Saturday, 31 October 2015

October Competition

Open to UK Followers only - sorry!

Closing date 7th November

To win one of five copies of James Shapiro's Book 1606, answer the following question in the Comments section below:

"Which of the three plays Shakespeare probably wrote or part-wrote in 1606 means the most to you and why?" (The plays are: King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra)

Then copy your answers to me at this address: so that I can get in touch with the winners.

Good luck!



Ruan Peat said...

I adore King Lear and still feel thrilled even after 25 years of seeing it live on stage, but for me the one I must choose is Macbeth, As a pupil I was lucky enough to get not only to see it done by the RSC in Stratford but as a black box production, which I had never seen ever before, I also had the chance to have a show round the back stage and saw how they made the 'tricks' and special effects work, I was thankfully too far back from the front so I didn't get splashed by the blood! but the whole performance was amazing.
A few years later as a student I got to see it again in a west end performance, which just cemented how amazing the play live is, but between the two plays I also had to study it as a companion piece in English literature.
A few decades on I live in the highlands and I drive up and down the A9 past signs for Birnam and Dunsinane near Perth and love day dreaming the castles full of knights and feasts!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Okay, I can't win, but I want to have my say anyway.

King Lear is my special play too. It's the play that turned me into a lifelong "Bardaholic". I had to study it in English Literature in Year 12 and when I was about to join my classmates at a Melbourne Theatre Company production of it, I thought I had better read it first. The book fell open at that scene where Lear curses Cordelia and the utter magic of that speech utterly overwhelmed me.

I should add that it was the play, not the teacher, that affected me; he wasn't very good, but couldn't spoil it for me.

In recent years, when the RSC was touring Australia, I was privileged to see Ian McKellen as Lear, with Sylvester McCoy as the Fool - and, in a local production, the wonderful Frank Gallacher, an actor I had admired for years, finally rising to the apex of his career. He died soon after.

I must admit, for years I have always thought, deep down, "Come on, Cordelia, would it hurt to give your Dad a hug and tell him you love him, since you do anyway?" All that dreadful stuff would never have happened if Cordelia had just done that, though there wouldn't have been a play. ;-)

I had a wonderful father who would give us children the world if he could have, and all he wanted was for us to tell him how much we loved him. Which we did. And hugged him a lot.

But the Cordelia in that RSC production did make sense of the scene, I must take my hat off to her.

Elspeth Scott said...

What a difficult choice! Of the three, Macbeth was the one I knew first as it is often studied in Scottish schools in S4 - first external exam year. And of course being Scottish we also had the errors in history pointed out to us, though that didn't stop me loving the language - both the "Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow" and "Light thickens" speeches always send shivers down my spine. Antony and Cleopatra is my least favourite and I am not sure if that is related to the fact that I have never seen a really good stage production of it, but I think it probably is because it is when Shakespeare comes alive on stage that it is really stirring.

But if it has to be one, it would have to be King Lear. I studied it twice - for Sixth Years Studies and then again in more depth as a student and of course the deep familiarity you gain of the text in that situation does enhance appreciation. It also set me off investigating with great enjoyment some of the folk and fairy story precursors - RashieCoat for instance. I have also been lucky enough to see several good productions, including Michael Gambon's version. It is a play with so many different aspects that can be examined, and so many layers, that I can always find something new in it. And of course it has wonderful language too!

Jax Blunt said...

King Lear, as it's the only one I've seen performed (by Red Rose Chain) so it's the only one that has really come alive for me

esaxey said...

Anthony and Cleopatra. I studied it for A-Levels, and my memory was pretty sharp then, so my imagination is now riddled with snippets of it. Particularly Cleopatra's grand-standing and self-aggrandizing announcements - when she says she is "with Pheobus' amorous pinches black", or wants to sleep out the great gap of time her Anthony is away. We kneaw she was laying it on thick but there was a marvelous longing to it.

I have a particular fondness for the fact that we recognised the speeches about longing, but many of us just didn't get the jokes about sex. We needed them explained, as much as the archaic language. When Cleopatra says "Oh, happy horse! To bear the weight of Anthony" there was a lot of giggling (hur hur happy horse) but really, we were like poor Eunuch Mardian: being teased by Cleopatra, not able to do anything, but having 'fierce affections, and think[ing] /What Venus did with Mars.'