Celebrating 5 who make every week, Shakespeare Week

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As we get closer to the end of our celebration of Shakespeare Week, I thought now would be a good time to give a shout out to those who celebrate him everyday. I am bound to miss some good folks who dedicate their days to all things Shakespeare, but I wanted to make a list of people and institutions that quickly spring to mind when I think Shakespeare. I applaud them all and want to show some appreciation to their work.

Shakespeare Magazine The online magazine launched on April 23, 2014 and has quickly become a leading source for all things related to Shakespeare; whether you want to just keep up with the latest theater news or read a variety of Bard related topics they have you covered!

One of my favorite articles is an interview with Paul Edmondson titled “Man and Myth” in which he talks about his journey into the world of Shakespeare. If scholarly interviews are not your thing, don’t worry, Shakespeare Magazine loves to devote pages to Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. Do check it out. It’s a free online magazine, but if you find yourself eagerly anticipating the next issue, please support them with a donation.

Shakespeare Geek I follow a lot of blog and love them all, but I have to admit, this one is up there as one of my favorites.

Duane has been blogging about Shakespeare since 2005 and is the author of Hear My Soul Speak : Wedding Quotations from Shakespeare. I own and copy so I can attest to its originality and carefully chosen quotes. But this isn’t the reason to read Shakespeare Geek. Duane is always original and refreshing. You just never know what will spring forth from his mind. What I love most about this blog is how seamlessly Duane relates everyday occurrence to Shakespeare. You can also count on him to come up with silly posts and brilliant ideas on how to center every holiday on a Shakespeare theme. This past April Fool’s remains one of my favorites. We had a great time in Facebook coming up with ways to annoy our co-workers.

Hollow Crown Fans Ever Shakespeare fan with a Twitter handle should follow @HollowCrownFans. This is collaboration between friends that started as a mini fan club for Tom Hiddleston and the Hollow Crown series. They started the hash-tag game #ShakespeareSunday as part of their fan love, yet it quickly grew in popularity. It is now a regular Sunday ritual that most of us who follow HCF don’t dare miss. This above all other social media gatherings has introduced me to some wonderful people I now call friend.

Good Brain Tickle Damn, this is good! What started out as a fun outlet for Mya’s love of Shakespeare has turned her into a Shakespeare superstar! Though these be little comic strips they are fiercely funny and educational. Mya has proven herself to be a true Shakespeare scholar. Twice weekly Mya gives us a small slice of Shakespeare yet the lessons on his work are huge. I swear, this girl is a genius; how many people can use humor to show a deep understanding of Shakespeare? Not many; this is why Mya stands out and is becoming a real shinning star on the Shakespeare stage. One of my favorite strips was her Star Wars Midsummer’s Night Dream series. I dare you not to laugh. Hats of the Mya for being invited to participate in the Folger’s Library 400 Year Shakespeare Anniversary event.

Folger’s Podcast Speaking of Folger, one of my favorite podcast series is hosted by the library titled, Shakespeare Unlimited. The reason it’s titled unlimited is because there is no limit to what they will talk about. The podcast’s them is Shakespeare’s influence on the world as a whole. This podcast shows us that the all the world’s a stage, and Shakespeare a global phenomenon. Whether you are looking for a history lesson on Elizabethan street fighting or how Shakespeare influenced the punk rock scene, Shakespeare Unlimited is the place to be. And because it’s a downloadable podcast, you always get a good seat. And, let’s not forget everything the library does in celebration of Shakespeare.

And now, because it’s Friday, I give you one more list. This time a funny list of my favorite Shakespeare memes. Enjoy!

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I once put this on the cover of a paper I did on Hamlet. My professor said he'd would have given my an A just or making him laugh
I once put this on the cover of a paper I did on Hamlet. My professor said he’d would have given my an A just or making him laugh

Shakesbear

I was once in a class in which a student said, "oh I love Romeo and Juliet. It's such a great poem". I think of her every time I see this.
I was once in a class in which a student said, “oh I love Romeo and Juliet. It’s such a great poem”. I think of her every time I see this.

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I want this on a T-shirt
I want this on a T-shirt

No money went into my purse in the making of this post.

 

Shakespeare & Star Wars? Not so much

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Get thee once more to a Galaxy far, far away

Let me start by saying I’m a Star Wars fan. So much so that I waited until May 4th, Star Wars day to read Ian Doescher’s second installment of his William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series, The Empire Striketh Back. This like his first, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, was sent to me by the good folks over at Librarything as part of their Early Reviewer’s program. Those who know me well also know I am a student of Shakespeare which is why I wanted to review the series. I absolutely loved the first one, but have some issues with the second.

First let me praise Doescher for not only attempting to adapt Shakespeare for modern audiences but also for his masterful ability to condense an action packed movie into a 163 page book. Doescher manages to capture the excitement of the movie and doesn’t miss a beat as he seamlessly moves from one scene to the next. His use of iambic pentameter in such a skilled manner should earn him praise from poetry fans. Doescher sticks mostly to modern language and rhythm, with a few well known Elizabethan terms thrown in for good measure. Young fans of Star Wars can follow this book without feeling overwhelmed by the poetic style of writing and old language.

One of the Doescher’s more cleaver tricks is giving voice to characters that had none in the movie. Take the Wampa who drags Luke off to his cave, as an example.

Pray know that I a wampa simple am,

And take no pleasure in my angry mood.

Though with great force this young one’s face I slam,

I prithee know I strike but for my food.

Doescher reminds his audience that even the lowest of creatures have feelings and that their actions are not always done with malice. Wampa’s gotta eat too! We hear from the monster, Exogor, the worm like creature whose mouth the Millennium Falcon accidently flies into. He laments that his meal has fled and goes into a soliloquy about being alone.

Yet for all of the fun Doescher brings to the mash-up, I cannot help but be disappointed in his use of Shakespeare’s work and the lack of ties to the plays. What no Henry IV or V battle scene speech?

The back and forth banter between Han and Leia is very much like that we hear between Beatrice and Benedict, yet none of the other characters are nods to Shakespeare. The asides by Han and Leia got a little tiring. Each talk about how they feel about the other. Yeah, we get it. They like each other but are too proud to show it. Star Wars fans already know this and don’t need constant reminders.

Doescher in his Afterward likens The Empire Strikes Back to a Shakespearian inspired tragedy, yet goes on to compare Luke with Oedipus. “Oedipus who learns only too late that his mother is his wife, tears out his eyes after she hangs himself. Luke discovers that Darth Vader is his father just after losing a hand-close enough, right?” No, wrong! How about this? Hamlet is told Claudius killed his father, just like Luke is told Vader killed his father. Luke finds out Vader is his father, just as Hamlet finds out Claudius is his step-father! Both spend a lot of time brooding over these turn of events. Come on Doescher, this was a no brainer. Doescher even has Luke questioning his place in the world and the use of war, yet never do we hear any hint of a doubting Hamlet.

Doescher says he decided to have Yoda speak in haikus. He tells his readers this in the afterwards. I would have liked to have known this before I started reading. Yoda’s odd speech pattern baffled me, and jerked me out of the story. I spent too much time trying to figure out what Doescher was doing. Remember, Doescher is the one who is claiming to do a mash-up of Shakespeare and Star Wars. Sadly, Shakespeare just doesn’t show up enough to make this a true mash-up. Unlike the first book, the references are few and far between. When he does use Shakespeare the lines feel forced, as if Doescher had just remembered he had to add them in.

If flurries be the food of quests, snow on.

The oddest mix of Shakespeare and Star Wars comes right after Vader has entered. He has a conversation with a few commanders and after they leave he unexpectedly goes into a soliloquy that originally was Shylock’s speech, spoken in frustration for his abuse by the Christians.

Hath not a Sith eyes?

If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you

Blast us. Shall we not injur’d be?

While this may delight some Star Wars fans, it had me puzzled. Sure, he may feel abused by the rebels, but it is he who is embarking on a plan to wipe them all out. This famous speech feels forced and out of context to the scene before and after. For true students of Shakespeare Doescher’s use of the Bard’s words may fall flat.

Doescher does remind his readers that above all else this book is written to be fun. And for all the faults I have pointed out, it really is fun. But, if this is a series titled William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, then more care should be given to make proper use of the Bard’s world. To quote Hamlet,”O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space…” Come on Doescher, Shakespeare’s world is infinite space, set in a time, long, long ago. Use it, and use it well.