How Game Of Thrones is like a Shakespearean Play

I love Game Of Thrones! If you’ve ever read the books or seen the series on HBO, like me you might be amazed by the scale and complexity of the world author George RR Martin created. He wove together a rich tapestry of medieval history, legends, and yes, Shakespeare. He used some of Shakespeare’s plots, commented and expanded on his themes, and adapted some of his iconic characters into a very rich and in a way, very modern story. Today I’m going to examine the components of Martin’s narrative that he embroidered off of Shakespeare’s plots, themes, and characters. If you like my take on this, or if you disagree, please leave a comment below! If you have any suggestions for other popular works adapted from Shakespeare, let me know and I’ll review them on the blog!

Part I: Story

Shakespeare wrote four plays that chronicle a series of civil wars where powerful families battled each other for the crown of England. Like Game of Thrones, the conflict was mainly between the kingdoms in the North and South:

game-of-thrones-westeros-map-17x11-poster1

Shakespeare wrote four plays about a civil war over control of a kingdom. His three parts of King Henry VI and Richard III chronicle the real struggle between the Yorkists in the north to take the crown from the Lancastrians in London in the South.

kmmap_final2-toponlyforfeaturedimageweb

Part II: Themes

Power corrupts, especially those who go seeking it.

The death of chivalry and honor in favor of political backstabbing.

King Henry VI has a speech where he watches a great battle while sitting on a molehill, watching the tide turn back and forth between his soldiers and the Yorkists. As with Game Of Thrones, the more blood each side has on its hands, the harder it becomes to decide whom to truly root for. In the end, it doesn’t seem to matter- kingdoms are won and lost as arbitrarily as a game. All it takes is time, and a good player to win.

The silence of the Gods. Shakespeare’s King Lear is constantly making oaths to his gods and asking them to punish his enemies. Likewise, Gloucester places his faith in the gods to protect Lear and punish the usurpers Goneril and Regan. Nevertheless, the action of King Lear doesn’t show any kind of divine judgement- Lear is exiled, goes mad, is sent to prison, and finally dies. Gloucester loses his sight, his lands, and dies randomly right after he is re-united with his son Edgar. In both King Lear and Game Of Thrones, there is a persistent question as to the nature of the gods, or even the surety of their existence.

No where is this more apparent than at the end of the play King Lear, when, just as it seems that the Duke of Albany is about to reward the good people and punish the wicked, King Lear arrives howling, with the dead Cordelia in his arms. “Is this the promised end?” in horror at the gods’ apparent cruelty. In Game Of Thrones, the good characters pray to their old gods and new, but never seem to hear from them or sense their influence. Osha, the Wildling even suggests that the gods have no power in King’s Landing, where the special God’s Wood trees have been cut down.

 

 

 

Martin wove a rich tapestry of real medieval history, legends, and yes, Shakespeare.

Part III: Characters

Below is a list of my favorite GOT characters, with my interpretation of their Shakespearean roots.

Direwolf LogoNed Stark- Humphrey Duke of Gloucester from Henry VI, Part II

◦ Ned is a Yorkist from the north of England, just as Winterfell is a powerful kingdom in the north of Westeros. King Robert makes Ned Protector Of the Realm when he dies, which makes him king in all but name, and tasked with taking care of Robert’s young son Joffrey until he comes of age. In Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy, King Henry the Fifth makes his brother Humphrey Lord Protector before he dies, to take care of England until his infant son Henry VI comes of age to rule. Like Ned, Humphrey is loyal, blunt, and only interested in keeping the realm at peace. In both Westminster and the Red Keep, all the lords are conniving and ambitious, and only interested in advancing themselves politically. These two lord protectors are the only ones with the good of the kingdom in mind.

Both Ned and Humphrey are betrayed and executed by those ambitious lords around them for the same reason; they stand in the way of the lords in their quest for power. In Henry VI, Part II, Henry’s ambitious queen Margaret starts a smear campaign against Humphrey’s wife, then pressures the King to force Gloucester to resign. As if that weren’t enough, Margaret also secretly conspires to murder the noble duke. Similarly, In Game of Thrones (Spoiler Alert), queen Circe puts her son on the throne and proclaims Ned a traitor. In both cases though, once the Lord Protector dies, the whole kingdom erupts in fights and arguments for the crown on all sides.game-of-thrones

Ned Stark also resembles the heroes of Shakespeare’s Roman characters. He is cold and stoic as Brutus, and a devoted soldier like Titus Andronicus. Ned’s dire wolf is another connection with Shakespeare’s Roman plays; the wolf 🐺 is the symbol of the Roman Empire; packs of cold hunters who depend on each other for the survival of the family.

 

a213aaaff54aa5c4b2301ae21c4dc0ce King Joffrey- Saturnine from Titus Andronicus– Joffrey is like the worst kind of tyrant- rash, proud, violent, and cruel. He lacks the maturity to make wise decisions and because of his privileged upbringing, he takes even the tiniest slight against him as an act of treason, and leaves a trail of heads in his wake. Worse still, he is easily manipulated by his mother Circe, who teaches him to act and feel superior to everyone else, and never care for the good of anyone but himself. In that way, he is very much like a Roman Emperor like Nero or Caligula, whom Shakespeare adapted into Saturnine.Joffrey

Saturnine from Titus fits all these characteristics. When we first meet him, he leads an angry mob into the streets of Rome, demanding to be made emperor, and threatening all out war if he doesn’t get his way. He also turns on the loyal soldier Titus, who helped him win a war and win his crown, just because Titus wouldn’t give Saturnine his daughter in marriage. In the clip below from the 1999 movie Titus, Emperor Saturnine (Alan Cummings) is furious just because Titus wrote some mean scrolls about him, after Saturnine killed two of Titus’ sons, and banished a third.

Baratheon StagKing Robert Baratheon- Edward IV from Richard III.robert-edward_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqeo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA

◦ In the first book of the Game of Thrones series, Robert is the King of the Seven Kingdoms, having won a civil war to take it away from the Mad King Araes Targaryen. Edward in the play Richard III has just won the crown of England after a civil war against the mad King Henry VI. Both men were powerful warriors and used to be strong and handsome. People loved and feared him, but now the pressures of keeping the throne has literally consumed them. In this passage from Thomas More’s History Of Richard III, (Shakespeare’s primary source for the play), More chronicles how Edward went from a handsome young king, loved and feared by all, into a gluttonous, lecherous, sick old man, who was consumed by care.

Robert_slays_Rhaegar

He was a goodly personage, and very princely to behold: of heart, courageous; politic in counsel; in adversity nothing abashed; in prosperity, rather joyful than proud; in peace, just and merciful; in war, sharp and fierce; in the field, bold and hardy, and nevertheless, no further than wisdom would, adventurous. Whose wars whosoever would well consider, he shall no less commend his wisdom when he withdrew than his manhood when he vanquished. He was of visage lovely, of body mighty, strong, and clean made; however, in his latter days with over-liberal diet [1], he became somewhat corpulent and burly, and nonetheless not uncomely; he was of youth greatly given to fleshly wantonness, from which health of body in great prosperity and fortune, without a special grace, hardly refrains. This fault not greatly grieved the people, for one man’s pleasure could not stretch and extend to the displeasure of very many, and the fault was without violence, and besides that, in his latter days, it lessened and well left.

-Thomas More, History Of Richard III, c. 1513

There are also similarities in how the characters died. King Robert was killed by a wild boar, while King Edward was killed by his brother Richard, whose sign was a white boar. As a bonus, the stag that is the sigil of House Baratheon, is also the seal of King Richard II, the king who, in the Shakespearean tragedy that bears his name, started the civil war when he was murdered in the Tower Of London. wilton diptych

I’m not actually the first person to mention this connection between Robert Baratheon and Edward IV. In the British newspaper, The Guardian, the author compares several characters from Game Of Thrones, to historical English events: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/game-of-thrones-vs-history-which-real-characters-and-events-insp/robert-baratheon-and-edward-iv/

littlefingerLittle Finger -Lucio from Measure For Measure, Iachimo from Cymbeline, Bawd from Pericles, etc. Shakespeare has a host of character like this lord of Westeros, the Master of Coin. He is cowardly and cynical, but he is also very clever and understands people’s weaknesses, especially sex. Like Bawd from, Little Finger has grown rich off brothels, and like many real life government he turns his prostitutes into spies. This gives him not only cash, but dirt on every lord in the 7 kingdoms. He only worries about Ned Stark, (who can’t be bought), and Vares the eunuch, who can’t be seduced. Little Finger is basically an oily politician and exploits the power of lust in the men of King’s Landing.

Direwolf Logo John Snow– Edgar and Edmund in King Lear Philip the Bastard?

◦ He’s aware of what he is, so he joins thieves and rapers to make a life for himself, just as Edgar becomes a mad beggar once he is accused of attempted murder. He has few illusions and like all the

◦ Contrast Tyrion’s speech to Snow with “Thou nature art my goddess.”

◦ Edmond uses deceitful and cruel cunning, in order to advance his position in life. Snow doesn’t try to change the rules, but both of them know that no one is going to give them anything.

🦁 Tyrian- hard to say. He might be Falstaff or he might be Hamlet. Obviously he shares some parallels with RIII with his small size and the fact that he is the most hated member of a powerful family. 12RICH.184 but in terms of his personality, he has neither the cruelty, nor the bitterness of Richard. For this reason, I would argue that Tyrion more closely resembles Sir John Falstaff.Tyrion

◦ Laughing at his physical form, which makes him appealing

◦ Can talk his way out of anything.

◦ Down on his luck for most of the books

◦ Ultimate survivor- he will do anything to stay alive, good or bad.

FALSTAFF

‘Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before
his day. What need I be so forward with him that
calls not on me? Well, ’tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
he that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
Doth he hear it? no. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
ends my catechism.

◦ Lustful, rascal, ultimately harmless.

My favorite part of the books is the way Martin writes the female characters. All the female characters are dealing with the fact that women have very little power or say in their society and they all use Shakespearean means or methods to get what they want.

🦁 Circe- Tamara and Lady M

img_7829◦ Sexuality and cruelty. Tamara is compared to a tiger 🐅, while Circe’s house sign is a lion 🦁

◦ Martin likely derived her name from the witch from the Odyssey, who turned men into animals.

◦ Men fear what she will do to them

◦ Lust for power for herself and her family.

Catelyn-

7c6044dd-c49c-4ce8-9188-74d3c4910a9d-2938-00000196573b9688Hermione From The Winters Tale ❄️ 🐺

◦ Pious

◦ Kindness and mercy are her weapons as well as her will and devotion to her friends and family. Even Tyrion is impressed by her integrity.

🐺 Aria- Imogen from Cymbeline

◦ If it’s a mans world, pretend you are one! She learns to use a sword ⚔️ and uses her small size and gender to sneak away from her enemies.

🐉 Daenerys Targaryen- Cleopatra!

◦ Crafty and beautiful

◦ Uses her sexuality to gain a powerful man’s protection

◦ Her dragons 🐉 make her a goddess, elevating her beyond a woman and even a queen. In a society that opposed and ignored women, female monarchs needed to practically deify themselves in order to get the same respect as their male counterparts.

Just as the real Cleopatra claimed to be a descendant of the goddess Isis and Elizabeth I was part of the cult of the virgin queen, The Mother Of Dragons has a mythic power that commands fear and adoration.

Spoiler Alert

In the final chapter of book one, Daenerys tries to simultaneously say goodbye to her warrior husband Khal Drogo, and to get her few remaining soldiers to swear loyalty to her. This mirrors how, once Cleopatra loses Antony and knows that the Romans are coming to capture her, she says goodbye to Antony, and asserts herself as queen.

CLEOPATRA

Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip:
Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life.

Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall?
If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch,
Which hurts, and is desired. Dost thou lie still?
If thus thou vanishest, thou tell’st the world
It is not worth leave-taking. Antony and Cleopatra, Act V, Scene ii.

Dany does the same thing. She lights the pyre to help her husband ascend to the heavens, taking his place among the stars. Then, she sits on top of the pyre along with her three dragon eggs. Miraculously, she survives the fire and the dragons hatch, thus establishing her as the true heir of House Targarean and the Mother Of Dragons.

After witnessing the queen embracing her serpentine children, the blood riders that swore oaths to defend her husband swear again to defend her, promising to help her win the Iron Throne. Her power to command loyalty can win her the throne, and unlike Robert, keep it!

http://philwillmott.org/play-of-thrones-shakespeare-that-inspired-game-of-thrones.html

There are enough comparisons to even adapt Shakespeare to resemble Game Of Thrones

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My Top Ten Shakespearean Apps For Teachers and Students, Part 2

As I said before, my criteria for these apps was “Free, functional (educational or useful in life,) and fun.”
6. Shakespeare by Shmop: incredible! This is a study guide for your phone of tablet. There are separate apps Hamlet, Macbeth, and R&J. Each one features a glossary, analysis, quotes, study questions, you get the idea. You can cover a lot of the play with this app. My favorite feature is “Why Should I Care?” This is a short essay that compares the themes and ideas of the play to modern life. Excellent app, and the website is great too for students and teachers: http://www.shmoop.com

7. Shakespeare for kids


 I believe nobody is too old or too young to enjoy Shakespeare, so I tried to find a Shkespeare app for young children and came up with this. To be honest, I was disappointed in this one; it’s basically an app version of Irene Lamb’s book “Tales From Shakespeare”. It consists of short summaries of the plays intended for children. There are no study guides, no quotes, and the games have nothing to do with Shakespeare. My advice, get the book, or go to these sites: 

8. Poems By Heart Made by the Penguin Publishing Co, it’s designed to help you learn a poem by quizzing yourself, one line at a time, (or one word if necessary). Friendly and enjoyable.


9. Soliloquy by playshakespeare.com. 

As you might expect, this app is a database of Shakespearean speeches. I normally don’t advocate actors learning speeches out of context without reading the whole play, but this app is useful for the professional actor on the go, who needs to pull out a speech in a hurry. It’s sort of a digital monologue portfolio. You can find a good speech, save it, then pull it out when you need to study it. There’s also a pro feature that allows you to edit the speech if it’s running long. What I really like is the fact that each speech is conveniently classified by gender/ genre/ length, and the helpful tips for young actors picking a good speech.

10. Shakespeare by Play Shakespeare.com


Well now we come to the end of the free Shakespeare app list I’ve compiled. Now what? I would recommend downloading Shakespeare by Playshakespeare.com, then BURN THE LIST! This is the most incredible Shakespeare app I’ve ever seen! It has tons of free and pay- only features and I’ve listed a few below:

  • Full text of the plays
  • A GPS feature where you can locate any Shakespearean theater near you.
  • A free passport to 57 theaters that offer discounts to members.
  • Study guides which include scene breakdown, poetry glossary, and notes on verse scansion
  • Shakeapeare quotes generator.
  • A glossary of over 40,000 Shakespearean words 

Much like this blog, I recommend this app to Shakespeare lovers of any age!


One more bonus review: this isn’t an app, but it’s a website created by Joel Eastman and Erik Hinton of the Wall Street Journal. Its purpose is to analyze the awesome lyric complexity of the Broadway musical “Hamilton.” http://graphics.wsj.com/hamilton/ 

The website uncovers the use of assonance, alliteration, near-rhymes, mid-line rhymes, and other strokes of Lin-Manuel Maranda’s lyrical brush. The best part is that you can feed any text you want into the website, and it will use the same algorithm to show you its lyrical elements, so I’d recommend using it as a tool to study Shakespeare. You’ll find that the Bard of Avon and Snoop Lion aren’t as different as they might seem.

So there you are, a few fun, friendly, and free tools for exploring the work and life of a timeless English playwright. As The Bard might say: “Sirs, betake you to your tools,” for such apps as these are only as good as the person who uses them.

How to Throw Your  Own  12th Night Party  

 Part One: The Invitation:

Tradition says the 12th night does not actually start until nightfall on January 5th; it’s the celebration of the night when the wise men finally got to Bethlehem, so make sure you you’re clear on that in the invitation. If you need help on designing clever 12th night invitations, view my previous post on creating Valentine’s Day cards!

Part TwoThe Feast

Traditionally celebrated with, (as Sir Toby puts it), “cakes and ale,” there’s a lovely recipe for a 12 night cake below.

 Picture/ recipe is available here: Jane Austin.com: Twelfth Night cake

A Twelfth Night cake is basically a fruitcake stuffed  with spices and dried fruit, that symbolizes of the three kings that came from the orient to Bethlehem all those years ago. One game you can play with your guests is putting a bean in the center of the cake. Tradition holds that whoever  finds the bean has good luck for the coming year.

The alternative version favored in France and Switzerland, is made of puff pastry, egg, and rum. Here’s a recipe I found on food.com: Swiss Twelfth night cake

Music

Singing is a big part of 12th night as evidenced in this scene where sir Toby, Mariah and Sir Andrew start singing songs: Act II Scene III

I have taken the liberty of putting down all the songs from 12th night and some YouTube clips of my favorite renditions.

Hold Thy Peace, Thou Knave (Shakespeare Songbook)

O Mistress Mine (2011)

Come Away Death(2014 Shakepeare in the Park Soundtrack

Hey Robin, Jolly Robin ( Shakespeare Birthplace)

I Am Gone Sir (Stratford Shakespeare Festival 2011)

The Wind and Rain (Alabama Shakespeare Festival)
 
Games
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts one big part of the Christmas season was appointing a lord of misrule, and ancient tradition that goes back even before Christian times. In the play 12th night Feste basically serves as Lord Of Misrule; he presides over all the games and songs in the house, and he helps Sir Toby baffle   Malvolio. In real life a Lord of Misrule presided over each Twelfth Night celebration, choosing which games and dances everyone would engage in.

 Most early Twelfth Night celebrations included a masked ball. In the 18th century, merrymakers  engaged in a sort of role playing game, where they drew a character based on a popular archetype like the soldier Charles Cuttemdown or Beatrice Bouquet, and had to act like that character the rest of the night. Finally, a holiday that encourages you to LARP!

Wassail
.

As I mentioned in my previous post wassail was the quintessential winter beverage and 12 night was not an exception. In this post you can see some photos of me actually making wassail myself in accordance with a trip up recipe I found on the food from the food network’s Alton Brown.

Alton Brown Wassail recipe 


I didn’t have Madeira wine so I substituted port, but otherwise I used all the ingredients he mentioned in the recipe.


Like I said in the previous post, Wassail is derived from an old word meaning “lamb’s wool,” and you can see why when you see the frothy mixture on top.


I served this wassail to my in laws on Christmas night, and the only complaint I got was that the weather was a little too hot to enjoy it. I can personally attest that wassail warms you right down to your toes, which is great if you’ve been out caroling in 17th century England, but indoors during the hottest Christmas on record, it was a little uncomfortable- I was already wearing shorts and I was still too hot. My advice is- if you get a white Christmas, enjoy your wassail, but if it’s 60 degrees outside, stick to ale or Madeira, or some other kind of spicy spirit that you can serve
Well, that’s my advice, happy Twelfth Night everyone!
Sources:

Brownie Locks.com- History of Twelfth Night 

Catholic Encyclopedia: Feast of Fools
Jane Austin.com: Twelfth Night Celebrations
Lost Past Remembered: Twelfth night

Why Christmas.com: the Twelve Days of Christmastime

Christmas For Shakespeare Part III: Performing for Queen Elizabeth 

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Today I will be talking about how Shakepeare’s two royal patrons, Queen Elizabeth I and James I celebrated this holiday!

We have surviving records that prove Shakespeare and his troupe performed at Christmas during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. The buildings still exist so we can imagine what Shakespeare’s performancesal at court might have looked like. What follows is a bit of historical detective work, with a nice holiday flavor to boot.

How did Good Queen Bess celebrate Christmas?

Like her predecessor Henry VIII, Her Majesty Elizabeth  accepted presents from the nobles on New Year’s Day instead of Christmas morning. From all over the kingdom, people would bring the best and most extravagant presents to the queen, hoping to gain her favor at court. Take a look at this true case of what her favorite courtier, Robert Dudley gave the queen for Christmas in 1588:

Dudley gives Queen Elizabeth a wristwatch
Unlike her dad however, Elizabethan Christmas was a more elaborate affair than a week of sitting and feasting. Yes, Gloriana had elaborate feasts, but she preferred to impress her nobles and visiting dignitaries with dances, jousts, and plays. She was an accomplished dancer and poet, and she loved court masques.

  A masque is sort of like a combination masked ball and performance art piece. The nobles would put on costumes and masks and enact a historical or mythological event, like “the Golden Age Restored,” a masque Ben Johnson wrote for Twelfth Night in 1616. The intent was to flatter the queen and her court, as well as having a good time. Of course, Liz still made time on the dance floor for Shakepeare’s company!

.

How the plays were performed:

The plays would be in a large empty hall like the banquet hall or dance hall. Probably the tables would be removed from the feasting, then the dancing would begin. At around 10PM, the actors would take their places. There might be a makeshift tiring house, which was mainly just a curtain that the actors could hide behind to wait for their entrances.
The queen or King would be sitting on a throne on a raised platform so that she or he could be clearly seen by the actors and the audience.
Which plays did They Perform? 

In 1594 The Lord Chamberlain’s Men played before the Queen at Greenwich Palace. Alas, we don’t know which plays they performed this time. What follows is a list of the plays we do know Shakepeare’s company played at Christmas.
 

Whitehall Palace by Dankerts, 1675.
 
Love’s Labors Lost– 1597 at Whitehall palace. This time we know which play they performed before the Queen, because it’s listed right on the title page. I suspect that printing where the play was performed was designed to fire the imagination of the people who bought it. If you couldn’t be at court to see Shakespeare’s play, you could at least read his words and imagine you were there.

James I invited Shakepeare’s company to perform at Hampton Court many times. Below is an account of the plays for the Christmas holiday in 1603. Notice that Shakepeare’s name is spelled “Shaxberd.”

   

Here’s a list of some more plays we know Shakepeare’ performed at Christmas:

  1. Midsummer Nights Dream-  1603 on New Years Day, Hampton Court.
  2. Measure for Measure on Boxing Day 1603, Hampton Court.
  3. King Lear on Boxing Day 1606.
  4. Twelfth Night- Candlemas (Feb 2nd 1602).
  5. Twelfth Night 1618 and 1619 (location unknown).

 Below is an episode of the incredible documentary “In Search of Shakepeare.” The first twelve minutes show what Christmas might have been like at Hampton Court in 1603, the first year of King James’ reign.

In Search of Shakespeare: For All Time 

James loved plays and masques even more than Liz, which is why he employed one of the greatest scenic artists of all time, Inigo Jones, to come up with extravagant stage designs and costumes for plays and masques. James’ Queen Anne Of Denmark performed in quite a few masques herself. James also treated the Christmas season  as a time of charity, which might have inspired some of the lines in King Lear, which was performed ‘on the feast of Steven’ 1606:

“Poor naked wretches… who soer you are. I have taken too little care of this.” -King Lear, Act III, scene I (The Storm Scene).

We can recall the contrast between King Lear and Good King Wenceslas. In the scene I quoted earlier, Lear laments that he hasn’t been more charitable to the poor, now that he himself feels cold and homeless.

The Christmas season would carry on until oh January 6, aka Twelfth Night. This was the day when, according to Christian tradition, the Three Wise Men finally got to Bethlehem and delivered their presents. Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night is all about celebrations of feasting, fools and clowns, and of course, epiphanies. Over the next few days I will delve into the traditions of Twelfth night, and teach you how to make your own Twelfth Night feast!
Happy holidays!

The Shakepearean Student

 

Sources: http://www.unofficialroyalty.com/columnists/the-laird-othistle/will-shakespeare-at-christmas-court/

http://home.hiwaay.net/~paul/shakespeare/revels/revelsacct1.html

http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/christmas/jacobean.shtml

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/theatre/theroyalpalaces.html

 

http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/m/lifetimes/society/court%20life/festivals.html

FMI look at “The Christmas Revels”

Remember, Remember GUY FAWKES DAY!

Hi Everyone!

For most of us Shakespeare geeks, November the Fifth isn’t just the day where we celebrate the move/comic book V For Vendetta, it’s also a celebration of one of the most infamous plots in English History, the GUNPOWDER PLOT, where 13 Catholics including Guy Fawkes planned to blow up Parliament and kill King James of Scotland. To this day, Guy Fawkes is burned in effigy on November 5, and little children chant:

   The Fifth of November

    Remember, remember!
    The fifth of November,
    The Gunpowder treason and plot;
    I know of no reason
    Why the Gunpowder treason
    Should ever be forgot!
    Guy Fawkes and his companions
    Did the scheme contrive,
    To blow the King and Parliament
    All up alive.
    Threescore barrels, laid below,
    To prove old England’s overthrow.
    But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
    With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
    A stick and a stake
    For King James’s sake!
    If you won’t give me one,
    I’ll take two,
    The better for me,
    And the worse for you.
    A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
    A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
    A pint of beer to wash it down,
    And a jolly good fire to burn him.
    Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
    Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
    Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

The plot went down in 1605, the same year Shakespeare probably wrote Macbeth! A lot of scholars believe that a plot to assassinate the rightful king of Scotland gave Shakespeare the inspiration to craft his most paranoid, frightening, and topical play, similar to the way he chose to write Romeo and Juliet right after the plague closed the playhouses of London and wanted to write about the ancient plague of family vendettas.

Engraving of 8 of the 13 conspirators involved in the Gunpowder Plot.
                          Engraving of 8 of the 13 conspirators involved in the Gunpowder Plot.
Other scholars suggest that Shakespeare chose to write “Macbeth” to show support of James’ right as king. Shakespeare definitely needed to do this, after all, James was his royal patron and he needed to make sure that he was on the king’s good side. More importantly, Shakespeare’s family was on thin ice when it came to their loyalty to the crown. Remember, Shakespeare’s father and mother were both lifelong Catholics, just like the conspirators who tried to blow up the king! Not only that, but Shakespeare’s father was friends with Robert Catesby, the mastermind behind the whole plot! Even worse, Shakespeare’s favorite bar the Mermaid Tavern, was a meeting place for Catesby and his gang! So Shakespeare might have written “Macbeth” as a way of proclaiming the king’s legitimacy, and his allegiance to the crown.

So let’s be thankful that the king never suspected Shakespeare, because I for one wouldn’t want to live in a world without Macbeth.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Enjoy this quiz on the history of Guy Fawkes Day: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/how-well-do-you-know-what-happened-during-the-gunpowder-plot-a6721096.html 

Finally, a little video about the gunpowder plot from “Horrible Histories,” which also includes some useful tips on internet safety.

Juliet’s Infinite (Variety) Playlist

Hello Loyal Subscribers and First Time Readers!

Those of you who read my post for Much Ado About Nothing will probably remember that I made a post like this one last year. I created a fake playlist of songs that I though the protagonists, Benedick and Beatrice, might want to hear during moments of the play. Well, since this year our Romeo and Juliet focuses  greatly on the influence of technology in everyday life, I felt it would be appropriate to make another playlist.

For those of you who didn’t read the older post, this is a game!

The way it works is I provide you with a list of the events that happen to Romeo, and then a fake ipod Playlist screen. This screen has a group of songs that I chose because I feel Romeo might want them as part of his ‘internal soundtrack.’ So if Romeo is feeling sad at a particular moment, you look at the playlist and try to pick a  song that would match his mood. Yesterday I did Romeo’s playlist and today I’ll do Juliet’s.
Anyway, enough gabbing. LET’S PLAY!

Part I: Events that Happen To Juliet (In Chronological Order)

  1. Like a dutiful daughter, Juliet promises to meet Paris at the Capulet ball.
  2. Juliet is immediately stuck with true love when she dances with Romeo.
  3. Caught up in love and passion Juliet kisses Romeo at her balcony and pledges to be with him forever.
  4. After sneaking off to Friar Lawrence’s cell, Juliet secretly marries Romeo.
  5. Juliet anxiously awaits her first night with Romeo as a married woman.
  6. After spending one last tender night with her Romeo, Juliet tries to keep him by her side, even though she knows he has to leave.
  7. Juliet defies her father by refusing to marry Paris and he threatens to disown her.
  8. Terrified and repulsed by the idea of marrying Paris, Juliet visits Friar Lawrence’s cell, begging him to either help her or let her die.
  9. Haunted by Tybalt’s memory, Juliet reluctantly takes Friar Lawrence’s potion to make herself seem dead. She is taken to her family’s crypt.
  10. Awakened from her sleep and seeing her husband Romeo dead, Juliet stabs herself.
  11. Epilogue: Through Julie’s death, her father reconciles with Montegue.

Part II- The playlist- try to match these songs with the events above.

Juliet's Playlist

So now you know the rules, enjoy the game. Send your answers to us by leaving a comment below or by emailing us at openairshakespearnrv@gmail.com. If you have other suggestions for the playlist, let us know and we’ll make a new one!
Have fun!

Romeo and Juliet’s Infinite (Variety) Playlist Part 1

Hello Loyal Subscribers and First Time Readers!

A few weeks ago I created a fake playlist of songs that I though the protagonists, Benedick and Beatrice, might want to hear during moments of the play. So I decided to do another one for R&J!

For those of you who didn’t read the older post, this is a game!

The way it works is I provide you with a list of the events that happen to Romeo, and then a fake ipod Playlist screen. This screen has a group of songs that I chose because I feel Romeo might want them as part of his ‘internal soundtrack.’ So if Romeo is feeling sad at a particular moment, you look at the playlist and try to pick a  song that would match his mood. Today is Romeo’s playlist and tomorrow I’ll do Juliet’s.
Anyway, enough gabbing. LET’S PLAY!

Part I: Events that Happen To Romeo (In Chronological Order)

  1. Romeo is distraught because Rosalind will not give in to his romantic advances
  2. Romeo is disappointed when he finds out that the Montegues and the Capulets have been fighting again.
  3. Benvolio convinces Romeo to get over himself and go crash the party at the Capulet’s.
  4. Romeo dances at the Capulet Ball and is immediately stuck with true love.
  5. Romeo realizes with horror that his true love is a Capulet; his family’s enemy.
  6. Determined to seize the moment, Romeo climbs the orchard wall under Juliet’s balcony and risks death to talk to her.
  7. Having already plotted with the Friar and Nurse, Romeo secretly marries Juliet
  8. Romeo attempts to break up a fight between his friend Mercutio, and his new cousin, Tybalt.
  9. Full of rage after Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo challenges Tybalt to a duel and wins.
  10. Romeo is once again distraught and full of self-hatred for killing Tybalt. He hides in Friar Lawrence’s cell, and thinks about what he has done.
  11. Romeo sneaks once again into Juliet’s room and spends one last tender night with her before he has to leave for Mantua.
  12. Hearing that Juliet has died, Romeo is once again full of rage for the whole of humanity. He resolves to go back to Verona and die by Juliet.
  13. Feeling strangely at peace, Romeo bids farewell to his beloved Juliet, drinks a poison, and dies.
  14. Epilogue: Through Romeo’s death, his father reconciles with Capulet.

Part II- The playlist- Try to match these songs with the events above.

Romeo's Playlist (in random order)

So now you know the rules, enjoy the game. Send your answers to us by leaving a comment below or by emailing me here:

Have fun!

Benedick and Beatrice’s Infinite (Variety) Playlist

Benedick and Beatrice’s Infinite (Variety) Playlist

This is a game I created for a Shakespeare workshop back in 2012. I would recommend it for any teacher who wants to connect their students to a piece of literature: basically you make a list of songs that A: relate to the personality of a Shakespearean character, and B: relate to moments of the show.

Introduction:

Have you ever met people who go around everywhere with their MP3 players and their earbuds? The kind of people who walk around playing their own personal soundtrack? Well, what do you think would happen if the characters from Much Ado did this, and you happened to glance at Benedick or Beatrice’s iPod? Well that’s what we’re going to pretend in a little game I like to call “Benedick’s Infinite Variety Playlist.” Below is a list of the major events in the play that happen to Benedick. The problem is: they’re all on shuffle. Your job is to figure which song matches which event, put them in chronological order, and submit your answer in the comments below. Later this week, you can play the same game with Beatrice’s playlist. Have fun and remember, as Shakespeare said: “If music be the food of love, play on!”

Events For Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing in random order (Match these with the songs from the playlist below)

  1. Benedick and Beatrice have a brief fling and break up before the play begins
  2. Benedick sees Beatrice and fights with her with his wits.
  3. Benedick dances with Beatrice at the party.
  4. Beatrice insults Benedick mercilessly at the party.
  5. Don Pedro, Claudio, and Leonato claim they overheard Beatrice confessing her love to Benedick.
  6. Benedick decides to be “horribly in love” with Beatrice.
  7. Convinced that Beatrice loves him, Benedick tries to spruce up his appearance.
  8. After the wedding scene, (where Claudio discraces Hero), Beatrice asks Benedick to “Kill Claudio.” Benedick must choose between being Claudio’s friend, and becoming a real man.
  9. Benedick tries to coax Beatrice into admitting that she loves him
  10. Benedick marries Beatrice