Archive for the 'Cymbeline' Category

Shakespeare Song Parody: We Love the Plays of Shakespeare

Friday, June 28th, 2013

This is the last in a series of 40 pop-music parodies for Shakespeare fans.

So far, we’ve had one parody for each of Shakespeare’s 38 plays and one for the sonnets. We finish the Shakespeare Top 40 with a tribute to all of the plays, one last time.

Enjoy!

We Love the Plays of Shakespeare
sung to the tune of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel

(With appreciation to everyone who has followed along on the journey…)

Harry, Suffolk, Somerset,
Richard Plantagenet;
Warwick, Edward, Margaret, Rutland,
Younger Lord Clifford;
Lord John Talbot, Tony Woodeville,
Duke of Bedford, Joan La Pucelle;
Duke of Clarence, Tower Princes,
Richard the Third…

Antipholus, Dromio,
Balthazar, Angelo;
Titus gets Tamora by
Baking her kids in a pie;
Tranio, Petruchio,
Katharina, Widow;
Proteus and Valentine have
Bid Verona goodbye…

We love the plays of Shakespeare,
Jumping off the pages,
Burning up the stages.
We love the plays of Shakespeare.
First, we learned to read them.
Now, we go to see them.

Don Armado, French Princess,
Costard and Holofernes;
Romeo’s Apothecary,
Juliet’s Nurse;
Gaunt John, he passed on,
Henry’s back and Dick’s gone;
Quince, Flute, Snout, Snug,
Bottom’s got a curse…

King John, Pope, France,
Bastard’s got a second chance;
Shylock and Antonio,
Portia and Bassanio;
Bardolph, Boar’s Head,
Prince Hal, Hotspur dead;
Tavern Hostess, Lord Chief Justice,
Henry on his deathbed…

We love the plays of Shakespeare,
Jumping off the pages,
Burning up the stages.
We love the plays of Shakespeare.
First, we learned to read them.
Now, we go to see them.

Benedick, Beatrice,
Dogberry and Verges;
Cambridge, Scroop and Grey,
Fight on St. Crispin’s Day;
Cassius, Cicero,
Julius Caesar, Cato;
Duke Senior, Jacques,
Poems posted on the trees…

O, O, O…

Olivia, Antonio,
Toby Belch, Malvolio;
Ophelia, Claudius,
Hamlet kills Polonius;
Falstaff once adored
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford;
Agamemnon, Pandarus,
Cressida and Troilus…

We love the plays of Shakespeare,
Jumping off the pages,
Burning up the stages.
We love the plays of Shakespeare.
First, we learned to read them.
Now, we go to see them.

Helena for Bertram fell,
All’s Well that Ends Well;
Angelo, Claudio,
“Friar” Duke Vincentio;
Desdemona, Othello,
Duke, Iago, Cassio;
Kent’s stand, Lear’s Fool,
Edmund’s death, Edgar’s rule;
Three Witches, two Macbeths,
Scottish spirits come unsex;
Antony, Cleo P.,
Who else would you want to see?

We love the plays of Shakespeare,
Jumping off the pages,
Burning up the stages.
We love the plays of Shakespeare.
First, we learned to read them.
Now, we go to see them.

Marcius, Cominius,
Volumnia, Aufidius;
Cupid, Lucius,
Timon, Flavius;
Gower, Thaliard, Pericles,
Antiochus, Simonides;
Posthumous is shipped to Rome,
Iachimo’s gone to his home…

Autolycus, Leontes,
Perdita, Polixenes;
Stephano, Trinculo,
Ship, wreck, Prospero;
Henry starts a second life,
Anne Boleyn’s his second wife;
Kinsmen our guy partnered for;
May have helped with Thomas More…

We love the plays of Shakespeare,
Jumping off the pages,
Burning up the stages.
We love the plays of Shakespeare.
And where we have gone,
The play will start anon,
Anon, anon, anon, anon, anon, anon, anon…

We love the plays of Shakespeare,
Jumping off the pages,
Burning up the stages.
We love the plays of Shakespeare.
First, we learned to read them.
Now, we go to see them.

We love the plays of Shakespeare!

Hat tip to Shakespeare Online for the chronology.

You can click to read all 40 song parodies here.

Shakespeare Song Parody: Iachimo

Friday, February 8th, 2013

This is the 23rd in a series of pop-music parodies for Shakespeare fans.

Enjoy!

Iachimo
sung to the tune of “Domino”

(With apologies to Jessie J, and any readers who are getting tired of the song parodies…)

You’re bragging about your bride,
Across your empty glass of scotch.
Our nation also has pride;
I need to take you down a notch.

You’re insisting that your woman is both honest and fair,
But I’m betting that my charms will soon be taking her there.
Don’t you know? It’s out of your control.

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh…
I can describe her room,
And her body; don’t fume.
Buddy, I won!
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh,
One was silver and silk,
And the other smooth as milk.
Buddy, I won!
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh…

Should have tried to win my bet outright,
And on losing should have left alone.
Yes, I should have been more forthright,
But I lied because I’m Iachimo.

Now all the facts have come to light,
And all my misdeeds have become too well known.
Yes, I should have been more forthright,
But I lied because I’m Iachimo.

Shakespeare Autocorrect

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


Shakespeare’s Most Underrated Characters

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Over at Pursued by a Bear, Cassius put together a series of videos lauding Shakespeare’s Most Underrated Characters back while I was on hiatus. They’re definitely worth checking out. Even when you disagree with one of her choices, she makes a compelling case.

Still, she includes such “underrated characters” as Hamlet and Othello. And while I totally get that a character can be highly rated and yet underrated, a list like this is an opportunity to bench the starters and let the minor characters show their stuff. Basically, what I’m saying is, I want to play too. Now that I’m back, here is my list, with a hat tip to Cassius for the idea.

An old theatre maxim says there are no small parts, but below you’ll find some really outstanding exceptions. Some of them don’t even have names. If your reaction to seeing some of these is “Wait… who?” then I’ve done my job. But don’t dismiss them just yet; they’re on this list for a reason. Let’s start the countdown at 50.

50. Costard (Love’s Labour’s Lost) – With so many foolish characters in one play, it’s easy to overlook the actual clown. But Costard spins some impressively deft wordplay that puts more erudite characters to shame.

49. Pinch (The Comedy of Errors) – Just as things get about as silly as you think they could get, enter good Doctor Pinch. While others suspect Antipholus of mere madness, Pinch tries to exorcize Satan from within him.

48. Fluellen (Henry V) – The Welsh captain may speak his bombast with a funny accent, but he’s not a man to be trifled with. He bravely leads his troops into battle, and handles himself ably in private matters as well.

47. The Scottish Doctor (Macbeth) – A doctor is brought in to cure Lady Macbeth’s madness. Sadly, modern psychiatric practice would be far beyond the reach of Shakespeare’s England, let alone Macbeth’s Scotland.

46. Peter Quince (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – It can’t be easy to construct a troupe of actors from weavers and tailors, but this is one carpenter who is up to the task. Ah, the joys of community theatre.

45. Antipholus of Ephesus (The Comedy of Errors) – The other three twins may have more stage time, but the funniest moments of the play come from the misfortunes that befall the local Antipholus.

44. Corin (As You Like It) – The old forest-dwelling shephard councils the younger love-struck Silvius, matches wits with Touchstone, and reminds us that courtly life isn’t better than the simple life, just different.

43. Antonio (Twelfth Night) – Sebastian’s savior and friend mentions that he happens to be a wanted criminal. But his love and loyalty prove to be powerful forces, as is his rhetoric when he thinks he’s been betrayed.

42. Paulina (The Winter’s Tale) – Hermione may have been the one to fake her death, but it’s Paulina who has to sell it. And sell it she does, without so much as flinching. Note to self: stay on Paulina’s good side.

41. Joan La Pucelle (1 Henry VI) – Joan of Arc, the peasant girl who led troops in winning great battles against the English, was a revered heroine among the French people. Of course, Shakespeare wasn’t French.

40. Oliver and Celia (As You Like It) – They seem like they’re going to be purely functional roles: Orlando’s evil brother and Rosalind’s supportive cousin. And then, boom, they meet and it’s love at first sight.

39. Chorus (Henry V) – The “muse of fire” prologue stands out, but the Chorus stays on the job throughout the play, adding vibrant imagery to expand the theatrical experience beyond the limitations of the stage.

38. Adam (As You Like It) – Rather than embody the bleak vision of Jacques’s last age of man, the spry Adam warns Orlando of the plot against him and faithfully agrees to serve him in exile. Eighty years young!

37. Pompey (Measure for Measure) – Not quite Pompey the Great, his bum is the greatest thing about him. Sent to prison, the former brothel bartender feels right at home among his old customers.

36. First and Second Lords (All’s Well That Ends Well) – This list has a soft spot for characters who aren’t even given names. The Lords are real characters that help advance the plot over multiple scenes. No respect!

35. Duke Senior (As You Like It) – A lesser man might be slightly annoyed by having his entire dukedom usurped. But Duke Senior takes “being a good sport” to a whole new level. And notice he’s not given a name either.

34. Charmian and Iras (Antony and Cleopatra) – When Cleopatra chooses to leave this world, she is flanked by her two most loyal servants – Iras just before and Charmian just after. Good help is hard to find.

33. Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby (Richard III) – Richard is so crazed with paranoia that when he accuses Stanley of betrayal, we completely believe the good earl’s denial. But wait… yeah, he went right to Richmond.

32. Archibald, Earl of Douglas (1 Henry IV) – “That sprightly Scot of Scots… that runs o’ horseback up a hill perpendicular” is outbattled by Hal, outwitted by Falstaff, and ultimately captured and released. Ah well.

31. Son and Father (3 Henry VI) – On the battlefield, Henry observes a son who has killed his father and a father who has killed his son. He thus realizes the heavy cost of the war, and his own responsibility for it.

30. The Thane of Ross (Macbeth) – Whether it’s victory in battle or the slaughter of your family, nobody delivers the news like the Thane of Ross, whatever his actual name may happen to be.

29. Roderigo (Othello) – Often overshadowed by the more dynamic characters in the play, Roderigo is a fantastic comic role. Hopelessly in love with Desdemona, Roderigo is an easy target for Iago’s machinations.

28. Iachimo (Cymbeline) – This “little Iago” deserves better than to be thought of as a diminutive derivative. But unlike his nefarious namesake, he never really meant any harm, and is honestly repentant at the end.

27. Lord (The Taming of the Shrew) – We remember Christopher Sly, but what of the Lord who devised the over-the-top prank in the first place. Actually, either one could make this list; they usually both get cut.

26. The Provost (Measure for Measure) – When the Duke realizes he can no longer implement his plan alone, he recruits the Provost, who proves to be an able accomplice. But why does he not have a name?

25. The Queen (Cymbeline) – She’s the classic fairy tale wicked step-mother, who even has the self-awareness to swear she isn’t. On her deathbed, she admits she never loved Cymbeline. It’s good to be the Queen.

24. The Earl of Suffolk (1 Henry IV) – He woos the young Margaret for the king, but has some grand designs of his own. “Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king; But I will rule both her, the king, and realm.”

23. Casca (Julius Caesar) – Other characters consider him dull, blunt, and rude, but don’t take their word for it. I find Casca to be witty, wise, and shrewd. Read over his lines and decide for yourself.

22. Countess of Auvergne (1 Henry VI) – Talbot takes a break from invading France to be flattered by the noblewoman’s invitation to her house. It’s a trap, but she ends up having him over for Freedom Fries anyway.

21. Rumor (2 Henry IV) – Best. Prologue. Ever. The living embodiment of Rumor brags about the damage he’s done, while seamlessly bringing us up to speed on what’s happened since Part One. Open your ears.

20. Simpcox and Wife (2 Henry VI) – They are almost the definition of small Shakespearean roles. But their scene is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. Go check it out!

19. Mariana (Measure for Measure) – She shows up late in the play, and even then she’s no more than a convenient plot device with very few lines of significance. But then the final scene arrives, and … wow.

18. The Bishop of Carlisle (Richard II) – Richard is defeated, and Henry would be King. Carlisle protests vigorously, describing exactly what will result. As Shakespeare and his audience know, he’s absolutely right.

17. Antonio (The Tempest) – I have to admit that some of the nobles from the boat tend to blend together for me, but Antonio, who usurped his brother Prospero, stands out as the most cold-blooded.

16. Moth (Love’s Labour’s Lost) – Compare Don Adriano de Armado and Moth with Zap Brannigan and Kif. Note that Kif’s first Futurama episode was entitled “Love’s Labour’s Lost in Space.”

15. Mistress Overdone (Measure for Measure) – She’s had nine husbands (”overdone by the last”) and this clear-eyed brothel owner still manages to run her business like a professional.

14. Gratiano (The Merchant of Venice) – It’s okay if you don’t remember. He’s the other guy, the one who ends up with Nerissa. But he’s also a really clever comic character who can be a lot of fun to play.

13. John Talbot (1 Henry VI) – He only appears in a couple of scenes, but Lord Talbot’s son can display valor and loyalty in rhymed couplets like nobody else.

12. Thersites (Troilus and Cressida) – Shakespeare describes him as “a deformed and scurrilous Grecian,” and that’s just in the Dramatis Personae.

11. Lord Chief Justice (2 Henry IV) – Henry V’s harsh denial of Falstaff overshadows the new king giving a high place of honor to the constable who chased him down throughout his wayward youth.

10. Doll Tearsheet (2 Henry IV) – Falstaff’s favorite prostitute knows how to handle herself in a bar fight. She gives Pistol a tongue-lashing he really should have had to pay for.

9. Apemantus (Timon of Athens) – Oh yeah, I went there. But you don’t have to read the whole play, just check out the mother joke in the first scene.

8. Pistol (Henry V) – The loudmouth soldier tends to get overshadowed by Falstaff. But his bombast can shatter the stage when he’s ready to discharge.

7. Domitus Enobarbus (Antony and Cleopatra) – He’s a loyal soldier who abandons Antony only because he can’t support his self-destructive behavior. When Antony returns his treasure, Enobarbus dies of shame.

6. Arthur (King John) – He has few scenes, despite being an important character to the plot. He makes the list for successfully appealing to the heart of a man who has been sent to murder him.

5. Lady Grey (3 Henry VI) – After her side has lost the war, the Widow Grey bravely stands up to the new King. He cannot intimidate her, so he marries her instead. She’ll be Queen Elizabeth in the next play.

4. Sir William Catesby (Richard III) – We remember the evil machinations of Richard and Buckingham, but Catesby is there with them every step of the way, and seems to have no conscience about it.

3. Tranio (The Taming of the Shrew) – It’s easy to forget about Tranio. But while his master is playing servant to win his one true love, Tranio’s the servant who is playing his master – the much harder role!

2. First Gravedigger (Hamlet) – Often dismissed as merely a comic character, the Gravedigger gives Hamlet a chance to reflect on matters of life and death, thus underscoring one of the major themes of the play.

1. Jack Cade (2 Henry VI) – He’s an unlikely claimant to the throne, but his populist rhetoric has the power to start a rebellion at least. This is, I believe, Shakespeare’s most underrated character.

And finally, I invite my friends at Pursued By a Bear to join me in awarding an honorable mention to the most awesome, most minor character in the entire canon…

THE BEAR!

Googleplex – 1/16/11

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

I subscribe to a service called “SiteMeter” which allows me to see a limited amount of information about my visitors. One thing that I can see is if someone finds my site via a Google search, and what they were searching for.

Every now and then I check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond to those search terms in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought readers to this site in the past week.

Enjoy!

cymbeline appropriate for kids

Well, there is a bit of sexual content in it. Iachimo bets Posthumous that he can seduce Imogen, Posthumous’s wife. To prove he’s won his bet, he describes Imogen’s body in intimate detail.

But why do we flinch at mild sexual content like this for kids, and shrug off graphic violence? Does anyone ask if Macbeth is appropriate for kids?

I just did it myself. When asked if Cymbeline is appropriate for kids, I immediately addressed a verbal description of a female body, and completely ignored the decapitated corpse on stage.

I addressed the same concern when I taught the play to 8th graders. In the end, they did very well with it. You will have to let your own moral compass guide the way.

how long does it take to teach macbeth?

It depends on how deep you want to go. I have taught Macbeth in one lesson; I’ve taught it over an entire year. I’d recommend at least a month, but you’ll have to see what fits in your curriculum.

shakespearean tragedy centered on the theme of “man’s inhumanity to man;

There’s plenty of inhumanity in the canon to go around.

My vote is for King Lear, though I suppose Titus Andronicus would be an appropriate choice as well.

“much ado about nothing” “which war”

Unlike other war-themed plays of Shakespeare, Much Ado about Nothing does not seem to center on any actual historical war. Directors, therefore, have the freedom to set the play in any post-war period that strikes the fancies of their set and costume designers. Of course, directors of Shakespeare hardly need such an invitation.

In the play, Don John has stood up against his brother Don Pedro, so the Civil War is a good choice. But really, the war itself is such a small part of the story that any war will suffice, even the indeterminate war of the text.

rap songs about historical figures; shakespeare

There are some organizations, like Flocabulary and The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, that use rap music to teach Shakespeare. But my favorite Shakespeare rap is still from the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s three man show The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged):

Full disclosure: Back in my acting days, I performed in this show. I played the role of Daniel (the first guy in the video, wearing red pants), and performed in this rap. The play is rather silly on the page, but turned out to be a great audience pleaser.

UPDATE: The embedded video doesn’t seem to be working right now. Here’s a direct link.

writing an obituary for hamlet

Hamlet, prince of Denmark, died yesterday from complications from a wound by a sword laced with a deadly unction. Some sources reported his age to be 30, while other sources insisted that he could not possibly have been that old. He is survived by nobody. King Fortinbras is requesting that any flowers sent on behalf of the deceased are of a botanical variety that have deep symbolic and/or ironic meaning.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:


how did shakespeare fight back?

why might modern day detectives want to question macbeth further

who plays puck on season 1 of slings and arrows

comic strip about merchant of venice

was shakespeare a teacher

edmond king lear bipolar

Googleplex – 2/7/10

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

It’s time once again to check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought people to this site in the past week.

shakespeare palindrome

I had considered this as a weekly feature after I finished with the lipogram experiment, but how much potential is there here, really?


To blat droll Lord Talbot.

No mites use Timon.

Madam, I’m Adam.

You know, Adam. From As You Like It. If you can think of any good Shakespeare palindromes, feel free to post them here, but I’m done.

But if you’re looking for some Shakespeare-spelled-backwards fun, check out this still-unsolved puzzle from the archives. And feel free to solve it!

cymbeline queen age characters

I think of the Queen as much younger than Cymbeline, and very beautiful, which is why she has so much power over him. But she needs to be old enough to have a grown son, Cloten. The play roughly takes place around the first century AD, when mothers would have been young. I’ll say late-thirties/early-forties for the Queen.

let the games begin shakespeare

The expression “Let the games begin” does not appear in Shakespeare, and actually goes back much further than his time. But I deduce that the expression you’re thinking of is “The game’s afoot,” which comes from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Elementary, my dear searcher.

shakespeare glossary ipod

I have now had a chance to use the “Shakespeare Pro” app that I discussed here, and I’m ready to recommend it. The text is hyperlinked to a glossary, so you can look up specific words in context. There are still some issues to be worked out, but it’s definitely a good app to have. I have one minor quibble: when you click on a word, it gives you every definition of that word in Shakespeare, and not the specific way it is used where you clicked it. The two-volume Schmidt lexicon breaks down where the different words are used for each meaning. But, hey, for three bucks, this is a pretty cool thing to be able to carry around with you.

underused shakespeare monologue women

I really like Queen Margaret’s speech in Henry VI, Part Three. Margaret has captured the Duke of York, who has fought to claim his right to the throne. She tells him that she has had his young son Rutland killed, and gives him a napkin stained with the boy’s blood to dry his tears. She then taunts him by placing a paper crown on his head and ordering his death. Off with his head!

rap songs relating to the tudors

I’m not entirely certain about this, but I’m pretty sure that the Run DMC song “Mary, Mary” is about Queen Mary I of England. The lyric “Mary, Mary, why you buggin’?” means “Your royal highness, why are you executing so many Protestants?” Rather than wait to be burned at the stake, many Protestants chose to leave England, many of them no doubt exclaiming “I worry ’bout Mary, ’cause Mary is scary!”

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:


why teach shakespeare

what was england and denmarks relationship during shakespeares lifetime

song playing when tudors is being advertised

shakespeare and eustachian tube

shakespeare’s language gin

i need to dress like mary tudor for a class play

Double Googleplex

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

I subscribe to a service called “SiteMeter” which allows me to see a limited amount of information about my visitors. One thing that I can see is if someone finds my site via a Google search, and what they were searching for.

It’s been a while, but every now and then I check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond to those search terms in the name of fun and public service.

In celebration of the fact that I’m moving the Googleplex to Sundays, I’m going to double my usual 6-for-me/6-for-you format and give you 12 of each. Full disclosure: I actually started this post some time ago. All of the following 24 searches did bring people to this site in the same week; it just wasn’t this past week.

Enjoy!

william shakespeare’s teachers

I kept getting hits for this search, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what people were looking for. Then, I realized that they were searching for this TED lecture on how schools kill creativity, given by Sir Ken Robinson in 2006. It’s almost 20 minutes long, but well worth watching. I should have posted this a long time ago.




freud and arrested development

I think they were looking for the actual psychological phenomenon, and not my analysis of a sitcom. But this post now ranks fourth in this particular Google search. The Internet is a funny place.

if shakespeare were alive today, who in history would he write tragedy about?

Shakespeare’s take on George III would have been well worth the staging. He probably would have also had a go at William III and the Glorious Revolution. We’d probably still be staging the famous Battle of the Boyne scene and debating whether or not Shakespeare was a secret Jacobite.

two monarchs reigned during shakespare lifetime. the bu

The two monarchs were Elizabeth I and James I. I’m not really sure what the rest of your question was going to be.

what do shakespeare’s play show about religion of the time

Shakespeare lived between two periods of severe religious strife. The mid-16th century was marked by radical shifts in English religious life described in greater detail here. After Shakespeare’s death, growing religious tension between Catholics and Protestants would lead to civil war and the execution of King Charles I. Compared to these two periods of violence, Shakespeare’s England was relatively stable religiously, though obviously there was still some unrest.

People have looked to Shakespeare’s plays for clues of where he fell on the question, but there’s no concrete evidence either way. Most of his plays are set either before the Protestant Reformation or in Northern Italy (which was solidly Catholic at the time) so Shakespeare – seemingly by design – didn’t have to deal with the religious issue much. One notable exception is Measure for Measure, which takes place in Vienna. If you would like to read Shakespeare’s scenes depicting a Protestant official debating the death penalty with a Catholic novice, you will find them here and here.

the religion in king lear

King Lear takes place in pre-Christian Britain. The characters make various references to Roman gods such as Jupiter and Apollo.

what inspired shakespeare to write macbeth?

Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, and Shakespeare had spent much of his career writing popular plays about her famous ancestors. When James I ascended the throne, Shakespeare wrote a play about his ancestors to honor the new king.

Note that the bloodthirsty Macbeth is not one of these ancestors. Rather, the noble Duncan, Malcolm, Siward, Banquo, and Fleance are the ancestors of James depicted in the play. Oh yeah, and the first seven of the show of eight kings. See below.

how does the vision of the eight kings make macbeth feel

Not good. Concerned about a prophecy that says that Banquo’s decendants will be kings, Macbeth demands to know whether all that he has done has been for the benefit of another’s line. The witches show him eight kings, and Banquo’s ghost who points to them as his. These eight kings correspond with the eight actual Stuart kings of Scotland. The eighth king is James himself.

shakespeare plays for junior high students

Well, I suppose the conventional answers are Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But I’ve had some success with Othello and Cymbeline which aren’t exactly the first plays that come to mind when I think of the term “age appropriate.” If you can find a way to help students make it their own, the experience will encourage them to appreciate Shakespeare, no matter which play you choose. Go with a selection that you’re passionate about, and maybe your enthusiasm will be infectious. Or, if you’re really daring, describe a few of the plays to the students, and let them choose which one they want to work with.

jack cade henry 6th monologue

Ah, Jack Cade – one of Shakespeare’s most under-recognized comic characters. Propped up as a claimant to the throne, the rough-hewn Cade promises to kill all the lawyers and ban literacy. The famous scene is here and you can find Cade monologues here and here.

does everyone play the queen from cymbeline as purely evil?

She’s pretty clearly evil, and I’ve never seen her played any other way, but that’s as far as I can go. I’m sure someone has played her otherwise. Does anyone have another experience, or an idea of an alternate interpretation?

“nymph fly” tempest

This makes me very curious. Were they looking for my Tempest lipogram? Or did they have another reason to search for this? It seems pretty specific to me. Hmmm.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:


why teach shakespeare

what would you change about macbeth

henry vi jimmy carter

romeo juliet boal technique

what creative artists did shakespeare admire?

why people like genghis khan

3 levels of shakespeare

activities to introduce macbeth

what technology did william shakespeare used

shakespeare “they fight”

how has shakespeare changed our expectations of tragedy to aristotle in romeo and juliet

anagrams for morning coffee

Googleplex – 5/15/09

Friday, May 15th, 2009

It’s time once again to check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought people to this site in the past week.

shakespeare john talbot monologue

There are two John Talbots in Shakespeare, both in Henry VI, Part One. Shakespeare distinguishes them by calling them Lord Talbot (the father) and John Talbot (his son). The son, I believe, only appears in two scenes, found here and here, and doesn’t really have what you’d call a monologue. In both scenes, Lord Talbot wants his son to flee the battle, but the young John Talbot prefers death to dishonor. The father has a larger part in the play, including a number of long speeches throughout the play, but I’m not sure which monologue you’re looking for. Perhaps you could look for a monologue here or here.

ugliest monarchs in history

Well, that’s entirely subjective, but I will nominate Charles II of Spain who is a classic example of what happens when cousins marry.

fairytale influece in shakespeare

For Shakespeare at his most fairy-tale-esque, check out the four Romance plays he wrote towards the end of his career: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. If it’s actual fairies you’re looking for (and even a talking animal), then I’d recommend A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But one play that you might not expect to be influenced by fairy tales is none other than our own King Lear. Check out Love Like Salt to see the retelling of the source fairy tale across a variety of cultures.

utube 5th grade a midsummer night dream

It’s YouTube, and if you go there and search, the most relevant find seems to be this claymation version of the play, created by a fifth-grade class. I’ve directed Midsummer with fifth-graders, and even taped it, but the quality of the tape is too poor for posting. I am working on a number of video projects with 8th graders right now, and I hope to be able to share them with you by the end of next month.

romeo and juliet act 2 scene 1

This is the scene before the famous balcony scene, and it can be found here. Romeo appears on stage, having just left the party where he has met Juliet, and decides to hide from Benvolio and Mercutio so he can go back and find her. As Romeo’s friends search for him, they mock his preoccupation with love. Finally, they give up and leave. The next scene begins with Romeo’s response: “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” This would seem to indicate that the action is continuous, and that a scene break is unwarranted. But tradition breaks the scene here, and really, who wants to be the first one to mess with the numbering of the balcony scene?

henry viii catherine of aragon using rapidshare

Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon used Rapidshare until Henry’s break with the Catholic church in the early 1530’s. The Act of Unlimited Bandwidth was introduced into Parliment in 1532, and made Live Mesh the only permissible file hosting service in England. This enraged the Pope, who sent Henry a papal bull of excommunication as a PDF file via YouSendIt. It was his sixth wife, Catherine Parr, who convinced Henry to use Megaupload, which he did until his death in 1547.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:


who becomes claudia’s plot against hamlet?

the tempest crossword shakespeare

vitruvian man, thomas jefferson

riddle “marvin the martian” dice

macbeth:in shakespeare time

character analysis of anne boleyn in shakespeare’s henry the eighth

Googleplex – 12/19/08

Friday, December 19th, 2008

It’s time once again to check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought people to this site in the past week.

descendants of king george iii

Now we’re getting a little closer to the present. King George III was king during the American Revolution; he was the King George we were revolting against. His reign was long – over 59 years! In fact, only his granddaughter Victoria reigned longer, though Elizabeth II is likely to pass him as well on May 12, 2011. But I digress.

George III is a direct ancestor of all subsequent monarchs of England. He was succeeded by two sons, a granddaughter, a great grandson, etc. So I’d imagine he’d be a direct ancestor of pretty much everyone who we consider to be of English royal birth today, though someone with a better grasp of how all of that works may correct me. I’d also imagine that he has many descendants who are not considered English royalty, their connection to the crown being too distant. Again, I am not beyond correction on this point.

what age group is tudors for?

The Tudors is for adults.

anagrams with the word teacher

Cheater!

what historically happened when shakespeare was living

Many important historical events occurred during the 52 years of Shakespeare’s life, both in the world and in England in particular. Shakespeare was born in 1564, just two months after Galileo, and died on his birthday in 1616 on the same day as Cervantes (actually ten days later).

That’s a lot of history to cover here, but I’ll give you a sampling of five of the more significant English, but non-Shakespearean, events that took place during Shakespeare’s lifetime and how they may have affected Shakespeare. I invite readers to quibble with my choices:

1588 – The English navy defeats the Spanish Armada. This sparked a new era of English patriotism which coincided with the beginning of Shakespeare’s writing career. It’s why a lot of his early plays are Histories, as that was a popular trend at the time.

1603 – Elizabeth I dies without an heir, and is eventually replaced by King James I. James became a patron of Shakespeare’s company, now “The King’s Men,” and Shakespeare will write Macbeth in honor of the new king.

1605 – Catholic conspirators attempt to murder James in the Gunpowder Plot. It is believed that there are references to the Gunpowder Plot in Macbeth.

1607 – Establishment of Jamestown colony in Virginia. The Tempest may have been inspired by the wreck of a ship that was headed for the colony.

1611 – Publication of the King James Bible. Rumors that Shakespeare worked on the project are mere speculation. Stories about Psalm 46 containing hidden messages should be taken with a grain of salt.

shakespeare julius caesar slings and arrows

The expression “slings and arrows” is from Hamlet, but I assume you’re talking about the Canadian television series. There were three seasons, each revolving around a different Shakespearean tragedy. Julius Caesar was not one of them. The plays were, in order, Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear.

if henry the 8th was alive today what would he look like

He would look like a 517-year-old man holding a giant drumstick.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:

at what point should you feel bad for iachimo

who were shakespeare’s teacher

shakespeare time machine professor

funny alternate endings for king lear

music for a powerpoint shakespeare music

shakespeare was not good at math

Question of the Week

Monday, December 1st, 2008

I attended my 20-year high school reunion on Saturday. It was a lot of fun to see what everyone’s up to now. It was also a bit strange, because we were only 18 when we graduated, so it really was half a lifetime ago that we all knew each other. We’re all different people now, almost strangers, yet we have a knowledge of each other that in some ways is far more intimate than the friends we make today.

I also saw my 9th-grade English teacher, the first teacher ever to assign me to read Shakespeare. Of course, I very much enjoyed letting him know what I’m up to now, and he seemed very pleased as well. It made me think of my first Shakespeare experience, reading The Tempest in his class. I didn’t really understand it, but I was determined that I was going to, and eventually I did.

The Tempest seems like kind of an odd choice to use to introduce students to Shakespeare for the first time, though I can’t really see anything wrong with it. He also had taught us the Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It, which might also have been a good first play. Usually when I’m working with 5th-graders, I’m introducing them to Shakespeare for the first time, and I generally go with Macbeth or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I recently did Cymbeline with an 8th-grade class, but they had already read Romeo and Juliet, another good choice.

Then there are other plays, like King Lear or Troilus and Cressida, that I don’t think are good choices for young children. I was once asked to teach Antony and Cleopatra to 6th-grade students, and it went well, but I think Julius Caesar might have been a more appropriate choice. I also worked with a teacher who, against my advice, wanted to teach Othello to his 8th-grade class. I was so wrong; that went really well. I thought the play was too mature for them, but those kids taught me a thing or two.

So the Question of the Week, if it’s not obvious by now, is this:

What play would you choose to introduce Shakespeare to a group of students for the first time?

Does your answer change with the grade level? What if an adult friend of yours who had never read Shakespeare asked for a recommendation? Do you go with one of the masterpieces, or a fun easy read? Is one genre better than another for a first-timer? Or do you go with something you’re passionate about, so your enthusiasm can be infectious?