Living with Shakespeare: Essays by Writers, Actors, and Directors
Edited by Susannah Carson
Vintage, 528 pp., $16
It should come as no surprise that the best essays in Living With Shakespeare are by the writers, not the actors and directors listed in its subtitle. Overall, though, this 500-page collection left me unfulfilled: about a quarter of the way in, I found myself craving the real thing. Why am I getting Shakespeare secondhand, I thought, when I can just go straight to the source?
The Public Theater, Lower East Side’s iconic Shakespearean play house, which emerged from its facelift on October 4, celebrated in a big way with a Block Party on Saturday, the first of an eight-week re-introduction “designed to engage the entire New York community.”
When it comes to Shakespeare, there are basically two settings for an adaptation: New York City, and outer space. From Ethan Hawke’s Hamlet to Men of Honor (in which John Turturro plays an Italian mobster whose rise to power resembles the story of a certain Scottish play), to West Side Story, the Bard’s work has often been played against the backdrop of bustling NYC.
And while the conceit of a modern take on Shakespeare might be worn in theory (O, anyone?), Veritgo’s new comic book, Prince of Cats, found a way to update the most cliched classic–Romeo and Juliet–without it coming off as kitschy.
Who really wrote William Shakespeare’s plays? Theories abound as scholars, dramaturges and researchers have accused the Bard of Avon of perpetrating a massive hoax through the centuries and boiled down the suspects. Now a lavish but somewhat tedious costume epic called Anonymous investigates each and every culprit in what often seems like double the time it must have taken to write the 37 plays, 154 sonnets and numerous collected poems of the Shakespeare oeuvre in the first place. It’s an exhausting film, but worth your stamina.
Shakespeare may be the most performed playwright in the history of letters, but in 400 years not one original script has been found in his own handwriting. When he died at 52, survived by an illiterate wife and daughter, he left behind in his will no mention of a single manuscript. In Anonymous, an obvious labor of love for director Roland Emmerich, the culprit is identified as Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, a wealthy aristocrat who could not attach his real name to works of lusty romance, tragedy and political intrigue because they lampooned prominent members of the court.
“All the world’s a stage,” a hoary cliché, is also, it’s worth remembering, the start of a soliloquy in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. In New York these days, it threatens to shift from Shakespearian metaphor to Shakespearian fact.
So what to think about a British company that comes to town to put on Read More
The critical drubbing administered to Julie Taymor’s The Tempest—which currently enjoys a 26% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes—may surprise fans of the director’s excellent adaptation of Titus. But the fact is, the Bard has a pretty sketchy track record on screen.
Whatever you think of the source material (and we generally think Shakespeare is first-rate!), Read More
By choosing it as its word of the year, Oxford University Press has ushered in “refudiate” — the much-debated combination of “refute” and “repudiate” made famous by Sarah Palin — to our commonly accepted lexicon.
“From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded Read More
Wall Street executives like calling boardroom intrigue Shakespearean, but it isn’t. Motives are knotty in Shakespeare’s tragedies; psyches are scrambled, and even ravenousness gets convoluted. Banking is purer. There is allegiance, betrayal, revenge, failure, power and money.
So while it might have seemed that something intricate and theatrical must have happened last week, when JPMorgan’s Read More