Voices, Echoes, Messages in a Shakespearian Bottle

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YearofShakespeare.com is about putting reactions to The World Shakespeare Festival into a bottle. The project is covering all seventy productions which together form the biggest festival of Shakespeare the world has ever seen. A Folio of Shakespeare scholars are dispatching reviews of all the shows as the Festival unfolds. These serve as position pieces around which your responses can be posted. You don’t have to have seen a show in order to respond to the review or to some of the other topical, position pieces which form part of the project. All of the responses will be digitally archived by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. So, by posting a comment, sending a Tweet (#WSF2012), or putting a post onto Facebook you’re contributing to what people of the future will read and come to know about the Festival. Have a listen to this introductory audio-post to find out more about the project. Click here.

Having just seen five World Shakespeare Festival productions in three days, I awoke on this Bank Holiday Monday with feelings akin to Shakespeare and, especially, Globe withdrawal symptoms – holding the whole word in its arms over the last six weeks.

Since last Wednesday I have seen the Yukio Ninagawa’s Cymbeline at The Barbican Centre, the Afghan The Comedy of Errors, the French Much Ado About Nothing, the German Timon of Athens, and the Lithuanian Hamlet.

Here are a crop of audience responses to some of these shows and others in the World Shakespeare Festival.

The first comes from two American professors, James Bullman and Beth Watkins, who regularly bring groups of students to The Shakespeare Centre from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania. They chat to me here about King John and Richard III presented by The Royal Shakespeare Company.

This next post is by two truly seasoned Shakespeare theatre-goers, John and Janet Sergeant, who regularly attend public courses in Stratford-upon-Avon. I was delighted to bump into them at the Globe other day after the the French Much Ado About Nothing, especially since Janet has a serious interest in the French language. Here they talk about several Festival shows they’ve seen recently.

Stanley Wells and I here talk about Ninagawa’s Japanese Cymbeline. Quite often I hear Shakespearians complain about Cymbeline on the grounds that they think it’s not a satisfactory play. As a complaint, this has become a cliche. More and more for me, Cymbeline – its sounds, its story, its moments of contrast and heightened emotion – takes its place among my favourites.

More audio reactions will follow in due course. You might like to upload some of your own responses onto Audioboo and send us the link.

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Author:Paul Edmondson

Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_edmondson

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  • Wweepingwillow

    With the German Timon the Globe in London has surely reached its nadir.
    Can the process of deconstruction go any further?
    Its a pity we don’t have the equivalent of the Academie Francaise in Britain so we can sue or embargo productions that bring our national brand i.e.Shakespeare into gross disrepute.
    Its marxism gone mad, the complete rubbishing of our culture in the name of a fatuous liberation from everything that defines the drama and the narrative.
     Shakespeare wrote within a highly rule governed culture and any production that fails to respect that culture ends up, inevitably, narcissistic, self indulgent juvenalia.
    But then these folks are not really interested in Shakespeare anyway, only in using his world fame as a step up for their own deboshed agenda.  

  • you should do these *3 min reactions to Shakespeare* as a regular segment
    they are a quickier and more personal way to get your daily boost of shakespeare
    way cool dude

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