At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
Painting the Bard
The haunting Shakespeare art of Rosalind Lyons
The sound of Shakespeare in Scotland
Shakespeare’s Stratford-uponAvon: it’s our essential guide!
Hamlet Shakespeare’s hottest ticket: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is Burning at the Barbican
Video Games: The future of Shakespeare?
At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
Hamlet Shakespeareâ€™s hottest ticket: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is Burning at the Barbican
Welcome to Issue 8 of Shakespeare Magazine
Photo: David Hammonds
Shakespeare is our greatest, most discussed, most studied, most written-about author. And yet, we Shakespeare fans are often made to feel that the Bard is some minor, niche obsession, that cuts us off from what everyone else is getting excited about.
So it’s great for us when Shakespeare becomes headline news – and I mean real news, as opposed to the media’s endlessly recycled Shakespeare non-stories. Which brings me to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet. Undoubtedly a real news story, and a real Shakespeare story, right now it feels like the biggest thing to hit London since Henry VIII’s fourth stag party. The papers have been having a field day reporting on every aspect of Ben’s Barbican performances. Some of it has been trivial, sure. But it’s also touched on interesting subjects. What is accepted theatre etiquette – for journalists as well as fans? Why is Hamlet such a pinnacle for actors? And what happens if you move its most famous speech to the start of the play? So this issue we’re unashamedly celebrating Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet. If you’re new to Shakespeare, you probably don’t know that he wasn’t actually the most popular and successful playwright of his day. But 400 years later he’s the undisputed number one. And that’s definitely something to shout about. Enjoy your magazine. Pat Reid, Founder & Editor
At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
Painting the Bard
The haunting Shakespeare art of Rosalind Lyons
The sound of Shakespeare in Scotland
Shakespeare’s Stratford-uponAvon: it’s our essential guide!
Video Games: The future of Shakespeare?
Shakespeare’s hottest ticket: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH is Burning at the Barbican
Shakespeare Magazine Issue Eight August 2015
It’s the Shakespeare event of the Year: Benedict Cumberbatch is Hamlet.
No Place Like Home
Back to where it all began: exploring Shakespeare’s home town, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Founder & Editor Pat Reid Art Editor Paul McIntyre Staff Writers Brooke Thomas (UK) Mary Finch (US) Writers Liz Barrett Andrew Bretz Paul F Cockburn Rosalind Lyons Helen Mears Jen Richardson Chief Photographer Piper Williams
Killing the King
Bonnie Prince Billy
The Game’s Afoot
Magical, haunting and dreamlike: the Shakespeare art of Rosalind Lyons.
Actor Aidan O’Reilly tells us how he’s preparing to play Shakespeare’s Richard III.
Thank You Mrs Mary Reid Mr Peter Robinson Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby Web design David Hammonds Contact Us firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook facebook.com/ShakespeareMagazine Twitter @UKShakespeare Website www.shakespearemagazine.com
You haven’t heard Shakespeare until you’ve heard it in the original Scottish…
Could the dizzying digital world of video games be 7LEOIWTIEVI´W½REPJVSRXMIV#
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‘Matthew Jenkinson’s careful alterations of some of Shakespeare’s most important plays may give us less than 50% of each play’s lines, but they convey far more than that percentage of each play’s theatrical power. Moreover, they belong 100% to the highest traditions of both teaching and performing Shakespeare’s plays’. Professor Michael Dobson, Director of the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-uponAvon, and Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Birmingham
Order now from www.johncattbookshop.com Coming soon: Vol 3: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night and The Tempest
! Benedict Cumberbatch “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world!” [I, 2]
Lyndsey Turnerâ€™s 2015 production of Hamlet features striking set designs by Es Devlin.
Perhaps the quintessentially English actor, Benedict Cumberbatch is taking on the quintessentially English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. His new Hamlet is the fastest-selling production in London history, but which other Shakespeare roles has Benedict played? And how does he feel about tackling The Big One? Words: Helen Mears Photos: Johan Persson
! Benedict Cumberbatch Benedict will be seen as Richard III in the second cycle of the BBC’s The Hollow Crown.
enedict Cumberbatch’s professional relationship with Shakespeare began early in his career, back in 2001. He appeared in the New Shakespeare Company’s productions in Regent’s Park, playing the King of Navarre in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As he told What’s On Stage in 2005, “They were my first two professional roles in the theatre”. In the interview he also stated that Shakespeare was his favourite all-time playwright. This presumably influenced his decision to return to Regent’s Park in 2002 for As You Like It
and Romeo and Juliet, playing Orlando and Benvolio respectively. Shakespeare does not feature again in Cumberbatch’s CV. Instead he worked his way through acclaimed TV work such as his portrayal of Steven Hawking in 2004 biodrama Hawking, and his role as the troubled artist Vincent Van Gogh in 2010’s Van Gogh: Painted with Words, and film roles in Atonement (2007) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), before breaking big in 2010 with the BBC’s Sherlock. The programme was a worldwide success and propelled Cumberbatch onto the acting A-list. Since then he has featured in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), 12 Years a Slave (2014) and two of the Hobbit films (2013-14), in which he voiced the dragon Smaug. He also made a huge success of The Imitation Game (2014), in which he played codebreaker Alan Turing. Now Benedict is returning to Shakespeare with vengeance, with two major roles, on stage as tragic hero Hamlet and on BBC TV as arch-villain Richard III in The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses. A taster came in the BBC’s Lifetime of British Drama promo where he beautifully recites the Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It over clips from classic BBC dramas past and present. Incredibly, Cumberbatch is himself a distant descendant of Richard III. The actor read Carol Ann Duffy’s specially-composed poem ‘Richard’ at his ancestor’s re-interment at Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. He felt honoured to have been involved and it seemed particularly apt that he was filming the role of Richard at the time of this historic event. “Having just played his very different Shakespearean characterisation,”
“You wouldn’t look twice at Richard. He’s a very dangerous, charming, powerful man”
Benedict Cumberbatch he commented, “I was intrigued to see what the real historical event would be like, and to be a part of this extraordinary moment of remembrance. Then what really sealed the deal was this beautiful poem.” Benedict feels that the discovery of Richard’s remains has changed people’s perceptions. “I think the debate in historical and archaeological terms about the reality of him and his kingship is what’s extraordinary to witness now.” He also recognises the perilous appeal of Shakespeare’s Richard. “You wouldn’t look twice at him necessarily,” he said, “but once he had you in his beam… He’s a very dangerous, charming, powerful man.” Cumberbatch was boldly instrumental in Dame Judi Dench’s appearance in The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses. He attended a Shakespearean workshop event at which the veteran actress was appearing. When the audience were asked if they had any questions, he leapt into action asking: “Would you like to be in Richard III with me?” Dame Judi, naturally, accepted. And fans of Sherlock will already know that Andrew Scott, who played criminal mastermind Moriarty, will also be appearing in The Wars of the Roses as the French King, Louis. But it’s Cumberbatch’s run as Hamlet
Rehearsals for Hamlet, July 2015.
Benedict with Martin Freeman (left) in the BBC’s Sherlock.
at London’s Barbican that is arguably the Shakespeare event of 2015. It sold out in record time (although the venue promise that day tickets will be available for each performance) as fans worldwide fought for their chance to see Benedict play the Dane. It is clearly the fruition of a dream for Cumberbatch. Indeed, when asked at 2012’s Cheltenham Literary Festival which play he would choose if he could only perform one more stage role, he opted for Hamlet. “Every actor wants to have a go at it,” he said, “and I want to have my go at it, and I will. But we’re working out when and how.” Well, the “when and how” is right now. Benedict Cumberbatch’s career has come full circle from his first professional performance of Shakespeare to playing his dream role. If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, you’ll be witnessing the most talked-about and feverishly-anticipated theatrical event in years. If not, there’s always those queues for day tickets. We’ll see you there.
Hamlet runs at the Barbican Theatre, London until 31 October
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â€Ś e r o M s Plu
G A L L E RY & R E V I E W
For a generation of Cumberbatch fans, ‘Benedict at the Barbican’ is the most sensational and controversial Shakespeare production of a lifetime. Images: Johan Persson Words: Liz Barrett
“To be, or not to be – that is the question” [III, 1] Controversially, the play’s most iconic speech was moved to the beginning. As we went to press, however, this decision had apparently been reversed.
! Benedict Cumberbatch “’Tis in my memory lock’d, And you yourself shall keep the key of it” [I, 3] Ophelia (Siân Brooke)
“A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven” [III, 3]
! Benedict Cumberbatch “But in my terms of honour I stand aloof ” [V, 2] Laertes (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith)
Battle of the Hamlets Does Benedict’s Hamlet vanquish Maxine Peake’s acclaimed recent version?
f early reviews were to be believed, the Barbican’s Hamlet was clearly designed for the Cumberbitch crowd: a tacky term used to describe female fans of Benedict Cumberbatch. A Hamlet-lite, so to speak, to appeal to a Hollywood crowd. What really riled one reviewer in particular was the moving of the ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy from Act 3 to the opening line of the play. An odd choice, yes, but, personally, I’m all for reinterpreting Shakespeare. By the time I caught the performance, three weeks into the run, the Barbican had already made the decision to return the line to its original home. Now the play opens to Hamlet, crouched on the
floor, listening to Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy, before Horatio breaks his train of thought. And so begins one of the most opulent stagings of Shakespeare I have ever seen. While I didn’t find the actual performances ‘Hollywood’ in their grandeur, the same could not be said for the set design. Set within the Danish court, the stage is bathed in a haunting glow of candlelight as the second scene sees the royal family gather round a huge dining table to celebrate the hasty nuptials of Claudius and Gertrude. If anything, the set design was too detailed, and I often found myself mesmerised by the scenery rather than the live performances being enacted in front of me. But that’s not a criticism of the acting, rather
“O Hamlet, speak no more! Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul” [III, 4] Gertrude (Anastasia Hille)
a round of applause to the talented set designers, lighting crew and choreographers. (I won’t spoil it for anyone yet to catch it live or in the cinema, but there’s one particular scene right before the interval, with just Claudius on stage, back to the audience, that drew gasps from the crowd and the most enthusiastic mid-play applause I’ve ever heard.) Saying that, I was lucky enough to catch Maxine Peake’s Hamlet in Manchester last year, and I found it hard not to compare the two. The settings couldn’t have been more different: Peake’s in the centre of the Royal Exchange’s round theatre, with hardly any props or stage furniture, allowing the audience to fully immerse itself into the performance; Cumberbatch’s on a traditional stage surrounded by a movie-like set. While Peake brought a manic, calculating slyness to the role of the tragic prince, Cumberbatch’s Hamlet was a sensitive, intelligent, thoughtful interpretation, with fantastic comic timing. In fact, my theatre buddies and I all agreed that we’d love to
see him in a Shakespearean comedy role, Much Ado’s Benedict, say. Ciaran Hinds’ Claudius is a much quieter interpretation than I’ve seen before, but it works well within the cast. Indeed the cast is a beautiful amalgamation of theatre stalwarts, young upand-comers (Sian Brooke as Ophelia is tragically captivating, her final scenes beautifully interpreted and realised) and big screen icons. What you’re left with when the final bow is taken is a sense of fulfilment. While I preferred Peake’s Hamlet, Cumberbatch delivered a truly memorable performance. And the man doesn’t half provide bang for your buck, the sweat pouring off him as he receives the fatal blow from Laertes’ poisoned sword. So a Hollywood setting, yes, but a masterful reinterpretation of a Shakespearean classic that will appeal to Cumberbatch and Bard fans alike.
! Benedict Cumberbatch
“And yet to me what is this quintessence of dust?” [II, 2]
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NO PLACE LIKE 18
Even more than London, there is one place above all that is MHIRXM½IH[MXLXLIPMJIERH PIKIRHSJ;MPPMEQ7LEOIWTIEVI 8EOIEXVMT[MXLYWXSEQEKMGEP TPEGI7XVEXJSVHYTSR%ZSR HIITMRXLILIEVXSJ)RKPERH´W green and pleasant land… Words: Helen Mears Pictures: Helen Mears and Susan Braund
e could be in any small, picturesque English town, with its medieval church, half-timbered Tudor buildings, shops, restaurants and delightful riverside walks. But Stratford-upon-Avon is not just any town. It’s one of the best-known, mostvisited and probably most-loved locations in England. That’s because it’s the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It’s also the place he seems to have considered his home. After all, Shakespeare grew up there, went to school there, and spent his final days there. So here is Shakespeare Magazine’s on-theground guide to Stratford-upon-Avon. Here you’ll find hints and tips for first-time visitors and returning aficionados alike. What to see, the best ways to see it, where to stay, where to eat, and how to get around while you’re there. Are you ready? Then let’s start our tour…
The Birthplace Surely the must-visit spot for any selfrespecting Bardolator, this is where it all began – the six-roomed Merchant’s House on Henley Street where in April 1564 Mary Shakespeare, wife of glover John, gave birth to their famous son, William. The house is approached
! Stratford-upon-Avon through the Shakespeare Centre on the lefthand side of the Birthplace. A short exhibition shows you items such as a prized First Folio and the foot of Stratford’s Old Market Cross from where glover John Shakespeare would have sold his wares. A walk through the gardens leads to the house itself. You enter through the self-contained annexe where William and Anne Shakespeare spent the first years of their married life, and where their children, Susannah, Judith and Hamnet, were born. The annexe was later occupied by William’s sister, Joan. You can walk through the parlour and the dining room to John’s workshop where he produced gloves and other leather goods. A staircase leads to two bedrooms, one for the girls, one for the boys, and a loft space The birth room is visible, where the apprentices would have at Shakespeare’s slept. Finally you reach the birth room, the main bedroom in which William and his seven Birthplace. siblings were born. Guides are on-hand in all rooms to tell you their history and other gems of information. Complete your visit by watching classic Shakespearean speeches performed in the garden by resident acting troupe Shakespeare Aloud!, and then picking up some souvenirs in the gift shop and excellent bookshop.
Molly from Shakespeare Aloud! in the Birthplace garden.
The five house ticket is the best value, giving you entry to all of the properties (Harvard House is a current alternative to New Place) and allowing you to view Shakespeare’s Grave in Holy Trinity Church.
The Avon and Boat trips
A walk along the Avon is a must in any season. The gentle stroll from the RSC to Holy Trinity Church will take you past drooping willows, smoothly sailing swans and green parkland. For a different perspective on the town you can take a boat trip along the river itself. Starting from near the RSC Theatre, you cruise gently down to the church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried, before turning back and heading past the theatre and under Clopton Bridge. It’s a bridge that William himself would have known, built as it was around 1480. The Avon is very pretty, everywhere you look are the incredible tame (and always hungry) swans and picturesque houseboats. The banks are lined with weeping willows that just might have been the inspiration for poor Ophelia’s watery end in Hamlet. If you would rather take a slower, self-driven trip there are rowing boats, canoes and small speedboats for hire. Beware, though, these are not as easy to control as they look and you may well spend a good proportion of your allotted time relearning how to row and avoiding
Holy Trinity other hapless river traffic! Boat trips typically Church, viewed last for around 40 minutes and are especially from the Avon. pleasant in the late afternoon when the sun sets slowly behind the church steeple. For added luxury you can take a restaurant cruise where afternoon tea or an evening meal are served on board or, as a quicker, cheaper alternative, you could take the chain ferry across the Avon. The ferry dates from 1937 and is the last of its kind in the UK.
Nash House and New Place
As well as the Henley Street property, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust care for four other locations in and around Stratford, all associated with William’s family. Nash House and New Place were adjoining properties. The former was the home of Judith Shakespeare and her husband, while the latter was the family home that William purchased in 1597, at the time the second most expensive house in the town. Sadly it was demolished by a subsequent owner but the Trust are currently undertaking a massive renovation of the site. This means that the properties will not be open to the public until 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
A brief walk from New Place will take you to Hall’s Croft, the home of Susannah Shakespeare and her husband, the physician John Hall. This is an interesting property in its own right and is partly set up to show how a practising physician would have worked at the time. A special mention too must go The Arter, the award winning independent craft shop adjoining the building, and to the beautiful garden in which open air performances of Shakespeare’s plays are sometimes performed.
Nash House and New Place.
! Stratford-upon-Avon Tudor farm, with costumed guides caring for the buildings and the animals. It’s a great place for a family day out, with plenty to see and do and numerous activities running. There are daily falconry shows, archery, animals to feed and games to play. You can even treat yourself to a genuine Tudor meal in the cafe – pottage and home-baked breads are a speciality.
What if you don’t have a car?
The town itself is fairly small and all the main attractions are within walking distance. However, the easiest way to get around, and to enable a visit to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Mary Arden’s farm, is to the Hop On-Hop Off City Sightseeing bus. This will take you to all the main town locations, and also to Shottery and Wilmcote. A day ticket will give you unlimited access to the buses and allow you to visit all of the Shakespeare properties. The bus can be picked up by the statue of Touchstone the jester at the top end of Henley Street.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
A short distance from Stratford is Shottery where you can find the beautiful cottage which was the home of the Hathaway family. Set in yet another lovely garden, this is the house in which Anne Hathaway grew up and was courted by the young William. John Shakespeare served with Anne Hathaway’s father on the town council so their children probably knew each other from a young age. The family remained associated with the cottage for several centuries and have spun many a yarn about the young lovers, the veracity of which are highly questionable. However, the stone floor of the kitchen is original and we know that William must have walked those stones many, many times.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Mary Arden’s Farm
The last of the Shakespeare properties is Mary Arden’s Farm. Shakespeare’s mother lived here, and it’s where she probably took the infant William when plague broke out in Stratford shortly after his birth. Open from March to November only, the farm is run as a working
Mary Arden’s Farm.
Another excellent way to see the main sites of Stratford and to learn some of the historical tales of the town is to take a walking tour.
There are several options depending on the type of tour you’d like. The town guides run historical tours of the town every day (yes, every day) of the year. For those who like to be a bit more daring there are evening ghost walks led by costumed guides who will tell you some of the spooky tales of Stratford. Both of these tours start from the Swan Water Fountain on the riverside. Or if you like the idea of being guided by Shakespeare himself, on a Saturday (and Monday to Saturday through the summer holidays) there are town walks led by the man himself (or someone who looks an awful lot like him!). These run from Tudor World on Sheep Street, an interesting museum in the house that belonged to the man who was, allegedly, the model for Sir John Falstaff.
Holy Trinity Church
Another must-see is the town’s 13th century church with its distinctive spire that dominates the view from the river. Remember that if you have a ticket to the Birthplace properties your visit to the grave is free. The church is famous for being where William Shakespeare was baptised on 26 April 1564. The old font that The Guildhall was used for the baptism is displayed in the chancel, along with copies of both the register Doom Painting. of baptism for April 1564 and the register of burials for April 1616 where Shakespeare’s name can be clearly seen. Also in the chancel, in front of the altar, are the Shakespeare family graves. William’s bears its infamous curse: “GOOD FRIEND FOR JESUS SAKE FOREBEAR, TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOSED HERE. BLESTE BE YE MAN YT SPARES THESE STONES, AND CURSED BE HE YT MOVES MY BONES.” On the wall above the grave is the effigy of Shakespeare. It’s one of the few images which was produced within the lifetime of Anne Shakespeare, and probably one of the most authentic likenesses of her husband.
The Guildhall and King Edward’s School
Directly opposite the site of New Place stand the Guildhall and the town’s old grammar school. Both of these places have links to the Shakespeare family. King Edward’s School is where the young William is believed to have studied, and it’s probably where he first encountered the classical texts which so inspired him. As the son of a town councillor he would have been entitled to a place. The old school is sometimes open to visitors at weekends or during the holidays but the school has just won a lottery grant which should enable them to open it as a permanent attraction. The Guildhall was sometimes host to groups of travelling players, and so it could be the site where young William first saw theatrical performances. It is widely believed that John Shakespeare, owing to his role as town bailiff, was responsible for supervising the whitewashing of the medieval Doom Painting.
! Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010 with both theatres having been converted to boast thrust stages and curved galleries, similar in shape to the original Elizabethan playhouses. The world renowned Royal Shakespeare Company performs here throughout the year, staging plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as by newer authors. They also run an education programme, exhibitions, family activities during the school holidays, and theatre tours. To see Stratford from an entirely different angle, take the lift up the 36 metre high tower for spectacular views across the town.
Where to eat and drink?
This has been recovered and is now once again visible above the chancel arch.
The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre and the riverside
The riverside park is home to several interesting sights. It is from here that you can get a view of the Clopton Bridge, pick up a river cruise, feed the swans and admire the Gower Memorial. The memorial was presented to the town in 1888 and features a statue of Shakespeare, seated upon a plinth, overlooking statues of four of his best known characters. These are Hamlet, Prince Hal, Sir John Falstaff and Lady Macbeth, who represent Comedy, History, Philosophy and Tragedy. Closer to the theatre is the beautiful Swan Water Fountain, unveiled in 1996. If you see the water frothing, fear not, it seems to be a sport amongst local youngsters to fill the fountain with washing up liquid on a regular basis! The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre was built in 1932 but has recently undergone a complete refurbishment in both the main and the Swan theatres. The building reopened
The Gower Memorial:Will and Prince Hal.
Stratford has an excellent range of eateries to suit all tastes and budgets. There is pub grub, afternoon teas, world cuisine, fine dining, pizza, pasta, and fish and chips. Many restaurants offer pre-theatre menus and, if you’ve been on a town walk, you may find that you can get discount vouchers for your food. There are many pubs in Stratford including the Garrick Inn, the oldest pub in the town, where you can taste the Shakesbeer, specially brewed to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday in 2014. If you want to spot RSC cast members relaxing after their shows, The Dirty Duck on Waterside is the place to drink.
Where to stay?
Again, Stratford-upon-Avon has a good variety of hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday homes. All the main chains have hotels in the town, from budget brands to the luxury names. There is an excellent choice of bed and breakfast establishments in and around the town; again, these will suit all tastes and budgets. Airbnb also has an interesting range of rooms, flats and houses to rent in Stratford. However, be sure to book early, especially for the prime summer months.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: www.shakespeare.org.uk
MEANWHILE, IN CANADA... There’s more than just one Stratford, you know. And the one in Ontario, Canada has a world-renowned Shakespeare Festival. %RHVI[&VIX^ gives us a tour.
any places around the world have been named after Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace and home of William Shakespeare. And many of those Stratfords are home to theatre festivals of varying sizes. Stratford in the state of Victoria in Australia has an annual Shakespeare festival still going every year, while Stratford in Connecticut in the USA had a major theatre from the mid 1950s to the mid 1980s. Stratford, Ontario in Canada, however, stands out among these towns and festivals not merely in scope, but in international reputation and prestige. In 1950, Canada had no home-grown tradition of classical theatre. Certainly, Shakespeare was performed, but there had been a strong anti-theatrical movement in Canada throughout the 19th century whose effects still lingered throughout the first half of the 20th. As a cultural icon, Shakespeare was edifying, to be sure, but certainly not to be performed. The Stratford Festival changed all of that for Canada. In the late 1940s, the local newspapers and government of the town conceived of the idea of revitalising Stratford’s sagging economy by capitalising on the name of the town and its
“From the first performance, the Festival worked to create a new aesthetic of Shakespearean performance”
long association with the Bard. They banded together and, under the leadership of Tom Patterson, they brought over Tyrone Guthrie and Alec Guinness for the first season in 1953. Guthrie had famously directed Gielgud in Hamlet at Elsinore Castle in Denmark, and had been the manager of the Old Vic in London. He wanted to create an acting space that echoed the original Globe theatre, where actors were surrounded by the audience, in contrast to the proscenium arch theatres that dominated the London and New York scenes. From the first performance, which took place inside a giant circus-style tent on the banks of the Avon River, the festival worked to create a new aesthetic of Shakespearean performance. The thrust stage of the Festival Theatre, designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch, has been recognised as one of the great innovations in stage design of the 20th century. Generations of actors have had to learn how to address an audience on three sides of them, sometimes only an arm’s length away. The festival has been central to the careers of Canadian actors such as Christopher Plummer, Martha Henry, and even William Shatner. Actors from the US and UK have sought to play the festival as well, including Peter Ustinov, Christopher Walken and Jessica Tandy. Indeed, these international stars not only lend credibility, but have indelibly marked the festival. For instance, Maggie Smith’s performance as Rosalind in As You Like It in the 1977 and 1978 seasons is legendary in the company and the town. Today, the festival has expanded to include multiple performance spaces, a theatre school, university accredited courses, and the largest theatrical costume shop in North America. It has started countless careers, inspired companies such as Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre, and helped shape the Canadian theatre landscape for over 50 years.
Stratford Festival – Ontario, Canada: www.stratfordfestival.ca SHAKESPEARE magazine!
Planning to perform a short selection from Shakespeare? The 30-Minute Shakespeare Anthology contains 18 abridged scenes, including monologues, from 18 of Shakespeare’s best-known plays. Every scene features interpretive stage directions and detailed performance and monologue notes, all “road tested” at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s annual Student Shakespeare Festival.
The 30-Minute Shakespeare Anthology includes one scene with monologue from each of these plays:
02!)3% &/2 4(% -).54% 3(!+%30%!2% 3%2)%3 “Lays the groundwork for a truly fun and sometimes magical experience, guided by a sagacious, knowledgeable, and intuitive educator. Newlin is a staunch advocate for students learning Shakespeare through performance.” —Library Journal
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Shakespeare’s language intact. The scenes and monologues in this anthology have been selected with both teachers and students in mind, providing a complete toolkit for an unforgettable performance, audition, or competition.
NICK NEWLIN has performed a comedy and variety act for international audiences for more than 30 years. Since 1996, he has conducted an annual teaching artist residency with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.
The 30-Minute Shakespeare series is available in print and ebook format at retailers and as downloadable PDFs from 30MinuteShakespeare.com.
Assembled for the first time in a single volume, this poster collection is an IDEAL GIFT for any theatre buff or designer seeking inspiration!
1,100 posters of Shakespeare’s plays, designed by an international roster of artists representing 55 countries, featuring posters from the 1800s to present day
Presenting Shakespeare: 1,100 Posters from Around the World
by Mirko Ilic and Steven Heller Preface by Julie Taymor
Abrams & Chronicle Books
$50.00 · £30.00 Hardcover · 320 pages ISBN 978-1-61689-292-0 October 2015
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! Roaslind Lyons
Left:The Roaring Boys
For UK artist Rosalind Lyons, the Bard is a constant presence in her creative life. She tells us how Shakespeare inspired the haunting and dreamlike works that adorn these pages. Words and paintings by Rosalind Lyons
hakespeare has long been at the heart of my work, sometimes directly and obviously in the subjects, and often in the titles. But always, Shakespeare’s words, characters and stories are there in my head when I am painting – a perpetual conscious and unconscious presence. My style echoes that of the Renaissance painters and Elizabethan portraits, and these influences, combined with a lifelong love of Shakespeare, made my first visit to Shakespeare’s Globe pivotal. I experienced a powerful sense of connection and recognition. Here, suddenly, ideas and themes with which I had been so long preoccupied were brought to life. I subsequently gained access to the Globe to draw, and later spent some time SHAKESPEARE magazine!
! Roaslind Lyons Right: No More Yielding But A Dream
as Artist in Residence there. That experience prompted more in-depth exploration not only of Shakespeare and painting, but of the relationship between painting and theatre. There are, of course, the strong visual connections – both are spaces for spectacle and illusion. But also compelling ideas of transformation, imagination, storytelling and identity. And, overall, the theme of ambiguity. The blurring of boundaries between reality and fiction, male and female, light and shadow, past and present. I am fascinated by how we respond to history, how we re-present and re-imagine the past. And the figures in my paintings are imagined as belonging to both now and then – flitting back and forth across the threshold between past and present, between Shakespeare’s time and our own modern world. I have painted some specific characters from Shakespeare, but many subjects of my paintings are anonymous. The figures are unknown; their place, purpose, role is a mystery. This anonymity is unsettling. There are clues in the setting, in the costumes – or perhaps I should just say in the clothes they are wearing – but the context is not obvious. I am fascinated by the dramatic convention of cross-dressing – and particularly the inherent confusion, as with Rosalind (As You Like It) and Viola (Twelfth Night), in the idea of a boy playing a girl playing a boy. Many of the characters I invent are androgynous, their gender and age uncertain. This ambiguity of identity interests me in the context of visual illusion and theatrical transformation; the idea of inbetween-ness and something unresolved. Like theatre, my paintings are concerned with inventing characters and the creation
of an imaginary world, and I am particularly attracted to the fools, fairies and witches. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the fairies’ actions may seem malevolent or benign, or just mischievous, but there is definitely a dark side, an underlying sense of threat. The Fool too is intriguing. Shakespeare’s fools frequently describe themselves, or are referred to, as a nobody, but are unquestionably much more. The fool is an outsider, concerned with but at the same time separate from the story. He – or sometimes she – doesn’t quite belong anywhere, but seems to exist on the boundary between the familiar and the uncanny. I am attracted to the strange, to mystery and shadows, and try to express through my images a strong feeling that it could be that, or maybe something else. As Orsino says at the conclusion of Twelfth Night: “A natural perspective, that is and is not”. While making a painting, and even when it is finished, I don’t know really who my characters are – they remain elusive. But I like not knowing, and ultimately meanings always change, and depend on individual perceptions. My experience at the Globe led to a particular fascination with the ambiguous and protean quality of the theatrical performer; how their identity transforms and fluctuates. I was attracted by this when watching
! Above: A Midwinter Night’s Dream Right:Three Fools Far right: Following Darkness
! Roaslind Lyons rehearsals, observing actors shift between self and impersonation, between different realities and identities. When they are not acting they – metaphorically and often literally – melt into the shadows. I am interested too in the physical and symbolic threshold between ‘on’ and ‘off’-stage, the transformation inherent in an actor moving from the wings onto the stage, assuming another self and another identity. Particularly evocative is the fact that actors were colloquially known as shadows in the Elizabethan playhouses – suggesting something unknowable and insubstantial. In the Prologue to Henry V, Shakespeare has the Chorus describe the players as ‘ciphers’, implying deception and secrecy. Artists in the past who have tackled Shakespeare have generally produced images that directly illustrate the text, or represent famous actors or scenes from a particular performance. Today, as well as on the stage, Shakespeare’s plays are frequently re-imagined Above:These Two Creatures in very successful film and TV adaptations, but I have struggled to find more than a handful of contemporary fine artists who have engaged with Shakespeare on any level. Perhaps Shakespeare as a subject is seen by some as too traditional, too ‘popular’ or simply just too ‘old’. But in the theatre and in literature, there is an ever-increasing enthusiasm for innovative interpretations of the plays, and for me Shakespeare is a constant inspiration. The Prologue of Henry V also urges the audience to “Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts”, to liberate the imagination and create another kind of reality, to shape our own fantasies within the “wooden O” of the theatre. In my paintings, I endeavour to do the same.
Explore the work of Rosalind Lyons at www.rosalindlyons.com
Below:There’s Magic In Thy Majesty
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! Aidan O’Reilly
Looking for Richard: Aidan O’Reilly is playing Shakespeare’s baddest monarch.
Aidan O’Reilly is an actor with an inspiring story. Legally blind since he was six months old, he forged a passion for drama at an early age. Aidan went on to gain a BA with honours from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, before touring for three years with the American Shakespeare Center. In 2012, Aidan was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare cancer. He bounced back in 2014 after intensive treatment, and is now cancer-free. We spoke to Aidan as he prepared to play the title role in Richard III for California’s Marin Shakespeare Company. We asked him to share his story, and to give us his take on one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating characters.
Interview by Jen Richardson
You are legally blind, having been diagnosed with retinoblastoma as an infant. How did this impact on your acting aspirations and early career?
“My parents did a good job raising me. I never grew up thinking of it as a handicap, or thinking it could hold me back from what I wanted to do. I couldn’t play sports at all, so I think my parents were grateful that I had something that I was passionate about from a very young age. “I went to a public elementary school with a program designed for the blind, so it felt very natural for me to be the way that I was. And acting has always been part of that.”
You went to RADA in London. Was there a reason why you wanted to train in England and not in the US?
“It’s always been an ambition of mine to travel as far and wide as possible. Also, my hero growing up was Peter O’Toole – I read his autobiography in high school and learned he had gone to RADA, and decided I wanted to go there too. So I auditioned there, not knowing that RADA is arguably the best drama school in the English-speaking world. Consequently, I was quite relaxed at the audition which is probably why I got in. My ignorance can sometimes serve me well. Going to RADA was a life-changing
! Aidan O’Reilly “Peter O’Toole was my hero. He went to RADA so I wanted to go there too” Three years ago, you were diagnosed with sarcoma. How did you overcome this enormous challenge and return to the stage in 2014?
“The only reason I’m still alive is because of my mother, Lily, and my wife, Jocelynn. Also, I was fortunate that we caught it before it had spread and it was on my leg and away from any major organs. “I am very grateful for my team of doctors at UCSF who did an incredible job in my treatment and follow-up care. I’m glad to be back to work.” You’re now due to play Richard III with Marin Shakespeare Company. How’s it going so far?
experience. I was lucky enough to have contact with brilliant professors, and I’m still in awe of the students I went to school with. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.” After graduating from RADA, you went on the road with the American Shakespeare Center. Tell us a bit about that.
“That was one of the happiest times of my life. In many ways, I got spoiled. I was a working actor 11 months out of the year, touring nationally, seeing parts of the US I had never been to before, doing plays I loved and working with directors who were vehemently faithful and respectful to the text. When I wasn’t on the road, I was in residence at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia with many extraordinary actors. I was very lucky to be there.”
Aidan believes that Richard III’s obsession with control is what causes his downfall.
“At this point, I’m in the paperwork stage of things. A lot of reading, the Henry VIs, biographies of Richard, as well as performance history of the play itself. I’m doing a fair amount of limping around my apartment as well. I can’t wait to get into rehearsals next week.” Tell us about Marin Shakespeare Company and what appealed to you about working with them.
“Robert and Lesley [Currier, MSC’s Artistic Director and Managing Director] are fascinating people. Their intelligence and humour is contagious. Without question, there is a lot to be learned from them.”
Richard III’s remains were discovered in 2012, and reburied this year. Is all the new information about Richard influencing your portrayal?
“Yes and no. My job isn’t to play the historical Richard, but the Richard that Shakespeare has
Aidan O’Reilly created. It’s helpful to know the facts of the situation in order to gain insight into what has been changed in Shakespeare’s version of events. “I met with a friend of mine who is a retired surgeon who walked me through the medical information that has come to light on Richard’s body, and I will certainly use that to inform my physical choices.”
For as horrible as Richard is, it’s amazing to see how audiences relate and respond to him.” Which other important themes do you feel Shakespeare deals with in the play?
“The history plays are full of extraordinary people who waste their lives and intelligence, who sacrifice their humanity in pursuit of the crown. It’s still happening today. What is the attraction of power? Richard never pauses to think of why he wants the crown, or if he’d be any good as king. Turns out he’s not, but it’s this bizarre obsession with control that propels him to kill everyone off that’s in his way. It’s also fascinating that the one character that is consistently kind to Richard is his father, York. “I think an argument can be made that Richard, in his warped way, is trying to live up to the image he has of his father. Of course, York is dead and gone by the time Richard III begins, but you can glean a lot about Richard’s inner workings in the way he speaks about his father. Of course, it’s foolish to try to answer questions that Shakespeare doesn’t, and I’m not trying to say this solves a mystery, but I think it’s interesting. It’s only an element, it’s not the answer.”
Unlike many actors, you’re the right age to play the historical Richard III. Do you feel Richard’s relative youth has been overlooked?
“I do. Richard is a young man who believes he is hardened by the experiences he and his family endured during the War of the Roses, and believes himself to be beyond human emotions and the ‘restrictions’ of a conscience. He isn’t. He pays the bill for the horrible things he does. That lack of selfknowledge is not exclusive to youth, but I feel it makes him more sympathetic and relatable to an audience.” Some people think Richard III shows Shakespeare delivering a highly effective piece of Tudor propaganda. Where do you stand on that?
“I think Shakespeare has a soft spot for outsiders and underdogs. Although his plays sometimes work within the confines of the biases of Elizabethan society, he can’t help but make his ‘villains’ fascinating human beings.
Crowning glory: Aidan with Marin Shakespeare’s Robert Currier.
Richard III is listed as a historical play in the First Folio, but in the quarto edition it is termed a tragedy. Which category would you put the play in, and why?
“I think of the history plays from Richard II to Richard III as one vast play, an epic that encompasses all the categories. I think if you look at Richard’s progression through those plays, you see a great mind warped by the War of the Roses and that certainly adds to the tragic element. I think of Richard III as the final chapter of a great epic.”
Aidan O’Reilly stars in Marin Shakespeare Company’s Richard III from 4-27 September SHAKESPEARE magazine!
Brian Ferguson as Hamlet in the Citizens Theatre production. Photo by Tim Morozzo.
Billy William Shakespeare is undoubtedly England’s Bard. But how is he viewed north of the border? Our Caledonian correspondent surveys the state of Shakespeare in Scotland, and meets esteemed outdoor theatre company Bard in the Botanics. Words: Paul F Cockburn
owards the end of May this year, a BBC Scotland afternoon news bulletin surprisingly turned its attention to a forthcoming production of “one of William Shakespeare’s best loved plays” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. However, this particular production wasn’t considered newsworthy because it came from an amateur group based in Dumfries and Galloway. Not even that the Crossmichael Drama Club were one of just seven amateur Scottish groups taking part in the Royal
Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project, which aims to help amateur companies extend their repertoires. No, the ‘hook’ was how this new production was Shakespeare, “but no as you micht ken it”. Because it had been reimagined, in Scots, as A Midsimmer Nicht’s Dreme. As it happens, writer John Burns says that his principle reason for translating A Midsimmer Nicht’s Dreme was simply the intuition that it being in Scots would work to the benefit of the production. “It’s not
! Scotland Shakes
so much that 16th century English can’t do certain things, more that using Scots brings it closer to a Scottish audience, and to audiences who might think Shakespeare too fancy,” he says. “I feel too that Scots can catch the sheer physical power of Shakespeare’s language. He writes lines you really feel physically when you say them out loud. My intention was to use Scots to produce a text that was actable, and which would be accessible and enjoyable for the audience, and the Scots was a major part of that.” Arguably, translating Shakespeare into Scots – viewed by many as a distinct language from English – is just one way of finding the continued relevancies of Shakespeare’s writing with the here and now. Certainly, John Burns was keen to see if Scots “could match the way Shakespeare switches tone… from broad, at times bawdy, humour to moments that are more serious or even sinister.” Yet there is a wider perspective, whether we’re discussing translation into Scots or saying Shakespeare’s words with a Scottish accent. Willy Maley and Andrew Murphy, in their introduction to Shakespeare and Scotland (published by Manchester University Press in 2004), go as far as describing the translation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth into
A tartan-clad Antipholus and Dromio in Bard in the Botanics’ The Comedy of Errors.
Brian Ferguson’s Hamlet, Citizens Theatre production. Photo by Tim Morozzo.
Scots as “a patriotic act”, not least because of “the political commitment implicit in translating from English to Scots, reversing the dominant dubbing practice in films.” Glasgow-based novelist and playwright Alan Bissett – who actively campaigned for a Yes vote during last year’s Independence Referendum – has since written about how, since the 1970s, Scottish theatre had “a deep engagement with the shifting beast of Scottish politics”. Although Bissett was focusing primarily on original works by Scottish playwrights and directors, it’s worth pointing out that Shakespeare – despite there being absolutely no evidence to prove he ever travelled north of Carlisle – has played his own part in this. As Maley and Murphy point out: “Scotland… never had precisely the same relationship with the Bard as England has, but has experienced a fraught process of appropriation, incorporation, and resistance.” In part, this is because Shakespeare – in his latter career – was among the first ‘British’ writers. Many of his later plays – Cymbeline, King Lear, even Hamlet – were produced
under the patronage of Scotland’s King James VI (aka James I of England). Each, in their own way, can be said to touch on “the matter of Britain”, the complex relationship between the constituent elements of James’s new ‘united’ kingdom, which the Stuart monarch was determined to see joined into one. That never quite happened, of course. Even after the 1707 Act of Union, Scotland retained its own legal, educational and religious systems, along with an accompanying sense of Scottish identity – which survived even the height of the British empire. Yet from the 1970s on, there have been notable changes in how Shakespeare is treated by Scotland’s producing theatre companies. Several years ago, Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre delivered a powerful Romeo and Juliet in part because of their decision to set the action in a present-day, sectarian West of Scotland – with accents to match. “English-accented Shakespeare carries a specific resonance in Scotland, one that directors usually choose to avoid,” points out Mark Fisher, a freelance journalist, critic and author of the forthcoming book How to Write About Theatre. “I’m not sure exactly when attitudes started to change, but I’d say the argument in favour of Scottish-accented productions had been pretty much won by the 1990s. By that time, companies such as Raindog and directors such as Hamish Glen had been making a point of casting very Scottish productions of Shakespeare.” One example of how things had progressed, even by 1992, was the late Kenny Ireland’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his first as Artistic Director at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum. “He cast the mechanicals with Scottish accents and everyone else with English accents,” Mark Fisher explains. “This, I said in my review, was a fundamental error – or some such phrase. The message it sent out was that people with Scottish accents were foolish figures of fun, whereas people with English accents were serious figures of respect. “Ireland reacted furiously to my review
Owen Whitehaw as the Fool and David Hayman as Lear in Citizens Theatre’s King Lear. Photo by Tim Morozzo.
and made the case that he had based the casting of the mechanicals around (the actor) Andy Gray, who has a Scottish accent. In other words, the meaning I inferred had not been deliberate. I think it’s true to say, however, that Ireland never cast a Shakespeare like that again.” Gordon Barr is Artistic Director of Glasgow-based Bard in the Botanics, Scotland’s only professional Shakespeare company (see following pages). “We’ve never gone out of our way to make Scottish versions of these texts, nor have we gone out of our way to have classical traditional voices,” he says. “Most of our core actors have made their careers up here, so we think of them as Scottish actors. “That is important to us, to not overly look outwards for the acting company. As much as possible, we work with people who are based in Scotland. We’re regularly producing Shakespeare here, and we want to be a part of the training to ensure that there is a range of strong classical actors here.”
Ֆ Citizens Theatre www.citz.co.uk
! Scotland Shakes
Out of the Garden
This year has seen Glasgow’s Bard in the Botanics do something completely unexpected.They went out on a tour of – whisper it! – indoor venues…
ouring is something that we have wanted to do for years, but was something that we could not afford to do without funding,” says Gordon Barr, Artistic Director of Scotland’s only professional outdoor Shakespeare festival, Bard in the Botanics. If there’s any irony attached to the company’s first major tour of Scotland, which took place in early 2015, it’s that the performances of their acclaimed Romeo and Juliet – featuring a cast of five – were played exclusively indoors. “Nobody is touring classical theatre in Scotland at the minute, so it’s important to us,” Barr adds. “Our work is so much about accessibility. One of the joys of being outdoors is that people come to see the work who wouldn’t buy a ticket for a theatre. If you can bring a picnic, sit out on the grass while watching the show, it feels easier, more accessible. But people can’t come from Thurso to Glasgow for a night just to see a production of Shakespeare. They should be able to see it in Thurso. So that is kind of where the urge to tour came from.” Bard in the Botanics has presented outdoor Shakespeare within the grounds of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens since 2003. This year’s ‘Unlikely Wonders’ season presented new productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in ‘rep’ between 24 June and 1 August. The company’s founder Scott Palmer, Barr explains, had done a lot of his training at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the
Bard in the Botanics’ As You Like It takes Rosalind and Orlando into the open air.
biggest in North America. “With the kind of drive and enthusiasm that only Americans have, he managed to convince the entire city of Glasgow that outdoor Shakespeare would work, and that the weather wasn’t going to be a problem!” Two years later, Palmer moved on and Barr – originally involved as a director – succeeded him as Artistic Director. “If anyone then had said that I would end up spending 12 years running an outdoor Shakespeare festival, I wouldn’t have believed them,” he says, in his office hidden behind some of the Botanics’ gardening sheds. “I very quickly fell in love with it once I started working here. Despite all the trials and tribulations that outdoor theatre in Scotland brings with it, there’s just something magical and special about it. It’s a very close-knit company, and that’s sort of kept us all here as long as we have been.” While the annual summer season of Shakespeare plays in the Botanics will remain at the centre of what the company does – “Otherwise, Bard in the Botanics becomes a rather strange name” – Barr is very much
focused on building on the touring side. “Because it was our first ever tour, we did end up taking Romeo and Juliet to the established Scottish touring circuit,” he adds. “It takes a while to build up relationships with the smaller venues; that’s going to be an ongoing process for us. Even so, we were taking Romeo and Juliet to places like Mull and Stranraer – communities and venues that haven’t had a lot of classical theatre coming through them.” The choice of play was deliberate too. “It was a production that was ready to go, which had received five star reviews and sold out its extended run in the Botanics in 2012. So we knew that the work was good, but there’s no doubt that, for a first tour, we wanted to make it easier for the venues to sell it. Most venues know they can find an audience for Romeo and Juliet.” In time, he hopes that audiences around the rest of Scotland will come to trust the Bard in the Botanics name sufficiently to take on the less familiar plays. “You just don’t know how quickly a community is going to turn out for Henry IV yet,” he says. “Hopefully, three or four tours down the line, they’re going to turn out for Bard in the Botanics – and if it happens to be
Rosalind and Audrey in the forest: Bard in the Botanics’ As You Like It.
Henry IV, well, that’s great.” Given their reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as a 1920s burlesque musical, is there a particular Bard in the Botanics approach to Shakespeare? “Our kind of unofficial motto is: ‘Be Bold, Be Brave’,” Barr says. “If we’re continuing to stage these plays around 400 years after Shakespeare’s death, I think there’s an urgency to ask ‘Why?’ It is important to question ‘What is the story that we want to tell?’ I want to see how these plays intersect with history and today’s society, not to present museum pieces. “It’s always with an eye to try to release something that’s within the text,” Barr insists. “We’re not remotely interested in innovation for innovation’s sake. The plays are masterpieces, that’s essentially why we’re still doing them 400 years later. But to reveal something that’s unexpected or new, that’s important to us.”
Bard in the Botanics www.bardinthebotanics.co.uk SHAKESPEARE magazine!
Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory stf 2016 Season co-production with Tobacco Factory Theatres ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL By William Shakespeare Directed by Andrew Hilton Main run Thu 31 March – Sat 23 April 2016 In repertoire with Hamlet Thu 28 – Fri 29 April; Sat 30 April
A young woman, using skills bequeathed her by her father, saves the French King’s life and is rewarded with the right to choose her own husband. But what if the chosen one won’t play the game? How can she get him into bed? How can she make him love her?
Dorothea Myer Bennett in Richard III
By William Shakespeare Directed by Andrew Hilton Main run Thu 11 February – Sat 26 March 2016 In repertoire with All’s Well That Ends Well Mon 25 – Wed 27 April; Sat 30 April 2016
“... There is something approaching real magic here.” The Arts Desk on The School for Scandal
The most famous play in world drama, Hamlet turns a new face to every decade. So many elements - political, madness, sex, murder – all brought together in a drama that is both a thriller and the profoundest meditation on our human condition. “Thrilling work” The Guardian on Romeo & Juliet “Bullseye” WhatsOnStage on Romeo & Juliet
Benjamin Whitrow and Julia Hills in The School For Scandal
Photos: Mark Douet
Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory Friends Priority Booking opens Wed 23 September 10am www.stf-theatre.org.uk Tobacco Factory Theatres Members Priority Booking opens Wed 16 September 10am www.tobaccofactorytheatres.com Public Booking opens Wed 30 September 10am Tobacco Factory Box Office: 0117 902 0344
“For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” – Polonius (Hamlet)
At Scribbelicious we are all about the words! Wear your love for literature on your sleeve and close to your heart.
Made in our studio at the bottom of Hope Mountain in North Wales, each of the real page fragment pendants is unique, made from salvaged old books, many over a century old. The beautiful old paper is sealed under glass and placed inside silver-plated, bronze or sterling silver settings. We also turn Shakespeare’s words into eye-catching designs, which are printed onto specialist paper and sealed under glass. Our Shakespeare jewellery can be found at the Royal Shakespeare Company gift shop in Stratford-upon-Avon and at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, as well as online at www.scribbelicious.com. Please contact us if you would like to discuss a custom order. Email: email@example.com
! Shakespeare video games Having conquered Hollywood and vanquished the global entertainment industry, video games now I\IVXEQEWWMZIMR¾YIRGI on our culture. So where does the Bard stand in all of this? We sent a Shakespeare scholar to investigate… Words: Andrew Bretz
Silent Hill is one big-name game which includes Shakespeare references.
Shakespeare video games
hen you walk into the wood panelled Victorian Gothicism of the Gail Kern Paster Reading Room at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, video games are probably the last thing on your mind. Buried deep within the archives, however, are a set of fragile cardboard figures printed in Germany in the early 1800s representing each of the main characters of Macbeth. Nineteenth century German children would play with these figures on small cardboard stages, no bigger than a dollhouse. They could replicate the story as it was told in Shakespeare, or use their imagination to change the ending, letting Lady Macbeth survive and bringing Duncan back from the dead, if they so chose. The limits of the game were the limits of their imagination. Today, the ‘gamification’ of Shakespeare is a big business, from Ryan North’s chooseyour-own-adventure edition of Hamlet, To Be Or Not To Be, to IDW Games’s upcoming Kill Shakespeare board game, based on the comic of the same name. Gamifying Shakespeare is filtering into schools, libraries, and the theatrical world as well, with the University of California at Davis, the Stratford Festival in Ontario, the Globe Theatre in London and the London Metropolitan Archives all experimenting with video game elements in exhibits, productions and research. Why video games? In a sense, this is the logical next step in the media development of Shakespeare. He’s everywhere in other media: books, movies, merchandise. But video games? The answer for that depends on who you ask...
Occasionally, individuals or publishing houses develop video games that try to tell the story of, say, Hamlet, yet this is relatively rare. One example would be Elsinore, a timelooping narrative adventure game set in the world of the play. Players play the game as
German cardboard TPE]½KYVISJ0EH] Macbeth dating from the early1800s.
Hamlet reimagined: Ryan North’s To Be Or Not To Be.
Ophelia, who wakes up knowing that in four days the entire court will be dead and she must do something to stop it. The problem is that she is stuck in a time loop, reliving the same four days over and over again. That said, Shakespeare’s presence in the video game industry tends to be focused on citation rather than adaptation of the plays. That is, video games for Xbox, Playstation, and other popular gaming systems often just cite Shakespeare’s plays as a part of a common cultural heritage. These games don’t restage, say, Hamlet, but they quote the play. In these cases, Shakespeare is used to establish a point of identification for the audience. His writing tells the audience something about the character or the situation. Given that audiences are supposed to be able to identify the quotations as Shakespearean, it is unsurprising that Hamlet is the most popular text for game designers to cite. In The Elder Scrolls Online, for instance, a merchant NPC (non-player character) quotes Polonius when players interact, saying “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”. The words establish the NPC’s role as a merchant, while fitting the medieval world of the game. In the game LA Noire, upon picking up a fake shrunken head at a crime scene, a detective leaps into high melodrama with, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio”. The quotation and the clever voice acting establish SHAKESPEARE magazine!
! Shakespeare video games example, Daniel Fischlin at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada led a team that created a Flash game called ’Speare. It’s a scrolling arcade-style game suggesting the ’80s hit Galaga, which sees players identifying and navigating through a series of enemies who turn into words upon being destroyed. The player progresses through the levels by collecting the correct words to create Shakespearean quotes, learning Shakespearean trivia along the way. the character’s strait-laced, yet macabre, sense of humour. Sometimes citing Shakespeare is a part of a critique of a larger theme. In the game Mass Effect, the Elcor are a race of elephantine aliens who preface all statements with a description of the emotion they are feeling and who speak in a slow, monotonous drone. As players interact with the expansive world they can discover a number of advertisements for an all-Elcor Hamlet. The idea of the Elcor actor – the ultimate in a flat, wooden performer – having to preface “To be or not to be” with “morose rumination” goes beyond the simple humour of a bad Shakespeare performance. It subtly asks what it is about acting (and especially voice acting) that is valuable. Shakespeare can appear in video games, not merely as a marker or contextualisation tool, but as a part of a puzzle. For example, in the game Silent Hill 3, players must arrange a set of Shakespeare anthologies on a bookshelf in an abandoned shopping mall in order to proceed in the game. At the hardest level, the puzzle clue takes the form of a poem that references all the major tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello and, of course, Hamlet. The bloody nature of the tragedies fits with the bloody nature of the Silent Hill series of games, which fall into the survival horror genre. Popular video games have also served as the inspiration for games that engage with Shakespeare in a more direct way. For
Four days to save the Danish court: Elsinore.
Another Hamlet reference, this time in LA Noire.
One of the most exciting aspects of video games is the ability to immerse the player in the world of the game in a way that other media simply cannot do. Being able to walk around Prospero’s cell, Juliet’s balcony, or to stand before the ghost of Hamlet’s father as he cries out “List, list, O list!” – these experiences are made possible through video game technology. Students of Scenic Arts at the University of Hildesheim in Germany created Projekt ARIEL or SturmMOD in 2008, using a ‘mod’ (or modification) to the engine that runs the game Far Cry 1. The performance art project allowed users to experience Prospero’s island, interacting with certain parts and exploring others. Players could walk around an imaginative rendition of Prospero’s cell and witness or interact with elements of the play including different characters like Caliban, Prospero and Miranda.
Shakespeare video games
Silent Hill 3: Brush up your Shakespeare if you want to survive.
Gina Bloom at the University of California at Davis is presently spearheading a project that will be demonstrated in the lobby of the Stratford Festival theatre in Ontario, Canada this summer. The project, Play the Knave: A Shakespeare Performance Videogame, lets users design a virtual performance space and then perform a scene from a Shakespeare play, inhabiting this constructed space with an avatar. As a Davis insider explains: “We use a kinect motion capture camera to capture the user’s skeletal data so that players use their entire bodies to control their avatar’s gestures onscreen, all the while reciting the lines from Shakespeare’s scene”. This literally immerses the players in the scene. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London took another tactic regarding immersion in the production of the game Hemmings’ Play Company. Hosted on the Playground portion of the Globe’s website, and thus aimed at an audience of children, the game has players taking on the role of Hemmings, an Elizabethan bear, who leads a troupe of theatrical animals such as Kit the Cat, Dekker the Dog, and Slye the Fox. The turn-based game leads players through the vagaries of Elizabethan theatre practice, from patronage to lost props and the plague. By the end of the game, players must earn enough money to rebuild the Globe after it burns down during a performance of Henry VIII. Also from Shakespeare’s Globe are two innovative video experiences created for children aged five to 11. The first, Exploring
Hemmings’ Play Company from Shakespeare’s Globe.
Shakespeare, features two boys on a tour of the Globe theatre who sneak off to explore backstage. The video illustrates four plays using short animations that are keyed to things the boys find backstage. The technology combines live action film and animation to create an interactive, touchable game. Filled with mini-games, quizzes and interesting facts about Shakespeare, the game allows players to click through the narrative or to stop and learn more as they go along. The second video, called Staging It, uses the same technology as the first film, but this time is for the 11-16 age group. In this game, The Globe has filmed two actors performing famous duologues from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth on the Globe stage. Rather than shoot it once, the actors have performed their lines in different ways (happy, flirtatious, defensive and so on), creating several different clips per line. Players can watch each of the clips and add their choice to a dynamic storyboard to build up their final scene. Impressively, the platform allows for up to 1,000,000 different combinations of clips.
Apps and Mini-Games
It’s when you start to look outside of the realm of popular video game platforms like Xbox or Playstation, that Shakespeare
! Shakespeare video games really starts to pop up wherever you look. The ubiquity of Shakespeare is especially noticeable when you start to look at apps and mini-games designed for phones and tablets. In 2012, Big Fish Games released an iPhone and iPad game called Hamlet! that featured all the main characters of Shakespeare’s play, but transposed them into a save-the-princess narrative puzzle game. A time traveller lands in Denmark and accidentally kills Hamlet, and so players must complete his journey for him, saving Ophelia and killing Claudius. The Shakespearean content is minimal and heavily adapted, and yet it fits with the puzzle format in which Shakespeare tends to be found in video games. The Chronicles of Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet and The Chronicles of Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream are lusciouslyillustrated puzzle games for the PC. In them, players act as one of the characters from the plays, gathering items and clues through a Shakespearean environment. Among the literally thousands of apps related to Shakespeare that can be found for the iPad or Android tablet are: " The Shakespearean Insult Creator, which generates invectives drawn from a wholly Shakespearean vocabulary. So, next time you want to call someone a jerk, try something more like “Thou fusty, follyfallen, fustilarian!” " The Shakespeare Translator, which translates “normal English words and phrases into the words of Shakespeare himself.” " The Shakespeare Fortune Cookie, which provides short quotes from the plays and a small trivia game. " Shakespeare or Die, a game that scrambles the words of famous quotations from the plays and asks you to identify the play and character who spoke the line. If you make a mistake, however, beware the witches! These apps are either explicitly games or they are coming out of a game-like impulse to make Shakespeare more accessible to everyone with an internet connection.
Hamlet! is a Shakespearethemed puzzle from Big Fish Games.
’Speare is a scrolling arcade-style game with added Shakespeare trivia.
Brave New Worlds?
In a world where Shakespeare is an industry counted in the millions of dollars per year, it is so easy to forget that Shakespeare’s plays are just that – plays. There is a sense of joy and fun and happiness embedded in the experience of watching them. Games are one of the ways that people over the centuries have tried to recapture that elusive sense of playfulness within Shakespeare. So it makes perfect sense that now, with the advent of digital technologies, Shakespeare is moving into the digital world with a vengeance. From big studio games like The Elder Scrolls to small apps that can be downloaded for free, from talking bears to immersive performance experiences, Shakespeare is everywhere in video games. Rather than being an undiscovered country into which the Bard is only just beginning to emerge, games have in fact engaged with Shakespeare and his works for hundreds of years. And they will probably continue to do so for hundreds of years to come.
The Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest repository of Shakespeareana and English Renaissance books, manuscripts, and objets d’art. Nobody alive knows XLIPMFVEV]FIXXIVXLER7TIGMEP4SPMGI3J½GIV0X2SVQER&PEPSGOLI´WFIIRKYEVHMRK 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
Helen Mears fell into bardolatry
Paul F Cockburn is an Edinburgh-
Rosalind Lyons is a painter who
during her teenage years and has based freelance magazine journalist has exhibited widely in both mixed never recovered. She is a volunteer who specialises in writing about and solo shows, with work in UK steward at Shakespeare’s Globe, arts and culture, equality issues and and international private collections. which ensures a regular diet of the popular science. He’s sufficiently A life-long love of Shakespeare is Bard. She teaches English, Film and grey-haired for his English Literature reflected in many of her paintings, Media at Suffolk New College and is training to have sort of overlapped and a particular recent focus is a specialist in teaching Shakespeare with The BBC Television Shakespeare Shakespeare’s Globe theatre where she using active methods. Her favourite project, saving at least some of the spent a period as artist-in-residence. Shakespearean actor is Jamie Parker plays from death by academia. She is currently studying for a PhD and her favourite plays are the Second Find him on Twitter @paulfcockburn in Painting and Shakespearean History Tetralogy. She hopes to Theatre at Anglia Ruskin University finish her Masters in the Advanced in Cambridge. Teaching of Shakespeare very soon. Find her on Twitter @roslyons Find her on Twitter @hipster_hels
Meet thy makers...
Just some of the contributors to this issue of Shakespeare Magazine
Jen Richardson first fell in love with
Shakespeare as a 15-year-old schoolgirl: “He got under my skin, and he’s still there today”. After training with a Manchesterbased drama tutor, she went on to pursue an acting career. Drama remains a great interest, but her focus is now on sharing her passion for Shakespeare through her writing. In her spare time, Jen is generally down in Stratford-upon-Avon, sitting on her favourite bench behind Holy Trinity Church. Find her on Twitter @The_JenJen
Andrew Bretz is a sessional instructor
of English Literature and Drama, specialising in early modern drama. He has taught at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, Brock University and McMaster University. For the past two years he has taught a special summer intensive at Ontario’s Stratford Festival. His PhD dissertation was on the representation of sexual violence on the early modern stage. Find him on Twitter @AndrewBretz001
“Be bloody, bold, and resolute...” MACBETH
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard MRXLI7LEOIWTIEVI½PQIZIRXSJ
LOVE, SEX & SHAKESPEARE...
“We will always be haunted by the question ‘What inspired Shakespeare’s greatest poetry?’ In her captivating debut novel, Andrea Chapin offers a brilliant solution...” James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare
Published in the UK by Penguin on 26 March, £7.99
PASSION IN PRACTICE
FRESH APPROACHES TO ACTING SHAKESPEARE Original Pronunciation Cue-scripts Physical training Workshops and Consultancy
Shakespeare Magazine 08 celebrates the Shakespeare event of 2015: Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet. Our 10-page feature explores Benedict's Sha...
Published on Aug 31, 2015
Shakespeare Magazine 08 celebrates the Shakespeare event of 2015: Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet. Our 10-page feature explores Benedict's Sha...