Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s English “Translations”

October 11th, 2015 → 5:54 am

“Mincing poetry.
‘Tis like the forced gate of a shuffling nag.”  – Henry IV, Part I

Apparently the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has decided that Shakespeare is too difficult for most people.  So they have decided to “translate” all of his plays and perform them in modern English.  Can I barf now please?  The little that has been leaked about these translations is so far awful.  Why do we keep dumming down the world?  Let’s maintain higher standards, please, and have faith in the ability of our fellow human beings to understand verse with just a little bit of effort.

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art

ShakeDic: lethe

October 7th, 2015 → 5:25 am

“Here didst thou fall, and here thy hunters stand,
Signed in thy spoil and crimsoned in thy lethe.”  – Julius Caesar

Lethe refers to the river of oblivion in the underworld.  In classical Greek the word means oblivion, forgetfulness, or concealment.  This comes up in the play just after the senators have murdered Caesar and are covered (“crimsoned”) in his blood.

What a great river to imagine: Lethe.  I wish I could take a dip in the river Lethe every time I do a stupid thing, or a stupid thing is done to me.  Whenever I can not sleep at night, fretting over something ultimately unimportant, I wish I could get up, sip from the river Lethe, and let it all slip away…

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art


September 25th, 2015 → 5:52 am

“The Devil Quotes Scripture”  – The Merchant of Venice

“Out, Damned Spot”  – Macbeth

“Unto the Breach”  – Henry V

“Die But Once”  – Julius Caesar

“Poor Yorick”  – Hamlet

Has anyone else noticed the huge number of references to Shakespeare in the TV series Empire?  From the pilot episode where one of the son’s asks his dad, Hey, are you King Lear’ing us?, to practically every title of every episode so far (see episode list above)?  I love it!  I’ve just started watching the show and it is quite good – very engaging.  It’s like Glee, but for the mafia crowd.

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art

Julius Caesar

September 9th, 2015 → 5:12 am

I’ll be leading an online discussion of Julius Caesar in about a week – feel free to join the conversation if you can:  https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/303-shakespeare-fans. In the meantime, a favorite quote from the play:

“Et tu, Brute?” – Julius Caesar

This quote runs through my mind rather more often than it probably should, as I am, and always have been, innately distrustful of people.

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art & Self/My Life

The Fault in Our Stars

August 31st, 2015 → 5:24 am

“Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”  – Julius Caesar

I’m not really a fan of teen romance movies, but I am a fan of Shakespeare references wherever they appear!  And I just realized, after seeing a production of Julius Caesar  the other day, that the title of the above referenced movie is based on the dialogue between Cassius and Brutus where Cassius speaks like a conservative Republican running for president and says – our fates are up to us, man! Take some responsibility!  The truth, of course, is that sometimes our fates are not under our control as in, for example, if you get cancer or not.

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art

ShakeDic: cutpurse

August 28th, 2015 → 5:35 am

A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
And put it in his pocket!”  – Hamlet

Cutpurse is an archaic word for pickpocket or thief.  I love old words.  Why do they have to disappear?

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art


August 18th, 2015 → 5:57 am

“That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes,
To worry lambs and lap their gentle blood.”  – Richard III

I read an article recently about anxiety in the 21st century and, astoundingly, it said that Shakespeare only used the word “worry” once in his entire collection of works (see quote above, and he used it to mean “choke,” not be stressful).  Through my own research I discovered that Shakespeare actually uses worry twice, if you allow both “worry” and “worrying,” but still, that isn’t much use of the word, and not even in the way we use it today.  The article suggested that people simply didn’t worry back in the 16th century; that doing so is a modern malady, invented really in the 20th century when we finally had the time to navel-gaze and let anxiety about things grow.  Personally, I can not imagine my life without worrying.  What would I do for 75% of every day?  How many novel mathematical theorems would I be able to come up with if 98% of my brain weren’t allocated to worrying?  What kind of conversations would I have with my son if half of them weren’t motivated by worry of him harming himself?  Would I enjoy eating more if I didn’t always worry about becoming fat?  I…can’t…imagine…

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art & Self/My Life

I Did Love You Once

May 16th, 2015 → 5:37 am

“I did love you once.” – Hamlet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m reading Hamlet right now with a discussion group.  I came across the above line yesterday, which Hamlet says to Ophelia not long after his “to be or not to be” speech; he says it almost as an after-thought after some other rambling thoughts.  When I read it, my heart just sank.  Isn’t that one of the saddest things a man can say to a woman?  Especially if you still have feelings for him?  It just broke my heart.  Poor Ophelia…  Poor Hamlet…

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art & Other

ShakeDic: encompassment

May 12th, 2015 → 5:54 am

“And finding
By this encompassment and drift of question
That they do know my son…”  – Hamlet

Encompassment, apparently, means roundabout talking.  I love it.  I should use this word to describe how too many people I know talk!  Ha ha!

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art

ShakeDic: truepenny

May 5th, 2015 → 5:56 am

“Art thou there, truepenny?” – Hamlet

In January I started a feature of this blog called “ShakeDic,” where I highlight interesting vocabulary words from Shakespeare’s works.  It started because I led a discussion group in January for the play Othello, and in rereading the play for the first time in years, so many interesting words struck me!  Alas, a glutton for punishment, the same reading group has asked me to lead a discussion of Hamlet starting this month.  The first ShakeDic word from Hamlet, therefore, is truepenny, meaning, an honest and trustworthy old fellow.  I sure wish there were more truepennys around these days.

Filed under: Blog & Literature/Theatre/Art