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 What was Shakespeares Wikki?

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:46 am

Really enjoying 'The Hollow Crown 'production - I came to wonder about Shakespeare's source for research on the Middle Ages. I realise what he was doing in a political sense and that his take on Henry 1V was slanted but how was British history accessed in those times for school and scholarship? And how informed would the 'great unwashed' of the theatre viewing pits have been at the time? Current analogies would dwell on 'Braveheart' and 'The Gladiator' and such stuff, I guess.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:01 am

Mainly Holinshed's Chronicles (for English history) and Plutarch's Lives (for Roman stuff). WS happily lifted great chunks from both. He was such a bad lad with his history and his sources - far worse than Philippa Gregory. He didn't give a hoot.

The groundlings just wanted entertainment - a good laugh or a good cry, with the odd witch or ghost thrown in for a scary supernatural thrill. Oh, and a few clever digs at them in charge.

Nothing changes much, does it?
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:05 pm

Was Holinshed's Chronicles a kind of standard work - am being lazy and ought to do a Wikki here, I know. I use Plutarch myself and such stuff, but of our own history I have very little - make that no - knowledge of how our own early history was written or preserved for handing down. Our school books of the plays, for instance had lengthy chapters at the back filled with such detail which now I wish I had bothered to read; another pain of age. Thank you anyway - now enlighten me further , Temp, if you will. We ought have a Hollow Crown topic on the boil too.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:24 pm

This is a useful site:

http://www.shakespeare-w.com/english/shakespeare/source.html

I think Shakespeare used John Hardyng's Chronicle for Henry IV too, but I'm not sure.

I've been trying to find out more about Harry Percy today - that scene with Glendower's daughter singing in Welsh was done so well. Michelle Dockery was really good as Kate (think that should be Elizabeth, but Shakespeare got it wrong) Percy: Dockery would make someone an excellent Lady Macbeth, but no doubt the Dowton Abbey crap is where the money is.

Opinion here is divided about Simon Russell Beale's Falstaff - I thought he was wonderful. Didn't like Julie Walters as Ms Quickly, though, thought she hammed it up terribly - but she was the only weak one in a magnificent cast. Jeremy Iron's Henry IV was superb - just like a weary headmaster coping with intelligent, but incredibly tiresome, Year 13 students.

PS Do you know I'm not sure how much *English* history was taught in the grammar schools. It's a good question - was Holinshed a sort of Tudor GCSE text? I have no idea. Will try and find out. I rather suspect it was all Latin, Latin and more Latin (plus Greek history).
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:09 am

I thought the way Falstaff was presented was superb technique. Staged Falstaff is playing to the pit stuff - film/Tv direction of that quality disclosed a most interesting and more complex character - and yes superb acting too but the concept was founded in excellent production.

Presumably they used assorted churches for the atmospheric staging - where in reality I think the court probably met in smaller and simpler surrounds - that's merely a quibble.

And I would have preferred they has used an unknown face for Mistress Quickly - another quibble I'll not bother to explain.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:29 am

This is an excellent programme:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/shakespeares-restless-world/programmes/europetriumphsofthepast/

The whole series is fascinating, but in this particular episode Jonathan Bate confirms that ordinary people went to the *theatre* to learn history.

But - and I certainly had no idea about this - they also went on guided tours of Westminster Abbey. For the same price of admission to the Globe - 1d - you could (in 1600) go round the Abbey and be given a potted history of all the great men and women buried there. The guide would also translate all the Latin inscriptions for you.

William Camden wrote a guidebook for the Abbey - published in 1600.

And you could gaze in gobsmacked wonder at a wonderful display: Henry V's sword, shield and helmet - what were called his "funeral achievements"!
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:57 pm

Hamlet originates from a traditional Scandinavian narrative recorded by the Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus in the 12th century. There is a play from 1561, entitled Gorboduc which is the forerunner to King Lear
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:49 pm

@Triceratops wrote:
There is a play from 1561, entitled Gorboduc which is the forerunner to King Lear

Gorboduc was the forerunner to a lot of plays - it's been described as "the first unrelieved English tragedy". It's pretty dire stuff, though, heavily influenced by Seneca. But the plot - a British king abdicating in favour of his two sons, Ferrex and Porrex, and the anarchy that follows - does seem to have influenced Shakespeare. Sackville and Norton had a didactic aim: they wished to depict the misfortunes of a kingdom where the succession is uncertain (an obsession, understandably, with the Elizabethans) and the kingdom unwisely *divided*. Shakespeare's Lear, written (it's thought) between 1604-6, was also concerned with (among many other things) the evils of *disunion*. Between 1604 and 1607 King James was trying to get Parliament to approve of the union of England and Scotland and the king often referred to the misfortunes that division had brought to early Britain. So in Lear Shakespeare, as usual, *appeared* to be flattering the king. The king enjoyed the sugar-coating and missed - and so was not offended by - the bitter pill that WS was really offering him.


Last edited by Temperance on Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:55 pm

Clearly you know far more about this than I do, Temp.

Trike.
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:29 am

So Shakespeare, temp, he was close to affairs of state and matters of royal concern? Would the king have seen a production of Lear? Or was it a gossipy sort of society? I have lived on the edge one of those - which can be dangerously filled with part truths and wayward guesswork for the most part. As far as I was concerned it ended with me and was not passed on.

Is it possible that hindsight has read more into these plays than was intended? I am stepping close to that poet of yours now, ....... Thus it is with all the arts, I suppose. What is alarming is some of the puffed up claptrap that some young artistes spout when talking of their latest masterpiece; that includes dance, art, drama and music. A work must be the purveyor of its own depth is my opinion. Now I'll retreat to my box and close the lid. But just a closing thought, did Shakespeare ever spout anything about his work?
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:58 am

@Priscilla wrote:
Is it possible that hindsight has read more into these plays than was intended? I am stepping close to that poet of yours now, ....... Thus it is with all the arts, I suppose. What is alarming is some of the puffed up claptrap that some young artistes spout when talking of their latest masterpiece; that includes dance, art, drama and music. A work must be the purveyor of its own depth is my opinion. Now I'll retreat to my box and close the lid. But just a closing thought, did Shakespeare ever spout anything about his work?

I tend to agree re WS Priscilla, isn't it possible that he was merely writing to his audience and his main motivation was bums on seats?

And also agree with your arts in general comment. Far too much pretention involved sometimes, both on the part of the artist and the, purported, connaisseurs.

Is there enough room in that box P?
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:22 am

@Priscilla wrote:
So Shakespeare, temp, he was close to affairs of state and matters of royal concern? Would the king have seen a production of Lear? Or was it a gossipy sort of society? I have lived on the edge one of those - which can be dangerously filled with part truths and wayward guesswork for the most part. As far as I was concerned it ended with me and was not passed on.

Is it possible that hindsight has read more into these plays than was intended? I am stepping close to that poet of yours now, ....... Thus it is with all the arts, I suppose. What is alarming is some of the puffed up claptrap that some young artistes spout when talking of their latest masterpiece; that includes dance, art, drama and music. A work must be the purveyor of its own depth is my opinion. Now I'll retreat to my box and close the lid. But just a closing thought, did Shakespeare ever spout anything about his work?

"King Lear", Shakespeare's most searing assault on the frailty and hypocrisy of justice and authority, was performed "before the King's Majesty" at Whitehall on St. Stephen's night, 1606. His company, formerly the Lord Chamberlain's Men, were now, by the royal warrant issued in May 1603, the "King's Majesty's Players" and actually entitled to call themselves Grooms of the Chamber. They were known familiarly simply as the King's Men. They performed at court all the time.

And Shakespeare possibly did hobnob with some pretty important people - notably with the Earl of Southampton and his dangerous aristocratic chums.

Agree WS's main concern was getting bums on seats, ID, but to do that he had to comment wittily on current affairs, something he did all the time (plenty of textual evidence - rather than pretentious crap - for that). But it was a dangerous game and Shakespeare sailed very close to the wind, so to speak, at times. But what he actually thought about anything is anyone's guess. He was the master of ambiguity - he had to be to survive.

We watched the DVD of "A Dangerous Method" last night (film about Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Keira Knightley's chin). Before the film started there was a trailer for the new Ralph Fiennes' production of "Coriolanus". I was amazed to see this:

From the screenwriter of "Gladiator" and "The Last Samurai" - William Shakespeare's "Coriolanus".

Best laugh I've had all week.
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:16 am

I have seen criticism of these plays on the grounds that they don't stick close enough to Shakespeare's words and for people who love the originals that matters. They don't mind adaptations, but want them to be clearly defined thus. So perhaps this is a sort of compromise.
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:46 pm

John Logan hasn't "adapted" Coriolanus at all - that I could cope with. He's pinched WS's script and then (skilfully, it must be admitted) edited it. Fair enough, but this - from "information about the film" - is infuriating:

Screenplay: John Logan

Source material: William Shakespeare

Source material! Our William reduced to source material! What an absolute cheek. Perhaps I should have posted this on the spinning thread.

Yet that trailer credit was ambiguous - made it sound as though the idea for "Gladiator" was originally Shakespeare's!

Not really relevant, but may I post this?

http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Observer/documents/2002/04/20/obs.ore.020421.005.pdf

Wasn't the young Southampton beautiful?
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 3:51 pm

Did Shakespeare write the original "Love Me Now" and "What's Another Year" too?

Logan was Grand Marshall at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Oslo a year ago. Gone to seed big time but the voice was still warbly.
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PostSubject: Re: What was Shakespeares Wikki?   Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:03 pm

Just googled him.

"Mister Eurovision" - the poor, poor man. Fancy having that as your epitaph.
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