At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
Great Shakespeare Actors
Kenneth Branagh is the latest in a 400-year line of Shakespeare Superstars
His new book is a love letter to Falstaff, Stratford and Shakespeare
From Russia with love
David Tennant superfans make a new edition of Richard II
Behind the scenes of the stellar documentary series
Shakespeare in Turkey As You Like It The Essex Plot Shakespearean Opera
The Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest repository of Shakespeareana and English Renaissance books, manuscripts, and objets d’art. Nobody alive knows XLI PMFVEV] FIXXIV XLER 7TIGMEP 4SPMGI 3J½GIV 0X 2SVQER &PEPSGO LI´W FIIR KYEVHMRK it for 25 years.That’s why he is the perfect candidate to pull off an inside job and heist from the library’s underground bank vault a priceless artifact that can rock the foundation of English Literature...
“Peterson’s novel is a lush tale of noir fiction in the spirit of the appealing thief utilizing all his wits against almost insurmountable odds.” Literary Fiction Book Review Published in the USA by Ram Press Available in paperback, Kindle, Audible Audio, and iTunes Editions On sale at Amazon.com, B&N, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, et al
Welcome to Issue 7 of Shakespeare Magazine
Photo: David Hammonds
For many of us, the reason we get interested in Shakespeare in the first place is because of actors. So it was only a matter of time before we ran an issue with the theme of Great Shakespeare Actors.
As it happens, the venerable Stanley Wells has just published a book with that very title, so I hopped on a train to Stratford-upon-Avon to ask him what it really takes to rank among the very best. Not only that, I had the pleasure of interviewing Antony Sher, one of very few living actors – our cover star Kenneth Branagh is another – who feature in Stanley’s book. Antony told me about his experience of playing the mighty role of Falstaff, as documented in his warm-hearted and witty memoir Year of the Fat Knight. In addition, I had an enthralling, often hilarious conversation with Richard Denton, producer of the My Shakespeare TV series (which is fronted by A-List actors like Kim Cattrall, Hugh Bonneville and Morgan Freeman). This issue also features some wonderful contributions by writers from the UK, America, Turkey and Russia. Each article has enhanced my understanding of Shakespeare and brought a smile to my face – I hope this is the case for you too. As always, Shakespeare Magazine is completely free. Drop me a line via firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to advertise, make a donation, or just say hello. Enjoy your magazine,
Pat Reid, Founder & Editor
At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
SHAKESPEARE Issue 7
Why his new book is a love letter to Falstaff, Stratford and Shakespeare
Great Shakespeare actors Stanley Wells tells us what it takes to make a Shakespeare superstar
From Russia with love
David Tennant fans create their own edition of Richard II
Behind the scenes of the stellar documentary series
Shakespeare in Turkey As You Like It The Essex Plot Shakespearean Opera
Shakespeare Magazine Issue Seven June 2015 Founder & Editor Pat Reid Art Editor Paul McIntyre Staff Writers Brooke Thomas (UK) Mary Finch (US) Contributors Francis RTM Boyle Julia Fedotova Rebecca Franks Anastasia Koroleva Cansu Kutlualp Maryna Reznikova Anna Ryzhova
The Fat Knight Rises
Antony Sher tells us all about Year of the Fat Knight, his elegantly-written memoir of playing Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
Chief Photographer Piper Williams Thank You Mrs Mary Reid Mr Peter Robinson Ms Laura Pachkowski Master Thomas Xavier Reid Web Design David Hammonds Contact Us email@example.com Facebook facebook.com/ShakespeareMagazine Twitter @UKShakespeare Website www.shakespearemagazine.com
“The actors are at hand...”
Voice. Presence. Imagination… Stanley Wells tells us what it takes to become a Great Shakespeare Actor.
Lost in The Remaking Small screen of Richard 16 Shakespeare 22 Arden How a group of David Tennant fans crafted a truly original tribute to their Shakespeare hero.
Produced by Richard Denton and fronted by A-List actors, My Shakespeare is Top of the Docs.
British actress Zoe Waites heads to the USA to tackle one of Shakespeare’s great roles: Rosalind.
“Sweet airs, that Eastern give delight...”36 promise This pocket guide to Shakespeare’s Greatest Opera Hits will surely be music to your ears…
Shakespeare 38 and sedition 42
What has Shakespeare done to Turkey? (And what has Turkey done to Shakespeare?)
Unravelling the tangled web that links Shakespeare to the ill-fated Essex Plot of 1601.
Ֆ SHAKESPEARE magazine
Left: Antony Sher as Falstaff. Right: *EX WYMX ½XXMRK
In one of the landmark UK Shakespeare productions of recent years, Gregory Doran directed his partner Sir Antony Sher as Falstaff in the RSC’s Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. The actor’s diaries and drawings have now been published as Year of the Fat Knight, a revealing and highly entertaining account of an epic theatrical adventure. Interview by Pat Reid Illustrations by Sir Antony Sher
The Fat Knight Rises SHAKESPEARE magazine
!Anthony Sher Reading Year of the Fat Knight, what really comes across is the scale of the challenge. It’s practically the last page before you allow yourself to say ‘I’ve done it. Falstaff is mine’. “Falstaff was simply not a part I’d ever dreamed of playing. It just wasn’t on the radar, so I had an enormous mental challenge to start off, to decide whether I should try for it. And once I had, at every stage I was still dealing with the challenge: was I succeeding or wasn’t I? I think long before the last page I knew it was okay, I knew I was doing it and it was going to work, but it certainly took a very long time.” I’m taken aback by the sheer amount of preparation you did – academic research, historical, physical, looking at alcoholism – before we even get to rehearsals. And you’re drawing and sketching out your thoughts all the time as well as writing about it. Is this normal when you approach a Shakespeare role? “There are certain parts where really all you need to do is bring your heart and soul to it. Research isn’t really going to make a lot of difference. For example, the part I’m playing at the moment, Willy Loman in Death of a Salesmen. I suppose I could have done a lot of research into being a travelling salesman in the ’40s in America. But it wouldn’t really have affected the playing of the role because it’s all about the man’s humanity, and you just have to bring your own humanity to that. But certain parts – and Falstaff was certainly one – need an awful lot of extra work.”
Mistress Quickly (Paola Dionisotti) and Falstaff (Antony Sher).
“The plays are a love letter to an earlier England. Not Henry IV’s England, but Shakespeare’s England” 8
I was intrigued by some of the Falstaffs that didn’t make it to the stage. This idea of playing him as a Vietnam veteran... Is there a moment when you decide something is absolutely wrong and you’re not going to proceed with it? “Good ideas and bad ideas are sometimes quite close together and it’s difficult to tell them apart. The classic example of that for me was when I played Richard III back in 1984 for the RSC, and there was this idea to play him on crutches. It was really quite difficult to work out whether that was a very good or a very bad idea. And the experimentation continued through rehearsals, in consultation with the director and the designer about whether these crutches were going to work. I think that’s a healthy part of the creative process, that you can discuss or try out certain things and say
‘No, that isn’t going to work’ or ‘Yes, this is a bit dangerous, a bit risky, but it could work, so let’s keep with it. “The Falstaff as a Vietnam vet was from that period when Greg and I were considering whether one could do a modern dress production of the Henrys. And we’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t, or that we can’t. The plays are like a love letter to an earlier England. As Greg points out, it’s not Henry IV’s England, it’s Elizabethan England, it’s when Shakespeare was writing, and that’s what we ended up embracing and doing.” Difficult to talk about Falstaff without mentioning the F-word: fat. Having to wear a body suit
Antony Sher’s Falstaff in full ¾MKLX SJ JERXEW]
and having to get into that mind space was one of the challenges, especially with back pain as well. “Almost all Falstaffs wear a fat suit. Even Orson Welles, who was a very large man. In his film about Falstaff, Chimes at Midnight, I believe even he wore padding. Maybe this was a kind of vanity on his part that he wasn’t fat enough. But it’s certainly pretty regular for Falstaffs to have to wear what I prefer to call a body suit. I suppose it depends how they’re made. They could be made very very lightweight so that they wouldn’t be that burdensome, but in discussions with the designer, Stephen Brimson Lewis, he pointed out that if the fat suit was to work well it did need to be weighted in different sections so that it moved more like our bodies do, and so that did create a weight for it. And then of course Falstaff has to wear armour in the Shrewsbury battle sequences, so the weight was increased. And it was just an ongoing thing for me. After consulting with an orthopaedic specialist about my back we did lessen the weight of the fat suit but it was still weighted to some extent and it leads to a big discomfort factor in the performance. I sweated a great deal in every performance, just because you’re carrying this weight round with you, and you get very tired, you really have to sit down between scenes. There was always a special chair on either side of the stage which was mine.” And to complicate matters you then started to lose weight... “One of the great ironies is I had inadvertently discovered something called the Falstaff diet. If you wear a fat suit – and there’s the added pressure of course of playing this huge and famous part – you start to lose weight rapidly. But during about a year of playing it I stopped losing weight and I was quite surprised by how the body just adjusted to this new situation it was in.” The book’s very funny. The tale of breaking wind on a child minder made me laugh so hard I thought I was going to rupture something. SHAKESPEARE magazine
!Anthony Sher From Falstaff to Willy Loman… Do you kind of wipe yourself clean between roles, or do you carry some of Falstaff over with you? “No, there’s no part that overlaps with another part, I’ve never known that to happen. A play or a part comes to an end and that’s it, it’s put away. Although in this case we are reviving the Henrys later this year, so not entirely put away, but normally it is. Now, as it happens, Falstaff and Willy Loman have something in common which is that they’re both fantasists. Some of the time they both live in their minds, in a fantasy world. But even that aspect is very different in the two plays. “Interestingly Alex Hassell who played Hal in the Henrys, is playing my son Biff in Death of a Salesman, and Willy and Biff have a very intense relationship. But it’s much closer to Hal’s relationship with his real father, the King, Henry IV than it is to his surrogate father Falstaff.”
“Theatre is hard and one can get very serious about it, and yet in reality there’s also a lot of laughter in rehearsals and backstage all the time and it’s important to catch that.” You seem intensely interested in everyone else in the production. You’re always doing sketches of them, in pictures and also in words. The descriptions of the activity, the production process and the armies of personnel are very vivid. “It’s important that readers understand the amount of people that go into a production. Audiences only ever see the people who appear on stage, the actors, but there is a vast amount of people behind the scenes. From stage management and stage crew to people in offices. It’s a huge organisation, the RSC, with people working on the production, promoting it, selling tickets. It’s a massive operation.”
Falstaff jests with princely partnerin-crime Hal (Alex Hassell).
You mentioned that the Henrys are a love letter to Shakespeare’s England. Your book reads like a love letter to Greg, to Stratford, and also to Shakespeare himself. You never lose sight of Shakespeare all the way through it. “I do feel an enormous affection, love for the Royal Shakespeare Company. It’s where I’ve spent most of my career, it’s been the most wonderfully rich experience. I’ve been so lucky to have been playing all these great Shakespeare parts – and other classical parts, because the RSC does Jacobean playwrights as well. And the way things work, my partner Greg actually ended up becoming the Artistic Director of the company. It’s a beautiful completion of the circle. The company I love is now run by the person that I love.” I have to ask you about Henry IV Part 2. It must have been like climbing Mount Everest to find there’s another mountain that you’ve got to climb next. And Part 2 is a famously difficult play.
“It is a different and much more difficult play and it took much harder work to make it work. I think in the end we did make it work and I feel proud of how we fought through that problem and, I think, solved it. But I think the times when Part 2 really works at its best is when we played the double days, we played Part 1 and Part 2 and you were aware that the same audience would stay for the whole marathon. When you go the whole distance with the two plays, when you get the whole story told, Part 2 really comes into its own. The souring of things that goes on in Part 2 becomes a much sadder, much more melancholy play. “And of course the journey that Hal and Falstaff go on through the two plays is a remarkable thing, that they start Part 1 as the absolute best of buddies and they end Part 2 with Hal actually banishing Falstaff. It’s an extraordinary and wonderful and painful journey to go on, both for the actors and for the audience.” Clearly a very powerful bond developed with Alex Hassell when you were doing the Henrys. “There are certain relationships in certain plays where you really strike lucky. At the moment in Death of a Salesman it’s Harriet Walter who I’d already had a fantastically good time with when we played Macbeth. You just get that knowing one another so well in the way that husbands and wives do. The Falstaff and Hal relationship is another one of those relationships where if you really have a chemistry with the other actor you sort of get things for free, as it were, that the audience can sense and feel even if they can’t fully explain. There’s something happening on stage between the two actors that is particularly rich. “It was a great discovery one day in rehearsals when Alex and I discovered that in the sections where the two characters insult one another that it’s a kind of game and they enjoy it, and the characters would make one another laugh by being as insulting as possible. And that’s something you can only discover with an actor you’re really cooking with.”
“Falstaff and Willy Loman have something in common in that they’re both fantasists. But they’re very different” You are one of very few living actors included in the new Stanley Wells book Great Shakespeare Actors – congratulations! “Oh, thank you, I’ll look forward to looking at that, because Stanley Wells has been a great influence here at the RSC, on the board and as an advisor. To have one of the world’s leading Shakespeare scholars living locally here in Stratford and being so available to the RSC has been a very rich part of our history.” Have you thought about what will be your next Shakespeare role? “We have planned to do King Lear next year with Greg directing, here at Stratford. Beyond that, I don’t think there’s any left that I can play. I greatly regret that I never did Hamlet. It was purely my own fault. I grew up believing Hamlet had to be a tall, blonde, handsome character like in Olivier’s film and I sort of scuppered myself by sticking to that idea. And then of course other actors like Simon Russell Beale have proved that it doesn’t matter what Hamlet looks like, he can be anything. So I’m sorry I was so stupid about that.” The blood, sweat and tears of the Henrys… Has it all been worth it? “Absolutely yes. It could so easily have not been me, so I’m just enormously grateful. I would not have missed this experience for the world.”
Year of the Fat Knight is available from Nick Hern Books priced £16.99 SHAKESPEARE magazine
!Great Shakespeare Actors
actors are at hand…” “The
Covering four centuries of thespian excellence from Richard Burbage to Kenneth Branagh, Great Shakespeare Actors is the latest book by pre-eminent Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells. Shakespeare Magazine visited the author in Stratford-upon-Avon XS ½RH SYX [LEX MX XEOIW XS NSMR XLEX I\EPXIH GSQTER] Interview by Pat Reid
The book had its origins in your writing for The Stage. Is there much of yourself in there? “It draws a lot on personal memory – I’ve been going to see Shakespeare for well over 60 years and I’ve seen some of the great Shakespeare actors myself. The earliest one in the book chronologically that I saw is Edith Evans. Donald Wolfit I saw. And of course Gielgud, Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, right through to all the moderns – Ken Branagh and Simon Russell Beale.” What kind of source material did you use for the book? “I’ve drawn heavily on actors’ biographies – which are very patchy, actually. There are some
very good ones, like Alan Strachan’s of Michael Redgrave, for example, and Jonathan Croall has done good ones of Gielgud and Sybil Thorndike. So I’ve drawn on those especially for the earlier actors, like Helen Faucit, for example, or Ira Aldridge or Edmund Kean, some of the really great figures of the past. “But also I’ve been able to draw on the resources here at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has cuttings books of reviews which go back a long way, so for the actors who’ve appeared at Stratford I’ve used those. There’s a lot of Michael Billington in the book, for example, and the earlier JC Trewin, who wrote for the Birmingham Evening Post, was a very good Shakespearean.”
Great Shakespeare Actors
Above: Author and Shakespeare authority Stanley Wells. Left: Kenneth Branagh’s is XLI ½REP IRXV] MR XLI FSSO
Were there any actors who went up or down in your estimation? “Yes, some people went out altogether, I’m afraid. I’ll tell you one, because he’s not a living actor… The American Edwin Forrest, I did some work on, I thought hard about him. But after reading more I began to feel he was just an old barnstormer and that he didn’t really deserve to be counted along with Edwin Booth who was his contemporary, who was a much more seriously good actor. “Charles Laughton was a bit of a dicey one, actually. He wasn’t a good verse speaker and one review of his early season at the Old Vic said ‘Mr Laughton would be a great actor if he could keep his mouth shut’, which I thought was the ultimate insult. But he did an Angelo which was
obviously very fine, he did a Macbeth which I think was probably patchy but great. I saw him here in Stratford when he did Lear not very well. But he did a very good performance as Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. So he got in, in the end.” Is there an actor inside you? Is that a different path you could have taken? “All teachers are failed actors, I think, ha ha. No, I haven’t got the temperament to act. I hope I have an actor somewhere within my head because in writing about Shakespeare – and especially editing Shakespeare – one does need to be very conscious of the actorliness of the texts, of the fact that Shakespeare SHAKESPEARE magazine
!Great Shakespeare Actors
Above:The “technically perfect” Judi Dench. Right: Ian McKellen is “a questing actor with a strong improvisatory streak”.
himself was an actor. My first entry is on ‘Was Shakespeare the first great Shakespeare actor?’ And the answer is no, but I thought it was a question worth asking.” But you did tread the boards at the Globe last year… “That was just a bit of fun. Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education at the Globe, asked me to read the part of Old Knowell in Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour in their series Read Not Dead, where you don’t memorise the role, you read it. And I agreed to do it. It was rather more arduous than I had expected it to be because it was a whole-day event. And also I was a bit surprised when I got there and looked around because
some of these were rather eminent actors. However I think I held my own…” Is there one figure from the whole four centuries who you think is the most pivotal? Perhaps one who is not obvious… “The greatest? I think the obvious ones probably are the greatest. Edmund Kean I’d love to have seen. There was that famous remark about him by Coleridge: ‘seeing him act Shakespeare was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning’. It’s not entirely a compliment, it implies that there wasn’t a degree of continuity within the characters that he played. But I’m sure he was a terrifically exciting actor. The only one I can compare
him with in that way is Laurence Olivier, whom I did see. And I would say that the greatest performance I’ve seen myself is Laurence Olivier as Coriolanus here in 1959, when Edith Evans was also fine as Volumnia. She was a little bit old for the role but she gave a great performance too.”
! “Coleridge said that seeing Kean act Shakespeare was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning”
Tell us about some of your personal favourites. “I’ve been lucky to see and indeed to know some of the great actors. Donald Sinden was a friend. One who there’s a rather sad story about is Richard Pasco who died not long ago. He lived not far from here, I talked to him a lot when he was here, and I did talks with him and Ian Richardson, especially when they were playing Richard II, when they were alternating the roles of Richard and Bolingbroke in John Barton’s great production here. “I knew that Dickie had Alzheimer’s and I happened to see his wife Barbara Leigh-Hunt, herself a very fine Shakespeare performer, and I said ‘I’ve just written an essay about him’. She said could she read it, so I sent her the book. After he died she told me that she read the essay to him twice. She said that it moved him to tears. He wasn’t able to remember a word of it an hour afterwards, but I was so pleased that I had both written it and sent it to him.”
book of memoirs has a transcript of an American journalist’s attempt to transcribe Irving’s very eccentric pronunciation. “So ultimately there’s a quality which you can’t define, a quality of genius, the quality of responding to the language. In our own time Judi Dench has it, for example. She is somebody who is more technically perfect and adept than some of the others. There’s also this quality of imagination, the ability to think yourself into a role. “And yet there’s a lovely quotation from Donald Sinden about how when he was playing Malvolio he had both to be inhabiting the character but at the same time to be standing aside from the character. He said that if at any point he actually became Malvolio he lost control over the audience. And I think that is a good definition of the way that an actor has to be both in and out of the part at the same time.”
Great Shakespeare Actors
You mentioned that some actors would be great if they kept their mouths shut. How does it divide between the physicality, the voice and other things? “What are the qualities that go towards making a great Shakespeare actor? They include presence, the ability to stand still, the ability to be silent, to listen silently, the ability to speak eloquently, movement, gesture are all important. But ultimately there’s a quality which is indefinable and which sometimes defies the rules. Henry Irving was clearly a very great actor, but he had a terrible voice and his diction was very eccentric. There are a lot of rather funny remarks that I quote about Irving’s diction, from Henry James for example. Even Ellen Terry, his partner – in acting and in real life too – in her wonderful
It must have been hard to make your final selection… “Because of the difficulty of choosing, among living actors especially, I’ve dedicated the book ‘to all the great Shakespeare actors who are not in this book’, which I hope is tactful…”
Great Shakespeare Actors by Stanley Wells is available from Oxford University Press, priced £16.99 William Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction by Stanley Wells is also available from Oxford University Press, priced £7.99 SHAKESPEARE magazine
!Richard II For some Shakespeare fans, getting a poster or an autograph is an adequate souvenir of their favourite stage production. This group of David Tennant fans in Moscow, however, were slightly more ambitious. They decided to create their own bespoke hardcover edition of Richard IIâ&#x20AC;Ś. Words by Anastasia Koroleva.Translated into English by Maryna Reznikova and Julia Fedotova. Illustrations by Anna Ryzhova
Remaking The of
David Tennantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Richard II and his hollow crown.
!Richard II “As luck would have it, a passer-by took a photo at the moment I was passing the book to David” Two years ago, Gregory Doran, the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, put on Shakespeare’s Richard II in Stratfordupon-Avon with David Tennant in the title role. In January 2014 the filmed performance was shown in Russian cinemas. This broadened the audience of the production, as it became available to thousands of people, and then tens of thousands more when the DVD was released in May. This made it possible to start our project. While many of us actually travelled to the UK from Russia especially to see the play, without the video our book project would not have gained such support. It all started with a post on the Russian social network VKontakte on 18 May 2014 in which artist Anna Ryzhova published her drawings inspired by the production of Richard II. I posted a comment saying it would be great to publish Shakespeare’s play with those The book’s drawings and the translated text edited by illustrations are rich in symbolism. us. My idea was accepted with enthusiasm
and it immediately set the wheels in motion. We opened a bank account specifically for the project, calculated the potential expenses and started to raise money for layout and printing. From the very start the project was crowdfunded and purely non-profit. We had to take English and Russian texts and edit them. We chose not simply to publish a parallel version of the play in the two languages, but also to mark the parts which had been omitted from the original play by Gregory Doran in his production. This was complicated by the fact that the text had to be literally ‘parallel’ – that is, the same lines had to be placed on the same level. And since Russian translation of the line is almost always longer, this was not an easy task. It was necessary to watch the recording very carefully (and rewatch and rewatch and rewatch) and meticulously mark them in the text. The Russian translation of Richard II by A. Kurosheva was the most precise available, but for some lines we needed more. We had a lot to rack our brains about, and sometimes
The team set out to make an artefact that was both beautiful and educational.
Holding the mirror it took months to find a worthy translation up to David Tennant’s equivalent. Richard II. The book also contains commentaries and notes. We gathered them from existing Russian publications and wrote a couple on our own. A remarkable foreword was written by Natalia Fomintseva, who did tremendous work researching literary sources. Her sophisticated text intertwines a review of Gregory Doran’s production with a concise version of Richard II’s real life. We translated the foreword into English (our thanks to Natalia Koroeva and Maryna Reznikova). The book doesn’t include the foreword in English, but we sent it to everybody interested, and also passed it on to Gregory Doran, the RSC and David Tennant. Artist Anna Ryzhova worked on the drawings, and this also turned out to be a tricky task. Since from the very start we planned to publish not only a digital edition, but also a hardcover book, we had to figure out how the illustrations would look on paper – because they were originally made on music paper. We went to a printing house to see for ourselves, and eventually the music paper version had to be rejected. As a result, all the drawings, even those that had been sketched, were made from scratch. We chose to print the half-title pages (a half-title is a page which opens a chapter or
part of a book), end leaves and cover in colour. The other drawings are black and white with one or two colours added. Although we decided not to go with a universally recognised crowdfunder platform like Kickstarter, we were able to raise the money without incident. Thank you to all the members who have trusted us. We remind you once again that the project was crowdfunded, the organisers have not earned a penny, and all the money raised went towards printing and postage costs. The book happily reached many different countries and we received dozens of enthusiastic comments.
“The books arrived already!!! I did not expect them to be here SO fast! They look wonderful and I am so impressed with your work. I am a typesetter and my family publishes magazines, so my daily life is about printing and preparing stuff to be printed. Therefore I know for real how good your book is – not just from a fan-view. I thank you again very much for allowing me to get these two copies. It means a lot to me to have them.” – Marion, Germany “I can’t believe when I saw the book at first because it’s much better than what I
“A remarkable foreword to the book was written by Natalia Fomintseva who did tremendous work researching literary sources” expected! Really awesome, magnificent and I’m gonna love it! I can see the efforts of you and your team put into in everywhere. Such a masterpiece.” – Yaewon, Korea “The beautiful book arrived in Colorado on 11 February 2015. I can’t wait to sit down and really go through it!!! Great job to all involved!!!” – Sue, Colorado, USA And yet Gregory Doran and David Tennant’s own words became the best recognition for us. On 12 January 2015 David was supposed to host a live broadcast on Absolute Radio. I went to London, having
FAST FACTS " Five months of work in our spare time, on weekends, on vacation, and often at night. " More than 30 illustrations. " 220 pages of Russian and English text. " Raised 193,000 RUB (about $4,000) to print 130 copies. " Over 125 people from Russia,
From Russia with Shakespeare Love…
Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Germany, USA, Great Britain and Korea participated. " The copies, fresh from print, weighed 86 kilos. " The books were sent to owners in 50 cities around the world. " Director Gregory Doran and actor David Tennant each received a copy as well.
taken three copies of the book – for Gregory Doran, RSC’s archives and, naturally, Mr Tennant himself. I was going to pass David his copy after the show, while the other two were to be left at the RSC’s London office. David kindly spared a minute after the live broadcast to sign autographs, and that was when he was handed his copy of the book. He stared at the book cover in roundeyed wonder, literally, and a sincere “Oh my goodness!” slipped out. “From Russia?” he asked again in amazement, as if he found it hard to believe it had been made in Russia. “Is it for ME?” David asked. “Or do you want me to sign it?” As luck would have it, a passerby took a photo at the exact moment I was passing the book to David. It was not the end of the story. On 15 February the What’s On Stage Awards was held in London, and I attended. David Tennant had been nominated for Best Actor for his part in Richard II, and Gregory Doran for Best Direction. As you’ll know, David won. And I was exceptionally lucky to have a chat with Gregory and David before the start of the show. Gregory called the book “extraordinary”, while David’s epithet was “amazing”. This is the best reward we could hope to receive.
Ֆ Anastasia and her friends are now working on a new edition of Hamlet (based on Gregory Doran’s 2008 RSC production starring David Tennant). You can enjoy the digital version of their Richard II book here: http://issuu.com/anastasiako/ docs/richard_ii._the_book SHAKESPEARE magazine
Veteran documentary maker Richard Denton wanted to make a series that, like himelf, was evangelical about the Bard. The result was My Shakespeare (titled Shakespeare Uncovered in the USA). Smart, accessible, and fronted by A-List actors, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a TV triumphâ&#x20AC;Ś Interview by Pat Reid
“I remember telling my schoolteacher ‘I don’t buy that Shakespeare’s any better than anybody else, it’s just you lot saying he is’”
Above: Documentary maker and Bard Evangelist Richard Denton.
Left: Morgan Freeman presented the episode on The Taming of the Shrew.
How did this project begin for you? “It began about five years ago when I was listening to a programme about King Lear on the radio, and I just went ‘God, we should do documentaries about every single play. Why hasn’t anybody ever done that? You know the old Prefaces to Shakespeare books by Granville Barker? Why not do it on television?’ So I started putting that together as a project, originally with the intention of covering all 37, but realising that would probably be impossible. I came up with a project to do about 20, and I went initially to the Americans, to PBS, WNET in America, and they said ‘Yeah, you got me at Prefaces’. So that was easy, they were game. And then it took me two-and-a-half years to persuade the BBC to do it.” [laughs] “That’s been the weird part of the journey, I suppose. The huge enthusiasm of the transatlantic and world audience for these
films, and the relative indifference to them in the UK. It’s very, very odd. When the BBC took the first series they then rather reluctantly put them out at obscure times. I remember one of the reviewers saying ‘What custard brain at the BBC decided to transmit this gem at ten past eleven on a Tuesday?’ So it was something of a nightmare. And then they didn’t want to have another series, they only wanted the first six. So then Sky Arts took on the second six, but obviously there’s a limit to how far their budgets go… “And to be honest with you, I don’t think it’s got a particularly large audience in the UK. It’s got a very nice audience in America and – I will say this – the people who did watch it in the UK were hugely enthusiastic about it. It’s separated out a group of people and given them something they’ve absolutely loved, but it’s not as large a group as we had hoped originally. SHAKESPEARE magazine
How would you describe the programme’s format? “Basically the idea was we would take a play, we would find a presenter. It wasn’t necessarily going to be an actor but the easiest and most obvious thing was to take either an actor or director – who either knew it or wanted to know it, had an enthusiasm for it – and then investigate… Why did Shakespeare write it? Where did he get it from, since very few of his stories are original? How was it when it was first shown? What’s happened to it since?” What was behind your personal enthusiasm for Shakespeare? “I studied English and American Literature when I was at university, I went to Stratford when I was at school. I remember telling my schoolteacher ‘I don’t buy that Shakespeare’s any better than anybody else, it’s just you lot saying he is’. Then he made me read Beaumont and Fletcher, and I went ‘Oh yeah, you’re
right. He’s much better, isn’t he? Sorry! Beg your pardon…’ “But as I’ve got older I suppose my passion has grown for it. I feel almost evangelical about it. It’s the most extraordinary repository of wisdom about humanity ever written. It’s vastly entertaining. I challenge you to go to the Globe and see a Shakespeare play – even a tragedy – and not just be hugely entertained by it. It’s much less difficult than it seems – although initially it seems incredibly difficult, and I do understand that. And I feel passionately that everybody should know this stuff. And the world would be a better place if we all did.”
Derek Jacobi presented the episode on Richard II.
You’ve basically just summed up the manifesto of Shakespeare Magazine. “Absolutely!” The format you’ve come up with works like a dream, especially having these great talents who are also household names fronting the programme. Can you tell me about some of the personalities involved? “Oddly enough, it’s proved much more difficult to get them than you would think. And the reason, I think, is that a lot of actors feel terribly self-conscious about being themselves, and they don’t want to be accused of being luvvies. I constantly had to reassure them ‘I’m not going to have you [adopts mournful thespian voice] emoting about how moving and how difficult it is. We’re going to have fun. We’re going to take it seriously, but we are going to have fun’. “So I think a lot of actors felt terribly uneasy about it, and there were quite a few who turned it down because they just didn’t feel comfortable. And even the ones who did it had their moments of ‘Oh, I don’t feel I’m entitled to say any of this’. And yet they did in the end.” You had a tight-knit team… “There were only a few directors working on the show. One was my partner Nicola Stockley who did Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet and Lear – all the four big bastards.”
Above: David Tennant chats about Hamlet with Jude Law. Below: Jeremy Irons tackled both Henry IV and Henry V.
“David Tennant on Hamlet was a complete copybook example of how to do it. He had a lot of fun with it but he also took it seriously” SHAKESPEARE magazine
Above: David Harewood gave us his take on Othello. Below: Joseph Fiennes delved into Romeo and Juliet.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;The appetite for Shakespeare in America is unquenchable. And they love to celebrate Shakespeare. We in England are really crap at celebrating thingsâ&#x20AC;?
Sorry, did you just refer to Shakespeare’s four great tragedies as ‘the big bastards’? “The point is you have to take them seriously but you can’t get up yourself when you’re talking about them because you just put people off. That’s why I thought David Tennant on Hamlet was a complete copybook example of how to do it. He had a lot of fun with it but he also took it seriously.” It can’t have been easy finding all the A-listers to front the episodes. “It was tricky trying to get hold of the talent. Do you know the easiest one? Morgan Freeman. I rang his agent, his agent said ‘I’ll ask him’. Came back the next day, said ‘Yeah, he’ll do it’. That was it – no questions asked. [laughs] This is a man who normally doesn’t get out of bed for a couple of million, and he was doing it for literally peanuts.”
Kim Cattrall celebrated her favourite Shakespeare role: Cleopatra.
That was a great episode as well… “It was fun. We didn’t have a lot of time with him but he invited us to his house and we filmed him in LA, and also he’s hugely enthusiastic about it.” The format also allows for interesting personal revelations, like the moment when Tracey Ullman told Morgan Freeman, ‘You don’t know this, but in England I’m seen as common. I don’t get asked to do Shakespeare…’ “Yes, I think she touched on something. The appetite for Shakespeare in America is unquenchable. They absolutely love it. And they’re not embarrassed by it, they’re not ashamed by it. And they love to celebrate Shakespeare. We in England are really crap at celebrating things. Especially if they’re our own. You know, in America they have a series SHAKESPEARE magazine
!My Shakespeare “The easiest one was Morgan Freeman. This is a man who normally doesn’t get out of bed for a couple of million…” called American Masters where they make a film about Leonard Bernstein or Philip Roth or whoever. But in England if I try to make ‘Shakespeare: Isn’t He Just Wonderful?’ I get ‘Oh. Um. Er. That’s a bit boring’. I don’t really understand it. Very odd. “When Nicola and I went to America for the launch of the first series – and indeed the second series – we felt quite giddy because people were coming up to us and just saying ‘It’s so wonderful, thank you so much for making it’. Whereas most people we were putting the programmes to in England were like ‘It’s all right’. Very strange.” Well, as a Shakespeare fan I can tell you it’s a brilliant series. Speaking of ‘The Four Big Bastards’, I had to psych myself up to watch the Othello and King Lear episodes because I thought they were going to be really heavy. So I made myself watch them early on and discovered they were actually very entertaining episodes. “Aren’t they just? The wonderful King Lear with the happy ending done in Restoration comedy style. Christopher Plummer was just wonderful, he was a lovely man to work with. And David Harewood’s take on Othello was really interesting. That lovely meeting with him and Adrian Lester talking about people criticising the [19th century Ira Aldridge version of] Othello. Oh my goodness, that was quite something.”
Richard Denton (right) with Morgan Freeman: “We’re going to take it seriously, but we are going to have fun.”
Two excellent actors and some very serious issues, but it was great that they found humour in it. That was an excellent way of dealing with the whole thing. “In a sense, what I hoped the series would do – and only time can tell, I suppose – is that for people who knew a bit of Shakespeare and liked Shakespeare, like yourself, they would be entertaining and they would provide a couple of new things that you might not know. But at the same time you may notice that the actual format involves going through the play absolutely chronologically in the story. “So if you’ve never read the play you’ll know what the story is by the time you get to the end of the film. But we won’t do it in such a way that it’s incredibly boring. It sort of emerges as you go along, so that if you’ve never seen the play you’ll end the film thinking ‘I’d quite like to see that’. “And if we’ve done those two things, we’ve cracked it.”
Lost in Arden !As You Like It
When director Michael Attenborough took on the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s recent production of As You Like It, he was adamant about two things: it didn’t need to be funny, but it did need an utterly brilliant Rosalind… Words: Mary Finch
As You Like It
Melancholy Jaques (Derek Smith) interrupts the Duke (Timothy D. Stickney) and his merry men of the forest.
C !As You Like It
rying for the final 15 minutes of a comedy hardly seems reasonable. But when it comes to Shakespeare and me, reason has no place. This happened last December, and the production in question was As You Like It by the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC.
Last season, the STC’s Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 swept me away, and even though As You Like It couldn’t be a more different play, I felt the same emotional tightness in my chest as the curtain fell. Despite already loving this play – something about sassy androgynous female characters just really speaks to me – I was completely caught off guard by the production. But considering the story of how it came to be, that powerful result is hardly surprising. This As You Like It was the fruit of a partnership between STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn and Michael Attenborough, who is well known for his work as Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon and artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre in London’s Islington. When Kahn first invited Attenborough across the pond as a guest director, all parties were willing, but the schedules were not permitting. After patiently staying in touch for several years, the stars – and dates – aligned and plans were made. The only snag in the production was
“Were it not better... that I did suit me all points like a man?” Zoe Waites as Rosalind.
As You Like It
finding the perfect Rosalind. Discussing the search, Attenborough recalls: “I actually said at one point, ‘Michael, we shouldn’t do this play, if we don’t have a brilliant Rosalind’.” Luckily for audiences, they found one in Zoe Waites. The casting wasn’t exactly chance, though. Waites and Attenborough first worked together in 1998, when he cast her as the titular heroine in the RSC’s Romeo and Juliet. Even then, at 22, she displayed the emotional bravery that would manifest in Rosalind. “She is absolutely fearless, particularly, emotionally fearless,” says Attenborough. “The more you stretch her, the more she likes it.” Both Attenborough and Waites are originally from the UK, so this production had the additional challenge of bringing them to a city and a country far from home. “It was great fun, being in a rehearsal room with him outside of our comfort zone,” says Waites. “There was something
“Now I am in Arden!” Rosalind, Celia (Adina Verson) and Touchstone (Andrew Weems) rough it in the forest.
very liberating about it for both of us.” As I mentioned, this production had me weeping at the end. While it is not uncommon for Shakespeare to make me cry, generally that emotion occurs during tragedies, or merely manifests through a subtle mistiness in the eyes. The emotional punch of this comedy, however, came through the vulnerability of the characters. Before the main action of the play, Rosalind and Orlando (Andrew Veenstra) shared a moment of grief on stage – since, as described by Attenborough, they are “two people in the depths of despair”. The actors created this tragic vulnerability because their director freed them from the burden of comedy. “On day one,” Michael Attenborough explains, “I said to the company: ‘I hereby am giving you all absolute, unqualified permission not to be funny. I don’t want anyone straining to be funny’.” Speaking of characters straining for laughs, Attenborough couldn’t resist sharing an SHAKESPEARE magazine
!As You Like It Two characters in search of four happy endings: Rosalind and Celia.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Zoe Waites is absolutely fearless. The more you stretch her, the more she likes itâ&#x20AC;? Michael Attenborough
As You Like It
anecdote. “A friend of mine – I think he’s quite well known in America as well, a guy named David Tennant – said to me once, ‘Do you know what the loneliest place in the world is?’ And I said, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘Playing Touchstone, because he’s just not very funny’.” However, in this production Corin fully enjoys Touchstone’s courtly antics, and the shepherd’s simple, infectious laughter spread through the entire theatre. So there were still many moments of genuine ribbreaking humour, and the more serious bits in between only amplified the funny ones. In the end, all of the comedy and tragedy pulled together to tell the story of Rosalind, for she truly was the centre of this production. Interviewed separately, both Attenborough and Waites describe Rosalind as smart, witty, and terrified of being in love. “She’s a cerebral girl who is completely astonished and overwhelmed by these feelings of sexual attraction and desire, and this thing that feels like love,” says Waites. For all her intelligence, though, Waites’
“Rosalind is completely astonished and overwhelmed by sexual attraction and desire, and this thing that feels like love” Zoe Waites
Rosalind and Orlando (Andrew Veenstra). Our heroine puts his commitment – and her own – to the test.
Rosalind never had everything figured out – far from it. She flew between joy and grief, love and suspicion, hope and doubt. As Waites saw it: “Rosalind’s just sort of improvising and taking advantage of the moment.” Attenborough sees this complexity as reminiscent of Hamlet, arguably the Bard’s greatest character: “Hamlet is split between action and inaction,” he says, “his conscience and his duty. Rosalind is almost more profound. She is split between her heart and her brain – or to be more vulgar, her groin and her brain.” For Attenborough, that duality and uncertainty is not only the central conflict for Rosalind, but also for Shakespeare. “Shakespeare is almost built – structured linguistically – on the idea of antithesis. You can almost look at any speech and it is structured around antithetical nouns, adjectives, ideas.” Despite all of the conflict and vulnerability that happens along the way, the characters do get happy endings, in the form of four simultaneous weddings, a dukedom restored, and families reunited. But for Waites it is not just the multiple happy endings that draw the audience in. “We are intrigued and excited watching these characters go to Arden,” she says, “and bumble around, finding themselves and falling in love. Because that is what we’re doing, or what we would like to be able to do.”
“Sweet airs, that give
It’s time for a spot of Desert Island Discs, as our esteemed Music Correspondent chooses the eight best bits from operas inspired by Shakespeare. With selections from Verdi, Berlioz, Purcell, Britten and Bernstein, this is Shakespeare music with a real wow factor… Words: Rebecca Franks After hearing composer Ambroise Thomas’s Hamlet, Verdi is reported to have said: “Poor Shakespeare, how they have mistreated him.” It’s a comment that could apply to a good number of operas inspired by the Bard. Despite
the eternal allure of Shakespeare for composers, only a handful of the 200 plus works have gone on to become true classics. And working out why this should be is probably a whole other story in itself.
Hector Berlioz ‘Nuit paisible et sereine’ From Béatrice et Bénédict (1863) Imagine it’s night. The moon is shining and there’s a gentle breeze. It’s peaceful, apart from the soothing sounds of insects and birds. It’s that moment of blissful stillness that Berlioz captures to perfection in ‘Nuit paisible et sereine’, a duo that comes at the end of the first act of his Much Ado About Nothing opera, Béatrice et Bénédict. Heró and her lady-in-waiting Ursule have been busy matchmaking but here all the high jinks pause. Their voices intertwine as they sing to ‘la lune, douce reine’ – ‘the moon, sweet queen’.
But when it all comes together, the combination of Shakespearean drama and character with the rich musical world of opera is utterly sublime. Here are eight of the truly great moments to listen to.
Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘Fantasia on Greensleeves’ From Sir John in Love (1929) ‘Let the sky rain potatoes, let it thunder to the tune of Greensleeves,’ said Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, the play that inspired Vaughan Williams’s Sir John in Love. And it’s the Fantasia on Greensleeves, adapted by Ralph Greaves from that very opera, that’s become one of the work’s best-known moments. Vaughan Williams’s setting of the already haunting Greensleeves, a ballad popular since the 16th century, is big on atmosphere: a flute and harp conjure up a pastoral English feel, before the strings wordlessly sing the melody, accompanied by a harp strumming as if it were a lute in the Tudor court.
Opera Charles Gounod ‘Juliet’s Waltz’ From Roméo et Juliette (1867) This is an intoxicatingly joyous whirlwind of a waltz. Juliet sings of her dreams of love and her zest for life in an aria that sparkles and dances. Sung just before her fateful meeting with Romeo, Juliet has declared she’s not interested in marriage. This moment is all about youthful hopes and innocent pleasures, yet when she sings that love might destroy happiness, there’s a hint of the tragedy to come. Even though it was a last-minute addition by Gounod, ‘Je veux vivre’ (I want to live) became one of the most popular parts of his opera. Giuseppe Verdi ‘La luce langue’ From Macbeth (1847) Just as Juliet’s Waltz finds no counterpart in Shakespeare’s original play, the aria ‘La luce langue’ (the light is languishing) was of Verdi’s own creation. It’s a passionate, almost violent outpouring of emotion from Lady Macbeth, as she sings of the anticipated murder of Banquo, a ‘fatal deed that must be done’. This point in the opera marks the height of her power and the start of her downfall: it’s a moment that shows us how dark her desires are. Leonard Bernstein ‘Somewhere’ From West Side Story (1957) Bernstein’s West Side Story must be one of the most memorable Shakespeare-inspired settings by a classical composer. Though not technically an opera, a fair few opera singers have performed it – and even recorded it in the unfortunate case of soprano Kiri te Kanawa and tenor José Carreras. There are almost too many standout moments to mention in this modern-day Romeo and Juliet: Maria’s lively solo ‘I feel pretty’, the sassy fingerclicking ‘Cool’ or the heartfelt duet ‘One hand, one heart’. But the song ‘Somewhere’ is hard to beat, and also takes its cues from Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and, aptly enough, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.
Henry Purcell ‘The Plaint’ From The Fairy Queen (1692) It’s a little lament that’s one of the most moving moments of The Fairy Queen (1692), Purcell’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Act V, Oberon asks for ‘the plaint that did so Nobly move, When Laura Mourn’d for her departed Love’. He’s rewarded with melancholic music of true beauty, a melody that unfurls over a repeating bass line – one of Purcell’s party tricks. But carry on exploring the rest of this piece: Purcell didn’t simply write an opera but instead five masques – or semi-operas – to be performed between the acts of the play. It contains some of the British composer’s best music. Benjamin Britten ‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows’ From A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960) There’s something hypnotic, magical and ever so slightly menacing about this air, in which Oberon sings of his plan to drug Tytania with a magic herbal potion. Britten has carefully chosen his instrumental colours for his astute portrait of the king of the fairies: dark, sinuous cellos, a twinkling celesta, and a harp that seems to cast spells of enchanted notes. And then there’s the voice of Oberon himself. Britten wrote this role for a countertenor, a high male voice that has a strange, otherworldly quality quite unlike any other sound. Thomas Adès ‘How good they are, how bright, how grand’ From The Tempest (2004) This is a simply gorgeous quintet, in which five main characters finally join together in luminous music of reconciliation. It comes towards the end of Adès’s The Tempest, its lyricism hinted at in a love duet between Ferdinand and Miranda earlier on. Mozart was the master of the operatic ensemble, but here Adès steals one of Purcell’s tricks: he uses a repeated bass line that helps build the tension in this short but sublime moment.
Rebecca has made a special Spotify playlist to go with her selections. Enjoy it here: https://play.spotify.com/user/1138333090/playlist/6xmKy9rQA9llmhUmRMItMp SHAKESPEARE magazine
Eastern !Shakespeare Guide: Turkey
Continuing our investigations into how Shakespeare is regarded in different countries around XLI [SVPH [I Â˝RH SYVWIPZIW MR the historic meeting-place of East and West that is Turkey.
Promise Words: Cansu Kutlualp
Shakespeare Guide: Turkey
The Bosphorus has bewitched countless artists including ancient poets like Homer that inspired the Bard himself…
o William Shakespeare, the Turks were a strange people in a far-off land, an eastern empire largely unknown and seemingly irreconcilable. The orient stood for something frighteningly antagonistic that was also exotic and mysterious. This antagonistic attitude was mutual, but many aspects of European culture crossed over the Bosphorus to Turkey, and perhaps the most perpetual one has been Shakespeare. Both the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic – although with very different worldviews – took Shakespeare and interpreted him in different fashions. Over the centuries, Shakespeare has become truly embedded into Turkish culture.
A production of Hamlet in 2014 by the /EHMOSM 1SHE 7XEKI 8LIVI EVI WM\ GSJ½RW on the stage, one for each character, so that even when their parts are over the actors could stay on the stage for the entire play.
Ümmiye Koçak is the founder of the Arslanköy Woman Theatre. A farmworker with a primary school education, Koçak has written and directed many plays that have received international recognition.
Could you rephrase that? Translations of Shakespeare plays first appeared in the 19th century, before the end of the Ottoman Empire and the formation of the Republic. Most of the plays were translated into Ottoman Turkish, except for the The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Sonnets. However these translations are nothing like the ones Turkish readers tackle today. Due to alphabet and language reforms in 1928, Ottoman Turkish has become obsolete to readers, as modern-day Turkish is very different. It was after the 1940s that translations as Turkish readers know them today first started appearing.
!Shakespeare Guide: Turkey
Renamed Hamit, Arslanköy Woman Theatre’s all-female Hamlet brought a distinctly 8YVOMWL ¾EZSYV XS XLI &EVH
Shakespeare’s Turk “The Turk” does feature quite a lot in Shakespeare, and not always in a friendly manner – see Othello where the proverbial Turk is referred to as “a malignant and a turban’d Turk” and “the circumcised dog”. The Turk stood for “infidel” or “unbeliever” as Shakespeare’s Europe regarded the Muslim Ottoman Empire with fear and suspicion. However, negative references to Turks did not stop the Turkish people of the 19th century from exploiting the plays’ dramatic potential. The translations removed the offending phrases and replaced them with words like “ruffian” or “rowdy”. Turkish translations today do contain the phrase “Turk”, as in the original. However, some still prefer to use other words. Can’t get enough of the Bard The first recorded Hamlet production in Turkey dates back to the latter days of the Ottoman Empire in 1911. Plays were staged
by private companies formed by enthusiasts, some of whom persuaded the authorities to establish a municipal theatre after the foundation of Turkish Republic in 1923. This Municipal Theatre started the tradition of opening each new season with a Shakespeare play, a tradition that continues to this day. Shakespeare productions at the Municipal Theatre range from classic to postmodern. Including productions by private companies, Turkish fans can always catch at least one Shakespeare play per season. Turkish Shakespeare Turkey owes much of its Shakespearean heritage to Talat Sait Halman (1931-2014), who in 1971 became Turkey’s first Minister of Culture. Among his many achievements, he translated Macbeth into Turkish using aruz, an old Arabic system of versification used in the Ottoman Empire. He wrote a solo play called Kahramanlar ve Soytarılar (Heroes and Jesters) which he later adapted to a book called
Shakespeare Guide: Turkey
Above: Impressively dedicated, the members of the Arslanköy Woman Theatre only get to meet up and rehearse their plays after spending a full day [SVOMRK MR XLI ½IPHW Left: We call these devilishly delicious sweet treats Lokum. To the rest of the world, however, they go by another name – Turkish Delight.
“Turkish” Shakespeare. According to Halman it is called Turkish Shakespeare because of the impact that Shakespeare had on Turkish culture and thus theatre. He summarizes this view in his poem called A Halmanic Paean To The Bard by saying “The Bard is the playwright for Turks of all ages / In Turkey, ‘all the world’s a stage’ on all stages”. Feminist Approach In 1976, famous Turkish filmmaker Metin Erksan adapted Hamlet into a movie called The Angel of Vengeance – The Female Hamlet. With Hamlet as a female character, Shakespeare’s story is interpreted through the lens of 1970s Turkey. In 1994, Işıl Kasapoğlu directed an acclaimed production of The Merchant of Venice in Trabzon, a rural city in the North-sea Region. Staged at the Trabzon State Theatre, this version featured a female Shylock. In 2009 the Mediterranean city of Mersin saw Arslanköy Women’s Theatre Community produce an all-female Hamlet.
A 2014 Macbeth production at the Ankara Municipal Theatre by Professor Bozkurt Kuruç, an esteemed name in Turkish theatre.
Renamed Hamit, it featured traditional Turkish costumes, with crowns and skulls made out of cabbages from local farms. A Street of Shakespeare An actor named Kamil Rıza Bey who lived in İstanbul in 1920s was one of the first actors to play Othello on the Turkish stage. Legend has it that during the suicide scene when Othello stabs himself, Kamil Rıza Bey used to tie an animal’s lungs near his throat to produce a horrifically realistic spurt of blood. He was so memorable as Othello that he was nicknamed Otello Kamil. Today there is a street named after him in Mecidiyeköy, a district of İstanbul.
Ֆ SHAKESPEARE magazine
!The Essex Plot During the age of Elizabeth a play such as Richard II could be regarded as seditious.
The Essex Plot
Shakespeare and Sedition It’s the much-repeated stuff of Shakespeare legend: how the Bard’s theatre company got tangled up in the 1601 Essex Plot to topple Queen Elizabeth I. But what really happened?
Words: Francis RTM Boyle Illustration: Mary Finch
n 7 February 1601, Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, stages a command performance of Richard II at the Globe playhouse. Robert Devereaux, 2nd Earl of Essex and fallen favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, arranged for the special performance and is in attendance. Richard II, an older Shakespeare play, features the deposition of the weak and vacillating King Richard II by the Duke of Lancaster – who steals the throne to become King Henry IV – as well as Richard’s murder by Henry’s agents. The next day, 8 February, Essex leads a rebellion against the Queen. Essex fails. Months later, on 4 August, after having Essex and the closest of his co-conspirators executed, the Queen says the following to William Lambarde, Keeper of the Records at the Tower of London, “I am Richard the Second, know ye not that?” This sequence of events has led many to
conclude that Shakespeare actually conspired with Essex. Generations of professors, editors, and theatre artists passed along this theory as fact. It is a good story, a compelling story; I was taught it as fact in university, and my thesis advisor was taught it in Oxford and always presumed it was true. Unfortunately for the compelling story, it is simply false. It is a common maxim among historians that history is to be studied forwards, not backwards. If you look backwards at these events, it is easy to conclude that Shakespeare had a hand in Essex’s rebellion, and then marvel at Shakespeare’s escape from punishment. Reading history backwards is not merely poor study, but poor logic. The “false cause” fallacy states “if B is preceded by A, A caused B.” The fact that Essex’s revolt was preceded by a command performance of Richard II does not prove Shakespeare had anything to do with the rebellion. The circumstances of 7-8 February 1601 might well be simple coincidence. SHAKESPEARE magazine
!The Essex Plot “Staging the deposition of a king in front of a fickle mob could have been politically if not physically dangerous” The earliest records of Shakespeare’s play Richard II have caused scholars to date its composition to 1595, six years before the failed revolt. Until 8 February 1601, the day of Essex’s revolt, no evidence exists that indicates the Crown was interested in Richard II. On this day, Augustine Phillips, one of the members of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, testified before Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council, her cabinet of royal advisors, that subordinates of Essex contracted the players to: “have the play of the deposing and killing of King Richard II to be played… promising to get them [forty shillings] more than their ordinary to play it… and so played it accordingly.” Richard II was an old play; the two rival theatres of the day presented plays in repertory, with rotating schedules including new plays. As Richard II was six years old, the players, who had learned and presented many more plays in the intervening years, protested. But Essex’s men would have no other play. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men would not play Richard II unless they had extra payment to defray the anticipated loss. Being paid forty shillings for a command performance would be a considerable sum. Philip Henslowe, manager of rival company The Lord Admiral’s Men, kept an assiduous diary of daily incomes for his theatre, and this diary has survived. In it we find that forty shillings was a common but sporadic catch in the London theatre at the time. Henslowe’s Diaries note that, in December 1594, seven plays made at least a forty shilling gate in a single showing, and many plays which made this sum were premiers of new works. In the case of the Essex performance, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men were paid as much as a successful opening
performance, and those forty shillings were in addition to the “ordinary to play it”, or the fee for a command performance, which could be considerably more. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in securing more money for their play may well have saved their lives. If they had truly been conspirators, then their politics might have taken a turn away from financial concerns. Rebellion would likely take precedence over personal income. If the Privy Council also followed this reckoning, then the forty shillings was evidence for the innocence of the players. If the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were truly dedicated to Essex’s cause, they likely would not have pointed out the possible financial risk. To the Privy Council, a group of players concerned about their incomes agreed to play Richard II providing they received a security from monetary loss. Because Richard II was of no great matter to the players other than as a matter of income, they were likely not Essex supporters. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, in insisting upon a financial surety against loss, proved more interested in the gate than the state and so indicated their innocence. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men had every reason to avoid offending the Crown. Playwriting in the English Renaissance was dangerous business, and William Shakespeare knew it. In 1597, his fellow playwright Thomas Nashe fled the country following his arrest after the controversial and nowlost play The Isle of Dogs. His writings were subsequently suppressed and burned. Ben Jonson was also imprisoned for The Isle of Dogs and would return to the clink in 1605 with Marston and Chapman for Eastward Ho. In 1625, the Crown imprisoned Thomas Middleton and all of the actors from A Game At Chess, as the play satirised the Spanish Ambassador. These playwrights and actors’ accusers put them in jail for mere slander. For possible sedition, which meant in that time “a concerted movement to overthrow an established government”, Shakespeare would have been charged with High Treason. Had Shakespeare served at all as an accomplice to treason, his head would have wound up on a spike over Traitor’s Gate.
The Essex Plot
Neither Shakespeare nor any of his friends faced trial or were imprisoned. Elizabeth’s Privy Councilors did not see Shakespeare or his fellow players as a threat, or they would have been tried as co-conspirators. Despite the conclusion of the authorities, there are two more facts that give this myth extended life. The first: Richard II was censored. In 1608, the fourth quarto printing of Richard II debuted and the front page read: “With new additions of the Parliament Scene, and the deposing of King Richard”. The scene referred to, the deposition of the King, had never before been printed. Though the Crown did not see Shakespeare as a threat, the missing deposition scene still intrigues. Compared to Shakespeare’s other works from 1595 and 1608, the construction of the scene is much closer in composition style to writings from 1595, indicating the scene was written for and excised from the original text.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men had every reason to avoid offending the Crown.
At Shakespeare’s time, and until 1968, plays to be presented on the London stages were subject to inspection and censorship. In 1595, the Master of Revels, Edmund Tilney, was responsible for these matters. Staging the deposition of a king in front of a fickle mob could have been politically if not physically dangerous; a likely reason for Tilney to insist Shakespeare cut the scene. While Tilney’s interference would have been in accordance with his duty to Queen Elizabeth, no known record exists of Tilney’s work on Richard II. The fourth quarto printing of 1608, with the restored deposition scene was the first printing of Richard II after Elizabeth’s death. It may well be that the fears of the scene’s troubles died with Elizabeth, but this is merely speculation. With the deposition scene’s absence possibly solved, only one aspect of the myth of the seditious Shakespeare remains: Elizabeth’s quote itself. On 4 August, Queen Elizabeth SHAKESPEARE magazine
!The Essex Plot reportedly said “I am Richard II, know ye not that?” But she was not referring to Shakespeare’s play. Amazingly, another author is to blame. The day Essex launched his ill-fated revolt Elizabeth sent a delegation of Privy Councilors to the Earl. They had heard of the previous day’s theatrics and knew Essex’s plan. They carried a summons of High Treason for Essex, a summons that specifically references “his underhand permitting of that most treasonous book of John Hayward’s Henry the fourth to be printed and published.” Historian and lawyer John Hayward published a history of Henry IV in 1599, and in the book’s dedication was extravagant in his praise of the Earl of Essex. A furious Elizabeth had Hayward imprisoned in the Tower. In the interrogation of Hayward, the Crown’s attorney claimed, “Dr. Hayward intended the application of this book to the present time, the plot being that of a King who is taxed for misgovernment... deposed and in the end murdered.” To the Crown, Hayward would have Essex overthrow and murder Elizabeth, just as Henry did to Richard. At this point in her reign, Elizabeth had endured numerous attempts to remove or assassinate her, and she would allow no challenger. The most famous proof of this comes from 1587, when Elizabeth had her cousin and fellow monarch Mary, Queen of Scots executed for attempting to take over England. The next year, Elizabeth prevailed against the famed Spanish Armada. By 1599, a troublesome lawyer was easily dealt with: Hayward would stay in the Tower until the months following Essex’s execution. Shakespeare was no seditious playwright. Elizabeth’s fury with the Richard II comparison originated with John Hayward’s book and not Shakespeare’s play. The evidence strongly suggests that when he wrote Richard II Shakespeare was requested or required to remove the deposition scene, and he did so. When Augustine Phillips was called to the long carpet at the Privy Council, he was able to give testimony that was verified, and there were no reprisals against him or any other member of
In securing more money for their play, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men may have saved their lives.
the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The myth of the seditious Shakespeare has been perpetuated throughout the years. The myth was likely born of a commonly used logical fallacy, but its intrigue likely kept it alive. Told and retold so often, and sounding possibly true, the legend has fallen into the special category of accepted fact. However, as is so often the case with Shakespeare, the truth is a far more interesting and complex beast.
This article is based on research from my 2006 Masters of Letters thesis. However, as I worked on the article, I learned that Oxford professor Jonathan Bate included his own account of the creation of the Richard II myth in his excellent 2008 book Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare. Needless to say, our work had no intentional crossover. Indeed, this kind of thing happens fairly often in our field, with so many minds labouring to find new information from evidence some four centuries old.
Mary Finch Our US Staff Writer
studied English at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and is furthering her obsession at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, earning her Masters in Shakespeare and Performance. Her interest in the Bard ranges from the theatrical to the educational to the literary. Besides William, Mary has a strong affinity for succulents, typography, and limericks. Find her on Twitter: @DaFinchinator
Francis RTM Boyle has worked
in the theatre for 20 years. He discovered his love for Shakespeare by reading Julius Caesar when he was ten. He went on to earn a BFA in Theatre from the University of Rhode Island and an MLitt and MFA in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance from the Mary Baldwin College/American Shakespeare Center partnership. Find him on Twitter: @FrancisRTMBoyle
Cansu Kutlualp is in her third year
studying Comparative Literature at Istanbul Bilgi University. She has always loved literature but one day when she was in elementary school she discovered a sonnet by a bard who lived centuries ago. She couldn’t help but read it ten times and then just sat there, spellbound. After her Shakespeare lectures she is often left utterly smitten, unable to speak for hours. Find her on Twitter: @ckutlualp
Meet thy makers... Just some of the contributors to this issue of Shakespeare Magazine
Anastasia Koroleva fell in love with Hamlet at 17, watching
Kozintsev’s film of Shakespeare’s play. She went on to read Hamlet in English and all available Russian translations. Anastasia graduated from the Faculty of Philology of Moscow State University and worked in the media as an Editor. She rediscovered Shakespeare in 2013, and Richard II: The Book and www.dtbooks.net blog were born. Hamlet: The Book is already on its way. Find her on Twitter: @korolami
Rebecca Franks is an arts journalist and reviews editor of BBC Music Magazine. She’s loved Shakespeare since her schooldays, when a local theatre’s workshops first revealed the magic of Twelfth Night. While studying music at Cambridge, she helped commission Shakespeare Deranged, three short operas based on mad scenes in the Bard’s plays. She loves classical music and books, as well as film and theatre, and blogs at www.beccamusic.blogspot.co.uk. Find her on Twitter: @Becca_JF21
We hope you’ve enjoyed Issue Seven of Shakespeare Magazine. Here’s a taste of what we have coming up next time…
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The magic of Shakespeare’s birthplace.
Re-examining the Shakespeare myths.
Painting Shakespeare On the canvas with artist Ros Lyons.
Exploring Shakespeare in video games.