Titus Andronicus

The Shakespeare Grammy Awards 2015

In honor of the 57th Annual Grammy Awards this weekend, we thought it would be fun to celebrate some of the great popular songs and albums that have been inspired by The Bard! Let’s have our own Shakespeare Grammy Awards!

Since phonographs (the device that the Grammy trophy design is based on) were not invented for another few hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, let’s name the award after a popular instrument from Shakespeare’s day…

The Golden Lute (or Luteys, for short), will honor songs across different genres that were influenced by Shakespeare’s plays, themes, and characters! here are the winners for 2015!

BEST POP SONG

Cherish- Madonna

This song references Shakespeare with the lyrics “Romeo and Juliet, they never felt this way I bet,” and it is just too catchy to not love!

BEST RAP SONG

Hey There Ophelia- MC Lars (Featuring Gabe Saporta And Brett Anderson)

A rap retelling of Hamlet, with a focus on Ophelia. (Shakespeare and hip hop combined, what a great concept!)

BEST ROCK SONG

Titus Andronicus Forever- Titus Andronicus

This song is deserving simply because they named the song AND their band after a Shakespeare play! The Bard’s influence is always with the band!

BEST COUNTRY SONG

Love Story- Taylor Swift

We can only hope that the couple in this song does not meet the same demise as the original Romeo and Juliet!

BEST SONG FROM A MOVIE

Double Trouble- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

It is no secret that most of the SIA team loves everything to do with Harry Potter, but you must admit, one of the most famous spells of all time does fit perfectly with a movie about a school of magic!

BEST SONG

The King Must Die- Elton John

“The King Must Die” is about a person falling out of power, and we all know that Shakespeare’s plays are full of characters that face similar situations, and for that reason, takes the top song award!

BEST ALBUM

As You Like It- Barenaked Ladies

The Barenaked Ladies recorded an entire album inspired by As You Like It for the Stratford Festival 2005 season, which is a double Canadian win in our books!

That’s it for the 2015 Luteys. Congratulations to all of the winners! We shall end the show with one of Shakespeare’s most famous (and true) quotes about music:

If music be the food of love, play on.

Do you agree with the winners? What are some of your favorite Shakespeare inspired songs? Leave a comment and let us know!

Volunteer Opportunity- Shakespeare in High Park!

shakespeare-in-high-park

Interested in getting involved in Canada’s longest running outdoor theatre event? Canadian Stage is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers to support Shakespeare in High Park (June 26 – August 31)! Volunteers act as Front of House ushers, accepting donations, giving out programs, and helping patrons find seats. Shifts are in the evenings from 5:30 – 8:30 pm, and scheduling is flexible. Volunteers will make new friends, gain customer service and leadership skills, and will also be rewarded with tickets for the Canadian Stage 2014/15 season. Get involved and volunteer under the starry skies in High Park!

To find out more, visit canadianstage.com/volunteer or email volunteers@canadianstage.com. Volunteers must attend an orientation session on Wednesday June 4 at 5:30, Saturday June 7 at 2 pm or Tuesday June 10 at 5:30. All orientation sessions are held at 26 Berkeley Street (Front & Sherbourne).

What If Modern Authors Redid Shakespeare?

In June of 2013, Random House imprint Hogarth Press announced that they are commissioning a slate of authors to novelize the complete works of Shakespeare for a modern audience. The launch of these books in 2016 will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

The roster of illustrious authors who have signed on to modernize Shakespeare’s plays includes Margaret Atwood (The Tempest), Jeannette Winterson (The Winter’s Tale), Anne Tyler (The Taming of the Shrew), Howard Jacobson (The Merchant of Venice), and Jo Nesbo (Macbeth).

With the 400th anniversary only two years away, and 32 plays left unclaimed, Hogarth is running out of time to get these books written, so we thought we’d help them out with suggestions of author and play pairings we’d like to see. We had trouble limiting our imaginations to living authors only though!

jrr-tolkein

J.R.R. Tolkein + Hamlet: Hamlet, Shakespeare’s longest work, is a four hour play about a prince who decides in Act 1 to avenge his father’s death, and after five acts and 3834 lines of flip-flopping, he eventually gets around to it. Who better to take on the dithering Dane than the man who wrote the three-part story of a skittish hobbit who takes 1300 pages to accomplish one task?

stephenie-meyer

Stephenie Meyer + Romeo and Juliet: Despite its reputation as the greatest love story ever told, let’s face it, once Mercutio dies, Romeo and Juliet is a total snooze-fest. In order to appeal to today’s main audience for epic love stories (i.e. tweens), R&J could use an injection of vampire vs. werewolf warfare to pump up the drama. “O Romeo, Romeo, a werewolf art thou, Romeo?”

george-rr-martin

George R.R. Martin + Titus Andronicus: Shakespeare, who was never one to shy away from bloodshed and violence, has a literary soul mate in the bloodthirsty author of the Game of Thrones series. I get chills just imagining what gruesome twists Martin would add to a story already brimming with beheadings, tongue removals, and characters getting baked into pies.

dr-seuss

Dr. Seuss + Timon of Athens: Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens is essentially the plot of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas told in reverse. In this lesser known play, Timon, a wealthy Athenian, blithely bestows his riches on his flaky artist friends, and anyone else who asks. But when his money runs out and his friends abandon him, he renounces human society and runs off to the forest to live in a cave. He spends the rest of his days hating everyone and spouting abuse at anyone who dares to visit.

jasper-fforde

Jasper Fforde + The Tempest: I know Hogarth already has an author for The Tempest, but we couldn’t resist fantasizing about what kinds of transgressions Fforde’s literary detective Thursday Next would call out the characters on Prospero’s island for.

It’s Always a Good Time for a Halloween Poll!

Halloween is a time to celebrate all things creepy and crawly, hairy and scary, and Shakespeare has definitely written his fair share of scary plays! Vote in our poll and let us know which of Shakespeare’s plays you think is the most gruesome! Leave a comment and share the scariest quotes that you love!

Animals playing at Shakespeare!

There’s some great animal photos being posted on BuzzFeedUK at the moment, and I just couldn’t resist creating some more Shakespeare animal memes!

Richard dog copy

1. Richard III [V. iv. 3881]

Macbeth pugs copy

2. Macbeth [I. i. 2]

polar R and J copy

3. Romeo & Juliet [II. i. 1049-50]

titus meerkats

4. Titus Andronicus [III. i. 1406]

squirrel benvolio copy

5. Romeo & Juliet [I. i. 254]

Romeo puppies copy

6. Romeo & Juliet [I. i. 255]

By Linda Nicoll

References:

1. Digital Bus Stop http://www.digitalbusstop.com/animals-riding-on-other-animals/ [Accessed 15 May 2013]

2. Buzzfeed UK Animals ’25 Animals Who Are Interested in What You Have to Say’ – via junkimages.com http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/animals-who-are-genuinely-interested-in-what-you-h [Accessed 15 May 2013]

3. Buzzfeed UK Animals ’25 Animals Who Are Totally BFFs’ – via interpnet.com http://www.buzzfeed.com/francescawade/animal-bffs [Accessed 15 May 2013]

4. Buzzfeed UK Animals ‘The 25 Happiest Animals in the World’ – via freakymartin.com http://www.buzzfeed.com/paws/happiest-animals-in-the-world  [Accessed 15 May 2013]

5. Buzzfeed UK Animals  ‘The 25 Happiest Animals in the World’ – via blogs.roanoke.com http://www.buzzfeed.com/paws/happiest-animals-in-the-world  [Accessed 15 May 2013]

6. Buzzfeed UK Animals ’20 Sad Puppies That Will Ruin Your Day’ via – freewallpapershere.com http://www.buzzfeed.com/paws/sad-puppies-that-will-ruin-your-day [Accessed 15 May 2013]

Quotes: Open Source Shakespeare, ‘Plays’ George Mason University 2013. 
http://www.opensourceshakespeare.com/views/plays/plays.php [Accessed 15 May 2013]

Shakespearean Insults!

You juggler! you canker-blossom!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.293)

Away, you mouldy rogue, away!
Henry IV P II (2.4.117)

Hang him, swaggering rascal!
Henry IV P II (2.4.66)

I was lucky enough to get to observe a TD Shakespeare for Kids Library Club session last Saturday morning at Oakwood Village Library, and the children there had a fantastic time hurling a variety of Shakespearean insults at each other! It was really great to see these 7-12 year olds bring so much energy to the lines and deliver them with such relish.

Shakespeare certainly knew how to write a good insult –

Thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows.
Troilus and Cressida (2.1.41)

Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes.
Richard III (1.2.159)

Just this week there’s been a great link doing the rounds on social media – ‘17 Shakespearean Insults To Unleash In Everyday Life’ from BuzzFeed UK:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/shakespearean-insults-to-use-in-everyday-life

Here are some of my favourites – and just to make them even better – there’s some dramatic looking cats thrown in as well!

enhanced-buzz-19601-1365607093-20

Titus Andronicus [IV. ii. 1756]

enhanceinsult cat2d-buzz-10880-1365606373-8

Taming of the Shrew [IV. i. 1642]

enhanced-buzz-25914-1365604978-8

Henry IV P I [II. ii. 772]

enhanced-buzz-11964-1365606405-21

Two Gentlemen of Verona [I. ii. 249]

enhanced-buzz-28589-1365609238-5

Henry IV P I [II. iv. 1054-56]

By Linda Nicoll

References:

BuzzFeed UK ‘17 Shakespearean Insults To Unleash In Everyday Life’ Luke Lewis 11 April 2013  http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/shakespearean-insults-to-use-in-everyday-life [Accessed 17 April 2013]

(Original photos taken from Shutterstock for BuzzFeed link)

Open Source Shakespeare, ‘Advanced Search’ George Mason University 2013: http://www.opensourceshakespeare.com/search/search-results.php [Accessed 17 April 2013]

Wordy Wednesday – “Devil incarnate”

Medieval beliefs remained strong in Shakespeare’s era; the idea that real, literal demons haunted humanity is still believed by some today.

Lucius: O worthy Goth, this is the incarnate devil
That robb’d Andronicus of his good hand;
This is the pearl that pleased your empress’ eye,
And here’s the base fruit of his burning lust.
–(Titus Andronicus, V.i.2163-67)

Nym: They say he cried out of sack.
Hostess Quickly: Ay, that a’ did.
Bardolph: And of women.
Hostess Quickly: Nay, that a’ did not.
Boy: Yes, that a’ did; and said they were devils incarnate.
Hostess Quickly: A’ could never abide carnation; ’twas a colour he never liked.
–(Henry V, II.iii.859-65)

Shakespeare’s use of the phrase “devil incarnate” – which he never actually put in those exact words in his plays – is the same as ours today. Unlike many of his sayings or catchphrases, there’s none of the drift in meaning by which, for example, “kill with kindness” has gone from an ironic implication of deliberate cruelty to a more modern torture – making a target worry that too much niceness must conceal a sinister hidden motive. A ‘devil incarnate” is still, as it was then, the worst possible human being – an irredeemably wicked individual to be avoided at all costs.

In Shakespeare’s day, of course, the reasons for someone to be so evil were considered different than ours. We tend to write modern villains as suffering mental illness – like sociopathy, or PTSD from childhood trauma – or with clear motivations of greed, lust, or jealousy. In short, they’re broadly realistic people with a strong urge to get something and no problem hurting and killing others who get in their way. We all know milder versions of that, and we can make the leap to more serious, intense villainy.

Elizabethans and Jacobeans had a different frame of reference. They were almost all Christians, and far more literal and severe in their beliefs than almost anyone alive today. They believed quite firmly that if God could incarnate himself in a human form, surely the Devil could do the same. As such, villainy in Shakespeare is generally internal and inexplicable – they’re just born that way, with a devil in them trying to get out.

I’d actually argue that some of the worst villains in Shakespeare aren’t ‘Devils Incarnate’ in this sense. Richard III, nasty little ferret that he is, tends to have a reason for what he does – power, women, revenge, they’re not pretty but they’re fairly obvious. The real Devil works pro malo, to do evil because it’s their calling – in the above speech from Titus Andronicus, Lucius isn’t referring to the Goths as devils (they’re arguably no worse than the Romans by this point in the play) but the monstrous Aaron the Moor, who incites barbarity from all around him and, when asked if he’d like a last-minute chance to apologize, simply replies:

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. (V.i.2276-9)

Or we could look at King Lear‘s Edmund, who disdains any idea that he’s a victim of birth order, parentage, stars or fate, declaring that

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are
sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make
guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars. (I.ii.441-3)

The really scary thing isn’t the person who’ll knife you for a dollar and a sandwich; it’s the person who’ll do it for no reason at all, when you least expect it, that should keep you up at night. Shakespeare got that, and that’s why the villains that stay with us are those, like Iago in Othello, who responds to the question of why he destroys others with an arrogant “Demand me nothing: what you know, you know” (V.ii.301) that echoes his ominous early admission that “I am not what I am”. (I.i.65) Someone entirely unpredictably evil, just for the sheer joy of it, with no reward other than having hurt someone else – truly that’s as close as we get to the Devil incarnate.