Robot and Human Review Romeo and Juliet

Ben at Blue Dragon Studios got in touch to tell us about this review of Romeo and Juliet by a human and a robot, sat on a sofa, chewing the fat about one of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays. It’s pretty funny and worth a watch to get a low down on the plot, and an alternative take on some of the key moments in the play… and where else have you seem a robot reviewing Shakespeare?!

Written by William Shakespeare at some point in the 1590’s, the play Romeo and Juliet is often considered a landmark literary achievement… by humans. In this video, the robots of the world finally get their say. In “Robot and Human Review: Romeo and Juliet,” a robot (ROBO) and a human (Ben) review the classic play, call each other names, and reassess its standing as an epochal narrative work. In the web series Robot and Human Review, a robot and human sit down to discuss and review an iconic work of art (generally a book, play, film, or videogame). The series was created by Benjamin Yackshaw and ROBO, his irreverent robot companion.

Which Shakesepare Play Should You See?

Fancy taking in a Shakespeare play but not sure which one to go for? Fear not! Artist Mya Gosling at Good Tickle Brain, has put together this fantastic flow chart- “Which Shakespeare Play Should You See?” – to help you make up your mind.

We love Shakespeare infographics at NoSweatShakespeare, and have to say that this is one of the most fun and creative we’ve seen. Starting with a simple question: “what do you want to do?” you’re given the choice of lauging, crying, taking a nap or watching guys run around wtih swords. Fron there it gets interesting, and more than a little quirky. Whether you’re completely new to Shakespeare, or have seena  few plays and are looking for your next inspiration, there’s really something for everyone!

What Shakespeare play to see?

What Shakespeare play to see?

Who Shares A Birthday With Shakespeare?

In tribute to Shakespeare’s birthday (23rd April 1564) we’ve pulled together a list of other famous people who shared a birthday with the Bard:

shakespeare-birthday

Giants of Western Culture

  • J.M.W. Turner, 1775,  was an English painter.  Known as the ‘Painter of Light’, Turner was perhaps the greatest landscape painter of the 19th century and his watercolours, oil paintings and engravings are now regarded as a predecessor to Impressionism.
  • Ruggiero Giacomo Maria Giuseppe Emmanuele Raffaele Domenico Vincenzo Francesco Donato Leoncavallo, 1857, was an Italian opera composer, pianist and librettist. His two-act work  Pagliacci  is one of the most popular works in the repertory.
  • Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, 1858, was a German scientist and theoretical physicist who brought about a new field in the study of physics in the late 19th century with his quantum theory of physics, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1918.
  • Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, 1891, was the most prolific Russian composer of the twentieth century. He was awarded the Anton Rubinstein Prize at the time of graduation for being the best student pianist. He is most famous for his work on the children’s story, ’Peter and the Wolf ’
  • Vladimir Nabokov, 1899, was a Russian-American novelist who achieved world fame when he began writing in English. ‘Lolita’, is his most famous novel and one of America’s most famous 20th century novels.

Stars of stage and screen

  • Janet Blair, 1921 – Actor (My Sister Eileen, The Fabulous Dorseys )
  • Shirley Temple, 1928 – Actor, famous as a child star in the 1930s
  • Lee Majors, 1940 – Actor ( The Six Million Dollar Man, Big Valley, The Bionic Woman )
  • Sandra Dee , 1942 –  Actor (Gidget )
  • Joyce DeWitt 1949 –  Actor (Three’s Company)
  • James Russo 1953 – Actor, (Django Unchained)
  • Michael Moore 1954 – Director, (Bowling for Colombine)
  • Judy Davis 1955 – Actor, (My Brilliant Career, Husbands and Wives, Marie Antoinette)
  • Jan Hooks 1957 – Actor (Designing Women, Saturday Night Live, Batman Returns )
  • George Lopez 1961 – Actor, (George Lopez)
  • John Cena, 1977 – Actor, (The Marine)
  • Dev Patel 1977 – Actor (Slumdog Millionaire)
  • Kal Penn 1977 – Actor (House M.D.)
  • Jaime King, 1979 – Actor (Pearl Harbor, Sin City, White Chick)
  • Rachel Skarsten, 1985 – Actor (Fifty Shades of Grey)
  • Cleo Demetriou, 2001, Cypriot actor, (Matilda the Musical, Les Miserables)
  • Camryn Walling, 1990 – Actor (The Agency)

Musicians

  • Roy Orbison, 1938 – Rock singer
  • Ray Peterson, 1939 – Singer
  • Narada Michael Walden, 1952 – Musician, songwriter
  • Steve Clark, 1960 – Musician (Def Leppard)
  • Stan Frazier, 1968 – Musician (Sugar Ray)
  • Tim Womack, 1968 – Musician (Sons of the Desert)
  • Christopher French, 1982 – Rock singer (Automatic Annie)
  • Taio Cruz, 1985 – Rapper
  • Snootie Wild, 1985 – Rapper
  • Caleb Johnson, 1991 – Metal singer (Elijah Hooker) Winner of American Idol

 

Writers

  • Ngaio Marsh, 1895 – New Zealand novelist specializing in crime fiction
  • James P Donleavy, 1926 – American novelist (The Ginger Man, Onion Eaters)
  • Victoria Glendinning, 1937 – English author and critic
  • Pierre Labrie, 1972 – Canadian poet and playwright

 

Sportsmen & women

  • Bud Wilkinson, 1916 – Football player
  • Don Massengale, 1937 – Golfer
  • Tony Esposito, 1943 – Canadian-American ice hockey player, coach, and manager
  • Gail Goodrich, 1943 – American basketball player and coach
  • Marty Fleckman, 1944 – Golfer
  • Andrew Gee, 1970 – Australian rugby player and manager
  • Michael Kerr, 1974 – New Zealand rugby player
  • Bobby Shaw, 1975 –American football player
  • Andruw Jones, 1977 – Baseball player
  • Sean Henn, 1981 –  American baseball player
  • Daniela Hantuchova, 1983 – Slovakian tennis player
  • Emily Fox, 1987 – American basketball player and cup stacker
  • Steph Houghton,1988 – English footballer
  • Lenka Wienerova,1988 –Slovak tennis player
  • Nicole Vaidisova, 1989 – Czech tennis player
  • Nathan Baker, 1991 – English footballer

Politicians

  • William Penn, 1621 – English admiral and politician
  • James Buchanan, 1791 –  American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 15th President of the United States.
  • Lester B. Pearson, 1897 – Canadian politician, 14th Prime Minister of Canada, Nobel Prize laureate.
  • Bernadette Devlin, 1947 – Irish civil rights leader

That it! Know of anyone else we should have on this list of people who share a birthday with Shakespeare?

Shakespeare’s Top 10 Love Scenes

Shakespeare in reknown for creating some of the world’s top lovers. In this post we take a look at Shakespeare’s top love scenes across all of his plays. So, in no particular order here are Shakespeare’s top 10 love scenes:

Much Ado About Nothing, Act 4, Scene 1

A quarrelsome duo discover they don’t hate each other

Top quote: “I do love nothing in the world so well as you” (Benedick)

Former foes Beatrice and Benedick have been conned into believing they adore each other, and now he openly admits that he does. She’d clearly reciprocate but for the crisis that has just brought them together. Her cousin Hero has been wrongly accused of promiscuity and cruelly abandoned at the altar by her prospective husband. Although Beatrice’s heart is won, her blood is up. “Kill Claudio,” she demands, adding that she herself wishes to eat his innards in the marketplace. And, unwillingly Benedick consents to what is a test of his devotion. They’re still in a church unsurprisingly emptied of all of the wedding guests except them. It’s a pretty strange setting and situation for a love scene, but nowhere else in Shakespeare is there a better prospect of a mature, lasting marriage.

Kennth Branagh & Emma Thompson in Branagh's 1993 adaption of Much Ado About Nothing

Kennth Branagh & Emma Thompson in Branagh’s 1993 adaption of Much Ado About Nothing

As You Like It, Act 4, Scene 1

Frolics, love games and cross-dressing in the Forest of Arden

Top quote: “…that thou didst know how many fathom deep I am in love!” (Rosalind)

Here’s an almost more unconventional love scene. An environmentally reckless Orlando – he has been ruining trees by caving her name on them – is and isn’t courting Rosalind. The confusion is because Shakespeare’s virtuoso gender-bending meant that a boy-actor would have been playing a girl disguised as a boy pretending to be a girl. Yet whoever now takes the two roles, they should be packing the scene with half-suppressed sensuality and longing. “Woo me, woo me,” demands Rosalind. “Love me, Rosalind,” says Orlando, capitulating to the seeming deception. However, as she then admits to her reproachful friend Celia, she has capitulated already – and when Vanessa Redgrade, Victoria Hamilton, or Alexandra Gilbreath played the part, you saw the youth, sprit, heart of Shakespeare’s liveliest heroine.

 

 

Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

Bad luck ensures an intense but fragile love ends in tragedy

Romeo-and-Juliet-love-scene

Balcony fun in Zefferlli’s classic 1968 Romeo & Juliet

Top quote: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep: the more I give to thee, the more I have” (Juliet)

Juliet, always wiser than her impetuous suitor, calls the contract she and Romeo make “too rash, too unadvised, too sudden”. Yet although she’s all too right, the encounter preceding it is still the most beautiful, touching love scene that Shakespeare wrote. “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” says Juliet, telling herself that although he’s a Montague and a tribal enemy , “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. And there are certainly no thorns in his reply: “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptised.” It’s to be a long, sad fall from the balcony on which she’s tremulously standing. Indeed, I recall a grouchy professor suggesting that they had to die, because they couldn’t sustain the romance, let alone all that blank verse. A bit cynical, surely.

 

The Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4

A rustic Cinderella from Sicily gets her Prince (of Bohemia) – minus the glass slippers

Top quote: “Your hand, my Perita: so turtles pair that never meant to part” (Florizel)

Anyone who has stupidly slept through the plays first half might think it’s a case of the prince and the pauper girl. Yet Perdita, the shepherd’s daughter being wooed by Florizel, heir to Bohemia’s throne, is unknowingly the lost daughter of the once murderous but now repentant Sicilian king Leontes. And goodness, sweetness and instinctive nobility – Shakespeare believed more in nature than nurture – radiates from the girl. Now she’s wishing she could strew Florizel, whom Shakespeare has carefully made ot insist that his intentions are honourable, with flowers “for love to lie and play on”. Now she’s reacting to the appalled Bohemian king’s violent threats with quiet courage: “The selfsame sun that shines upon his court hides not his visage from our cottage…” The girl he regards as an uppity frog is about to be revealed as a princess – and will soon be Florizel’s bride and one day, the queen of Bohemia and Sicilia.

 

The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 1

She’s an island exile who’s naïve and pretty, he’s handsome and overwhelmed by her innocence.

Top quote: “I, beyond all limit of what else i’ the world, do love, prize, honour you” (Ferdinand)

Love at first sight? Well it happens in Romeo & Juliet and it has already happened here; unsurprisingly in the case of Miranda, who has never before seen males except her father and Caliban, but more surprising with the shipwrecked Ferdinand, who comes from Naples, a city teeming with females. And now he’s finding the task of lugging logs for her father “a pleasure” because of her sweetness, she’s tenderly begging him to relax and both are agreeing to marry. “Fair encounter of two most rare affections!” says the watching Prospero, who has been playing the curmudgeon to test the boy’s virtue. And before long Iris, Ceres and even Juno will be summoned from the clouds to bless the love match and then join nymphs and dancing reapers by way of celebrating it.

Antony & Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 1

Happy ever after? It can’t last, it won’t, it doesn’t

Top quote: “Fie, wrangling queen!…whose every passion fully strives to make itself, in thee, fair and admired!” (Antony)

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the film ‘Cleopatra’

It’s surprisingly hard to pick a love scene from Shakespeare’s protracted take on history’s most famous lovers. They’re public people, invariably surrounded by courtiers; often they’re quarrelling. And is the episode in which she helps him don his armour before a key battle a love scene? No, but let’s recall the play’s opening, when he snubs a messenger with “let Rome in Tiber melt”, then whisks her offstage, presumably to bed. When Anthony Hopkins or Richard Jonson was playing the besotted veteran, and Judi Dench or Clare Higgins was bringing sexual passion to the sly, flirtatious, volatile, jealous, enchanting, vindictive, miscehveous, possessive mix of traits that’s Cleopatra – well you believe that what he hails as “a mutual pair” and linked by complex, contradictory emotions that do amount to love.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 1

An angry fairy king hexes his queen, partnering her with a man-donkey

Top quote: “What angel wakes me from my flowery bed” (Titania)

What, a love scene? Isn’t it odd to make the claim when the Fairy Queen is having a magically enforced encounter with a blubbery weaver who has been half-transformed into an ass? Well, I’ve seen revivals in which it certainly wasn’t a comical cuddle in a bosky hammock, complete with furry ears and goofy heehaws. When Josette Simon’s Tatiana exuded squeals of orgasmic delight as she squirmed into the arms of a creature she called “my love”, and Daniel Ryan’s Bottom responded with astonished rapture, it was clear that sex and more than sex was in the forest air. True, not all revivals are as openly erotic as Michael’s Boyd in 1999 – some primary school teachers hastily removed their charges in the interval – but his approach was and remains justified by the text.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)

The Merchant of Venice, Act 5 Scene 1

A girl elopes with a class of lover her father hates

Top quote: “Here will we sit and let the sounds of music creep in our” (Titania)

Here’s a love scene that’s exquisitely written, yet can strike one as anticlimactic, even a bit sick. Jessica has abandoned her Jewish father to marry one of his Christian enemies Lorenzo. Now she sits with her beau enjoying his company, the moonlight and a “sweet wind” that “did gently kiss the tree”. Yet we’ve just witnessed Shylock’s humiliation, a moment actors have often made horribly painful. Certainly the distraught wail that Lawrence Olivier made after being led from the Doge’s court still rings in my ears. Yet did Shakespeare sense this? The mythic people that Jessica and Lorenzo recall as they celebrate “such a night as this” – Dido, Troilus even Medea – didn’t enjoy the happiest of marriages. She then half-jokingly questions his love, he earnestly reassures her – but what, one asks, will their future be?

Troilus and Cressida, Act 3 Scene 2

Warrior falls for beauty whose name has become a byword for falsity

Top quote: “I am giddy; expectation whirls me round. The imaginary relish is so sweet that it enchants my senses” (Troilus)

There’s much more than a promise of disaster in Shakespeare’s most cynically conceived love scene. With a seemingly bashful Cressida eager for a kiss and Troilus salivating as he prepares to “wallow in the lily-beds” we’re already wondering if what we’re encountering is lust rather than love. And as it proves, first when Cressida oddly tells the post-coital Troilus that “you men will never tarry”, then when she’s in the Greek camp, flirting with its leaders, then giving herself to Diomedes while a despairing Troilus spies on them.

Troilus and Cressida, with Rachel Pickup and Adam Levy

Troilus and Cressida, with Rachel Pickup and Adam Levy

 

Henry IV Part 1, Act 3 Scene 1

English Earl and Welsh princess bring together Henry IV’s enemies

Top quote: “I understand thy kisses and thou mine, and that’s a feeling disputation” (Mortimer)

Are there any happy marriages in the plays of a man who bequeathed his “second best bed” to the older woman he married after getting her pregnant? Well here’s one. Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, sits with his wife, Owen Gelndower’s daughter, speaking to her with a sweetness that’s clearly to be compared with the roughhouse banter of the Hotspurs, who sit near by. However, Lady Mortimer speaks no English and, although he rests his head on her lap t the sound of soothing music. Mortimer speaks no Welsh. Is there here a sad, cynical message for Shakespeare’s other heroines, such as Jessica, Perdita, Miranda or even Rosalind? Think before you jump and, if you do, depend on laps, music, and a complete absence of dialogue.

 

And that’s your lot – what do you think, any classic Shakespeare love scenes you’d have liked to have seen on the lsit but didn’t?

‘The Bard by the Beach’: Morecambe’s very first Shakespeare Festival!

Morecambe’s very first Shakespeare Festival: The Bard by the Beach will be taking place over the weekend of 22nd – 24th April 2016. Planned to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, events will be taking place across a multitude of venues in Morecambe (including the iconic Midland Hotel and Historic Winter Gardens Theatre) […]

I’ll Send Him Packing

Here’s part three in a new video series from  BBC Learning English and The Open University called ‘Shakespeare Speaks’. The series celebrates Shakespeare’s use of language with light-hearted video clips that imagine the inspiration for Shakespearean phrases that are still in use today.

Here the origin of Shakespeare’s phrase “I’ll send him packing” is explored. In today’s video William Shakespeare isn’t getting on very well with his actors… is that why people are throwing rotten fruit?


Meaning
The phrase I’ll send him packing was in common use in Shakespeare’s day. It means the same today as it did back then: I really don’t want this person around me, so I’ll send them away.

Example sentence
I’ve no patience when people try to sell me things at the door. I usually send them packing.

Note
It’s also used in sport, to talk about beating an opponent.

Example sentence
This is our chance to do it and we should send them packing with their tails between their legs.

 

As Dead As A Doornail

Here’s part two in a new video series from  BBC Learning English and The Open University called ‘Shakespeare Speaks’. The series celebrates Shakespeare’s use of language with light-hearted video clips that imagine the inspiration for Shakespearean phrases that are still in use today.

In today’s video the origin of Shakespeare’s phrase “as dead as a doornail” is explored. Here Thomas Swann gets a shock… luckily, it’s just a line from a play!

Meaning
The phrase as dead as a doornail was in common use in Shakespeare’s day. It means the same today as it did back then: Dead. Very dead. Totally dead.

Example sentence
Old Marley was as as dead as a doornail. (Charles Dickens)

Note
These days we can use as dead as a doornail for electrical gadgets that aren’t working.

Example sentence
Oh no – I forgot to charge my phone. It’s as dead as a doornail.

All That Glisters Is Not Gold

Today we’re happy to share the first in a new video series from  BBC Learning English and The Open University called ‘Shakespeare Speaks’. The series celebrates Shakespeare’s use of language with light-hearted video clips that imagine the inspiration for Shakespearean phrases that are still in use today.

In today’s video the origin of Shakespeare’s phrase “all that glisters is not gold” is explored. Here Shakespeare’s daughter gets a shock when her finger turns green – and Will takes the opportunity to teach her a valuable life lesson:

Meaning
The phrase all that glisters is not gold warns us not to be fooled by people or things that look good – because they might not be as good as they look on the surface!

Example sentence
Well that car looks fantastic, but all that glitters is not gold. Check the engine before you buy it.

Note
In modern English, the word glisters is often changed to glistens or glitters.

‘I Swear I’ll Make Heaps’… William Shakespeare Anagrams!

peek-clam-and-make-anagramsWe very happily stumbled across the wonderful AnagramGenius website this week, which truly does have some genius anagrams – including a range of Shakespeare anagrams from the ridiculous to the sublime.

 

 

‘William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of:

‘Hear me as I will speak’

‘I swear I’ll make heaps’

…and perhaps our favourite, ‘We shall make a pie sir!’

 

‘William Shakespeare, The Bard of Avon’  is an anagram of ‘Abrasive alpha male of the worse kind’

 

‘The Immortal Bard, William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of  ‘This admirable writer shall make a poem’

 

‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ is an anagram of  ‘Pick Marlowe, ask if he wrote all these poems’

 

And playing around with Shakespeare’s hometown ‘Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire, Britain’ gives: ‘Harp a visit in our known, a terrific bard’s town’

 

That’s the pick of Shakespeare anagrams from AnagramGenius. What do you think of these Shakespeare-related anagrams – could you do any better? Let us know your ideas in the comments below.