2014

Shakespeare at the Movies- The Oscars 2014

The nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards are in, and I must say, there is some fierce competition for a statue this year!
Until the awards are actually given out on March 2, we can only speculate on the internet and join the office pool, guessing who will walk away a winner. In the meantime, we can dive into the nominees past works, and learn about the interesting and brilliant choices that this group of actors have made throughout their careers.

Seeing as we are a Shakespeare related theatre company, I have sifted though the careers of the nominees and compiled a list of some of the Shakespeare related works that they have been a part of over the years! Enjoy!

christian-bale-american-hustle

Christian Bale (Best Actor Nominee)

Appeared in:

chiwetel-ejiofor-12-years-a-slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Best Actor Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Macbeth (1997 theatre production) as Malcom
  • Romeo and Juliet (2000 theatre production) as Romeo
  • Twelfth Night, or What You Will (2003 TV movie) as Orsino
  • Othello (2007 theatre production) as Othello

leonardo-dicaprio-the-wolf-of-wall-street

Leonardo DiCaprio (Best Actor Nominee)

Appeared in:

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Amy Adams (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Into the Woods (2012 Shakespeare in the Park Production) as Baker’s Wife

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Cate Blanchett (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Richard II (2009 Sydney Festival) as Richard II


*Fun Fact- This role was part of a show called The War of the Roses, which condensed all of Shakespeare’s historical plays into one 8 hour performance!

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Judi Dench (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:


*Fun Fact- Judi Dench also performed with The Royal Shakespeare Company for many years.

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Meryl Streep (Best Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • The Taming of the Shrew (1978 Shakespeare in the Park Production)  as Katherine
  • Romeo and Juliet (2012 Shakespeare in the Park Staged Reading) as Juliet

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Michael Fassbender (Best Supporting Actor Nominee)

Appearing in:

  • Macbeth (Currently in Pre-production) as Macbeth

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Sally Hawkins (Best Supporting Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • Much Ado About Nothing (2000 theatre production)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2000 theatre production)

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Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress Nominee)

Appeared in:

  • The Winter’s Tale (Yale School of Drama Production)
  • The Taming of the Shrew (Yale School of Drama Production)

Have you seen any of these movies or performances? What did you think? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wordy Wednesday- Pomp and Circumstance

“Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump, The spirit-stirring drum, th’ear-piercing fife, The royal banner, and all quality, Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!”

The phrase may seem familiar to you from the musical piece “Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches, Op. 39” by Sir Edward Elgar, often heard at graduation ceremonies.Given these two contexts, one may be able to deduce that the meaning hasn’t changed too drastically since Shakespeare’s time. Pomp is derived from the Greek word “pompa” meaning procession, and is used to describe something of “magnificence and splendor”. (Pomp, used in its negative form, describes “an ostentatious display of wealth or ceremony” lending the adjective “pompous”, which originally meant simply “characterized by pomp” but now means “self-important or arrogant.”) Circumstance, in this phrase, is used in its singular form, and means “the ‘ado’ made about anything; formality, ceremony, about any important event or action”. We commonly use the plural form “circumstances” in a similar way to describe “a fact or condition connected with or relevant to an event or action”.
The phrase “pomp and circumstance” thus means a magnificent display with surrounding fuss and/or importance. I think graduation ceremonies capture the essence of this phrase quite well. The “pomp” is the ceremony itself of graduates being celebrated, and the circumstance is demonstrated by those attending the event to witness and celebrate the achievements of the graduates, many of whom take photos and videos to commemorate the event.

The Past and the Present: Shakespeare on the Big Screen

Image: ClipArt ETC Chandler B. Beach The New Student's Reference Work for Teachers Students and Families (Chicago, IL: F. E. Compton and Company, 1909)

Image: ClipArt ETC
Chandler B. Beach The New Student’s Reference Work for Teachers Students and Families (Chicago, IL: F. E. Compton and Company, 1909)

 

Would William Shakespeare have pictured Hamlet as a lion cub? Or imagined Othello as a high school basketball player?

It’s impossible to say how Shakespeare would react to seeing adaptations of his most famous characters in modern times. There is no dispute that his plays remain a popular source of inspiration for movies. These aren’t limited to direct adaptations. Many characters, stories and themes penned by him have been transferred to a modern setting on multiple occasions.

West Side Story (1963)

Romeo and Juliet is brought to 20th-century New York and the star-crossed lovers are re-imagined as Tony and Maria. Maria is the sister of a Puerto Rican gangster while Tony is affiliated with a rival gang. The Jets and Sharks take the place of the Capulets and Montagues. While Tony mirrors Romeo’s untimely death, Maria diverges from following Juliet’s end. Instead of committing suicide, Maria uses Tony’s death to end the fighting between the Jets and the Sharks.

Ten Things I Hate About You (1999)

Taming of the Shrew goes to high school in this adaptation of the famous Shakespeare comedy. The theme of finding a husband and shaming a shrewish woman into submission changed to dating among teenagers and being true to yourself. The plot mirrors Shakespeare’s original play as it focuses on Bianca’s attempt to find someone to date her older sister Kat since her father has made a rule preventing her from dating until Kat does.

O (2001)

This modern version of Othello turns the protagonist into Odin, the captain of his high school basketball team. Desdemona becomes his girlfriend Desi. Iago becomes Hugo, Odin’s treacherous teammate. The English Journal noted that Hugo’s actions in spreading rumors of Desi’s infidelity to Odin cause him to spiral out of control in school and on the court — in the same manner Iago affected Othello. Both characters become overwhelmed by their desire to inflict physical violence based on a false rumor.

 

By Scott Grayson

 

To learn more about the Shakespeare connections in The Lion King (1993), click here.

For She’s The Man (2006), click here.

And for Romeo & Juliet through the ages, click here.

Wordy Wednesday – “Foregone conclusion”

Othello: O monstrous! Monstrous!
Iago: Nay, this was but his dream.
Othello: But this denoted a foregone conclusion:
‘Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.
Othello, III.iii.2109-12

A foregone conclusion is an ending that you can already see coming, but not do anything about. Shakespeare’s tragedies, his plays of death and disaster like MacbethKing LearHamlet and Othello, all show that even if you can predict the future, that doesn’t mean you can change it – the conclusion can be ‘foregone’, gone ahead to wait for you to catch up to it.

In the tragedies, this occurs for three reasons. One is practical – the plays are written to end badly. It is being advertised as a tragedy, after all, and people would complain if Hamlet threw Claudius down a well after ten minutes, married Ophelia, and lived happily ever after.

Even if this wasn’t true, however, people in Elizabethan times were huge believers in Fate, or Destiny, or Fortune – the idea that one’s future was set in stone. Devout Christians, they never doubted that God controlled every aspect of their lives if He wanted to. Personified by godlike beings like the Fates, or Moirae, three sisters – interesting to think of Macbeth, hmm? – who spun, wove and cut the threads of Destiny for all people, Fate knew everything you’d ever do – or not do –  from the minute you were born.

Fate was inescapable. If you tried to change your fate, you did exactly what you had to to make sure it happened. Macbeth tries to safeguard himself by killing Macduff, and only makes an enemy of the one man who can kill him, being “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripped.” Juliet trying to fake her own death causes Romeo to despair and causes their real suicides.

But tragedies – as defined by the ever-brainy Aristotle in ancient Greece – are plays where every event logically leads by small steps to a terrible conclusion. They’re so brilliant, especially in Shakespeare, because EVEN IF the ending didn’t have to be sad to call it a tragedy and EVEN IF Destiny wasn’t at work, the plays would still end up where they are anyway. King Lear is too proud and foolish not to banish Cordelia and leave himself at her sisters’ mercy; Hamlet is too indecisive to kill Claudius in time; Macbeth is too hungry for power to think of what he’s doing.

All of them are led by their personality’s worst, fatal flaw straight into doing what they shouldn’t. Tragically, this is also their best feature – Hamlet’s indecisiveness is linked to his mercy and wisdom and compassion; Macbeth’s ambition draws on his confidence and courage and love for his wife; and Lear’s pride is part of his dignity, his majesty, his charisma.

The cruelest aspect of a foregone conclusion in Shakespeare is that we can’t change it, because taking away the flaws that ruin these characters would be taking away the things we love about them. In a word, “as flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods” – in the world of tragedy, life dangles by a thread of fate that inevitably, sorrowfully, snaps.

What if Shakespeare…were a FRAUD?

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[The Tudors’ secret police court, the Star Chamber. Enter JUDGE, PROSECUTOR, and QUEEN ELiZABETH I; SHAKESPEARE sits in chains in the centre of the room.]

Judge:
Either you must
Confess yourselves wondrous malicious,
Or be accused of folly. (1)

Shakespeare:
An’t shall please your majesty, I never said nor
thought any such matter: God is my witness, I am
falsely accused by the villain. (2)

Queen:
Ah, what’s more dangerous than this fond affiance!
Seems he a dove? his feathers are but borrowed,
For he’s disposed as the hateful raven:
Is he a lamb? his skin is surely lent him,
For he’s inclined as is the ravenous wolf.
Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all
Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man. (3)

Shakespeare:
Madam, I was thinking with what manners I might
safely be admitted. (4)

Prosecutor:
I will not excuse you; you shall not be excus’d;
shall not be admitted; there is no excuse shall serve; you
not be excus’d. (5)

Shakespeare
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you, (6)
I am alone the villain of the earth,
And feel I am so most. (7)
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever, (8)
The fraud of England, not the force of France,
Hath now entrapp’d the noble-minded[.] (9)
Shame hath a bastard fame, well managed;
Ill deeds are doubled with an evil word. (10)
It shall be fickle, false and full of fraud, (11)
Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish. (12)
Thus do I ever make my fool my purse: (13)
And that the Earl of Surrey, with the rod. (14)
I told him what I thought, and told no more
Than what he found himself was apt and true. (15)

Judge:
He said the truth: and what said Surrey then? (16)

Shakespeare:
To tell you true, I counterfeit him. (17)

Queen:
Thou liest:
Within these forty hours Surrey durst better
Have burnt that tongue than said so. (18)

Shakespeare:
Alas!
I am as true as truth’s simplicity
And simpler than the infancy of truth. (19)
The base
Shall top th’ legitimate. I grow; I prosper.
Now, gods, stand up for bastards! (20)

Judge:
Will Fortune never come with both hands full,
But write her fair words still in foulest letters? (21)
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? (22)

Shakespeare:
Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
From this time forth I never will speak word. (23)

Queen:
What, will you tear
Impatient answers from my gentle tongue?
Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet, you! (24)

Shakespeare:
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more. (25)

Queen:
Lo, here, the hopeless merchant of this loss,
With head declined, and voice damm’d up with woe, (26)
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,
That suck’d the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh; (27)
Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell; (28)
Take hence this jack, and whip him. (29)
Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest: away!
Thou’rt poison to my blood. (30)

Shakespeare:
All my merry jigs are quite forgot,
All my lady’s love is lost, God wot:
Where her faith was firmly fix’d in love,
There a nay is placed without remove. (31)

The rest is silence. (32)

—————————————————————————-

All words Shakespeare’s own, assembled by David Windrim.

Original Quotations:
(1) Menenius Agrippa, Coriolanus
(2) Thomas Horner, Henry VI Part 3
(3) Queen Margaret, Henry VI Part 3
(4) Lafeu, All’s Well That Ends Well
(5) Robert Shallow, Henry IV Part 2
(6) Domitius Enobarus, Antony and Cleopatra
(7) Helena, All’s Well That Ends Well
(8) Balthasar, Much Ado About Nothing
(9) Sir William Lucy, Henry VI, Part 1
(10) Luciana, The Comedy of Errors
(11) Venus and Adonis
(12) Duke of Clarence, Richard III
(13) Iago, Othello
(14) First Gentleman, Henry VIII
(15) Iago, Othello
(16) Richard III, Richard III
(17) Antonio, The Merchant Of Venice
(18) Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII
(19) Troilus, Troilus and Cressida
(20) Edmund, King Lear
(21) Henry IV, Henry IV Part 2
(22) Brutus, Julius Caesar
(23) Iago, Othello
(24) Helena, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
(25) Aaron, Titus Andronicus
(26) The Rape of Lucrece
(27) Ophelia, Hamlet
(28) Lady Anne, Richard III
(29) Antony, Antony and Cleopatra.
(30) Cymbeline, Cymbeline
(31) The Passionate Pilgrim

(32) Hamlet, Hamlet