6/13/15

Teaser Trailer for the New Macbeth Movie

The trailer gives us a sense of the film's Braveheart-like atmosphere. It also shows that Duncan's murder is handled much as in Polanski's version, with Duncan awakening just before he's stabbed.

This really is a "teaser." For a better sense of what's in the film, check out Peter Bradshaw's review.

5/19/15

New Portrait of Shakespeare? Probably Not

The BBC reports that "A 400-year-old botany book contains what could be the only known portrait of Shakespeare made in his lifetime, according to an academic expert." The book is John Gerard's 1598 Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, and the "portrait" is in a corner of the elaborate title page, which is by William Rogers, one of the best-known Elizabethan engravers. The expert, "botanist and historian Mark Griffiths," writes regularly for Country Life magazine, which is publishing his claims.

5/9/15

How Shakespeare Influenced Ruth Rendell

In an interview with Diana Cooper-Clark, Ruth Rendell, one of the world's greatest crime writers, talked about how Shakespeare influenced her. She said that Antony and Cleopatra was her favorite play:
There are more quotes from that play than any other in my books. That love affair has influenced the relationships of my characters more than any other, such as in the novels Shake Hands Forever and Make Death Love Me. As a matter of fact, “Make death love me” is a quote from Antony and Cleopatra. This is a love affair between people no longer young; it is a destructive relationship. In Make Death Love Me, that love affair comes to nothing because it is doomed from the start.

5/8/15

James Ivory Will Film Richard II in 3D

Mather Brown, Richard II resigning
the Crown to Bolingbroke (1801)
CBC News reports that Remains of the Day director James Ivory will shoot his Richard II, starring Tom Hiddleston, in 3D: 
After watching Avatar in 3D, Ivory said he thought: "This could be useful. . . . I think if you're going to do something set in the 14th century, in period, in 3D, it will be like something from Mars practically, I think. It will be strange and effective." 

5/7/15

Lucian Msamati Becomes the First Black Actor to Play Iago for the Royal Shakespeare Company

Lucian Msamati, who plays the pirate Salladhor Saan on Game of Thrones, won't be the first black actor to play Iago. In the early nineteenth century, an African American played the part in New York's African Grove theater, where the first internationally famous black Shakespearean actor, Ira Aldridge, got his start. In recent decades, other black actors have played Shakespeare's creepy Machiavel. But Msamati will be the first to play him for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Independent reports that Msamati will play the role opposite Hugh Quarshie's Othello during the RSC's summer season.

5/6/15

The Best Possible News on Orson Welles's 100th Birthday

A few lucky audiences have seen the new print of Orson Welles's history-play mashup, The Chimes at Midnight.

It's Welles's greatest film, better than Citizen Kane—Welles thought so himself—and the print's high quality is clear from a clip of the climax (2 Henry IV 5.5) that Mr. Bongo has posted on YouTube.

 

We can hope that a new (Criterion?) DVD will be released in U.S., so we can throw away our Brazilian bootlegs.

For my observations on Welles's handling of soliloquies in Chimes, click here.

4/29/15

The Epilogue in Julie Taymor's Tempest


Music is central to Shakespeare's romances. In Pericles, Gower calls the story a "song," and Marina "sings like one immortal." Cymbeline has the beautiful songs "Hark, hark! the lark " and " Fear no more the heat o'th' sun," and The Winter's Tale has Autolycus's songs and a pastoral dance. 

The Tempest was turned into an opera less than a hundred years after it was first performed; composers who have written for it include Purcell, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Vaughan Williams.
Beth Gibbons of Portishead

Eliot Goldenthal's music is one of the highlights of Julie Taymor's 2010 film of the play, which ends with the epilogue being sung rather than spoken. During a question-and-answer period at the New York Film Festival, Taymor explained that she thought a spoken epilogue wouldn't work in film as it does in the theater, where the actor sheds his character as he bids the audience farewell.

Bryce Dallas Howard does just this in Kenneth Branagh's As You Like It (2006), and it's an effective strategy. But Taymor didn't want to break the illusion of the world of her film and so didn't film Helen Mirren speaking the epilogue. Instead she had Goldenthal write music to be sung by Beth Gibbons of the trip-hop band Portishead. The music plays as we watch Prospero's sinking books and the credits roll.

4/28/15

New Stills of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in Justin Kurzel's Macbeth

Empire magazine has published three new stills from Justin Kurzel's upcoming Macbeth movie with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

Christian Borle Gets a Tony Nomination for His Codpiece-Twerking Shakespeare

Today Christian Borle got a well-deserved Tony nomination for his hilarious turn as a buff, showboating, plagiarizing, codpiece-twerking Shakespeare in Something Rotten.

Tina Packer on the Evolution of Shakespeare's Women

On the BBC websiteJane O'Brien interviews Tina Packer, the author of Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays:
[Packer] says Shakespeare didn't understand women in the beginning of his career. 
Olivia Hussey in Franco
Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet.
"I think something happened, somewhere around Love's Labour's Lost and the early history plays and going into Romeo and Juliet. Either he fell in love or he just grew up, but something happened to him where he suddenly 'got it' about women and there was a profound shift in his writing," she says.