The second most common question I get asked when people find out that I taught Shakespeare is, “Did he write the plays?” which is like asking a biology professor if she believes in evolution. I usually respond with the old joke that Shakespeare’s plays weren’t written by Shakespeare, but by a man with the same name. If people are really interested, I provide a short history of authorship conspiracy theories, cribbing from Schoenbaum’s brilliant Shakespeare’s Lives.
A more common question is, “What’s your favorite play?” Choosing a single play is impossible for me, but, on any given day, I can provide a favorite comedy, history, tragedy, and romance. (Today those are Twelfth Night, 1 Henry IV, Hamlet, and The Winter’s Tale—I might have different favorites tomorrow.)
I’m also sometimes asked, “Who’s your favorite character?” which is also an impossible question, but if we can narrow it, I’m willing to give it a go.
One of my tweeps, Andy McLean, is compiling a list of “Shakespeare’s Gr…
A bust of Shakespeare in Bruce Wayne's library played a crucial role on every episode of the 1960s Batman TV show, with the now deceased Adam West.
After getting a call for help from Commissioner Gordon, millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne would tell his young ward Dick Grayson, "To the batpoles!" Wayne or Grayson would pull back Shakespeare's bust and flip the switch that made a bookcase slide away, revealing the batpoles. They would then jump on the poles and slide to the batcave, changing their outfits en route.
A Washington Post reader recently asked science writer Sara Kaplan if he might have an atom of Shakespeare inside him. Kaplan provided this answer with help from chemist Suzanne Bell. A carbon atom that started out inside a star might, in 1616, end up in a carrot in Stratford-upon-Avon:
The carrot got eaten by an ailing William Shakespeare. When Shakespeare died shortly afterward, the carbon was buried beneath Holy Trinity Church along with the man’s body. It continued to move through the carbon cycle — air, plant, animal, earth, air again — and yes, maybe, it then drifted across the Atlantic, got bound up in a plant and was eventually eaten by [a Washington Post reader in 2016].
Hamlet speculates in a similar manner when he tells Claudius that a king may make a royal tour of beggar's guts since the beggar "may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm."
In the post-apocalyptic world of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, a Shakespeare troupe wanders around Lake Michigan. If they were wandering northern California instead, they could stop in Oakland and use shipping containers to set up a permanent theater.
Here's a video about the perfect design, by Angus Vail:
For a description of the project, click here. For a TED talk by Vail, click here.
In his 2012 Viola, Argentine director Matías Piñeiro played games with Twelfth Night. In his new film, Hermia and Helena, he riffs on A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Here's a review from Variety and a clip that gives some sense of the film. Camila/Helena (Agustina Muñoz) drives a truck while Carmen/Hermia (Maria Villa) makes out with her boyfriend Leo/Lysander (Julian Larquier).