September 2018 Newsletter
He was born in 1564, the same year that Galileo was born, and Michelangelo died. It was also the year that Christopher Marlowe was born, two months before him. He,…..is William Shakespeare, perhaps the greatest poet and playwright this country, and the world, has ever known. His works are still being published, in over 180 languages. Every 30 seconds, around the world, a printing press produces something of interest about him. To this day, his plays provoke argument and discussion among the scholars and historians that examine them! Libraries of books have been written about him, and yet, what do YOU know about him?
Shakespeare, perhaps a devout Roman Catholic, lived and worked during most of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor, Elizabeth 1, who at her Coronation, declared this country Protestant, against the Church of Rome. (It took another 170 years, before the people of England accepted this religion). He therefore had to live and work under the scrutiny of several unknown people, (government agents), in the thrall of a sinister, secretive self-appointed minister, Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth’s spy master general. It was Walsingham’s agents who brought Mary Queen of Scots, and her foolish lover Anthony Babington to the block.
Shakespeare left Stratford in 1585, when he was 21, and immediately disappeared! There are no records for seven years, then he surfaced in London in 1592. This was heralded by Robert Greene, who warned his three Cambridge University friends, Thomas Nash, George Peele, and the aforementioned Marlowe, “that there is an upstart crow amongst us, who, beautified with our feathers, and with his tiger’s heart wrapt in a player’s hide, supposes he is able to bombast out blank verse as the best of you. And, being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is, in his own conceit, the only Shakescene in a country!”
Greene, couldn’t get through his head, the fact that Shakespeare never went to University, whereas, he had gone to both Oxford and Cambridge. Despite this, Shakespeare was an acknowledged playwright, well before Greene wrote his tirade.
The “mistakes” are many and one can have quite some fun finding them, in and around the complete works. For instance, Shakespeare writes two plays about Venice, “The Merchant of Venice” and “Othello, the Moor of Venice”. However, in just one short line of “The Merchant” does Shakespeare mention gondolas, and nothing about canals! But,….as you and I know, when stepping off the ‘plane at Venice, you have to be very careful, as to where you put your feet, otherwise, you could find yourself up to your neck in water! He writes about “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, both of whom leave Verona, for Milan, by boat, a physical impossibility, as both cities are landlocked! But, he never knew this, because he never went there! In “Julius Caesar”, (written to herald in the new ‘theatre’, called, The Globe), Cassius says, “The clock has stricken three”. Well, that must have been some wonderful clock, for in Caesar’s time, they were not to be invented for another 14 hundred years!
June 2016 Newsletter
Let’s Right Shakespeare began in October 2015 with a good mix of those who love the great man, and those who either don’t understand or find the bard’s work boring!
As with all U3A Groups, the members lead the content so we have explored his life story, the chronological order, the most and least known, and the background, of his plays. Also – did he in fact write them?
For an exercise everyone drew a play to go away with, find a scene to translate/interpret/transcribe into modern day English just as if they were writing for todays’ audiences and explore why it was written.
We even had a birthday (not death day) celebration.
At time of writing we are reading one of the top four most popular – Macbeth, putting together 3 scenes to be recorded as a Radio Play!
We are about 20 strong with a regular attendance of about 15. New members are always welcome so if you would like a taster session just get in touch.