"Knowing I lov'd my books,
he furnish'd me . . ." (The Tempest 1.2.167)
Are You Shakespearienced?
featuring a Fun Quiz
and A Few Little Facts About the Bard,
along with links to cool Shakespeare sites on the web
and whatever else happens to come our way.
Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Want to see my photos
semester in England? Click here.
Announcement: there's an entirely section of Fun Trivia below, along
with a few new links, though I regret to admit that the Literacy Quiz has not yet been
Test Your (Shakespearean) Literacy!
A Self-Testing Quiz
"Who chooseth me must give and hazard
all he hath." (The Merchant of Venice 2.7.9)
Pick the answer you think is correct by clicking on it:
1. In Elizabethan English, a "natural" is
2. A "bard" is
3. In Elizabethan English, an "incontinent varlot" is
You say you want more Shakespeare trivia in
your life? You've come to the right spot.
Okay, they gave me a brand new copy of Shakespeare for Dummies for my review for
this page. It's.... interesting. I guess that's the word. I'd have written it differently, had they
asked me. They might have gotten a little more info in there, I should imagine.
My basic response: C+. It's fun, but you won't be any more than a dummy after reading
Now, HERE's a kid who ain't no dummy: college freshman Elizabeth Blair wrote in to enlighten
us about the mysterious poem by Anna Akhmatova, "To the Londoners," included on this page
some time ago (see Previously-Run
Fun Trivia if you don't know what we're talking about). Here's what Liz has to
"I'm writing in reference to the poem 'To the Londoners' you included in your page. I'm
going to give it a stab. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Shakespeare's
twenty-fourth play was Troilus and Cressida, which is about the chaos and destruction of
the Trojan War. When this poem was written, England was engulfed in the Second World War,
which must have seemed eerily similar, perhaps even prophesied by Shakespeare's play. 'Time is
writing is impassively' refers to the fact that the events described in Troilus and Cressida
were coming to pass in reality as time went by. It can be assumed that, since the title of the
poem is 'To the Londoners,' the 'leaden river' refers to the grey Thames. The Londoners 'know
what such feasts [the horror of war] are,' because at this time, they were experiencing first-hand
the tragedy of war. They read only tragedies that don't apply directly to them; for example,
Hamlet, Caesar, Lear, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth.
'Only not this one, not this one, not this one. / This one we do not have the strength to read.' The
author cannot bring herself to read Shakespeare's twenty-fourth play; it strikes too close to
Brava, Liz Blair! Brava! (Now THERE'S a budding Shakespearean scholar if ever I saw
Hey, kids! Guess what? The Shakespeare Guild of Washington, DC has its annual Gielgud
Award Celebration in Middle Temple Hall in London on Sunday, 16 January 2000. Middle
Temple Hall, by the way, is one of the places still extant in England where Shakespeare's
company performed. (A gorgeous place to visit! You can see not only the spot where they likelyl
performed but also a tabletop made from an actual piece of Sir Francis Drake's Golden
Hind.) This year's Gielgud Award goes to our good bud Kenneth Branagh, who is even now
completing his newest Shakespearean offering, Love's Labour's Lost. A hearty
congratulations to Ken, and also to last year's winner, Dame Judi Dench.
Now, GET THIS. This one goes in the category of "I know you won't believe this BUT..." Or
maybe the old Stranger Than Fiction category.... The comedic actor Del Close, who was one of
the developers of Chicago's Second City comedy revue and who died in March of 1999,
bequeathed his skull to Chicago's Goodman Theater. His will decreed that his skull "may be
used to play Yorick, or for any other purposes the Goodman deems appropriate." I am both
chilled and warmed, somehow, by this odd bit of news. Truly a man of the theatre, bless his
heart. Not to be flip, but this puts a whole new spin on "Get thee to my lady's chamber," doesn't
it? Not to mention "Curst be he who moves my bones"? Seriously, though, think about it.
You're playing Hamlet. You pick up a skull in the Gravedigger's Scene. You know as you hold
it in your hand that the man who once lived in it was someone you knew, someone you miss
terribly. It gives an actor an amazing proximity to Hamlet, who is holding in his hand the skull
of someone he knew. Cool, huh?
I know you guys
are just dying to hear what I think of 1999's Academy Award for Best Picture,
Well, it was certainly loads of fun. The witty, smart dialogue alone was worth the price of
admission, and I've always loved Stoppard. (Go read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are
Dead if you don't know Tom Stoppard: do not pass Go, do not collect $200.) I don't mind
the speculation about Shakespeare's possible bad marriage; it could have happened. Oddly
enough, you have to know Shakespeare pretty well to get all the jokes in Shakespeare in
Love, and yet if you do know a lot about Shakespeare, there are maddening errors in this
movie that will make you want to wrest that Oscar away from them toute suite. For
example, they fundamentally misrepresented the entire process of writing plays in Shakespeare's
age. The whole point was not to write from one's own experiences (as in modern writing) but to
do dazzling things with sources that audiences knew well. The plot of Romeo and Juliet
did not spring fresh from the fertile brain of the Bard but rather had a specific source in a poem
that EVERYONE was quite familiar with. Nobody would have been waiting with mega
suspense to see if the lovers survive; they would have been waiting with suspense to see what
touches of genius this playwright could inject into a famous story.
Furthermore, they managed to mangle all manner of historical details. R&J
was likely not played at The Curtain or The Rose but at The Theatre, and Shakespeare would not
have played Romeo on the stage; that role was no doubt played by Richard Burbage (who was
Shakespeare's friend and fellow player by this time. Edward Alleyn-- the "Ned" character
cheesily represented by Ben Affleck-- was an older actor associated with their rival company).
(In fact, it seems to me that they simply reversed the names in the script---- they could have
called Affleck "Burbage" and the other guy "Ned" and been accurate. What a silly, needless
error!) And a woman on the stage? Trust me, it didn't happen. Boys played women's roles,
consistently. (And there weren't older men playing older women, either. Jeez.) Well, I could go
on, but I think I will stop with the simple observation that I will likely spend the rest of my
academic career explaining to students that Twelfth Night did not come immediately
after Romeo and Juliet. There were about a dozen plays in between them, in fact. Sigh.
OKAY, HERE IT IS, the moment you've been waiting for.
GREEN EGGS AND HAMLET
I ask to be or not to be
That is the question I ask of me.
This sullied life, it makes me shudder.
My uncle's boffing dear, sweet mother.
Would I, could I take me life?
Could I, should I end this strife?
Should I jump out of a plane?
Or throw myself before a train?
Should I from a cliff just leap?
Could I put myself to sleep?
Shoot myself or take some poison?
Maybe try self-immolation?
To shuffle off this mortal coil,
I could stab myself with a fencing foil.
Slash my wrists while in the bath?
Would it end my angst and wrath?
To sleep, to dream, now there's the rub.
I could drop a toaster in my tub.
Would all be glad if I were dead?
Could I perhaps kill them instead?
Hmmm... This line of thought takes consideration.
For I'm the King....
....... of procrastination.....
Afraid you've missed some versions of
Fun Trivia along the way? Click
Cool Links to Shakespeare Sites on the Web
This portion is always under re-construction, thanks to
all the e-mails that are pouring in from around the (ah-hem) Globe. But here are a few.
Click here for a lovely tribute to a lovely actor, Sir Derek Jacobi. (Thanks, Kerry
Shakespeare's Sonnet of the Day will come to you courtesy of www.jollyroger.com, if you
Bill Morris tells me that Shenendoah Shakespeare
Express is an interesting acting troupe headed by Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen, who is committed
to presenting shows as close as possible to the originals of Shakespeare's day. In fact, I hear that
there is a new Shakespeare Center planned in Staunton, Virginia, connected with Dr.
Want to see an animated Shakespearean love sonnet? Just click
Mountain Arts to see their dancing Shakespearean love sonnet.
Thanks, Susan Dorsey!
A really fun page I've recently discovered is found at Surfing with the Bard. Check it out!
And for all you actors and would-be Shakespearean actors, learn some Proper Elizabethan Accents for
more fun and frolic in your life if not my classroom.
Want to test your abilities in sonnet gazing? Then click on
Shakespearean sonnet quiz for a link sure to puzzle you
enough for today if not for the rest of the week.
Have you been insulted enough today? Even if you have, I'll
bet you haven't been insulted in Elizabethan English, now, have
you? Go to the Shakespearean
Insult Page for your daily dose of insults. Reload each time
for a new insult!
Looking for more links to Bardology? There's a brief page of miscellaneous
Shakespeare links maintained by someone at MIT.
Know of any Shakespeare sites I should list? E-mail me at TitaBaumlin@missouristate.edu and I
will include a link and a short (or long, depending on how cool
the site really is) tribute to your generosity.
Who knows when the next version of Are You Shakespearienced? will appear. I have never yet
managed to refresh it as often as I would have liked. There seems to be a tide in the affairs of . . .
Last modified on 6 January 2000,
is maintained by your resident Bardolater,
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