As if you needed reminding, this month sees the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It’s a pretty safe bet that there will be hundreds, if not thousands of bard-related blogs and articles popping up over the next few weeks, so I thought I’d get in nice and early and share with you some of my favourite Shakespeare-themed things!
Favourite Shakespeare play – undoubtedly “Macbeth”, as I think it’s the most powerful and striking one that I’ve seen performed. I’ve been lucky enough to be in the audience for quite a few different versions, ranging from the traditional to an extremely physical interpretation that took place almost entirely on a giant pyramid constructed from ropes, and I’ve taken something new away from it every time.
Favourite character – I guess it should be Juliet really seeing as I’m named after her, but as my second choice I’m going to go over to the dark side and pick Lady Macbeth, surely one of the most gloriously terrifying women you’ll ever see on stage.
Favourite film adaptation – there was a point in my life when I was watching Kenneth Branagh’s “Much Ado about Nothing” with alarming regularity (I think it may have been something to do with Keanu Reeves in leather trousers…). However, if I’m allowed to broaden the definition slightly to include modern retellings of Shakespeare’s stories then I’d have to plump for “10 Things I Hate about You”, which takes as its inspiration “The Taming of the Shrew”.
Favourite factual Shakespeare book – “Will in the World” by Stephen Greenblatt is without doubt the best one I’ve read when it comes to examining what we know of Shakespeare’s life in the context of his time. It packs in an enormous amount of information while remaining completely readable.
Shakespeare in fiction – “The Tutor” by Andrea Chapin is a page-turning imagining of a passionate love affair between a young William Shakespeare and the woman who becomes his muse. In a completely different take on history we have the jaw-dropping linguistic triumph that is Ros Barber’s “The Marlowe Papers”, a novel written entirely in verse that plays with the idea of Christopher Marlowe being the real playwright behind the name “Shakespeare”.
Favourite Shakespeare quote – it’s only right that the great man himself should wrap up this blog post in his own words:
“….We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
If you’re interested in all things Shakespearean there’s a really interesting blog you might want to visit that explores the world of the bard and his contemporaries, Standing up for Shakespeare.
As for me, writing this has made me keen to go and see another Shakespeare play, so I’m off now to see what I can find!