romance

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

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Sonnets-by-Kids – A Unique Gift for Valentine’s Day!

Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day is celebrating its 5th year!

This Valentine’s Day, why not give the gift of poetry and let the Bard do the talking!

  • Visit http://www.shakespeareinaction.org/sonnets-by-kids.
  • Select and purchase your favourite Shakespeare Sonnet – 18, 29, 105, or 116. (Only $25 CDN)
  • On Valentine’s Day, between 2:30pm and 4:30pm EST, a talented and charming Shakespeare Kid will call your lucky Valentine and recite the sonnet with a heart full of love!
  • A Shakespeare Kid will also sign and mail a personalized copy of the sonnet for your Valentine!

SONNETS BY KIDS are available in Canada and the US until Friday, February 13, 2015 at 5pm EST, while quantities last.

Shakespeare in Action is a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to introducing young people to the magic of Shakespeare, language and live theatre. All proceeds support our educational programs throughout Toronto – the kids are “graduates”!

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– Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day 2011 – Photo: Shakespeare in Action

 

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– Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day 2012 – Photo: Shakespeare in Action

 

 

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– Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day 2013 – Photo: Shakespeare in Action

 

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– Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day 2014 – Photo: Shakespeare in Action

 

 

Shakespeare Sonnets by Kids- A Family Tradition

Shakespeare in Action’s Sonnets by Kids program has been bringing the bard to poetry-lovers everywhere for three years’ worth of Valentine’s Days now. As the big day draws closer once again, and our Sonnet Kids make their final preparations to spout sonnets to your sweeties, we wanted to take some time to reflect on how this program has touched the lives of everyone who participates in it: from the kids who read the sonnets, to the patrons who give the gift of poetry to their loved ones, to the volunteers and staff here at Shakespeare in Action who make the program a reality.

Alania Weisdorf has purchased Sonnets by Kids for her loved ones every year since the program’s inception. We asked Alania what the program means to her:

“With regards to my story, we got married at Toronto City Hall and Sonnet 116 was read at the end of the ceremony. Then a few years back, sometime in February, the National Post featured an article on gift ideas for Valentine’s and that’s how I found out about Sonnets by Kids. Since then, it has become a tradition in our family. To me, the message in the sonnet is a meaningful and lasting gift that I want to share with my family and friends.”

Sonnets by Kids has also had important impact on our Sonnet Kids. Every year in 30 different library branches across the GTA, SIA runs TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, a free readers’ theatre program for young people. And every year we invite the most enthusiastic, the most excited, the most dedicated Library Club students to become Sonnet Kids. SIA’s education team works closely with the Sonnet Kids to teach them about Shakespeare’s sonnets: what the words mean, how the rhythm of the poetry flows, how best to deliver a line, etc.

We asked some of our Sonnet Kids what they liked about Library Club and Sonnet by Kids. Sonnet Kid Temina Tova (age 12) liked the programs because she was able to develop her acting skills, and learning Shakespeare’s plays and poetry gave her confidence at school.

The best part for Sonnet Kid Spencer (age 8) was being able to share the poems he had learned with his friends and family.

For Sonnet Kid Audrey (age 9), it was the fact that these programs united all of her passions:

“I love Library Club because I love acting, and I love reading, and I love libraries, and I love books, and I love Shakespeare, and other people.”

And in all this reflection, how could we not hear from the brains of the operation, our wonderful and dedicated Education Coordinator, Laboni?

“For me, the program celebrates poetry and kids!  I love meeting them, helping them learn, learning from them, and seeing their confidence build and build.  In the bigger picture, I enjoy linking all of our kids’ programming – TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club, Sonnets by Kids, and Summer Camp – to create a Shakespeare Family.  It’s special having these kids grow up with us and hearing their younger siblings say: ‘I want to learn Shakespeare too!’”

So, from our Shakespeare family to yours, happy Valentine’s Day!

Sonnets will be available for purchase until 5PM on February 13, so be sure to order yours now!

Shakespeare Relationship Stats- Hermia and Lysander

Our next installment of the Shakespeare Relationship Stats series belongs to Hermia and Lysander from A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Occupation

Lysander: star-crossed lover
Hermia:  rebellious daughter

Family status
Lysander: young nobleman
Hermia: daughter of Egeus

Reputation
Lysander: “I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possess’d; my love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius’;
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am beloved of beauteous Hermia:
Why should not I then prosecute my right?” Lysander’s opinion, Act 1, Scene 1

Hermia: “Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue’s sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I’d give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius’ heart.” Helena’s opinion, Act 1 Scene 1

What they wanted from this relationship

Lysander:
“A good persuasion: therefore, hear me, Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child:
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us. If thou lovest me then,
Steal forth thy father’s house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.” Act 1, Scene 1

Hermia:
“My good Lysander!
I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus’ doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burn’d the Carthage queen,
When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke,
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.” Act 1, Scene 1

Top 3 bumps on the way to true love
1. Demetrius’s love for Hermia poses a problem when Egeus chooses him as suitor for Hermia, despite her wishes to marry Lysander.

2. In response to Hermia’s refusal to marry Demetrius, Egeus invokes an ancient Athenian law whereby a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death.

3. Lysander, falling victim to a miscast love spell on the eve of his elopement to Hermia, falls in love with Helena when she wakes him.

Happily ever after
When the love spell is removed from Lysander, he declares his love for Hermia. As Demetrius loves Helena, Theseus overrules Egeus’ request to invoke the Athenian law, and arranges a group wedding!

Will it last?
Hermia’s love is withstanding, even when she believes Lysander has fallen for Helena. Once the spell is removed from Lysander, he declares that he loves Hermia. As long as no other misdirected love spells are cast, I think this one will continue to be happily ever after.

SIA Poll- Which Shakespeare character would you want to be your Valentine?

Shakespeare is known for creating some of the most famous (yet sometimes, tragic) lovers in literature. Would you want any of them to be your Valentine? Take the poll!

Give your real Valentine a unique gift this Valentine’s Day- Shakespeare Sonnets by Kids! They are selling fast, so be sure to get yours now!

SIA is also celebrating Valentine’s Day with our friends at DFilms with a Romeo and Juliet DVD and Blu-Ray Giveaway!

Shakespeare Relationship Stats- Kate and Petruchio

What better way to kick off the week leading up to Valentine’s Day than with a look at the love stats of one of Shakespeare’s most famous couples- Kate and Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew!

Occupation
Petruchio: Gold-digger
Kate: Shrew

Family status
Petruchio: Recently orphaned
Kate: Elder daughter, Daddy’s second favourite

Reputation
Petruchio: “Why, he’s a devil, a devil, a very fiend.” (Gremio’s opinion, 3.2.154)
Kate: “Why, she’s a devil, a devil, the devil’s dam” (Tranio’s opinion, 3.2.155)

What they wanted from this relationship
Petruchio:
“I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily then happily in Padua.” (1.2.74-75)

“…we have ‘greed so well together
That upon Sunday is the wedding day” (2.1.190-191

Kate: “I’ll see thee hanged on Sunday first” (2.1.192)

How they met
It was quite a rocky start for these two. Both Katherine and Petruchio have…strong opinions, which get them into explosive situations. But on the upside, their first conversation is also their first fight (2.1.182-271), so that’s one relationship hurdle over and done with!

Top 3 bumps on the way to true love
1. The day they meet
There is friction in their relationship right from the beginning. Petruchio is in it for the money, while Kate isn’t in it for anything. In fact, she’d much prefer that it didn’t happen at all. She puts up a good fight, but as we are in the Elizabethan era, and she is the daughter of a wealthy gentleman with a reputation to protect, it’s her word against Petruchio’s. And he has no problem bending the truth to Kate’s father, Old Baptista:

“O, the kindest Kate!
She hung about my neck, and kiss on kiss
She vied so fast, protesting oath on oath,
That in a twink she won me her love.” (2.1.300-303)

2. The wedding
For a wedding that was thrown together by the bride’s family in the space of a week, very little of the drama is on Kate’s end. Petruchio shows up late, dressed in raggedy mismatched clothes, swears through the ceremony, assaults the priest, knocks back a bottle of wine and spews it in his guests’ faces. Not exactly anyone’s idea of a fairytale wedding.

3. The “honeymoon”
In true Petruchio fashion, he abuses his servants, sends away perfectly good food, spends all night making their bed and loudly complaining, “and amid this hurly [he intends] / That all is done in reverent care of her” (4.1.189-190).

Happily ever after
At the point when Petruchio tries to convince Kate that the burning midday day sun is, in fact, the moon, she finally give sin and accepts the fact that she has married a madman. Petruchio’s prediction at the beginning of the play that “where two raging fires meet together, / They do consume the thing that feeds their fury” (2.1.132-33) has finally come true, and these two raging fires live madly ever after.

Will it last?
Who better to set the devil up with than the devil’s dam? The (hell)fire of love between Kate and Petruchio is an eternal flame.

Sonnets by Kids- A 7 year-olds translation of Sonnet #18

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often in his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

7-YEAR-OLD’S TRANSLATION

You’re a wonderful person…
When the seasons pass[,] you change.
Your heart will not fade because I write…
Your heart won’t die because you’ll live in the poem.

Give the gift of poetry this Valentine’s Day!
For more information or to purchase a sonnet, click here.