At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
SHAKESPEARE Issue 9
From Henry V to Coriolanus: Say Hello to Shakespeare’s Secret Weapon!
James Shapiro on 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear
e u s s i l SpeciEa A M E N I C E H T T ARE A
P S E K A H S Ֆ
Coriolannus Hiddlesto finds his killer instinct
A movie epic w er Michael Fassbend ard and Marion Cotill
Shakespearean comedy from the crew Horrible Histories
Benedict Cumberbatch ! on the big screen
Duchess of Brittany. Wife of Henry IV. Queen of England. She is Joanna of Navarre. This is her unforgettable tale.
The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien is published by MIRA on 14 January 2016, priced £12.99 (Hardcover), £7.99 (eBook)
Welcome to Issue 9 of Shakespeare Magazine
Photo: David Hammonds
A few months ago I strolled into Bristol’s Odeon cinema, paid the princely sum of five pounds, took my seat in the front row, and settled down to watch Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the epic new film of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
One evening soon after, I drove to the Bristol Cineworld, where I sat enthralled by the NT Live screening of Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet. Around the same time, we could have seen brilliant Shakespeare spoof Bill in UK cinemas, while encore screenings of Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus were on the way. And screenings of Alex Hassell in Henry V and Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench in The Winter’s Tale were not too far behind. Apart from enjoying these films and screenings myself, I’ve also enjoyed seeing the often delighted reactions of Shakespeare fans all over the world. And I’ve learned some interesting facts along the way. Did you know that Cumberbatch’s Hamlet was screened in 85% of UK cinemas? And that its biggest single audience was in Bristol? Not the screening I was at, but the Vue cinema over at Cribbs Causeway, where a staggering eight screens were packed out. To celebrate the rise and rise of Shakespeare on screen, this issue’s cover star is the superb Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus. Let me also take the opportunity to wish you all a happy and rewarding 2016. Of course, it’s set to be another huge year for Shakespeare, so we’d better brace ourselves! Enjoy your magazine. Pat Reid, Founder & Editor
SHAKESPEARE Contents At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world
From Henry V to Coriolanus: Say Hello to Shakespeare’s Secret Weapon!
James Shapiro on 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear
l issue MA Specia ARE AT THE CINE
Coriolannus Hiddlesto finds his killer instinct
A movie epic with er Michael Fassbend and Marion Cotillard
Shakespearean comedy from the crew Horrible Histories
Benedict Cumberbatch on the big screen!
Shakespeare Magazine Issue Nine December 2015
Founder & Editor Pat Reid Art Editor Paul McIntyre Staff Writers Brooke Thomas (UK) Mary Finch (US) Contributing Writers Helen Mears Kayleigh Töyrä Chief Photographer Piper Williams Thank You Mrs Mary Reid Mr Peter Robinson Ms Laura Pachkowski Web Design David Hammonds Contact Us firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook facebook.com/ShakespeareMagazine Twitter @UKShakespeare Website www.shakespearemagazine.com Newsletter http://tinyletter.com/shakespearemag
Lord of war
The landmark that was Tom Hiddleston’s Donmar Warehouse Coriolanus.
“I play the man I am...”
How Shakespeare helped TVSZMHIXLIWSYPERH½VIJSV Hiddleston’s stellar career.
%JXIVXLSWIWIRWEXMSREP screenings, we look again at Cumberbatch’s Hamlet.
Mud, blood and fears
All the king’s men
A muscular Macbeth movie starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
World-renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro on his new book, 1606.
A series of funny misunderstandings
-X´WXLIJYRRMIWX7LEOIWTIEVI ½PQJSVEZIV]PSRKXMQI1IIX the people behind Bill.
Man and myth
“The glory of our art...”
Paul Edmondson re-examines 7LEOIWTIEVI´WPMJIERH[SVO
Gorgeous poster art book Presenting Shakespeare.
! Coriolanus Due to massive popular demand, Tom Hiddleston’s Donmar Warehouse Coriolanus recently made a triumphant return to cinemas around the world. Our US correspondent caught it on the FMKWGVIIR½VWXXMQIVSYRH
Words: Mary Finch Images: Johan Persson
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â€œHiddleston embodied the extremes, contrasting his gentle appearance and voice with the harsh and bloody events of the playâ€?
ast year in London, Donmar Warehouse’s staging of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus made headlines not only for a powerful production, but because British movie star Tom Hiddleston played the title role, continuing the trend of big film actors tackling the Bard. Set in a nondescript modern war zone, the design of the production heightened the violence of the language and the action. But being tall, athletic and charming, Hiddleston hardly seems like a brutal warhardened soldier. His portrayal of Hal and
Virgilia (Birgitte Hjort SØrensen) and Coriolanus (Tom Hiddleston).
Cominius (Peter De Jersey, left), Sicinia (Helen Schlesinger, above), Titus Lartius (Alfred Enoch, below).
Clockwise from left: Menenius (Mark Gatiss), Alfred Enoch in rehearsal, Brutus (Elliot Levey),Valeria (Jacqueline Boatswain).
“Actors remained on stage even when their characters were not in the scenes. The sparse set and costume design maintained a brutal simplicity”
Henry V in The Hollow Crown TV series easily fitted his intense youthful demeanor, but Coriolanus seemed a bit of a stretch. Indeed, most of his film experience has been playing the soft-voiced villain (such as Loki in Marvel blockbusters Thor and The Avengers) or the smooth-faced gentleman (for example, Sir Thomas Sharpe in the recent Crimson Peak). But director Josie Rourke knew what she was doing. As is the case for so many Shakespeare characters, Coriolanus is a constant contradiction and Hiddleston embodied the extremes in his performance, contrasting his gentle appearance and voice with the harsh and bloody events of the play. Coriolanus’ downfall is both his hardheaded pride and his compassion for his mother, Volumnia (Deborah Findlay). Because Hiddleston captured both aspects, the play truly felt tragic. His moments of intimacy with Virgilia (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) and Volumnia read as sincere as his roaring against the tribunes
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and plebeians. Hiddleston’s Coriolanus was adorably amusing as he solicited for voices from the fickle citizens, while also being viciously terrifying in his delivery of “I banish you!” The intimacy of the Donmar space translated smoothly to the cinema screen for those of us watching around the world. But it was unapologetically a piece of theatre. The actors remained on stage even when their characters were not in the scenes, and
the sparse set and costume design maintained a brutal simplicity. While Hiddleston’s performance made the character a success, the supporting cast made the production a success. Perhaps best known as Mycroft in Sherlock, Mark Gatiss played Menenius as the politician you could love, while the tribunes Brutus and Sicinia (Elliot Levey and Helen Schlesinger) lent an Iago-like conspiratorial feel to their conniving conversations. As much as the audience hated them, we couldn’t help being drawn into their plans. Almost a year since seeing the production, many moments remain seared in my mind. Coriolanus dripping blood after the battle, physically and emotionally exhausted. Menenius losing his unquenchable optimism and determination
Hiddleston’s Coriolanus at his blood-drenched zenith.
after his failed intervention with Coriolanus. Aufidius (Hadley Fraser) shrewdly eyeing his enemy and choosing to forge a vengeful alliance. Volumnia facing down her son when all the men have given up hope. Ultimately, this production proves that Coriolanus deserves a place among Shakespeare’s other great tragedies. And that Tom Hiddleston has the power to dominate the stage as well as the screen.
“I play the
man I am…”
With his 2013 portrayal of Coriolanus at London’s Donmar Warehouse, Tom Hiddleston was acclaimed as one of the world’s most exciting Shakespearean actors. However, the British star’s relationship with the Bard began much earlier in his career…
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“One critic described Hiddleston as riding Shakespeare’s verse like an Olympic horseman”
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! 4VS½PITom Hiddleston “British Shakespeare legend Kenneth Branagh cast Hiddleston as the villainous Loki in his Marvel adventure Thor”
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,MHHPIWXSRLEW TPE]IH0SOMMRX[S Thor½PQWERHMR FPSGOFYWXIV The Avengers
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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 Shakespeareâ€™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 Shakespeareâ€™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
! Hamlet Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet captured the popular imagination and ignited a global media frenzy.
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, director Lyndsey Turner’s Hamlet at London’s Barbican was the Shakespeare event of 2015. And then it was screened live to cinemas worldwide, which meant we all got to see what the fuss was about…
Sweet Prince Words: Kayleigh Töyrä
Hamlet is always going to be a tricky play to stage. Everyone, from theatre buffs to armchair Shakespeare scholars, has an idea of how Hamlet ought to be. Add an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch and naysayers start baying for blood – claiming his star quality detracts from the role, or that people are seeing the play for the ‘wrong’ reasons. Unquestionably droves of people flocked to London’s Barbican and to local cinemas to see Hamlet, but whether initial interest was because of Cumberbatch or not seems irrelevant – the production delivers a fresh and modern Hamlet. And, thanks to National Theatre Live broadcasting the play
Hamlet (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Laertes (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) in the eye of the rehearsal storm.
in cinemas, big productions like this are now becoming accessible to a much wider range of audiences. And the screenings of Hamlet were a stunning success, with box office takings running into the millions. Presented by Sonia Friedman Productions and directed by Lyndsey Turner, the play is immediately distinguished by Es Devlin’s beautiful set design. The stage is elegant and suitably cinematic in its detail, and the 360 degree filming means that NT Live audiences can fully appreciate the subtleties of staging. The ornate banquet table, the piano played by Ophelia (Siân Brooke), and the richly decorated walls evoke early twentiethSHAKESPEARE magazine
! Hamlet “Designed by Es Devlin, the stage is elegant and suitably cinematic in its detail”
century European decadence. We first meet the royal couple Gertrude (Anastasia Hille) and Claudius (Ciarán Hinds) hosting a lavish dinner party in their palace, with the commandeering Claudius goading Hamlet in front of preening courtiers. This socially privileged world becomes increasingly fragile as revolution threatens to blow it all to pieces. Huge piles of rubble fill its floors, while soldiers brandishing guns run up and down the palace stairs. Against this backdrop, Cumberbatch plays a Hamlet who never loses his
Sîan Brooke’s portrayal of Ophelia resonated powerfully with audiences.
dignity nor his intellectual poise. Indeed, Cumberbatch is charming as Hamlet, even when manipulating the earnest Horatio (Leo Bill). Only in the scene where Hamlet is playing with toy soldiers do we see him slightly unravelling, but he quickly composes himself. Though by no means light-hearted, the production provides ample opportunity for laughter in the humour of the foolish Polonius (Jim Norton) and the witty gravedigger (Karl Johnson). Anastasia Hille plays Gertrude superbly, capturing her divided loyalties, whereas Ciarán Hinds’s Claudius is dictatorial yet strangely attractive. Siân Brooke’s Ophelia is heartbreakingly delicate and creative, clutching a camera and snapping photos. Her affection for Hamlet seems immature and her descent into madness is pitiful – she slowly disappears from sight as she clambers over rubble. The onset of war and madness is not only mapped by the palace’s decay, but also by increasingly dishevelled appearances as imagined by costume designer Katrina Lindsay. Gertrude in particular loses her stately poise, ending up distraught in a silk nightie. Credit is also due to the trio of Jane Cox (lighting), Christopher Shutt (sound) and Jon Hopkins (music), who maintain the tempo throughout, deftly transporting us through the play’s charged scenes. The production offers a refreshing take on a famously complex play, giving us a Hamlet which reverberates with our recent 20thcentury history of dictators, war and madness. And just as refreshing is the way in which NT Live is bringing this all within reach of so many more would-be theatre-goers.
Hour-Long Shakespeare expertly abridged for performance and as an introduction to Shakespeare’s greatest plays
Henry IV, Part 1, Henry V AND Richard III VOL TWO Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth AND Julius Caesar VOL ONE
‘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
Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) broods over the bleak Scottish landscape,
Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth is a cinematic feast of majestic Scottish scenery and brutal Shakespearean violence. Words: Kayleigh Töyrä
eeing Macbeth on the big screen is rather a revelation. The potential of cinematically depicting the play’s rugged Scottish setting and pitched battles sets it on a different path from the more domestic explorations that have become current in theatres. This on-screen Macbeth is less about the twisted psychology of guilt, and more about the brutal Highland culture and the physical trappings of kingship. The initial battle scenes and the misty isolated village where Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) prays and waits for her husband, are in stark contrast
Fassbender and Cotillard as the regal Macbeths.
with the later vast cavernous palace and royal bedchamber. Despite its refined setting, Macbeth’s kingship offers him no respite – his crimes become more insidious, his mind more tortured. The film’s re-iteration of violence and blood makes for uncomfortable viewing. Yet the violence constantly intermingles with long lingering shots of the scenery, and beautiful music. Even battle scenes are filled with stylised shots, in a way that aestheticises the violence. In a similar way, the three screenwriters, Jacob Koskoff, Michael Leslie and Todd Louiso, maintain the aesthetics of Shakespeare’s words and the beautiful cadences of his verse. The brutality is poetic, never gratuitous. Michael Fassbender makes a stately, serious
MacbethI Fassbender’s Macbeth is every inch a battlehardened warrior.
“Duncan’s death is visceral and messy – the perfect embodiment of the horror of murderous ambition” SHAKESPEARE magazine
! Macbeth “Lady Macbeth’s languidness is mesmerising. She makes us feel the terror of Macbeth spinning out of control”
Macbeth who transforms from bloodstained warrior into evil tyrant. His Macbeth is attractively brooding and mysterious, though his apparent pleasure in burning Macduff’s family at the stake alienates him from the audience rather definitively. Marion Cotillard is beautiful as Lady Macbeth, though a few of her speeches lack energy and vigour. The interesting choice of starting the film with the Macbeths’ child’s funeral means that Lady Macbeth’s background is that of grief, not of blind ambition. Her languidness is mesmerising and, in her poised interactions with him, she makes us feel the terror of Macbeth spinning out of control. Eventually, the shock of Macbeth’s actions leaves Lady Macbeth speechless and she increasingly disappears from sight, dying quietly. The sexual chemistry between the two is convincing in its easy, familiar manner, and Macbeth holds her dead body like he once embraced her. Macduff is brilliantly played by Sean Harris, whose clipped heroism conveys his integrity as a staunch family man. In his final slaying of Macbeth in an epic sword battle, his pain of losing his family is transformed
Marion Cotillard’s nuanced portrayal of Lady Macbeth was widely praised.
into murderous rage. Similarly David Thewlis gives us the perfect King Duncan, noble yet diffident, whose death is visceral and messy – the perfect embodiment of the horror of murderous ambition. The witches (Seylan Baxter, Lynn Kennedy, Kayla Fallon and Amber Rissmann) are one of the film’s true triumphs. They appear and disappear in the fog like a dream and are a flawless blend of the supernatural and the earthly. The sense of female wisdom and regeneration, demonstrated by their growing brood, provides a thought-provoking counterbalance to the masculine powerbrokering of the Scottish kingdom. By giving young Fleance (Lochlann Harris) such a prominent role in the story’s ending, the film celebrates the witches’ powerful understanding. Just like the witches, it seems, the film hails the coming of the next generation, underlining the cyclical nature of a history fuelled by ambition and violence.
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
!S 9OU ,IKE )T s 4HE #OMEDY OF %RRORS (AMLET s (ENRY )6 0ART ) s *ULIUS #AESAR +ING ,EAR s ,OVES ,ABORS ,OST -ACBETH s 4HE -ERCHANT OF 6ENICE 4HE -ERRY 7IVES OF 7INDSOR ! -IDSUMMER .IGHTS $REAM -UCH !DO !BOUT .OTHING s /THELLO 2OMEO AND *ULIET s 4HE 4AMING OF THE 3HREW s 4HE 4EMPEST s 4WELFTH .IGHT 4HE 4WO 'ENTLEMEN OF 6ERONA
THE 30-MINUTE SHAKESPEARE is an acclaimed series of abridgments that tell the story of each play while keeping the beauty of
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.
! Interview: James Shapiro
James Shapiroâ€™s 1606 depicts Shakespeare at a creative crossroads during a troubled time for England.
Interview: James Shapiro
James Shapiro discovered so much about Shakespeare when exploring a single year, 1599, that he resolved to repeat the process. The result is a new book, 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear, that opens a window into Shakespeare’s stellar career as a King’s Man during the reign of James I.
Interview by Pat Reid Author photo by Mary Creggan
You’ve said that your Shakespeare journey began when you were visiting London in the late ’70s and you got hooked on watching Shakespeare plays – seeing literally hundreds of productions in the space of a few years. Is this what propelled your approach as an academic – taking Shakespeare studies out of the ivory tower and returning it to the sweaty cockpit of London’s theatreland?
“I’ve never really thought of those two sides of my identity – cultural historian and theatergoer – as quite
so separate as your question implies. They are really complementary. It’s true that I didn’t enjoy Shakespeare in high school and never took a Shakespeare course at university, and only became interested in Shakespeare after seeing scores of productions in the late ’70s and early ’80s in London and Stratford-uponAvon. But seeing those performances made me all the more eager to investigate the circumstances of their creation. I’ve spent the past three decades in archives on both sides of the Atlantic delving deeply into how those plays were a product of their times. Over the past few years I’ve summed the circle, and now spend
a good deal of my time advising theater companies about the cultural pressures that helped shape the plays.” When your book 1599 came out a decade ago, it felt like a periscope into the past. Readers like myself were excited and inspired by how it allowed us to imagine Shakespeare’s life and work in the context of a historical moment.
“I stumbled on the idea about writing about a single year quite by accident. I felt that I needed to learn everything I could about SHAKESPEARE magazine
! Interview: James Shapiro “James I didn’t really understand his English subjects, and couldn’t control Parliament as Elizabeth had” Shakespeare and his world – what he read, what was going on politically and economically at the time, how Shakespeare got to and from Stratford, even what the weather was like. I had to set a limit, of course, and the one I chose was chronological – stick to one year. I chose 1599 because that was the year in which the Globe Theatre was built. It took me 15 years to research and write that book, and by the end of that time I had a much clearer understanding of Shakespeare’s working conditions – and a finished manuscript that I could share with others equally curious about experiencing his world in this way.”
attempt to topple the king and destroy the royal family and the nation’s political and religious elite – the Gunpowder Plot – would leave deep scars. The great hopes for the Jacobean regime were all but over by the end of this year.”
In 1599 there was a strong sense of anxiety and paranoia about current events – the Spanish threat, unrest in Ireland, the Queen’s declining years – that fed into Shakespeare’s output during that time. In 1606, if anything, the situation in England is even worse?
“I began as one of those scholars who always spoke of Shakespeare as an Elizabethan, never fully acknowledging that he spent the last decade of his writing life as a King’s Man, in a playing company patronized by James himself. And in my book on 1599 I only reinforced the image of Shakespeare as an Elizabethan. So I’ve spent much of the last decade trying to make amends, first researching and presenting a three-hour BBC documentary on the Jacobean Shakespeare, then writing a book about a remarkable Jacobean year.”
“In retrospect, the crises of 1599 quickly passed. Within five years the Irish rebels were crushed, a peace treaty was signed with Spain, and the aging and childless Queen was succeeded by James VI of Scotland, who had a male heir and a spare – Prince Henry and Prince Charles. The problems of 1606 would not be resolved quite so easily. The Union of Scotland and England, which James so avidly promoted, would not occur for another century. The aftermath of that failed terrorist
You’ve been a prime mover in encouraging readers to think about the Jacobean Shakespeare who succeeded the Elizabethan one. For many of us it’s still a revelation that Shakespeare was not only alive during the Gunpowder Plot, but that in Macbeth he apparently penned a response to it…
It’s also staggering to think that Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and King Lear could all have been written in the same year. Would this have been mind-blowing for Shakespeare’s colleagues and
audiences? Or just business as usual in the rapid-turnover world of the Jacobean playhouse?
“If I recall correctly, Thomas Dekker wrote or collaborated on ten or more plays in 1599. Writing three plays a year was not unusual for Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists, nor had it been for Shakespeare from, say, 1595 to 1599… But the years between Hamlet and Lear were fallow ones for Shakespeare, in which he wrote one or at most two plays a year. He tended to write plays in inspired bunches (and would again in 161112 when he wrote three romances – Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest). We’re just fortunate that he found his footing in 1606 and wrote three remarkable – and quite different – tragedies.” As an addendum to the Shakespeare Authorship Question you addressed in the excellent Contested Will, I’ve noticed a growing number of people who’ve chosen to believe Shakespeare was a Catholic or Catholic sympathiser. What do you think about this? While researching 1606, did you find anything that might support or disprove this notion?
“Most of the evidentiary claims for the Catholic Shakespeare have been demolished of late. My own position is that we don’t and can’t know with any confidence what he professed. His religious beliefs remain hidden from us, and anyone
Interview: James Shapiro who claims otherwise is reading the life through the work, or projecting onto Shakespeare things they want to believe about him.”
meaning at this time – ‘individual’ is one – but those alterations typically take decades. It’s fascinating tracking these changes in the Oxford English Dictionary as well as in new scholarly tools like the database Early English Books Online.”
someone who shied away from company (at least according to reports by neighbors in Stratford-uponAvon). But a researcher in Edinburgh has recently unearthed a document How did your view of King from the 1640s that describes how James evolve while you Shakespeare (along with Ben Jonson were exploring 1606? Did he You’ve recently been involved and fellow actors Richard Burbage deserve the “wisest fool in in taking a production of and Laurence Fletcher “and the rest Christendom” tag that history Macbeth into prisons in New of their roistering associates in King has given him? York. This made me think two James’s time”) had “cut” his name on “That’s a great question. I remain things: how admirable to bring the paneling of the famous Tabard of two minds about James. I have Shakespeare to some of the Inn in Southwark. The discovery enormous respect for his intellect most disenfranchised people allows us to imagine a different sort and he was surely the best writer in the US – and weren’t you of Shakespeare – a popular actor ever to sit on the English throne. He afraid a riot would break out? who enjoyed drinking with friends, also handled the aftermath of the “Having spent a few afternoons in one who was happy to join them in Gunpowder Plot quite well, refusing prisons and jails of late, I’m struck carving autographs on the wall of a to listen to those who wanted to time and again by the graciousness favourite pub.” crack down on his Catholic subjects. that those who are incarcerated have But as smart as he was, James was extended to the actors. I’ve never felt also profligate, didn’t much enjoy threatened or scared. Jails, especially the day-to-day business of ruling ones like Rikers Island in New York, (preferring to let others handle that can be awful places to be imprisoned. Get James Shapiro’s new book while he spent his days hunting), and But the Public Theater’s Mobile wasn’t much of a husband or father. I Shakespeare Initiative, which visits could excuse all that if he had learned these facilities, has never had anything UK: published by Faber as how to become a better king, but by but the warmest reception. Like 1606: William Shakespeare and the end of 1606 it was clear that he all playgoers at good productions, the Year of Lear. didn’t really understand his English inmates are quickly engrossed. And subjects, didn’t know how to control unlike performances in the West End Parliament as Elizabeth had, and had or Broadway, in prisons the magic of USA: published by Simon failed to fulfill the high hopes the Shakespeare is never disrupted by the & Schuster as The Year of Lear: English had in him.” ringing of cell phones.” Shakespeare in 1606.
You’ve spoken eloquently about how the word ‘equivocation’ changed its meaning for Shakespeare between Hamlet and Macbeth. Did you encounter any other words that underwent similar transformations in or around 1606?
“It’s really unusual for the primary meaning of a word to undergo such a sea-change in so short a timespan as ‘equivocation’ did in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. There are other words that underwent shifts in
Macbeth is the only one of Shakespeare’s works to contain either the word ‘rhinoceros’ or the word ‘rhubarb’. What’s the most absurdly interesting thing about Shakespeare or his works you’ve learned from immersing yourself in 1606?
“Another great question. It would have to be a fresh discovery that changes our view of Shakespeare’s sociability. Until this past year, surviving anecdotes about Shakespeare often portray him as
! Bill “People will remember the name Shakespeare… twenty years from now!” Mathew Baynton as the overly-optimistic Bill Shakespeare.
A Series of Funny
Misunderstandings From the Horrible Histories crew, the brilliantly funny Bill½PQUYMGOP]FIGEQI IZIV]7LEOIWTIEVIJER´WJEZSYVMXI&EVHWTSSJ ;IXEPOIHXSXLIXEPIRXIHXIEQEFSYXXLIMV )PM^EFIXLERMRWTMVEXMSRW Words: Brooke Thomas
L Testing times for Bill Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe (Jim Howick, right).
aurence Rickard and Ben Willbond’s vision of Shakespeare couldn’t be further from Shakespeare in Love’s swaggering sex god artiste. He’s also very different from the mature playwright we know from the ubiquitous Chandos portrait. Bill is more of a naive and bumbling dreamer type – an Elizabethan Del Boy, if you will. He’s confident that this time next year his talent will have made the family rich. Even if he’s not quite sure what his talent is yet.
The Horrible Histories team channel true comedy greats in their first feature-length film. There are moments that echo Monty Python, others that are pure Mel Brooks on History of the World: Part I form, and plenty of stuff that’s unique to this delightful company. It’s a testament to the team’s comedic bravery that the title character, the great and wonderful Bard with a capital ‘B’, spends half of the film dressed as a tomato. Bill (Mathew Baynton) is a failed lute player. The band that throw him out, Mortal Coil, are more Mumford and Sons than ‘Greensleeves’, but even they can’t handle Bill’s idiosyncratic style. Much to the dismay of his wife Anne (Martha Howe-Douglas), Bill takes off for “that London” hoping to sell a play. The only problem is he can’t write for toffee and plague has closed the playhouses. Anne just wishes he’d grow up and get a real job.
Bill screenwriters and co-stars Ben Willbond and Laurence Rickard 8LI7LEOIWTIEVIUYSXIW GSQIXLMGOERHJEWXMRXLI JMPQ´WJMREPIFYXEVIXLIVI ER]VIJIVIRGIW]SYPSZIXLEX HMHR´XUYMXIQEOIMX# Laurence: “There was one that got cut from a really early scene. Bill’s talking to Anne on the hillside and it was just a really geeky thing, it was a detail I really remembered from school.When he said he was going to get another job, she said ‘Oh, you’re going to go work for your father, because people always need gloves.’ I love those rich little nuggets of history. I think there’s plenty in the film.” Ben: “There’s too much in the end. We couldn’t cram enough in, really.”
Bad guys Walsingham (Laurence Rickard, above) and King Philip II of Spain (Ben Willbond, below).
-J]SY[IVITYXXMRKSRE JYPPPIRKXL7LEOIWTIEVITPE] XSKIXLIV[LMGLSRI[SYPH ]SYGLSSWI# Ben: “I do like Much Ado. It’s perfect. It’s farcical, it has misunderstandings, highs and lows, assorted love stories…” Laurence: “I think that’d be good. I’d like to do a Merry Wives as well, because Falstaff is just…” Ben: “I was hoping that one day you’d give us your Hamlet.” Laurence: “I think you might have to keep hoping on that one. For the love of Shakespeare I will not do Hamlet.”
! Bill Multi-talented cast members Simon Farnaby, Jim Howick and Martha Howe-Douglas %WEGXSVWHMHMXJIIPEPMXXPIFMX [VSRKXSQEOIJYRSJXLIMGSRXLEX MW7LEOIWTIEVI# Simon: “No, not at all, because I think he would have approved. Shakespeare himself wrote historical plays and I’m sure not everything he said about, for example, King Richard III was true. He took dramatic licence and never let facts get in the way of a good story.We’ve kind of done the same with Shakespeare’s story… We fill in the gaps in a very creative and interesting way.” ;LEXHS]SYXLMRO]SYVWXEXMSRMR PMJI[SYPHFIMJ]SY[IVIEVSYRHMR )PM^EFIXLERXMQIW# Martha: “Collecting bodies.” Jim: “Probably a minstrel of some kind or a jester. I’d be some sort of servant man, maybe a messenger.” Simon: “I’d be a – probably a prostitute. I mean, it’s an easy way to make some money, you’d get to hang around the court a bit…” Martha: “I think you could be an innkeeper.” Simon: “Yeah!” -J]SYGSYPHTPE]ER]7LEOIWTIEVI GLEVEGXIV¯MREWMQMPEVGSQMGWX]PI to BillSVWXVEMKLX¯[LS[SYPH]SY GLSSWI# Jim: “Hamlet the Dane, I think.To give a sort of Horrible Histories interpretation of Hamlet would be quite fun.” Martha: “I like The Taming of the Shrew, so I wouldn’t mind giving that a bash.” Simon: “I’d like to do a comedic Richard III.” Jim: “Hasn’t that already been done?” Simon: “Has it? Who’s done it?” Jim: “I did it.” Simon: “You!” Jim: “But not a Shakespearean one.” Simon: “Yeah I’d actually do it, ‘Now is the winter of our discontent…’” Martha: “Well, now everybody’s heard that you never know, do you?” Simon: “Yeah, it might be snapped up.”
Anne Shakespeare (Martha Howe(SYKPEW ½RHW herself on a certain iconic London stage.
BillI Queen Elizabeth I (Helen McCrory) faces a dastardly Spanish plot.
Meanwhile, tension is growing between Elizabeth I (Helen McCrory) and King Philip II of Spain (Ben Willbond). The latter hatches a plot to kill the Queen and sails to England with a gang of villainous ne’er do wells. Before long, poor hapless Bill, his mentor Marlowe (Jim Howick), and long-suffering Anne are embroiled in the evil scheme. The play’s the thing to kill a queen, and Bill’s work is hijacked by the Spanish and their new accomplice the Earl of Croydon (Simon Farnaby). Even though the film is, of course, full of inaccuracies and anachronisms (the scheme to
kill Queen Elizabeth resembles the gunpowder plot that was aimed at her successor, for example) it’s also rife with nerdy easter eggs. Many of Shakespeare’s great works are quoted directly, and one of the funniest lines comes from Kit Marlowe arranging a meet-up at The Bull’s Head in Deptford. “It’s quite safe,” he says confidently. It’s silly, very silly, and there’s no time to catch your breath between jokes. At one point, on a beach strewn with bodies and with fear of a murderous regicidal plot seizing the country, Walsingham declares “The game is SHAKESPEARE magazine
! Bill “It’s a delightful comedy that has echoes of everything from Monty Python to Mel Brooks”
afoot!” while holding a disembodied leg. The death scene with the most heartstring-tugging potential is deflated by the best-timed ‘your mum’ joke in history. You’ll groan as often as you laugh, but that’s expected. The writers play up to it with knowing nods, and, alongside the more innovative humour, the groan-worthy puns manage to feel fresh. This ensemble is as used to playing multiple roles in a single piece as Shakespeare’s own actors would have been. It’s a true joy to watch them playing such a range of characters with such a dizzying array of silly accents. Although each and every character has stand-out moments, Walsingham, one of Larry Rickard’s parts, steals every scene he’s in, especially when he’s hiding. Songs are a staple for the Horrible Histories and ‘A Series of
Croydon (Simon Farnaby) seems to be doing an early version of Macbeth in Bill’s play.
Funny Misunderstandings’ brilliantly sends up Shakespeare’s comedic tropes. This is the rare kind of film that pretty much everyone can enjoy. Adults as well as kids, Shakespeare fans and people who don’t give a plague rat’s arse about Early Modern theatre. It’s a witty, irreverent send-up of all the period dramas we’ve seen before, as well as a unique comic story in its own right. A great family comedy and a unique addition to the every growing Shakespeare ‘lost years’ mythos. We hope that Bill isn’t the last Shakespeareinspired project this talented team take on.
Ever wished you could walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps? Now you can!
The Shakespeare Trail is published by Amberley Publishing, priced £20 hardback. It is available from bookshops, or you can order your copy online. ORDER NOW
! Interview: Paul Edmondson Shakespeare scholar ERHTVSPM½GEYXLSV 4EYP)HQSRHWSR
Interview: Paul Edmondson
Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the author of 7LEOIWTIEVI-HIEWMR4VS½PI, an eminently readable introduction to the Bard. We met Paul in Stratford-upon%ZSRXSLIEVEFSYXLS[LI´W½RHMRKRI[TIVWTIGXMZIWSRXLI centuries-old facts of Shakespeare’s life.
Interview by Pat Reid 4LSXSWF]'LVMWXSTL1YIPPIV At one point, Paul, you had no less than five Shakespeare books in the pipeline. Let’s talk about just one…
“Shakespeare: Ideas in Profile is published by Profile Books, who published Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It’s a book about Shakespeare for the general reader, it’s about 40,000 words long, and it’s divided into six chapters. The first is biographical, it’s
called ‘What was his life like?’ The second chapter is ‘How did he write?’ The third chapter is ‘What did he write?’ The fourth chapter is called ‘The Power of Shakespeare’, and puts over some of the great themes to be found in the works. The fifth chapter is called ‘Encountering Shakespeare’, which considers things like theatre reviewing and how we might do it, reading Shakespeare aloud, thinking SHAKESPEARE magazine
! Interview: Paul Edmondson about Shakespeare in performance and the various changes that a director may take a text through. And the final chapter is called ‘Why Shakespeare?’, which is about the after-effect of Shakespeare on international culture over the last 400 years.”
out from Manchester University Press in 2016. So perhaps that’s another conversation. But that is the big project for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in 2016, to re-present the site of New Place. And it’s very much a world-focused Shakespeare project, because we’re the only people who can Did you have a personal do that – the site where he died, the SFNIGXMZIMR[VMXMRKXLIFSSO# site of his family home. “It was an opportunity for me to really “And in recent years, when you share my enthusiasm for Shakespeare, look at Shakespearean biography, there and to write the book I perhaps wish is a renaissance in how New Place I’d most been able to read when I has come to be considered as part of was setting out on the Shakespearean his life. And one of the things I have journey. It was very interesting to sought to challenge, and which our visit, as directly as I do, the whole re-presentation of New Place seeks world of Shakespeare biography. This to challenge, is this old crustacean of is something I have published on biography that is ‘Oh, he left his wife before, and obviously it’s something and family and went and did all of his the Birthplace Trust is very interested work in London, and then retired back in because of the way we present to Stratford’. Shakespeare – in part – through the “You hear that phrase ‘retired five Shakespeare houses and the many back to Stratford’ every day from the documents we care for here from the mouths of tour guides as you walk time. But I revisited all of this afresh, around Stratford, and every time I and I hope for chapter one I’ve really hear it I wince. Because if you owned brought some fresh sidelights and a house the size of New Place from as some fresh illumination on what early in your career – he’s 33 when he might be considered old facts.” acquires New Place – there’s no way you’d spend most of your time away 'ER]SYKMZIYWWSQI from it – it just wouldn’t be how you examples of how you’ve been would wish to live.” EFPIXSWLIHRI[PMKLXSRTEVXW SJ7LEOIWTIEVI´WPMJI# What do you think New Place “I can. One of the other books I’ve QIERXXS7LEOIWTIEVI#
been working on is about New Place, which is the house that Shakespeare purchased in the centre of Stratford in 1597. We’ve been doing an archaeological dig there, so that book is about the dig, and that’s coming
“It was a status symbol, his wife and family were there. Other members of his family… his brothers never married, so what did they do after 1601, after Shakespeare leased his father’s family home, the Birthplace,
“I wanted to write the book I wish I’d been able to read when I was starting the Shakespeare journey” 40
which he’d inherited, to become a pub? They had to live somewhere, so my guess is that the extended Shakespeare family were living in the large New Place. “It took three to four days to travel from Stratford to London, and one of the things I wanted to do in my opening chapter is to build up a picture – and I’m not the first to do this – to emphasise Shakespeare as a literary commuter, somebody who got back to Stratford when he could. Here, one can start to imagine what his library looked like, a place for his books, a centre of stillness, to get away from it all, from the hectic life of professional theatre. And a place of retreat, to write and to think.” 7S]SYVMQEKISJ7LEOIWTIEVI is quite different to how he’s SJXIRTSVXVE]IH#
“It’s all too tempting to imagine Shakespeare as an inky-fingered Joseph Fiennes, dashing off a sonnet, writing the next speech at the drop of a hat, and actually nothing can be further from the truth. When you look at the works carefully, he had books around him when he was writing some of those plays. Some of the plays directly lift from the source material – reshaping it, of course. I write about this in ‘How did he write?’ – the transforming power of his imagination on the sources he was using, and the sources he needed. “So New Place for me is a place of books, a place of writing, and therefore a place that Shakespeare used as a literary base as well as a family home. Over the time he was working in London, isn’t it interesting that he doesn’t have a permanent home in London for the whole of those 20 or 30 years? He’s moving around different parishes… He does buy the Blackfriars Gatehouse towards the end of his life – of course, he didn’t know it was going
Interview: Paul Edmondson
As for the actual content of Shakespeare’s plays, how do ]SYETTVSEGLXLEX#
“‘What did he write?’ looks at things such as how the canon divides up generically – and why that should be the case, and is that helpful? – and the plays he worked on in collaboration with other people. “And I look in that chapter especially at The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The play is often talked about as a slight work, but we can see the origins of what Shakespeare then goes on to produce. The theme that Proteus is the emergence of the malcontent figure – Iago, Richard III, Iachimo and so on. And so I look at The Two Gentlemen of Verona as to be the end of his life. But he doesn’t “The other two things from Rowe, carrying essential DNA for the rest of seem to have lived there, it seems to though, are the deer poaching at Shakespeare’s output. That was a really have been a financial investment. So Charlecote – I have no immediate lovely thing to be able to write about that’s definitely something I wanted to objection that that shouldn’t be true in – I’ve always loved that play, I once point on.” some way. And [the third is] William played Valentine in it. And it’s nice to Davenant, who liked to say he was write about the dog, Crab, as well…” You mentioned that you’ve Shakespeare’s illegitimate son. So I FIGSQIQSVI[MPPMRKXSFIPMIZI look a little bit afresh at those.” some of the stories about 7LEOIWTIEVIGMVGYPEXMRKMRXLI 18th century…
“When we look at Rowe, three really interesting things still resonate with me from Nicholas Rowe’s account. One is that around about 1594 the Earl of Southampton gives him a thousand pounds. Which is amazing and fascinating. It would explain how he could afford the shares in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men around that time. It would also explain how he could afford to buy New Place a few years later. And then, of course, when his father dies, he makes even more financial investments, which suggests his father was not impoverished, as people often say. Maybe he had money from the wool dealings. This has been suggested by the scholar David Fallow from the University of Exeter, and I mention him in my book.
And you look into some of the more ‘nuts and bolts’ aspects SJ7LEOIWTIEVI´W[SVOMRKPMJI©
“The first chapter is also about his life in the professional theatre, and I think that’s fascinating, to look at how his output was shaped by the demands of the company. And then ‘How did he write?’ is about the books he needed in order to produce the work, the actors he was working with, the stage conditions that affected what he was able to produce, as well as the shaping power of his imagination using the sources… Even down to him using home-made ink from oak apples, mixed with water or wine or vinegar – you know, and having to sharpen his quill every so often. It’s the kind of hardware that we find almost impossible to imagine now, but that’s what Shakespeare had to use.
Shakespeare: Ideas in Profile by Paul Edmondson is published by Profile Books, priced £8.99
! Presenting Shakespeare
of our Art…”
Macbeth (III, 5)
Containing 1,100 posters from productions past and present, new book Presenting Shakespeare’s global sweep encompasses the strange, the disturbing and the intoxicatingly beautiful range of Shakespeare-inspired art, illustration and design. Here are just a few examples…
Romeo and Juliet, Theater Alnwick, US, 1820. d: n/a. Much Ado About Nothing, Libanon on Stage, Charity Theatre of the Order of Malta, DE, 2010. ad/d/p: Alexander von Lengerke.
Much Ado About Nothing, Portland Community College, US, 2014. ad: Cece Cutsforth, d/p: Anthony Catalan
! Presenting Shakespeare
Julius Caesar, Habima National Theatre, IL, 1961. d: Dan Resinger.
Richard III,Theatre de la Renaissance, FR, 2010. ad/d/p: Cedric Gatillon.
Hamlet,Teatr Ochoty, PL 1985. ad/d: Andrzej Pagowski (Dydo Poster Collection). A Midsummer Nightâ€™s Dream,Teatr Dramatyczny, PL, 1981. d: Eugeniusz Get Stankiewicz (Dydo Poster Collection).
Presenting Shakespeare is available now from Princeton Architectural Press. Order your copy here:
Brooke Thomas is a freelance writer
and small business owner based in London. She found her love of Shakespeare at university and now runs Past & Prologue, a Shakespeareinspired clothing company. She spent most of her MA in Shakespeare Studies scouring various pop-culture mediums for references to the bard – a habit that has endured beyond graduation. Find her on Twitter @LiterallyGeeked
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
Meet thy makers...
Just some of the contributors to this issue of Shakespeare Magazine
Kayleigh Toyra is a commercial
copywriter by day, poet and Shakespeare lover by night. Having grown up in Finland, Shakespeare holds a special place in her heart as she connected with British culture through Shakespeare. She also loves how different cultures always find their own meanings in Shakespeare’s words. She specialised in Shakespeare during her MA at Bristol University, and became fascinated by local Shakespearean performance history. Find her on Twitter @KayleighToyra
Helen Mears fell into bardolatry
during her teenage years and has never recovered. She is a volunteer steward at Shakespeare’s Globe, which ensures a regular diet of the Bard. She teaches English, Film and Media at Suffolk New College and is a specialist in teaching Shakespeare using active methods. Her favourite Shakespearean actor is Jamie Parker and her favourite plays are the Second History Tetralogy. She hopes to finish her Masters in the Advanced Teaching of Shakespeare very soon. Find her on Twitter @hipster_hels SHAKESPEARE magazine
We hope you’ve enjoyed Issue Nine of Shakespeare Magazine. Here’s a taste of what we have coming up next time…
Shakespeare’s First Folio
Emma Smith takes us between the pages of the book that started it all.
! ! ! !
Actor. Director. Icon. King Ken talks about Judi Dench and The Winter’s Tale.
Parlez-vous Le Bard?
Yes, it’s the Shakespeare Guide to Paris…
What just happened?
Behind the scenes of web series How Shakespeare Changed My Life.
Tom Hiddleston is cover star of Shakespeare Magazine 09! The theme is "Shakespeare at the Cinema" and we review the screenings of both Hiddl...
Published on Dec 22, 2015
Tom Hiddleston is cover star of Shakespeare Magazine 09! The theme is "Shakespeare at the Cinema" and we review the screenings of both Hiddl...