Saturday, Sunday Shakespeare


Any way you slice it, Shakespeare rocks in my book. I really enjoyed this Saturday flight through the 108 pages of this classic English play, Richard III.

Susan Wise-Bauer gave a good visual for me of the family tree of Richard III in her excellent book, The Well-Educated Mind. I transferred it to the inside cover of my book sot that I could refer to it throughout the reading.
Richard was a villain who killed his brother, George Clarence, and the two sons of Edward IV (his other brother), Edward and Richard, so that he could become king of England. It is character study in evil.
Famous lines like "Now is the winter of our discontent" and "My horse, my horse, my kingdom for a horse" come from this famous historical drama. I highly recommend it. I do hear that the Folger Shakespeare Library Edition will make Shakespeare more accessible to neophytes because it has facing pages with explanations. I did just fine with this one, but Shakespeare doesn't scare me like it might scare some people.



In order to add to my enjoyment and understanding, I watched the 1956 Lawrence Olivier movie version while I was reading. I would read a few scenes. Then, I would watch those scenes in the movie. This is the Criterion Collection version with amazing commentary by playright and stage director, Russell Lees, which opened my world to understand Shakespeare and Olivier. He also inserts a commentary done by John Wilders who was the former governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company. I am someone who loves movie commentaries, and this is the absolute BEST commentary I have ever heard. If you want to understand more of Shakespeare, check this out from your local library and watch the movie with Russell. You will be the better for it!




After Richard III (finished the play last night and the movie this morning), I went on to read The Complete Sonnets of Shakespeare. Now, this was a bit tougher for me. I downloaded them from the Oregon Digital Library Consortium Library2Go and read along as I listened. It was tough until I found the "No Fear Shakespeare" section of SparkNotes with original text and modern text in parallel form! So, if I don't get it, I can read this. I am through about 35 of them.



I anticipate tackling A Midsummer Night's Dream next. I have seen two different movie versions of this, and I will see the play this summer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in July for Laura's 40th birthday extravaganza with nine other women (along with Othello and A Comedy of Errors). AMND is also being performed in the OSU Quad this summer! I may wait to read it in mid-July. Then, I can read The Prince by Machiavelli because apparently Shakespeare's Richard III is a Machiavellian character!
It was a good and restful weekend for me with Shakespeare!
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