Archive | February, 2012

Shakespeare’s Sources – Titus Andronicus

Continuing my series on Shakespeare’s sources I turn my attention to one of Shakespeare’s most brutal plays – Titus Andronicus. Among the many killings that pepper this play there are some particularly nasty events, any one of a sensitive nature might wish to stop reading now… … Lavinia (Titus’ daughter) is brutally raped by Tamora’s […]

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New Voices for Shakespeare

I’m just back from the 5th British Shakespeare Association conference at the University of Lancaster. There were just under two hundred of us there (scholars, teachers, enthusiasts, and theatre practitioners). I took part in a panel about a new book which we hope heralds a new and fresh approach to Shakespeare criticism. Shakespeare and I […]

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Unearthing Shakespeare – Part 3

Shakespeare agreed to the purchase of New Place from William Underhill on the 4th May 1597. Shakespeare’s purchase included… ‘one messuage, two barns, and two gardens with appurtenances’. The concord recording the sale, notes state that ‘the same William Shakespeare gave the said William Underhill sixty pounds sterling’, but it is generally agreed that it […]

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John Shakespeare, The Hedgehog

‘You spotted snakes with double tongue, Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2.2 Edgar Fripp (1861 – 1931) once described “Alderman [John] Shakespeare” as being “curled up like a hedgehog at the approach of the dog”. Fripp, seeing the world, as he did, through a lens of strict Protestant belief, thought John’s […]

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Shakespeare’s Sources – The Taming of the Shrew

Continuing my series on Shakespeare’s sources I take a look today at The Taming fo the Shrew. It might surprise you to know that this is one of my favourite plays. I say this because it can be produced and told in so many ways – from a touching romance to a very dark tale […]

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Infinite minds: Shakespeare and Giordano Bruno

On 17 February 1600 the philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Campo de’ Fiori, today one of the most colourful squares in Rome. A former Dominican friar born near Naples, this wandering intellectual disseminated his revolutionary ideas throughout Europe. He studied in Geneva and Toulouse, taught at Wittenberg (Hamlet’s alma mater, remember?), […]

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Unearthing Shakespeare – Part 2

New Place is best known as the home of William Shakespeare, however by the time of Shakespeare’s purchase in 1597, New Place had stood for over a hundred years. Around 1483, Sir Hugh Clopton, a wealthy merchant, important benefactor and future Lord Mayor of London (1491), acquired a burgage plot on the corner of Chapel […]

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Shakespearience 5: We are Things among Things….

I’ve had the good fortune of being somewhat involved in the current RSC The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Lucy Bailey. In my programme note for the production, I’ve written especially about the bestial life and imagery of the play, which has come to seem to me to be epitomized by the pointy little […]

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The Merry Wives of Windsor

Continuing my series on Shakespeare’s sources we turn our attention to one of Shakespeare more original plays, The Merry Wives of Windsor. This story in which the fat knight Falstaff woos two married ladies simultaneously, gets discovered by them and subsequently punished is the only one of Shakespeare’s plays to be set in contemporary England. […]

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Shakespeare Salutes Dickens Part 3

Dickens loved (and lived and breathed) the theatre. In this gently satirical piece, ‘Some of the Performers’ from Sketches by Boz, he takes us backstage just before the curtain rises on a performance of Macbeth… It’s read by my colleague, Dr Nick Walton. Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Dickens! We at The Shakespeare Centre salute thee! […]

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