Shakespeare Magazine 9

You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world<br />


FREE<br />

Issue 9<br />

TOM<br />


From Henry V to Coriolanus:<br />

Say Hello to <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

Secret Weapon!<br />

Annus<br />

Horribilis<br />

James Shapiro on<br />

1606: William<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> and<br />

the Year of Lear<br />

Special issue<br />


Coriolanus<br />

Hiddleston<br />

finds his<br />

killer instinct<br />

Macbeth<br />

A movie epic with<br />

Michael Fassbender<br />

and Marion Cotillard<br />

Bill<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>an<br />

comedy from the<br />

Horrible Histories crew<br />

Hamlet<br />

Benedict<br />

Cumberbatch<br />

on the big screen!

Duchess of Brittany.<br />

Wife of Henry IV.<br />

Queen of England.<br />

She is Joanna of Navarre. This is her unforgettable tale.<br />

The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien is published by<br />

MIRA on 14 January 2016, priced £12.99 (Hardcover),<br />

£7.99 (eBook)

Welcome <br />

Welcome<br />

to Issue 9 of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong><br />

Photo: David Hammonds<br />

A few months ago I strolled into Bristol’s Odeon cinema, paid<br />

the princely sum of five pounds, took my seat in the front row,<br />

and settled down to watch Michael Fassbender and Marion<br />

Cotillard in the epic new film of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s Macbeth.<br />

One evening soon after, I drove to the Bristol Cineworld, where<br />

I sat enthralled by the NT Live screening of Benedict Cumberbatch<br />

in Hamlet. Around the same time, we could have seen brilliant<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> spoof Bill in UK cinemas, while encore screenings of<br />

Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus were on the way. And screenings of Alex<br />

Hassell in Henry V and Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench in The<br />

Winter’s Tale were not too far behind.<br />

Apart from enjoying these films and screenings myself, I’ve also<br />

enjoyed seeing the often delighted reactions of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> fans all<br />

over the world. And I’ve learned some interesting facts along the way.<br />

Did you know that Cumberbatch’s Hamlet was screened in 85% of<br />

UK cinemas? And that its biggest single audience was in Bristol? Not<br />

the screening I was at, but the Vue cinema over at Cribbs Causeway,<br />

where a staggering eight screens were packed out.<br />

To celebrate the rise and rise of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> on screen, this issue’s<br />

cover star is the superb Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus.<br />

Let me also take the opportunity to wish you all a happy and<br />

rewarding 2016. Of course, it’s set to be another huge year for<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>, so we’d better brace ourselves!<br />

Enjoy your magazine.<br />

Pat Reid, Founder & Editor<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 3

At last! A magazine with all the Will in the world<br />


FREE<br />

Issue 9<br />

TOM<br />


From Henry V to Coriolanus:<br />

Say Hello to <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

Secret Weapon!<br />

Special issue<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong><br />

Issue Nine<br />

December 2015<br />

Founder & Editor<br />

Pat Reid<br />

Art Editor<br />

Paul McIntyre<br />

Staff Writers<br />

Brooke Thomas (UK)<br />

Mary Finch (US)<br />

Contributing Writers<br />

Helen Mears<br />

Kayleigh Töyrä<br />

Chief Photographer<br />

Piper Williams<br />

Thank You<br />

Mrs Mary Reid<br />

Mr Peter Robinson<br />

Ms Laura Pachkowski<br />

Web Design<br />

David Hammonds<br />

Contact Us<br />

shakespearemag@outlook.com<br />

Facebook<br />

facebook.com/<strong>Shakespeare</strong><strong>Magazine</strong><br />

Twitter<br />

@UK<strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

Annus<br />

Horribilis<br />

James Shapiro on<br />

1606: William<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> and<br />

the Year of Lear<br />


Coriolanus<br />

Hiddleston<br />

finds his<br />

killer instinct<br />

Macbeth<br />

A movie epic with<br />

Michael Fassbender<br />

and Marion Cotillard<br />

Website<br />

www.shakespearemagazine.com<br />

Newsletter<br />

http://tinyletter.com/shakespearemag<br />

Bill<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>an<br />

comedy from the<br />

Horrible Histories crew<br />

Hamlet<br />

Benedict<br />

Cumberbatch<br />

on the big screen!<br />

Contents<br />

6 Lord of war<br />

The landmark that was<br />

Tom Hiddleston’s Donmar<br />

Warehouse Coriolanus.<br />

13<br />

“I play the<br />

man I am...”<br />

How <strong>Shakespeare</strong> helped<br />

<br />

Hiddleston’s stellar career.<br />

16 Sweet prince<br />

<br />

screenings, we look again at<br />

Cumberbatch’s Hamlet.<br />

20<br />

Mud, blood<br />

and fears<br />

A muscular Macbeth movie<br />

starring Michael Fassbender<br />

and Marion Cotillard.<br />

26<br />

All the<br />

king’s men<br />

World-renowned <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

scholar James Shapiro on his<br />

new book, 1606.<br />

30 A series of funny<br />

misunderstandings<br />

<br />

<br />

the people behind Bill.<br />

38<br />

Man and<br />

myth<br />

Paul Edmondson re-examines<br />

<br />

42<br />

“The glory of<br />

our art...”<br />

Gorgeous poster art book<br />

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong>.<br />

4 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Coriolanus<br />

Due to massive popular demand,<br />

Tom Hiddleston’s Donmar Warehouse<br />

Coriolanus recently made a triumphant<br />

return to cinemas around the world.<br />

Our US correspondent caught it on the<br />

<br />

Words: Mary Finch<br />

Images: Johan Persson<br />

Lord<br />

of<br />

War<br />

6 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Coriolanus <br />

“Hiddleston<br />

embodied the<br />

extremes, contrasting<br />

his gentle appearance<br />

and voice with the<br />

harsh and bloody<br />

events of the play”<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 7

Coriolanus<br />

ast year in London, Donmar Warehouse’s staging of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s Coriolanus made headlines not only for<br />

a powerful production, but because British movie star<br />

Tom Hiddleston played the title role, continuing the<br />

trend of big film actors tackling the Bard.<br />

Set in a nondescript modern war zone, the<br />

design of the production heightened the<br />

violence of the language and the action.<br />

But being tall, athletic and charming,<br />

Hiddleston hardly seems like a brutal warhardened<br />

soldier. His portrayal of Hal and<br />

<br />

Virgilia (Birgitte<br />

Hjort SØrensen) and<br />

Coriolanus (Tom<br />

Hiddleston).<br />

8 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Coriolanus <br />

Cominius (Peter<br />

De Jersey, left),<br />

Sicinia (Helen<br />

Schlesinger, above),<br />

Titus Lartius<br />

(Alfred Enoch,<br />

below).<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 9

Coriolanus<br />

Clockwise from<br />

left: Menenius (Mark<br />

Gatiss), Alfred Enoch<br />

in rehearsal, Brutus<br />

(Elliot Levey), Valeria<br />

(Jacqueline Boatswain).<br />

10 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Coriolanus <br />

“Actors remained<br />

on stage even when<br />

their characters<br />

were not in the<br />

scenes. The sparse<br />

set and costume<br />

design maintained<br />

a brutal simplicity”<br />

Henry V in The<br />

Hollow Crown TV<br />

series easily fitted<br />

his intense youthful<br />

demeanor, but Coriolanus<br />

seemed a bit of a stretch.<br />

Indeed, most of his film experience has<br />

been playing the soft-voiced villain (such as<br />

Loki in Marvel blockbusters Thor and The<br />

Avengers) or the smooth-faced gentleman<br />

(for example, Sir Thomas Sharpe in the<br />

recent Crimson Peak).<br />

But director Josie Rourke knew what<br />

she was doing. As is the case for so many<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> characters, Coriolanus is a<br />

constant contradiction and Hiddleston<br />

embodied the extremes in his performance,<br />

contrasting his gentle appearance and voice<br />

with the harsh and bloody events of the play.<br />

Coriolanus’ downfall is both his<br />

hardheaded pride and his compassion for<br />

his mother, Volumnia (Deborah Findlay).<br />

Because Hiddleston captured both aspects,<br />

the play truly felt tragic.<br />

His moments of intimacy with Virgilia<br />

(Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) and Volumnia read<br />

as sincere as his roaring against the tribunes<br />

Coriolanus and<br />

<br />

Fraser).<br />

and plebeians. Hiddleston’s Coriolanus was<br />

adorably amusing as he solicited for voices<br />

from the fickle citizens, while also being<br />

viciously terrifying in his delivery of “I<br />

banish you!”<br />

The intimacy of the Donmar space<br />

translated smoothly to the cinema screen for<br />

those of us watching around the world. But<br />

it was unapologetically a piece of theatre.<br />

The actors remained on stage even when<br />

their characters were not in the scenes, and<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 11

Coriolanus<br />

the sparse set and costume design<br />

maintained a brutal simplicity.<br />

While Hiddleston’s performance<br />

made the character a success, the<br />

supporting cast made the production<br />

a success. Perhaps best known as<br />

Mycroft in Sherlock, Mark Gatiss<br />

played Menenius as the politician you<br />

could love, while the tribunes Brutus and<br />

Sicinia (Elliot Levey and Helen Schlesinger)<br />

lent an Iago-like conspiratorial feel to their<br />

conniving conversations. As much as the<br />

audience hated them, we couldn’t help being<br />

drawn into their plans.<br />

Almost a year since seeing the<br />

production, many moments remain<br />

seared in my mind. Coriolanus dripping<br />

blood after the battle, physically and<br />

emotionally exhausted. Menenius losing his<br />

unquenchable optimism and determination<br />

12 SHAKESPEARE magazine<br />

Hiddleston’s<br />

Coriolanus at his<br />

blood-drenched<br />

zenith.<br />

after his failed intervention with Coriolanus.<br />

Aufidius (Hadley Fraser) shrewdly eyeing<br />

his enemy and choosing to forge a vengeful<br />

alliance. Volumnia facing down her son<br />

when all the men have given up hope.<br />

Ultimately, this production proves<br />

that Coriolanus deserves a place among<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s other great tragedies. And that<br />

Tom Hiddleston has the power to dominate<br />

the stage as well as the screen.

Tom Hiddleston <br />

“I play the<br />

man I am…”<br />

With his 2013 portrayal of Coriolanus at London’s<br />

Donmar Warehouse, Tom Hiddleston was acclaimed as<br />

one of the world’s most exciting <strong>Shakespeare</strong>an actors.<br />

However, the British star’s relationship with the Bard<br />

began much earlier in his career…<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

The Gathering<br />

Storm <br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

“One critic described Hiddleston<br />

as riding <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s verse<br />

like an Olympic horseman”<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 13

Tom Hiddleston<br />

“British <strong>Shakespeare</strong> legend Kenneth Branagh<br />

cast Hiddleston as the villainous Loki in his<br />

Marvel adventure Thor”<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Thor<br />

<br />

The Avengers<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

King Kong<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

14 SHAKESPEARE magazine

At Scribbelicious we are all about the words!<br />

Wear your love for literature on your sleeve and<br />

close to your heart.<br />

Made in our studio at the bottom of Hope Mountain in North Wales,<br />

each of the real page fragment pendants is unique, made from salvaged old<br />

books, many over a century old. The beautiful old paper is sealed under<br />

glass and placed inside silver-plated, bronze or sterling silver settings.<br />

We also turn <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s words into eye-catching designs, which are<br />

printed onto specialist paper and sealed under glass.<br />

Our <strong>Shakespeare</strong> jewellery can be found at the Royal <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

Company gift shop in Stratford-upon-Avon and at <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s Globe in<br />

London, as well as online at www.scribbelicious.com.<br />

Please contact us if you would like to discuss a custom order.<br />

Email: info@scribbelicious.com

Hamlet<br />

Benedict<br />

Cumberbatch’s<br />

Hamlet captured<br />

the popular<br />

imagination and<br />

ignited a global<br />

media frenzy.<br />

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch,<br />

director Lyndsey Turner’s Hamlet<br />

at London’s Barbican was the<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> event of 2015. And<br />

then it was screened live to cinemas<br />

worldwide, which meant we all got<br />

to see what the fuss was about…<br />

Words: Kayleigh Töyrä<br />

Sweet<br />

Prince<br />

16 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Hamlet <br />

Hamlet is always going to be a tricky play<br />

to stage. Everyone, from theatre buffs to<br />

armchair <strong>Shakespeare</strong> scholars, has an idea of<br />

how Hamlet ought to be. Add an actor like<br />

Benedict Cumberbatch and naysayers start<br />

baying for blood – claiming his star quality<br />

detracts from the role, or that people are<br />

seeing the play for the ‘wrong’ reasons.<br />

Unquestionably droves of people flocked<br />

to London’s Barbican and to local cinemas<br />

to see Hamlet, but whether initial interest<br />

was because of Cumberbatch or not seems<br />

irrelevant – the production delivers a fresh<br />

and modern Hamlet. And, thanks to<br />

National Theatre Live broadcasting the play<br />

Hamlet (Benedict<br />

Cumberbatch) and<br />

Laertes (Kobna<br />

Holdbrook-Smith)<br />

in the eye of the<br />

rehearsal storm.<br />

in cinemas, big productions like this are now<br />

becoming accessible to a much wider range<br />

of audiences. And the screenings of Hamlet<br />

were a stunning success, with box office<br />

takings running into the millions.<br />

Presented by Sonia Friedman Productions<br />

and directed by Lyndsey Turner, the play is<br />

immediately distinguished by Es Devlin’s<br />

beautiful set design. The stage is elegant and<br />

suitably cinematic in its detail, and the 360<br />

degree filming means that NT Live audiences<br />

can fully appreciate the subtleties of staging.<br />

The ornate banquet table, the piano<br />

played by Ophelia (Siân Brooke), and the<br />

richly decorated walls evoke early twentieth-<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 17

Hamlet<br />

“Designed by Es Devlin, the<br />

stage is elegant and suitably<br />

cinematic in its detail”<br />

century European decadence. We first meet<br />

the royal couple Gertrude (Anastasia Hille)<br />

and Claudius (Ciarán Hinds) hosting a<br />

lavish dinner party in their palace, with the<br />

commandeering Claudius goading Hamlet<br />

in front of preening courtiers. This socially<br />

privileged world becomes increasingly fragile<br />

as revolution threatens to blow it all to pieces.<br />

Huge piles of rubble fill its floors, while<br />

soldiers brandishing guns run up and down<br />

the palace stairs.<br />

Against this backdrop, Cumberbatch<br />

plays a Hamlet who never loses his<br />

Sîan Brooke’s<br />

portrayal of<br />

Ophelia resonated<br />

powerfully with<br />

audiences.<br />

dignity nor his intellectual poise. Indeed,<br />

Cumberbatch is charming as Hamlet, even<br />

when manipulating the earnest Horatio<br />

(Leo Bill). Only in the scene where Hamlet<br />

is playing with toy soldiers do we see<br />

him slightly unravelling, but he quickly<br />

composes himself. Though by no means<br />

light-hearted, the production provides ample<br />

opportunity for laughter in the humour of<br />

the foolish Polonius (Jim Norton) and the<br />

witty gravedigger (Karl Johnson). Anastasia<br />

Hille plays Gertrude superbly, capturing her<br />

divided loyalties, whereas Ciarán Hinds’s<br />

Claudius is dictatorial yet strangely attractive.<br />

Siân Brooke’s Ophelia is heartbreakingly<br />

delicate and creative, clutching a camera<br />

and snapping photos. Her affection for<br />

Hamlet seems immature and her descent into<br />

madness is pitiful – she slowly disappears<br />

from sight as she clambers over rubble.<br />

The onset of war and madness is not<br />

only mapped by the palace’s decay, but also<br />

by increasingly dishevelled appearances<br />

as imagined by costume designer Katrina<br />

Lindsay. Gertrude in particular loses her<br />

stately poise, ending up distraught in a silk<br />

nightie. Credit is also due to the trio of Jane<br />

Cox (lighting), Christopher Shutt (sound)<br />

and Jon Hopkins (music), who maintain the<br />

tempo throughout, deftly transporting us<br />

through the play’s charged scenes.<br />

The production offers a refreshing take on<br />

a famously complex play, giving us a Hamlet<br />

which reverberates with our recent 20thcentury<br />

history of dictators, war and madness.<br />

And just as refreshing is the way in which<br />

NT Live is bringing this all within reach of so<br />

many more would-be theatre-goers.<br />

<br />

18 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Hour-Long <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

expertly abridged for performance and as an introduction to <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s greatest plays<br />

VOL ONE<br />

Henry IV, Part 1, Henry V AND Richard III<br />

VOL TWO<br />

Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth AND Julius Caesar<br />

‘Matthew Jenkinson’s careful alterations of some of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

most important plays may give us less than 50% of each play’s<br />

lines, but they convey far more than that percentage of each play’s<br />

theatrical power. Moreover, they belong 100% to the highest<br />

traditions of both teaching and performing <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s plays’.<br />

Professor Michael Dobson, Director of the<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> Institute, Stratford-upon-<br />

Avon, and Professor of <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

Studies, University of Birmingham<br />

Order now from<br />

www.johncattbookshop.com<br />

Coming soon: Vol 3: A Midsummer<br />

Night’s Dream,<br />

Twelfth Night and<br />

The Tempest

Macbeth<br />

20 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Macbeth <br />

Macbeth (Michael<br />

Fassbender)<br />

broods over the<br />

bleak Scottish<br />

landscape,<br />

Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion<br />

Cotillard, director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth is<br />

a cinematic feast of majestic Scottish scenery<br />

and brutal <strong>Shakespeare</strong>an violence.<br />

Words: Kayleigh Töyrä<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 21

Macbeth<br />

eeing Macbeth on the big screen is<br />

rather a revelation. The potential<br />

of cinematically depicting the<br />

play’s rugged Scottish setting and<br />

pitched battles sets it on a different<br />

path from the more domestic<br />

explorations that have become<br />

current in theatres.<br />

This on-screen Macbeth is less about the<br />

twisted psychology of guilt, and more about<br />

the brutal Highland culture and the physical<br />

trappings of kingship. The initial battle<br />

scenes and the misty isolated village where<br />

Lady Macbeth (Marion Cotillard) prays and<br />

waits for her husband, are in stark contrast<br />

with the later vast cavernous palace and royal<br />

bedchamber. Despite its refined setting,<br />

Macbeth’s kingship offers him no respite – his<br />

crimes become more insidious, his mind more<br />

tortured.<br />

The film’s re-iteration of violence and<br />

blood makes for uncomfortable viewing. Yet<br />

the violence constantly intermingles with long<br />

lingering shots of the scenery, and beautiful<br />

music. Even battle scenes are filled with stylised<br />

shots, in a way that aestheticises the violence.<br />

In a similar way, the three screenwriters, Jacob<br />

Koskoff, Michael Leslie and Todd Louiso,<br />

maintain the aesthetics of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s words<br />

and the beautiful cadences of his verse. The<br />

brutality is poetic, never gratuitous.<br />

Michael Fassbender makes a stately, serious<br />

<br />

Fassbender and<br />

Cotillard as the<br />

regal Macbeths.<br />

22 SHAKESPEARE magazine

MacbethI <br />

Fassbender’s<br />

Macbeth is every<br />

inch a battlehardened<br />

warrior.<br />

“Duncan’s death<br />

is visceral and<br />

messy – the perfect<br />

embodiment<br />

of the horror<br />

of murderous<br />

ambition”<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 23

Macbeth<br />

“Lady Macbeth’s<br />

languidness is<br />

mesmerising. She<br />

makes us feel the<br />

terror of Macbeth<br />

spinning out of<br />

control”<br />

Macbeth who transforms from bloodstained<br />

warrior into evil tyrant. His Macbeth is<br />

attractively brooding and mysterious, though<br />

his apparent pleasure in burning Macduff’s<br />

family at the stake alienates him from the<br />

audience rather definitively. Marion Cotillard<br />

is beautiful as Lady Macbeth, though a few of<br />

her speeches lack energy and vigour.<br />

The interesting choice of starting the film<br />

with the Macbeths’ child’s funeral means that<br />

Lady Macbeth’s background is that of grief,<br />

not of blind ambition. Her languidness is<br />

mesmerising and, in her poised interactions<br />

with him, she makes us feel the terror of<br />

Macbeth spinning out of control. Eventually,<br />

the shock of Macbeth’s actions leaves Lady<br />

Macbeth speechless and she increasingly<br />

disappears from sight, dying quietly. The sexual<br />

chemistry between the two is convincing in its<br />

easy, familiar manner, and Macbeth holds her<br />

dead body like he once embraced her.<br />

Macduff is brilliantly played by Sean<br />

Harris, whose clipped heroism conveys his<br />

integrity as a staunch family man. In his final<br />

slaying of Macbeth in an epic sword battle,<br />

his pain of losing his family is transformed<br />

Marion Cotillard’s<br />

nuanced portrayal of<br />

Lady Macbeth was<br />

widely praised.<br />

into murderous rage. Similarly David Thewlis<br />

gives us the perfect King Duncan, noble yet<br />

diffident, whose death is visceral and messy<br />

– the perfect embodiment of the horror of<br />

murderous ambition.<br />

The witches (Seylan Baxter, Lynn Kennedy,<br />

Kayla Fallon and Amber Rissmann) are one<br />

of the film’s true triumphs. They appear<br />

and disappear in the fog like a dream and<br />

are a flawless blend of the supernatural and<br />

the earthly. The sense of female wisdom<br />

and regeneration, demonstrated by their<br />

growing brood, provides a thought-provoking<br />

counterbalance to the masculine powerbrokering<br />

of the Scottish kingdom. By giving<br />

young Fleance (Lochlann Harris) such a<br />

prominent role in the story’s ending, the film<br />

celebrates the witches’ powerful understanding.<br />

Just like the witches, it seems, the film hails<br />

the coming of the next generation, underlining<br />

the cyclical nature of a history fuelled by<br />

ambition and violence.<br />

<br />

24 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Planning to perform<br />

a short selection<br />

from <strong>Shakespeare</strong>?<br />

The 30-Minute <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

Anthology contains 18 abridged<br />

scenes, including monologues, from<br />

18 of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s best-known plays.<br />

Every scene features interpretive stage<br />

directions and detailed performance<br />

and monologue notes, all “road tested”<br />

at the Folger <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Library’s<br />

annual Student <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Festival.<br />

<br />

“Lays the groundwork for a truly fun and sometimes magical<br />

experience, guided by a sagacious, knowledgeable, and intuitive<br />

educator. Newlin is a staunch advocate for students learning<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> through performance.” —Library Journal<br />

The 30-Minute <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Anthology<br />

includes one scene with monologue<br />

from each of these plays:<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

THE 30-MINUTE SHAKESPEARE is an acclaimed series of abridgments that tell the story of each play while keeping the beauty of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s language intact. The scenes and monologues in this anthology have been selected with both teachers and students in<br />

mind, providing a complete toolkit for an unforgettable performance, audition, or competition.<br />

NICK NEWLIN has performed a comedy and variety act for international audiences for more than 30 years. Since 1996, he has<br />

conducted an annual teaching artist residency with the Folger <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Library in Washington, D.C.<br />

The 30-Minute <strong>Shakespeare</strong> series is available in print and ebook format at retailers<br />

and as downloadable PDFs from 30Minute<strong>Shakespeare</strong>.com.

Interview: James Shapiro<br />

James Shapiro’s 1606<br />

depicts <strong>Shakespeare</strong> at<br />

a creative crossroads<br />

during a troubled time<br />

for England.<br />

26 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Interview: James Shapiro <br />

All the<br />

King’s Men<br />

James Shapiro discovered so much about <strong>Shakespeare</strong> when<br />

exploring a single year, 1599, that he resolved to repeat the<br />

process. The result is a new book, 1606: William <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

and the Year of Lear, that opens a window into <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

stellar career as a King’s Man during the reign of James I.<br />

Interview by Pat Reid<br />

Author photo by Mary Creggan<br />

You’ve said that your<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> journey began<br />

when you were visiting<br />

London in the late ’70s<br />

and you got hooked on<br />

watching <strong>Shakespeare</strong> plays<br />

– seeing literally hundreds<br />

of productions in the space<br />

of a few years. Is this what<br />

propelled your approach<br />

as an academic – taking<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> studies out of<br />

the ivory tower and returning<br />

it to the sweaty cockpit of<br />

London’s theatreland?<br />

“I’ve never really thought of those<br />

two sides of my identity – cultural<br />

historian and theatergoer – as quite<br />

so separate as your question implies.<br />

They are really complementary. It’s<br />

true that I didn’t enjoy <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

in high school and never took a<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> course at university,<br />

and only became interested in<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> after seeing scores of<br />

productions in the late ’70s and early<br />

’80s in London and Stratford-upon-<br />

Avon. But seeing those performances<br />

made me all the more eager to<br />

investigate the circumstances of their<br />

creation. I’ve spent the past three<br />

decades in archives on both sides of<br />

the Atlantic delving deeply into how<br />

those plays were a product of their<br />

times. Over the past few years I’ve<br />

summed the circle, and now spend<br />

a good deal of my time advising<br />

theater companies about the cultural<br />

pressures that helped shape the<br />

plays.”<br />

When your book 1599 came<br />

out a decade ago, it felt like<br />

a periscope into the past.<br />

Readers like myself were<br />

excited and inspired by how<br />

it allowed us to imagine<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s life and work<br />

in the context of a historical<br />

moment.<br />

“I stumbled on the idea about<br />

writing about a single year quite<br />

by accident. I felt that I needed<br />

to learn everything I could about<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 27

Interview: James Shapiro<br />

“James I didn’t really understand his<br />

English subjects, and couldn’t control<br />

Parliament as Elizabeth had”<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> and his world – what he<br />

read, what was going on politically<br />

and economically at the time,<br />

how <strong>Shakespeare</strong> got to and from<br />

Stratford, even what the weather<br />

was like. I had to set a limit, of<br />

course, and the one I chose was<br />

chronological – stick to one year.<br />

I chose 1599 because that was the<br />

year in which the Globe Theatre was<br />

built. It took me 15 years to research<br />

and write that book, and by the end<br />

of that time I had a much clearer<br />

understanding of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

working conditions – and a finished<br />

manuscript that I could share<br />

with others equally curious about<br />

experiencing his world in this way.”<br />

In 1599 there was a strong<br />

sense of anxiety and paranoia<br />

about current events – the<br />

Spanish threat, unrest<br />

in Ireland, the Queen’s<br />

declining years – that fed<br />

into <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s output<br />

during that time. In 1606,<br />

if anything, the situation in<br />

England is even worse?<br />

“In retrospect, the crises of 1599<br />

quickly passed. Within five years the<br />

Irish rebels were crushed, a peace<br />

treaty was signed with Spain, and<br />

the aging and childless Queen was<br />

succeeded by James VI of Scotland,<br />

who had a male heir and a spare –<br />

Prince Henry and Prince Charles.<br />

The problems of 1606 would not be<br />

resolved quite so easily. The Union<br />

of Scotland and England, which<br />

James so avidly promoted, would<br />

not occur for another century. The<br />

aftermath of that failed terrorist<br />

attempt to topple the king and<br />

destroy the royal family and the<br />

nation’s political and religious elite –<br />

the Gunpowder Plot – would leave<br />

deep scars. The great hopes for the<br />

Jacobean regime were all but over by<br />

the end of this year.”<br />

You’ve been a prime mover<br />

in encouraging readers to<br />

think about the Jacobean<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> who succeeded<br />

the Elizabethan one. For<br />

many of us it’s still a<br />

revelation that <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

was not only alive during the<br />

Gunpowder Plot, but that<br />

in Macbeth he apparently<br />

penned a response to it…<br />

“I began as one of those scholars<br />

who always spoke of <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

as an Elizabethan, never fully<br />

acknowledging that he spent the<br />

last decade of his writing life as a<br />

King’s Man, in a playing company<br />

patronized by James himself.<br />

And in my book on 1599 I only<br />

reinforced the image of <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

as an Elizabethan. So I’ve spent<br />

much of the last decade trying to<br />

make amends, first researching<br />

and presenting a three-hour BBC<br />

documentary on the Jacobean<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>, then writing a book<br />

about a remarkable Jacobean year.”<br />

It’s also staggering to think<br />

that Macbeth, Antony and<br />

Cleopatra and King Lear<br />

could all have been written<br />

in the same year. Would this<br />

have been mind-blowing for<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s colleagues and<br />

audiences? Or just business as<br />

usual in the rapid-turnover<br />

world of the Jacobean<br />

playhouse?<br />

“If I recall correctly, Thomas Dekker<br />

wrote or collaborated on ten or more<br />

plays in 1599. Writing three plays a<br />

year was not unusual for Elizabethan<br />

and Jacobean dramatists, nor had it<br />

been for <strong>Shakespeare</strong> from, say, 1595<br />

to 1599… But the years between<br />

Hamlet and Lear were fallow ones<br />

for <strong>Shakespeare</strong>, in which he wrote<br />

one or at most two plays a year. He<br />

tended to write plays in inspired<br />

bunches (and would again in 1611-<br />

12 when he wrote three romances<br />

– Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and<br />

The Tempest). We’re just fortunate<br />

that he found his footing in 1606<br />

and wrote three remarkable – and<br />

quite different – tragedies.”<br />

As an addendum to the<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> Authorship<br />

Question you addressed in the<br />

excellent Contested Will, I’ve<br />

noticed a growing number<br />

of people who’ve chosen<br />

to believe <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

was a Catholic or Catholic<br />

sympathiser. What do you<br />

think about this? While<br />

researching 1606, did you find<br />

anything that might support<br />

or disprove this notion?<br />

“Most of the evidentiary claims<br />

for the Catholic <strong>Shakespeare</strong> have<br />

been demolished of late. My own<br />

position is that we don’t and can’t<br />

know with any confidence what<br />

he professed. His religious beliefs<br />

remain hidden from us, and anyone<br />

28 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Interview: James Shapiro <br />

who claims otherwise is reading the<br />

life through the work, or projecting<br />

onto <strong>Shakespeare</strong> things they want<br />

to believe about him.”<br />

How did your view of King<br />

James evolve while you<br />

were exploring 1606? Did he<br />

deserve the “wisest fool in<br />

Christendom” tag that history<br />

has given him?<br />

“That’s a great question. I remain<br />

of two minds about James. I have<br />

enormous respect for his intellect<br />

and he was surely the best writer<br />

ever to sit on the English throne. He<br />

also handled the aftermath of the<br />

Gunpowder Plot quite well, refusing<br />

to listen to those who wanted to<br />

crack down on his Catholic subjects.<br />

But as smart as he was, James was<br />

also profligate, didn’t much enjoy<br />

the day-to-day business of ruling<br />

(preferring to let others handle that<br />

while he spent his days hunting), and<br />

wasn’t much of a husband or father. I<br />

could excuse all that if he had learned<br />

how to become a better king, but by<br />

the end of 1606 it was clear that he<br />

didn’t really understand his English<br />

subjects, didn’t know how to control<br />

Parliament as Elizabeth had, and had<br />

failed to fulfill the high hopes the<br />

English had in him.”<br />

You’ve spoken eloquently<br />

about how the word<br />

‘equivocation’ changed its<br />

meaning for <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

between Hamlet and Macbeth.<br />

Did you encounter any other<br />

words that underwent similar<br />

transformations in or around<br />

1606?<br />

“It’s really unusual for the primary<br />

meaning of a word to undergo such<br />

a sea-change in so short a timespan<br />

as ‘equivocation’ did in the aftermath<br />

of the Gunpowder Plot. There are<br />

other words that underwent shifts in<br />

meaning at this time – ‘individual’ is<br />

one – but those alterations typically<br />

take decades. It’s fascinating tracking<br />

these changes in the Oxford English<br />

Dictionary as well as in new scholarly<br />

tools like the database Early English<br />

Books Online.”<br />

You’ve recently been involved<br />

in taking a production of<br />

Macbeth into prisons in New<br />

York. This made me think two<br />

things: how admirable to bring<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> to some of the<br />

most disenfranchised people<br />

in the US – and weren’t you<br />

afraid a riot would break out?<br />

“Having spent a few afternoons in<br />

prisons and jails of late, I’m struck<br />

time and again by the graciousness<br />

that those who are incarcerated have<br />

extended to the actors. I’ve never felt<br />

threatened or scared. Jails, especially<br />

ones like Rikers Island in New York,<br />

can be awful places to be imprisoned.<br />

But the Public Theater’s Mobile<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> Initiative, which visits<br />

these facilities, has never had anything<br />

but the warmest reception. Like<br />

all playgoers at good productions,<br />

inmates are quickly engrossed. And<br />

unlike performances in the West End<br />

or Broadway, in prisons the magic of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> is never disrupted by the<br />

ringing of cell phones.”<br />

Macbeth is the only one<br />

of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s works to<br />

contain either the word<br />

‘rhinoceros’ or the word<br />

‘rhubarb’. What’s the most<br />

absurdly interesting thing<br />

about <strong>Shakespeare</strong> or his<br />

works you’ve learned from<br />

immersing yourself in 1606?<br />

“Another great question. It would<br />

have to be a fresh discovery that<br />

changes our view of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

sociability. Until this past year,<br />

surviving anecdotes about<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> often portray him as<br />

someone who shied away from<br />

company (at least according to reports<br />

by neighbors in Stratford-upon-<br />

Avon). But a researcher in Edinburgh<br />

has recently unearthed a document<br />

from the 1640s that describes how<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> (along with Ben Jonson<br />

and fellow actors Richard Burbage<br />

and Laurence Fletcher “and the rest<br />

of their roistering associates in King<br />

James’s time”) had “cut” his name on<br />

the paneling of the famous Tabard<br />

Inn in Southwark. The discovery<br />

allows us to imagine a different sort<br />

of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> – a popular actor<br />

who enjoyed drinking with friends,<br />

one who was happy to join them in<br />

carving autographs on the wall of a<br />

favourite pub.”<br />

<br />

Get James Shapiro’s new book<br />

UK: published by Faber as<br />

1606: William <strong>Shakespeare</strong> and<br />

the Year of Lear.<br />

USA: published by Simon<br />

& Schuster as The Year of Lear:<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> in 1606.<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 29

Bill<br />

“People will<br />

remember the name<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>…<br />

twenty years from<br />

now!” Mathew<br />

Baynton as the<br />

overly-optimistic<br />

Bill <strong>Shakespeare</strong>.<br />

30 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Bill <br />

A Series<br />

of Funny<br />

Misunderstandings<br />

From the Horrible Histories crew, the<br />

brilliantly funny Bill<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Words: Brooke Thomas<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 31

Bill<br />

Testing times for<br />

Bill <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

and Christopher<br />

Marlowe (Jim<br />

Howick, right).Laurence Rickard and Ben<br />

Willbond’s vision of <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

couldn’t be further from<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> in Love’s swaggering<br />

sex god artiste. He’s also very<br />

different from the mature<br />

playwright we know from the<br />

ubiquitous Chandos portrait.<br />

Bill is more of a naive and<br />

bumbling dreamer type – an<br />

Elizabethan Del Boy, if you will.<br />

He’s confident that this time next<br />

year his talent will have made the<br />

family rich. Even if he’s not quite<br />

sure what his talent is yet.<br />

The Horrible Histories team channel true<br />

comedy greats in their first feature-length film.<br />

There are moments that echo Monty Python,<br />

others that are pure Mel Brooks on History<br />

of the World: Part I form, and plenty of stuff<br />

that’s unique to this delightful company. It’s a<br />

testament to the team’s comedic bravery that<br />

the title character, the great and wonderful<br />

Bard with a capital ‘B’, spends half of the film<br />

dressed as a tomato.<br />

Bill (Mathew Baynton) is a failed lute<br />

player. The band that throw him out, Mortal<br />

Coil, are more Mumford and Sons than<br />

‘Greensleeves’, but even they can’t handle Bill’s<br />

idiosyncratic style. Much to the dismay of his<br />

wife Anne (Martha Howe-Douglas), Bill takes<br />

off for “that London” hoping to sell a play. The<br />

only problem is he can’t write for toffee and<br />

plague has closed the playhouses. Anne just<br />

wishes he’d grow up and get a real job.<br />

32 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Bill <br />

Bill screenwriters and<br />

co-stars Ben Willbond<br />

and Laurence Rickard<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Laurence: “There was one that<br />

got cut from a really early scene.<br />

Bill’s talking to Anne on the hillside<br />

and it was just a really geeky thing,<br />

it was a detail I really remembered<br />

from school. When he said he was<br />

going to get another job, she said<br />

‘Oh, you’re going to go work for your<br />

father, because people always need<br />

gloves.’ I love those rich little nuggets<br />

of history. I think there’s plenty in the<br />

film.”<br />

Ben: “There’s too much in the end.<br />

We couldn’t cram enough in, really.”<br />

Bad guys<br />

Walsingham<br />

(Laurence<br />

Rickard, above)<br />

and King Philip<br />

II of Spain (Ben<br />

Willbond, below).<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Ben: “I do like Much Ado. It’s perfect.<br />

It’s farcical, it has misunderstandings,<br />

highs and lows, assorted love<br />

stories…”<br />

Laurence: “I think that’d be good.<br />

I’d like to do a Merry Wives as well,<br />

because Falstaff is just…”<br />

Ben: “I was hoping that one day<br />

you’d give us your Hamlet.”<br />

Laurence: “I think you might have<br />

to keep hoping on that one. For the<br />

love of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> I will not do<br />

Hamlet.”<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 33

Bill<br />

Multi-talented cast members<br />

Simon Farnaby, Jim Howick<br />

and Martha Howe-Douglas<br />

Anne <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

(Martha Howe-<br />

<br />

herself on a certain<br />

iconic London stage.<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Simon: “No, not at all, because I think he<br />

would have approved. <strong>Shakespeare</strong> himself<br />

wrote historical plays and I’m sure not<br />

everything he said about, for example, King<br />

Richard III was true. He took dramatic licence<br />

and never let facts get in the way of a good<br />

story. We’ve kind of done the same with<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s story… We fill in the gaps in a<br />

very creative and interesting way.”<br />

<br />

<br />

<br />

Martha: “Collecting bodies.”<br />

Jim: “Probably a minstrel of some kind or a<br />

jester. I’d be some sort of servant man, maybe<br />

a messenger.”<br />

Simon: “I’d be a – probably a prostitute.<br />

I mean, it’s an easy way to make some money,<br />

you’d get to hang around the court a bit…”<br />

Martha: “I think you could be an<br />

innkeeper.”<br />

Simon: “Yeah!”<br />

<br />

<br />

to Bill<br />

<br />

Jim: “Hamlet the Dane, I think. To give a sort<br />

of Horrible Histories interpretation of Hamlet<br />

would be quite fun.”<br />

Martha: “I like The Taming of the Shrew, so I<br />

wouldn’t mind giving that a bash.”<br />

Simon: “I’d like to do a comedic Richard III.”<br />

Jim: “Hasn’t that already been done?”<br />

Simon: “Has it? Who’s done it?”<br />

Jim: “I did it.”<br />

Simon: “You!”<br />

Jim: “But not a <strong>Shakespeare</strong>an one.”<br />

Simon: “Yeah I’d actually do it, ‘Now is the<br />

winter of our discontent…’”<br />

Martha: “Well, now everybody’s heard that<br />

you never know, do you?”<br />

Simon: “Yeah, it might be snapped up.”<br />

34 SHAKESPEARE magazine

BillI <br />

Queen Elizabeth I<br />

(Helen McCrory) faces<br />

a dastardly Spanish plot.<br />

Meanwhile, tension is growing between<br />

Elizabeth I (Helen McCrory) and King Philip<br />

II of Spain (Ben Willbond). The latter hatches<br />

a plot to kill the Queen and sails to England<br />

with a gang of villainous ne’er do wells. Before<br />

long, poor hapless Bill, his mentor Marlowe<br />

(Jim Howick), and long-suffering Anne are<br />

embroiled in the evil scheme. The play’s the<br />

thing to kill a queen, and Bill’s work is hijacked<br />

by the Spanish and their new accomplice the<br />

Earl of Croydon (Simon Farnaby).<br />

Even though the film is, of course, full of<br />

inaccuracies and anachronisms (the scheme to<br />

kill Queen Elizabeth resembles the gunpowder<br />

plot that was aimed at her successor, for<br />

example) it’s also rife with nerdy easter eggs.<br />

Many of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s great works are quoted<br />

directly, and one of the funniest lines comes<br />

from Kit Marlowe arranging a meet-up at The<br />

Bull’s Head in Deptford. “It’s quite safe,” he<br />

says confidently.<br />

It’s silly, very silly, and there’s no time<br />

to catch your breath between jokes. At one<br />

point, on a beach strewn with bodies and with<br />

fear of a murderous regicidal plot seizing the<br />

country, Walsingham declares “The game is<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 35

Bill<br />

“It’s a delightful comedy that has<br />

echoes of everything from Monty<br />

Python to Mel Brooks”<br />

afoot!” while holding a disembodied leg. The<br />

death scene with the most heartstring-tugging<br />

potential is deflated by the best-timed ‘your<br />

mum’ joke in history. You’ll groan as often as<br />

you laugh, but that’s expected. The writers play<br />

up to it with knowing nods, and, alongside the<br />

more innovative humour, the groan-worthy<br />

puns manage to feel fresh.<br />

This ensemble is as used to playing<br />

multiple roles in a single piece as <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

own actors would have been. It’s a true<br />

joy to watch them playing such a range of<br />

characters with such a dizzying array of silly<br />

accents. Although each and every character<br />

has stand-out moments, Walsingham, one of<br />

Larry Rickard’s parts, steals every scene he’s<br />

in, especially when he’s hiding. Songs are a<br />

staple for the Horrible Histories and ‘A Series of<br />

Croydon (Simon<br />

Farnaby) seems to<br />

be doing an early<br />

version of Macbeth<br />

in Bill’s play.<br />

Funny Misunderstandings’ brilliantly sends up<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s comedic tropes.<br />

This is the rare kind of film that pretty<br />

much everyone can enjoy. Adults as well as<br />

kids, <strong>Shakespeare</strong> fans and people who don’t<br />

give a plague rat’s arse about Early Modern<br />

theatre. It’s a witty, irreverent send-up of all<br />

the period dramas we’ve seen before, as well as<br />

a unique comic story in its own right. A great<br />

family comedy and a unique addition to the<br />

every growing <strong>Shakespeare</strong> ‘lost years’ mythos.<br />

We hope that Bill isn’t the last <strong>Shakespeare</strong>inspired<br />

project this talented team take on.<br />

<br />

36 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Ever wished you could walk in<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s footsteps?<br />

Now you can!<br />

The <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Trail is published by Amberley Publishing, priced £20 hardback.<br />

It is available from bookshops, or you can order your copy online.<br />


Interview: Paul Edmondson<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> scholar<br />

<br />

<br />

38 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Interview: Paul Edmondson <br />

Man<br />

and<br />

Myth<br />

Paul Edmondson of the <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Birthplace Trust is the<br />

author of , an eminently readable<br />

introduction to the Bard. We met Paul in Stratford-upon-<br />

<br />

centuries-old facts of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s life.<br />

Interview by Pat Reid<br />

<br />

At one point, Paul, you had<br />

no less than five <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

books in the pipeline. Let’s talk<br />

about just one…<br />

“<strong>Shakespeare</strong>: Ideas in Profile is<br />

published by Profile Books, who<br />

published Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It’s<br />

a book about <strong>Shakespeare</strong> for the<br />

general reader, it’s about 40,000<br />

words long, and it’s divided into six<br />

chapters. The first is biographical, it’s<br />

called ‘What was his life like?’ The<br />

second chapter is ‘How did he write?’<br />

The third chapter is ‘What did he<br />

write?’ The fourth chapter is called<br />

‘The Power of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’, and puts<br />

over some of the great themes to be<br />

found in the works. The fifth chapter<br />

is called ‘Encountering <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’,<br />

which considers things like theatre<br />

reviewing and how we might do it,<br />

reading <strong>Shakespeare</strong> aloud, thinking<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 39

Interview: Paul Edmondson<br />

about <strong>Shakespeare</strong> in performance<br />

and the various changes that a director<br />

may take a text through. And the final<br />

chapter is called ‘Why <strong>Shakespeare</strong>?’,<br />

which is about the after-effect of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> on international culture<br />

over the last 400 years.”<br />

Did you have a personal<br />

<br />

“It was an opportunity for me to really<br />

share my enthusiasm for <strong>Shakespeare</strong>,<br />

and to write the book I perhaps wish<br />

I’d most been able to read when I<br />

was setting out on the <strong>Shakespeare</strong>an<br />

journey. It was very interesting to<br />

visit, as directly as I do, the whole<br />

world of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> biography. This<br />

is something I have published on<br />

before, and obviously it’s something<br />

the Birthplace Trust is very interested<br />

in because of the way we present<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> – in part – through the<br />

five <strong>Shakespeare</strong> houses and the many<br />

documents we care for here from the<br />

time. But I revisited all of this afresh,<br />

and I hope for chapter one I’ve really<br />

brought some fresh sidelights and<br />

some fresh illumination on what<br />

might be considered old facts.”<br />

<br />

examples of how you’ve been<br />

<br />

<br />

“I can. One of the other books I’ve<br />

been working on is about New Place,<br />

which is the house that <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

purchased in the centre of Stratford<br />

in 1597. We’ve been doing an<br />

archaeological dig there, so that book<br />

is about the dig, and that’s coming<br />

out from Manchester University Press<br />

in 2016. So perhaps that’s another<br />

conversation. But that is the big<br />

project for the <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Birthplace<br />

Trust in 2016, to re-present the site<br />

of New Place. And it’s very much a<br />

world-focused <strong>Shakespeare</strong> project,<br />

because we’re the only people who can<br />

do that – the site where he died, the<br />

site of his family home.<br />

“And in recent years, when you<br />

look at <strong>Shakespeare</strong>an biography, there<br />

is a renaissance in how New Place<br />

has come to be considered as part of<br />

his life. And one of the things I have<br />

sought to challenge, and which our<br />

re-presentation of New Place seeks<br />

to challenge, is this old crustacean of<br />

biography that is ‘Oh, he left his wife<br />

and family and went and did all of his<br />

work in London, and then retired back<br />

to Stratford’.<br />

“You hear that phrase ‘retired<br />

back to Stratford’ every day from the<br />

mouths of tour guides as you walk<br />

around Stratford, and every time I<br />

hear it I wince. Because if you owned<br />

a house the size of New Place from as<br />

early in your career – he’s 33 when he<br />

acquires New Place – there’s no way<br />

you’d spend most of your time away<br />

from it – it just wouldn’t be how you<br />

would wish to live.”<br />

What do you think New Place<br />

<br />

“It was a status symbol, his wife and<br />

family were there. Other members<br />

of his family… his brothers never<br />

married, so what did they do after<br />

1601, after <strong>Shakespeare</strong> leased his<br />

father’s family home, the Birthplace,<br />

“I wanted to write the book I wish<br />

I’d been able to read when I was<br />

starting the <strong>Shakespeare</strong> journey”<br />

which he’d inherited, to become a<br />

pub? They had to live somewhere,<br />

so my guess is that the extended<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> family were living in the<br />

large New Place.<br />

“It took three to four days to<br />

travel from Stratford to London, and<br />

one of the things I wanted to do in<br />

my opening chapter is to build up a<br />

picture – and I’m not the first to do<br />

this – to emphasise <strong>Shakespeare</strong> as a<br />

literary commuter, somebody who<br />

got back to Stratford when he could.<br />

Here, one can start to imagine what<br />

his library looked like, a place for<br />

his books, a centre of stillness, to get<br />

away from it all, from the hectic life<br />

of professional theatre. And a place of<br />

retreat, to write and to think.”<br />

<br />

is quite different to how he’s<br />

<br />

“It’s all too tempting to imagine<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> as an inky-fingered Joseph<br />

Fiennes, dashing off a sonnet, writing<br />

the next speech at the drop of a hat,<br />

and actually nothing can be further<br />

from the truth. When you look at<br />

the works carefully, he had books<br />

around him when he was writing<br />

some of those plays. Some of the plays<br />

directly lift from the source material –<br />

reshaping it, of course. I write about<br />

this in ‘How did he write?’ – the<br />

transforming power of his imagination<br />

on the sources he was using, and the<br />

sources he needed.<br />

“So New Place for me is a place<br />

of books, a place of writing, and<br />

therefore a place that <strong>Shakespeare</strong> used<br />

as a literary base as well as a family<br />

home. Over the time he was working<br />

in London, isn’t it interesting that he<br />

doesn’t have a permanent home in<br />

London for the whole of those 20 or<br />

30 years? He’s moving around different<br />

parishes… He does buy the Blackfriars<br />

Gatehouse towards the end of his life –<br />

of course, he didn’t know it was going<br />

40 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Interview: Paul Edmondson <br />

to be the end of his life. But he doesn’t<br />

seem to have lived there, it seems to<br />

have been a financial investment. So<br />

that’s definitely something I wanted to<br />

point on.”<br />

You mentioned that you’ve<br />

<br />

some of the stories about<br />

<br />

18th century…<br />

“When we look at Rowe, three really<br />

interesting things still resonate with<br />

me from Nicholas Rowe’s account.<br />

One is that around about 1594 the<br />

Earl of Southampton gives him a<br />

thousand pounds. Which is amazing<br />

and fascinating. It would explain<br />

how he could afford the shares in the<br />

Lord Chamberlain’s Men around that<br />

time. It would also explain how he<br />

could afford to buy New Place a few<br />

years later. And then, of course, when<br />

his father dies, he makes even more<br />

financial investments, which suggests<br />

his father was not impoverished, as<br />

people often say. Maybe he had money<br />

from the wool dealings. This has been<br />

suggested by the scholar David Fallow<br />

from the University of Exeter, and I<br />

mention him in my book.<br />

“The other two things from Rowe,<br />

though, are the deer poaching at<br />

Charlecote – I have no immediate<br />

objection that that shouldn’t be true in<br />

some way. And [the third is] William<br />

Davenant, who liked to say he was<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s illegitimate son. So I<br />

look a little bit afresh at those.”<br />

And you look into some of the<br />

more ‘nuts and bolts’ aspects<br />

<br />

“The first chapter is also about his life<br />

in the professional theatre, and I think<br />

that’s fascinating, to look at how his<br />

output was shaped by the demands<br />

of the company. And then ‘How<br />

did he write?’ is about the books he<br />

needed in order to produce the work,<br />

the actors he was working with, the<br />

stage conditions that affected what<br />

he was able to produce, as well as the<br />

shaping power of his imagination<br />

using the sources… Even down to<br />

him using home-made ink from oak<br />

apples, mixed with water or wine or<br />

vinegar – you know, and having to<br />

sharpen his quill every so often. It’s the<br />

kind of hardware that we find almost<br />

impossible to imagine now, but that’s<br />

what <strong>Shakespeare</strong> had to use.<br />

As for the actual content of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s plays, how do<br />

<br />

“‘What did he write?’ looks at things<br />

such as how the canon divides up<br />

generically – and why that should be<br />

the case, and is that helpful? – and the<br />

plays he worked on in collaboration<br />

with other people.<br />

“And I look in that chapter<br />

especially at The Two Gentlemen<br />

of Verona. The play is often talked<br />

about as a slight work, but we can<br />

see the origins of what <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

then goes on to produce. The theme<br />

that Proteus is the emergence of the<br />

malcontent figure – Iago, Richard<br />

III, Iachimo and so on. And so I look<br />

at The Two Gentlemen of Verona as<br />

carrying essential DNA for the rest of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s output. That was a really<br />

lovely thing to be able to write about<br />

– I’ve always loved that play, I once<br />

played Valentine in it. And it’s nice to<br />

write about the dog, Crab, as well…”<br />

<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>: Ideas in Profile by<br />

Paul Edmondson is published by<br />

Profile Books, priced £8.99<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 41

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

“The Glory<br />

of our Art…” Macbeth<br />

(III, 5)<br />

Containing 1,100 posters from productions past and present, new book<br />

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s global sweep encompasses the strange, the<br />

disturbing and the intoxicatingly beautiful range of <strong>Shakespeare</strong>-inspired<br />

art, illustration and design. Here are just a few examples…<br />

42 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong> <br />

Romeo and Juliet,<br />

Theater Alnwick, US,<br />

1820. d: n/a.<br />

Much Ado About<br />

Nothing, Libanon<br />

on Stage, Charity<br />

Theatre of the Order<br />

of Malta, DE, 2010.<br />

ad/d/p: Alexander von<br />

Lengerke.<br />

Much Ado About<br />

Nothing, Portland<br />

Community College,<br />

US, 2014.<br />

ad: Cece Cutsforth,<br />

d/p: Anthony Catalan<br />

<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 43

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

Julius Caesar,<br />

Habima National<br />

Theatre, IL, 1961.<br />

d: Dan Resinger.<br />

44 SHAKESPEARE magazine

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong> <br />

Richard III, Theatre de la<br />

Renaissance, FR, 2010.<br />

ad/d/p: Cedric Gatillon.<br />

Hamlet, Teatr Ochoty,<br />

PL 1985. ad/d: Andrzej<br />

Pagowski (Dydo Poster<br />

Collection).<br />

A Midsummer<br />

Night’s Dream, Teatr<br />

Dramatyczny, PL,<br />

1981. d: Eugeniusz Get<br />

Stankiewicz (Dydo<br />

Poster Collection).<br />

Presenting <strong>Shakespeare</strong> is available<br />

now from Princeton Architectural<br />

Press. Order your copy here:<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 45

Contributors <br />

Brooke Thomas is a freelance writer<br />

and small business owner based<br />

in London. She found her love of<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> at university and now<br />

runs Past & Prologue, a <strong>Shakespeare</strong>inspired<br />

clothing company. She spent<br />

most of her MA in <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Studies<br />

scouring various pop-culture mediums<br />

for references to the bard – a habit that<br />

has endured beyond graduation.<br />

Find her on Twitter @LiterallyGeeked<br />

Mary Finch Our US Staff Writer<br />

studied English at Messiah College<br />

in Pennsylvania, and is furthering her<br />

obsession at Mary Baldwin College<br />

in Virginia, earning her Masters in<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong> and Performance. Her<br />

interest in the Bard ranges from<br />

the theatrical to the educational to<br />

the literary. Besides William, Mary<br />

has a strong affinity for succulents,<br />

typography, and limericks. Find her<br />

on Twitter: @DaFinchinator<br />

Meet thy makers...<br />

Just some of the contributors to this issue of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong><br />

Kayleigh Toyra is a commercial<br />

copywriter by day, poet and <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

lover by night. Having grown up in<br />

Finland, <strong>Shakespeare</strong> holds a special<br />

place in her heart as she connected with<br />

British culture through <strong>Shakespeare</strong>. She<br />

also loves how different cultures always<br />

find their own meanings in <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s<br />

words. She specialised in <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

during her MA at Bristol University, and<br />

became fascinated by local <strong>Shakespeare</strong>an<br />

performance history.<br />

Find her on Twitter @KayleighToyra<br />

Helen Mears fell into bardolatry<br />

during her teenage years and has<br />

never recovered. She is a volunteer<br />

steward at <strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s Globe,<br />

which ensures a regular diet of the<br />

Bard. She teaches English, Film and<br />

Media at Suffolk New College and is<br />

a specialist in teaching <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

using active methods. Her favourite<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>an actor is Jamie Parker<br />

and her favourite plays are the Second<br />

History Tetralogy. She hopes to<br />

finish her Masters in the Advanced<br />

Teaching of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> very soon.<br />

Find her on Twitter @hipster_hels<br />

SHAKESPEARE magazine 47

Next issue<br />

We hope you’ve enjoyed Issue Nine of <strong>Shakespeare</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong>.<br />

Here’s a taste of what we have coming up next time…<br />

<strong>Shakespeare</strong>’s First Folio<br />

Emma Smith takes us between the pages of the book<br />

that started it all.<br />

<br />

Kenneth Branagh<br />

Actor. Director. Icon. King Ken talks about Judi Dench<br />

and The Winter’s Tale.<br />

<br />

Parlez-vous Le Bard?<br />

<br />

Yes, it’s the <strong>Shakespeare</strong> Guide to Paris…<br />

What just happened?<br />

Behind the scenes of web series How <strong>Shakespeare</strong><br />

Changed My Life.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!