Monday, December 12, 2011

The End of the Shakespearean Semester

Engaging Shakespeare

First off, I thought the Engaging Shakespeare event went off marvelously. Every group seemed genuinely pleased with how they were represented there, and I was super impressed with all of the different projects. I am definitely excited that we have our own class website for the event to refer back to.

When you have a class split up into groups and design their own projects, sometimes some groups or some people in the groups try to slide by and do the bare minimum. Not here. I was impressed by everyone's effort in my group, as well as the efforts of all the other groups. We definitely did college-level work, and it was apparent.

A little side note on my specific group, I am still so excited that we did as much work as is apparent. I think the artwork shown was really cool, and had a lot of variety. Plus, it was not ten pieces of art total. It filled both aisles of the room. I think the average was about 10-12 pieces of art per over 50 works in total. When we first talked about doing an art gallery, I was not thinking that it would be that large in scope. And then to have them all up online, AND to have them all correspond to lesson plans, which are also on the web? It was great, and I am really glad that we got to share with the participants on Friday, as well as the online world.

Learning Outcomes

1. Gain Shakespeare Literacy
This learning outcome was covered throughout the whole class. For breadth, I have now read Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, Love's Labor's Lost, As You Like It, The Tempest and King Lear.

I feel like now I have two plays that I have really gone in depth with since the final project: As You Like It and Hamlet. For As You Like It, I have posted about the details of the play, as well as contemporary connections for the play. For Hamlet, I created artworks for all five acts of the play, as well as the play as a whole and the theme of madness.

For performances, I saw The Winter's Tale, as well as Macbeth live. And, I watched the film adaptation of As You Like It, as well as small clips of various plays, such as the "To be or not to be" soliloquies that we watched in class.

For contemporary and visual culture, I have seen parallels between characters, the use of titles, missionary work, and my own life in quite a few circumstances. And, by doing research for the final project, I found others who are applying Shakespeare to their own lives, like the Hobart Shakespeareans.

2. Analyze Shakespeare Critically

I really tried to work on textual analysis this second half of the semester, both with my own readings, as well as applying it to our final project. For some examples of textual analysis, I looked at the use of the "the man in the moon" in The Tempest and by comparing Hamlet and Laertes, I compared some of their lines and the words that they used in order to discuss their motives. There was a blog post where I compared the banished dukes of As You Like It and The Tempest, which was fun. I also did a long blog post about King Lear and the quote by Gloucester: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for sport." In this post, I discussed Shakespeare's word choice and imagery as a result of this poignant line. I also did textual analysis through creating art about different themes and quotes from Hamlet. For each of my works of art, I attributed the work to a quote, as well as wrote an artist statement about the quote and how I portrayed it through art. Here is an example:

“Oh that the earth which kept the world in awe should patch a wall t’expel the winter’s flaw!” (Act 5 scene i)

Digital Print

In this quote, even before the bloody fate of most of the main players in the castle, Hamlet realizes the doom of everyone’s fate – to patch a wall in a grave. This is a major moment for Hamlet, where he comes to grips with death, and therefore accepts his fate. After that, he is willing to act, but his actions are too late to stop the mortal fates of so many. This images conveys that sense of wintry death that I imagined Hamlet was so afraid of throughout the play.

For contextual analysis, I was able to analyze the productions of As You Like It, The Winter's Tale, and Macbeth. I also compared themes of Nature vs. Nurture and Romanticism (especially the Romantic paintings of J.M.W. Turner) to the beginning of The Tempest. In the final project, I think the best concise example of contextual analysis is in our lesson plans. In this blog post, I started brainstorming ideas for lesson plans, and here I posted my individual lesson plan on decisions.

3. Engage Shakespeare Creatively

I think our final project blog speaks for itself in this category, but I will explain a bit. For an actual performance, I did not perform a Shakespeare work on stage, but I did talk about our work for our final project on a YouTube video and we created a script and everything for it. As a side note, while I was posting the YouTube video, I came across another video introducing a site, which I thought was pretty neat. We also had to present all of our work on stage at the Engaging Shakespeare event. For the project, we not only read Hamlet, but created artworks about each of the acts, and lesson plans for major themes of the play. This definitely helped me understand Hamlet better, which is what we wanted students and teachers to be able to do in classrooms where Shakespeare is taught.

On other creative fronts, I was also able to connect Shakespeare to painting and art history, and to contemporary life through a video I made about the theme of "All the World's a Stage." That video actually made it on the "best of" posts for this class, which I was excited about. I also did a small literary imitation through an alliteration I did about Love's Labor's Lost.

4. Share Shakespeare Meaningfully

Prior to the final project, I had this blog that I shared everything on, I shared globally by commenting on another's blog as well as posting a lesson plan that I had created on the web. I also created the video concerning my contemporary definition of "All the World's a Stage" and sent that to family members, who responded positively.

With the final project, we posted all of our lesson plans on connexions, posted all of our art on deviant art, posted a YouTube video about our curriculum, and made a group blog that housed all of our work for the final project.

I really think that I have been able to work with all of the learning outcomes for this class, and in doing so, have had a well-rounded, atypical, amazing Shakespeare experience!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lighting Caterpillars on Fire

I wanted to make an awesome blog post about King Lear. This play is so rich and very different from the other Shakespeare plays that I am sad that I could not spend more time on it and really blog about it in depth as I was reading it. So, I will have to read it again, and this blog post will have to satisfy my thirst for a time.

I wanted to expand on my previous blog post about this quotation, and go into more in-depth analysis. In Act IV scene i, Gloucester says, "As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods. They kill us for their sport."

General Analysis

I think that this is one of the most powerful quotes in this play the more I think about it, and this quote proves to me once again that Shakespeare was truly a gifted playwright. First of all, Gloucester is at the complete valley of his life. He just got his eyes stamped out, he is kicked out of his castle to wander in the heath by the very people who just blinded him, and he thinks that his beloved son Edgar is out to kill him (but really Edmund is the major villain).

So, on this level, this quote is very telling, and most can relate to this feeling. I know that I have felt picked on in the most terrible way, and felt like there was no way that things could get any worse. Gloucester's quote resonates with most because it is the whole theme of "life isn't fair," as well as being affected by things that you have no control over.

Use of Comparison

Another level that I think makes this quote powerful is Shakespeare's use of comparison. He compares the gods killing him for sport to "flies to wanton boys." Perhaps some people would cry, "generalization!" but to me, this comparison is great. I cannot count how many times I was saddened when my bigger boy cousins would come into our yard after a huge snow storm and "mess it up" by playing in it. Or when they would trap a ton of gypsy moth caterpillars in a mason jar and then light it on fire.

It reminds me of Ender's Game when Peter, Ender's older and sadistic brother, catches squirrels and then pretty much flays them alive. Ender and his sister Valentine are not very pleased with Peter's disregard for life, and he counters that it is just squirrels. Using just a few examples off the top of my head, I think using "wanton boys" as a comparison for the gods is an extremely effective use of comparison, since many can have personal examples to relate to.

Word Choice

And, I think that this quote is effective because of its word choice. Using "wanton" to describe the boys, and thus describe the gods is pretty severe, since wanton means "without regard for what is right, just humane." This word actually comes from a Middle English word between 1250-1300, wantowen, which literally means "undisciplined, ill-reared." Maybe the audience in his day knew the word of origin, but either way, with these ideas in mind, the picture that Shakespeare is painting of the boys and the gods is bleak.

Also, "they kill us for their sport" is pretty condemning. Shakespeare uses "sport" to really underline the lack of regard for life in general by the gods. This sentence makes me think of the games at the Roman Colosseum where everything had to do with death. Animals killing animals, animals killing people, people killing people. Apparently animals were even driven to extinction by these "games." With Shakespeare using this term, I am prompted to realize the sheer horror of a people killing others for enjoyment, especially from history, and therefore realize the absolute depth of despair that Gloucester is expressing.

To conclude, this is the ultimate "Why me?" quotation. Gloucester realizes how subject he is to the "wheel of fortune" and therefore absolves to commit suicide. A fatalistic and fantastic quotation by Shakespeare that we can understand on many levels, even though I'm not sure he watched boys trap caterpillars in mason jars and light them on fire.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Engaging Shakespeare

I am so excited about all of this that I want to share this video about our curriculum here, even though we are going to post it on YouTube and it is already on the group blog. We have worked really hard on our curriculum and artwork and it is all coming together quite well.

Along with posting our Shakespeare curriculum on our blog and on, the Shakespeare class is going to have an event called Engaging Shakespeare in order to show off the class' final projects....including ours! We are going to have a gallery of all of our artwork, and I am pretty excited to see everyone else's projects. JJ put up a nice progress report about our Shakespeare evening, which has a preview for the play/documentary groups and other information. But, here is the basic information:

Friday, December 9
7:00 p.m.

I really hope that people can come and that teachers also take advantage of the curriculum resource that we are making available online!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gloucester and Me

"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport."

Gloucester says this despairing line after his eyes are stamped out by Cornwall and Regan and he is left to wander on the heath. I think I would too if so much injustice had happened to me and I did not see any mercy for me in the future either. As I said in a previous post about Hamlet needing the missionaries, this would probably be a good time for the missionaries to find this homeless guy and have a little chat with him.

I know that I am grateful to have a knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father and a brother, Jesus Christ, who not only suffered for my sins, but felt my every pain, heartache, and injustice. With that knowledge, if I were Gloucester, I would know that the gods were not just having fun with me as their pawn. I would know that even if it was after my death, there would be justice and redemption.

Reading these Shakespeare plays, I have found solace in the knowledge that I have that keeps me going, while the characters in his plays, especially the tragedies, are not buoyed up by that same knowledge.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hamlet Art Production....GO!

My final project group is swiftly underway and we have all already started creating artwork concerning Act I of Hamlet. However, we have a group blog that we are posting on, so I think I am going to try and update periodically here, as well as continue to discover King Lear, but the bulk of the art and curriculum postings will be found on the Art and Shakespeare blog.

I have also been thinking a lot about the curriculum aspect of this project, and am concerned about what direction we will be able to take. So, I have been doing a little research about what is out there. I mentioned a movie in a previous blog post that I watched in an Art Education class about a year ago, and not only did I figure out what it was called, The Hobart Shakespeareans, but I also found a website connected to this classroom. I was going to paraphrase a bit about them, but I really like what it says on the front page of the website:

All of the children at Hobart Elementary School qualify for free breakfast and lunch, and few speak English as a first language. Many are from poor or troubled families. What's the winning recipe? A diet of intensive learning mixed with a lot of kindness and fun. These children come to school at 6:30 a.m. and often stay until it is dark. They come during vacation. They take field trips all over the world. They play rock and roll music. Mediocrity has no place in their classroom. And the results follow them for life, as they go on to outstanding colleges.

They have done A LOT of shows! And, their press page is pretty prolific. Their teacher, Rafe Esquith, has really inspired his students to excel. Will Power!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hamlet and Art Production Themes

Here are some ideas that I have brainstormed for art lessons over the past couple days. The nice thing is that Hamlet has a lot of interesting themes that plenty of artist, both now and in the past, have dealt with. Obviously these need to be fleshed out more, but I wanted to get this out there to start the ball rolling:

Hamlet/Art Themes

Gender: "Frailty, thy name is woman," (Act I scene ii) Historical applications: Woman's suffrage, Feminism, Media Influences on Gender Contemporary Art/Art History: Renaissance Art, Guerilla Girls,Margaret Kilgallen Production: Painting, Poster Design

Disease/Decay: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." (Act I scene iv Contemporary Art: Decay Porn (not real porn, just documenting decay), Mark Webb Production: Time Lapse Photography, Still-Life

Madness: "How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself, As I perchance h
ereafter shall think meet To put on antic disposition on" (Act I scene v) Contemporary Art/Art History: Color Issue #47, "A Beautiful Mind," Vincent van Gogh Production: Portraits, Performance art

Mortality: "And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" (Act II scene ii), "To be, or not to be: that is the question..." (Act III scene i) Exploring death Contemporary Art/Art History: Symbolism (Edvard Munch, Carlos Schwab, John Henry Fuseli, Arnold Boecklin), Oliver Herring (knitting) Production ?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Final Project: Art and Shakespeare Curriculum

I have a lot of ideas floating in my head, so hopefully I can put my thoughts into words.

Thought 1: The theme that has really come out of my Shakespeare work/blogging is "All the World's a Stage." I realized that nowadays that means something a little different than in Shakespeare's era, especially with the internet (check out my family internet influence movie). So, I have been thinking about putting yourself out there to be an influence for good online.

Thought 2: I am currently in my last semester of classes for Art Education, so I have been focusing a lot on curriculum. I have been converted to the "curriculum as lived" idea, that learning is not simply in the classroom, but all around us, and if we open our minds, we can be influenced by so many different things for good. So, for my curriculum class, I have started to work through art lesson ideas that are inspired by Shakespeare. I actually just remembered
that I even watched a short documentary about teaching Shakespeare in the art classroom a couple of years I need to find that too.

Thought 3: Mason has this awesome idea about creating a Shakespeare Art Gallery, and I think that it would work great to combine these two ideas. There could be two possible ways that these could be combined. One would be that we would create art based on different plays or ideas within the play, and then create curriculum as a result of the art. The other way would be to have different ideas from Shakespeare for curriculum, create the curriculum, and then do the art. Or we could do a bit of both.

Thought 4: Not only could we show our artwork somewhere public, but we could put all of
our art and curriculum up on the web. I know there are sites to post your lesson plans as a teacher, but I want to figure out the best possible way to do this, so that we can successfully share globally and make this worthwhile. And, I really like the idea of sharing this with
teachers in Utah: we will just have to find someone with Shakespeare leaning!

I think if all of this comes together, then it could be an awesome project - and definitely one that so many other people can benefit from. Below is the lesson plan that I created for the "Seven Ages of Man" set out in As You Like It. I have also been thinking about other lesson plan ideas, but I think it would be cool to have a variety of things from a variety of plays/themes within plays.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cordelia's Love

"Unhappy that I am , I cannot heave
My heart into my mouth, I love your majesty
According to my bond; no more nor less." (King Lear, Act 1 Scene i)

Cordelia's above response, the only truthful one of the sisters' declaration of their love for King Lear, is the statement that sets this tragedy in motion.

"love...according to my bond."

As she says "I love your majesty according to my bond," this infers that Cordelia recognizes the duty she has to love him as her father and king. This would be loyalty as a result of fealty to the king as her ruler, as well as the commandment we all have to "honor they father..." It is interesting that she tacks on "no more nor less" as well. I think that she is genuinely sorry that she cannot say she loves him as her sisters say, but her integrity keeps her from lying. Instead, she qualifies her statement by assuring King Lear that her love is not less than that of duty for
both king and father.

"heave my heart into my mouth"

The first part of this quotation is interesting as well. She says "I cannot heave my heart into my mouth." First of all, this is such a visual description of what her other two sisters have done previously. Can you picture someone taking their heart, pumping and bloody, and heaving, throwing, pushing that beating bloody piece of muscle into their mouth? Someone would only do that if they were desperate and Cordelia is not. It is also interesting to note that the idiom "my heart was in my mouth" nowadays means that you are scared or nervous about something, sort of like butterflies in your stomach. But, I think that Cordelia is not afraid of saying her true feelings, but sorry that she cannot flatter her father and king like her other sisters have done.

The Stage

After King Lear tries to get clarification from Cordelia about what she means by this quotation, and saying "nothing," he flies into a rage and pretty much disowns her. I think he does this for quite a few reasons, but one could be for his appearance to his other subjects that are there. It is a pretty big blow to your pride when someone says that they love you out of duty, after others have said so many flattering words to you. I think King Lear would not have been so quick to jump to conclusions had Cordelia said what she had in private. But, to save face on his "stage," to keep up his act as the awesome king that everyone adores, he disowns her and she flees to France.

Monday, October 31, 2011

We have come to the Midterm...

I can always tell when we are at Midterm, because I reach my peak tiredness, wake up earlier and earlier every day, and weekends are not only cold physically, but mentally as well. But, let's see how I have been doing with Shakespeare:

Learning Outcomes

1. Gain Shakespeare Literacy

I definitely have more literacy than I did before September. I have now read in their entirety: Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, Love's Labor's Lost, As You Like It, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet. Of all of these works, As You Like It is the play that I have the most in-depth knowledge about, with details of the play, as well as connecting it contemporarily.

Prior to this class, I had seen Hamlet live, and The Taming of the Shrew with Elizabeth Taylor. But, now I have seen Kenneth Branaugh's As You Like It, as well as The Winter's Tale in Cedar City and Macbeth at the Castle Theater. Especially with seeing Macbeth, I now understand more fully theater in Shakespeare's time.

I have also seen some parallels between Shakespeare and Contemporary/Visual Culture in the past few months that I haven't seen before. Not only are there parallels between characters, but also the use of titles, missionary work, and parallels to my own life as well.

2. Analyze Shakespeare Critically

I think that so far I have preferred contextual analysis over textual analysis, but I have done some of both. For textual analysis, while comparing Hamlet and Laertes, I minced words to discuss their righteousness. I also looked at the use of "The Man in the Moon" in The Tempest Contextual analysis was done about themes like Nature v. Nurture, I compared the banished Dukes in The Tempest and As You Like It, and probably my favorite post was when I discussed Romanticism in light of The Tempest.

With productions, I have analyzed As You Like It, The Winter's Tale, and Macbeth. I mostly analyzed them contextually, but with As You Like it, I did do a little bit of textual analysis.

3. Engage Shakespeare Creatively

I feel like engaging with Shakespeare Creatively is more than just a performance or imitation of some sort. I have enjoyed connecting Shakespeare to painting, art history, as well as interpreting his lines to apply them to our life through video. However, I also did a little exaggerated version of alliteration to prove a literary point about Love's Labor's Lost.

4. Share Shakespeare Meaningfully

With this learning outcome, I have shared globally, shared with my immediate family, and done this blog!

Self Directed Learning

I admit, it has been hard to blog off the cuff instead of thinking, "Oh man, I have to write about something pertaining to Shakespeare today!" But, I think I am getting better at applying Shakespeare to my life and all of the classes that I am dealing with right now. I think recently I have been more self-directed, as I have found the "All the World's a Stage" theme. My husband came home the other night and I had been working on the video I made about the Internet for hours instead of doing other homework...

Collaborative and Social Learning

I have enjoyed working in smaller groups, because then there is a guarantee that someone will comment on your blog, and you can also talk about them in class as well and continue the conversation over the internet. I usually also talk to my husband about what I am doing, and he laughs at my enthusiasm, as well as me deploring that I wish I had more time to do everything I want to with all of my classes. It has been fun this past week to broaden the learning/sharing horizons, and I am looking forward to doing that more in the future.

Looking Ahead...

I am excited to about the final project, although I'm not sure what I want to do/what there is that I can do, as well as focusing more on what I am interested in on this blog. This "All the World's a Stage" thing has really gotten my wheels turning, so I might keep noodling that out here. (That is unless something else slaps me in the face) Mostly, I think I need to analyze the text as we read more, but I think overall, I have been doing okay with the learning outcomes.

Macbeth Globe Theater Style

My husband and I went to see Macbeth by the Grassroots Shakespeare Company at the Castle Theater last weekend, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Some of the actors were wackadoo, and it was hard not to get negatively distracted by them, but some of the actors were awesome in every part they played.

I really like the idea that the Grassroots Shakespeare Company has of doing the plays close to the way it would have been in the Globe Theater back in Shakespeare's time. Here are some of their ideas that they talked about prior to presenting their production:

1. Sometimes the company only had a few days to put together the production in entirety.
They took only two weeks to prepare for their production.

2. There were no women actors, so men played men and women on stage.
They do have female actors, but men can play men and women, and women can play women and men. (Like an actress was the porter)

3. There were more parts than actors in most plays, so one actor would have multiple parts.
They each played at least two or three characters, and offset this with small costume changes, etc. (The king was killed, then he was a jester in the court, and then he was a soldier in the last scene)

4. There were little to no props/sets on the Globe Theater stage.
They likewise had very little props/set. (Some curtains, ladders, and a bench...some swords)

5. There was no director telling the actors what to do. They also had no director - just actors, musicians and two producers.

5. The audience played a major part in the production: the characters would especially interact with the groundlings, and the audience would boo for the bad guys and cheer for the good guys.
They were very good at interacting with the audience, and even sat in people's laps, came out from under the stage where the groundlings were, and talked to individual audience members. (Macbeth was so afraid of dead Banquo that he jumped into someone's lap)

Needless to say, this live performance was definitely different compared to when we saw The Winter's Tale!

Overall, it was a great production, and I would definitely go see them again. Plus, who doesn't want to watch a Shakespeare production with a castle as your backdrop?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sharing Globally

I made a goal in a previous post to create a lesson plan based off an idea from As You Like It. I successfully uploaded an art lesson plan onto a Ning website that is used by many Art Education students at BYU. To extend it globally, I also uploaded it onto a Lesson Plan website. Maybe I will see it pop up on the website later on!

I also looked for someone talking about my theme of "All the world's a stage" that I have been focusing on. I posted a comment on a blog called "All the World's A Stage" by Simone, who talked about wanting to publish a book, perhaps some poems, to get her word out there. I suggested that putting her poems up on the internet was one way of sharing her voice, since that is definitely a legitimate world stage. We will see if she responds!

For an update on my "All the World's a Stage - Family Style," my father-in-law sent a pretty cool response back...I think he understood what I was trying to say in my "teaching" email and video:

Very cool Cassandra! Thanks for I'm preparing to BUILD the Easter Pageant Stage over the next 4 months so we can put the great Pageant of the Savior's life on Stage...the biggest Easter Pageant in the World! Hope you can come see it this year, it is the only one of it's kind in the Church. And Michele is preparing to fill the Stage this Christmas with Concerts at the Mesa Temple....which most likely you and Devin will come join us as featured guest singer one of those evenings. The best stage of all to be on is the one testifying everyday of the Savior and His Plan of Happiness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All the World's a Stage - Family Style

In order to share my ideas concerning As You Like It, I decided to go with a more creative spin than just talking to someone about it. So, I decided to make a little movie about the internet presence that my family has, and then make them, as well as anyone who sees it here aware that almost everyone has some sort of presence if they post anything on the internet.

Like I was talking about in a previous post, "All the world's a stage" can be extended now to a more literal sense, since someone in Dubai could see this blog if they wanted to! I wanted to post this now...and then post about the responses that my family has when they come...

Monday, October 24, 2011

"The Man in the Moon"

In Act II of the Tempest there are 7 instances where the word "moon" comes up. I wasn't even looking for it, and after a while, I just kept noticing it. So, then I had to go back and count...and find out Shakespeare's motive behind this particular word usage:

1. Gonzalo: "You are gentlemen of brave metal; you would lift the
moon out of
her sphere, if
she would continue in it five weeks without changing."
2. Antonio: "The man i' the moon's too slow..."
3. Stephano: "How camest thou to be the siege of this moon-calf?"
4. Trinculo: "I hid me under the dead moon-calf's gaberdine for fear of the storm."
5. Sephano: "How now, moon-calf! How does thine ague?"
6. Stephano: "Out o' the moon, I do assure thee: I was the man i' the
moon when time was."
7. By this good light, this is a very shallow monster! I afeard of him! A very weak monster! The man i' the moon!"

Here are a few things that I found with a good amount of Google-Searching:

"Elizabethans believed the earth was flat...There was a sharp division between everything beneath the sphere of the moon, and all the rest of the universe."

Moon-calf actually refers to an aborted fetus, "abortive, shapeless, fleshy mass" attributed to the influence of the moon.

According to the Oxford Companion to the Body, the moon is thought of as the most "human" in the heavens (probably because many people found people or faces in the craters of the moon), and as a result of its phases, it has been linked to many other life cycles. Its three most common connotations are: the feminine principle, controlling menstruation, and cause madness, (the term lunacy is derived from the Latin luna, which means moon!).

So What?

With all of this information, I think that Shakespeare is using the
"man in the moon" and "moon-calf" so often because in this act, one, because there is a lot of lunacy going on, but also for the other moon connotations that an Elizabethan audience would have caught. Caliban, for one, does not have a distinctive human or animal form, so it makes sense for the stranded men to call him "moon-calf." Plus, he is driven by natural human vices, such as alcohol consumption... Shakespeare refers to the female using the moon, cycles of life, as well as madness with mentions of "moon" in Act 2.

Friday, October 21, 2011

All the World's a Stage

I realized while in the midst of reading and watching As You Like It, that my "learning plan" was lame. I am an Art Education student for heaven's sake, and all that I am focusing on through my reading and discoveries are themes and motifs in the play, and then a little bit of connection to modern day. But, this included nothing that really spurredme on to victory...and I realized that I was doing a whole different learning plan sort of after the fact.

So, here is what really intrigued me in the play: Rosalind, intriguing themes in the play, and also the social criticism that could be applied today.

All the World's a Stage
Act II scene vii has the famous quote "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women are merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts."

After what is quoted above, Jacques talks about the 7 Stages of Man: Beginning as a baby, and ending, again, in an infantile state. Jacques has a pretty cynical view of the world, which I think reflects Shakespeare's view of the masses:

1. An infant "mewling and puking in the nurse's arms"
4. The soldier "seeking the bubble reputation..."2. "The whining schoolboy"
3. "The lover, sighing like a furnace"
5. The justice with "eyes severe...full of wise saws"
6. The lean and slipper'd pantaloon "a world too wide for his shrunk shank"
7. Another child-like state "sans teeth, sans eyes, sans tasted, sans everything."

We have probably all heard pieces of "all the world's a stage" over the years, taken out of context. Usually I would say that this is a bad thing, but I think just this first part of this quote defines the whole play, without reading the rest of what Jacques said.

Artifice in the Play
The whole play, as I said in my preview post, has a lot of artifice and acting the part. Throughout the play, especially with Rosalind, different characters act in different roles.
Rosalind, as a main example, is:

1. The dutiful niece in her uncle's court after he usurped her father of his throne.
2. The daughter lamenting her father's banishment
3. The run-away when she is banished from the court
4. Ganymede (for traveling purposes, as well as for wooing/matchmaking purposes), as they say in the play "pretty youth"
5. Orlando's love and, at the end, happy wife

Another example that I thought was pretty apparent in the film version was Orlando when he is desperate for food. In order to get food that the Duke and his followers are about to eat, Orlando jumps out of the bushes with knives drawn and threatens their lives unless they give him food first. When the Duke responds to him kindly, he says, "Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you; I thought that all things had been savage here, And therefore put I on the countenance Of stern commandment." Interesting that he decided to act that way, because he thought it would be conforming to the "savagery" of the forest.

The Epilogue informing the Theme?
As You Like It even ends with an "Epilogue" given by Rosalind, in which she admits that this whole production was a play (still in character, but revealing the pageantry of it all). In Kenneth Branagh's film, she does this as she returns to her dressing trailer, walking through the set and all of the film crew. I thought this was a clever way of doing it, although the whole epilogue thing in general was a little strange. In it, she asks the audience to enjoy the play for what it is.

But, I think, as a whole, Shakespeare is commenting on the fact that everyone, whether they admit it or not, has different roles for different situations. It is not just that man has seven stages or scenes of living and this is why "men and women are merely players," but that we all "act" when in different situations. I have two theories as to why Shakespeare decided to write a play concerning this theme:

1. As a social criticism: to point out the hypocrisy of people as they act in order to get things that they want from others
2. Showing that we all inevitably act differently around different people, but it is up to us as to how we act, and that is what makes the difference.

As a result of the Epilogue, Shakespeare was not trying to make people feel terrible about
acting, but was pointing out the pitfalls of taking things too far, and suggesting that honesty is probably the pest policy. So, I guess even though the epilogue made the movie version feel semi-disjointed (since through reading the play there were no cuts or really any scene changes), the epilogue is key to understanding the overall point of the play.

All the World's a Stage: The Internet
In short, Shakespeare does think
that some people are hypocrites
and act to get things, but overall, the
play is suggesting that it is how we act that matters, because we all do. On the subject of "all the world's a stage," I found an interesting blog about Twitter and how this and other social media sites are places for "stage presences," and an NY Times article discussing viral videos and posting videos online as a way of creating that "stage" for people. As a result of these ideas, I think I am going to start working on a series of art lesson plans that connect the students to that "stage."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Banished Dukes

Both plays that I am focusing on right now, The Tempest and As You Like It, have banished dukes, so I thought that a comparison was in order for these dukes in these two very different plays.

Was the Duke of Milan.
Banished by his brother Antonio and fled for his life with his daughter Miranda on a boat.
Stranded on an Island and gains magical power on the island after losing it politically.
Seeks revenge on his usurpers by stranding them on his island.
Lets his daughter marry the King of Naples' (who helped his brother get rid of him) son Ferdinand.
Gets his dukedom back in the end.

Duke Senior:
Was the Duke of (Shakespeare doesn't tell us)
Banished by his brother
Frederick-did not put up much of a fight to keep his dukedom
Seeks refuge in the Forest of Ardenne with some trusted followers and more flock to him, including his own banished daughter Rosalind and Celia the
usurping duke's daughter.
Is content in the forest and says that he learns just as much from the forest than in a library.
Consents to his daughter marrying Orlando, especially because he was great friends with Orlando's father, Sir Rowland de Bois
Gets dukedom back because his brother decides randomly to become religious.

From doing this comparison, I think that Shakespeare preferred a character like Prospero over one like Duke Senior. He likes a character with a little fire in them - some revenge, some mischief, but good overall. Like Kate in the Taming of the Shrew, even though it seems like she doesn't get the better end of the bargain in the end. Duke Senior was content to start a new life in the Forest of Ardenne and just happened to get his dukedom back in the end because the play was a Comedy, whereas Prospero had to, first of all, work on his magic for twelve years in order to get revenge on his usurpers, and then put in a lot of effort to see all of his plans work out to be reinstated.

It might also be the Shakespeare's plays were getting a little more mature by the time he wrote The Tempest, which was between 1610-1611, and As You Like It was written between 1598-1600. Because he wrote so many plays, a lot of them are spin-offs or commentaries on others. Perhaps he liked the idea of the banished duke, and decided to take that idea further in The Tempest because it was not taken advantage of in As You Like It.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Romantic Tempest

So far, The Tempest conjures up many Romantic paintings in my mind. For a little background, Romanticism was a period in the 18th century dealing with themes like:

Being in awe with nature, especially untamed nature
Elevating folk art
Embracing the exotic and unfamiliar
Pushing the imagination

It is an art period with a lot of landscapes, but definitely not serene ones...

The first scene of this play struck me as very Romantic. With the tempest itself, and well as how the men go from being indignant about the storm, to Gonzalo saying "would I give a thousand furlongs of the sea for an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze, any thing."

And then the opening of scene ii with Miranda's speech about the shipwreck just conjures up Romantic paintings all over the page for me:

"If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in
her, Dash'd all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish'd.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow'd and
The fraughting souls within her."

Beautiful. Fantastic. Romantic. I am excited for this play.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Play + Movie = Better

I really wish that I could do this with every play/book that I read. But, I think that would probably kill me because this was pretty intense to add on to the rest of my school work and work work. But, it was pretty awesome reading the play so fast, and then watching it right away.

I would like to say that I have been disappointed with the endings of the last few Shakespeare plays we have read, and this one did not help my thoughts. I guess I'm just not a huge all of a sudden "happily ever after person," I like the slow resolve that is more like rea
lity I guess.

In both the play and the movie, everything just works out in the end - everyone gets what they want, everyone gets married and even the evil duke (even more evil in the movie than in the book with his wide eyes and always yelling) just up and decides to become religious and give the old duke back his "kingdom." I dunno, the only couple that I really feel good about is Rosalind and Orlando, anyways. I'm excited to talk about the nitty gritty of this play and Kenneth Branaugh's movie in the next few posts!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Babies, suicidal girlfriends, and cranky housewives

It is kind of hard to live up to a wedding...

After having fun with my last blog post, I was having a hard time with the feeling that I had to somehow live up to my life comparison. None of my ideas for a post seemed good, so I decided to type Love's Labor's Lost into Google and pick my favorite hits:

ER Season 1 Episode 18: Love's Labor's Lost is about Dr. Greene messing up a routine pregnancy check, ending up in a surgery because of personal distraction. This apparently was George Clooney's favorite ER episode.

Daredevil: Love's Labor's Lost "Daredevil and those closest to him face heartbreak in all its forms as new relationships blossom, old loves fade away, and tragedy takes its toll."

Real Housewives of New Jersey: Love's Labor's Lost "Women. When we are young, we have our own dreams for our careers, and our own goals. And then, you fall in love."

It seems like this is a pretty easy title to steal. The funny thing is that in reading all of these synopses, none of them really have to do with the play, Love's Labor's Lost. They are all just taking the title for the fun of it being a Shakespeare play, and an alliterative one. But, I am going to try and compare them!

ER uses the title because of the pregnancy glitch that is central to the show. Get it, "Labor?" However, Greene misdiagnoses the pregnant woman, just like Costard gives the wrong letter to the wrong woman - mixing up Jaquenetta and Rosaline's respective letters.

Daredevil uses the title because apparently this blind lawyer vigilante has lots of relationship problems. But, also his former girlfriend Heather Glenn commits suicide in this part of the series. So, I am going out on a limb here and saying that this could be the fate of one of Biron if Rosaline does not come back in a year, since he is spending that whole time in a hospital...

Real Housewives of New Jersey is Love's Labor's Lost because its a bunch of women hanging out together and talking smack, and then acting differently around the men. It's like how the women speak in prose amongst each other, but then speak in poetry when they are talking to the men.

So, none of these examples have mushy wedding themes in them, but there is a lot of marriage and relationship themes going on, and some pregnancy for those baby-hungry Provoites.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Broken Pledges: Shakespearean and Mine

When reading Love's Labor's Lost, I can identify myself with the men who pledge their scholarly allegiance to the king. How can this be? Well, a little over a year ago, I was done with the whole BYU dating game and decided that I was going to devote my Junior Year of schooling to serving others, getting awesome grades, and preparing to go on a mission the following year. However, obviously since I am currently blogging about Shakespeare instead of knocking on doors, this plan of mine was foiled. (Of course, I am glad).

Just as I was beginning to enact my pledge as King Ferdinand and his men did, my "Princess of France" showed up, too. But, the comparison only goes so far, because I cannot say that I was writing poetry and trying to woo someone after that. I was pretty stuck in my "pledge" and had to get wooed myself. Another aspect that is definitely not the same, is that after the declaring of love, etc., I did not leave for a year like the women do in Love's Labor's Lost. Devin and I got married at the end of the summer, and he even followed me to Virginia, where I had a couple jobs already lined up, and worked so that we could be together all summer.

So, I can understand the whole scholarly pledge thing with the men of the court, but I cannot understand how they could just break their pledge, really without a second thought, and then after all that, let their ladies go when all the love works out. Yes, they complain about them leaving and say that they will spend the year in a hospital, etc. but they still end up letting them go. Devin is a better man than them - he wouldn't take "I'm leaving" for an answer and followed. It makes their love seem like infatuation to me, and not the kind of long-lasting marriage love...

Friday, October 7, 2011

As You Like It: A Preview

As You Like It: I got pretty excited doing all of the research, and it was hard to not to make a huge essay about everything that I learned in my extensive preview. So, if you want to learn lots of cool stuff that I based my learning plan on, keep reading after this paragraph! But, before going into detail, here is what I really want to focus on in this play:

1. The Theme of Love, especially the kind(s) of love shown in the play, and how this love affects social reform (see Pastoral below)
2. The Art of Artifice - what is real and what is fake. This is especially applied to Rosalind, whose character I am extremely intrigued by.
3. Applications of "As You Like It" to modern day. Even just the application of the title is relevant. It seems like the play could have some interesting parallels, especially in relation to social criticism/reform.

Source: It seems like all of Shakespeare's play ideas are never accredited to him, but borrowed from a previous story. However, this does not bother me, because I think that art is never truly original. We are all influenced by the world around us, and therefore art is always a form of "copy." The source of the idea for "As You Like It" is Thomas Lodge's "Rosalynde Euphues' Golden Legacy" which also had a previous source called "The Tale of Gamelyn."

Pastoral: This type of play has exiles from urban life or court life who escape to the countryside. The pastoral is the perfect genre for social criticism or to inspire social reform. As You Like It has many refugees from court life including banished should-be kings, run away princesses, banished daughters to the should-be-king, wanted men, run away court jesters...the list goes on.

Comedy: As You Like It is also a comedy because it pokes fun at the conventions of romantic love. The characters themselves often lament suffering caused by their love, but they are quite unconvincing as it is obvious that they are enjoying being crossed in love. There is also cross-dressing and complete 180 turn-arounds in love, and an ending where everything miraculously turns out.

Setting: This is always an interesting part of the work, since it is usually based in reality for Shakespeare, but also contrived. The forest of Arden supposedly based on the forest near Shakespeare's home-town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Some scholars also attribute it to the biblical Garden of Eden.

Rosalind: She is definitely the main character through my research, and a pretty exciting, complex, female character. By the end of the play, she proves that love is the source of delight, but in the introductory scene, her cousin Celia is telling her of the curative power of love. So, it seems like she is going to do some changing too, while she is changing everyone else in the forest!

Themes: city life v. country life, LOVE, young v. old, born with nobility v. acquiring social standing (see my previous blog post on this topic in relation to "The Winter's Tale"), CHOICES, the complexity of life.

Famous quotations: "all the world's a stage..." "too much of a good thing"

Film: Kenneth Branagh's "As You Like It" has mixed reviews online. I watched the trailer and it looked like he focused mostly on Rosalind and Orlando's relationship, so we will have to see how much that is the focus in the actual play. Some other interesting things is that he had it set in Japan, and cast Orlando as a black man...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poetry: the Produce Pertaining to Passion

Love's Labor's Lost: a predominantly poetic play promoted to peruse. In the second scene, the seigneur sits with the sweet sovereign. Her escort expresses that the executive esteems her with enthusiasm ergo his eye enunciates for his essence.

Whew, I have no idea how people could actual speak in poetry back and forth off the cuff... Anyways, when Ferdinand is dealing with matters of Aquitiane, they speak in prose. The king keeps his emotions fairly in check until he leaves her, and with his parting shot, he rhymes with hers. Is this coincidence? Perhaps...

Here is the parting shot: Princess of France: "Sweet health and fair desires consort your grace!
Ferdinand: "Thy own wish wish I thee in every place!"

In speaking to the princess about his suspicion of the king's affection, Boyet says "I only have made a mouth of his eye, By adding a tongue which I know will not lie." This personification is an awesome image, for one, and definitely describes the "googley eye syndrome" well. I think I will steal that Shakespearian phrase. We will see if Ferdinand starts talking with more than just his eye...because this is when seeing the play would come in handy instead of just reading it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Extending the Scene

I have a problem. When a lot of literature that I enjoy ends, I want to know more. It seems like there are always open ends and different things that could happen after all of the pages have been filled. Hamlet's fate did that for me.

In one of my Art Ed classes, I taught a lesson about figuratively extending a painting beyond the frame to know more of the story behind the painting. For example, Rembrandt's self portrait in his old age is just a painting of him with a very black background. But, if we were to extend the painting using history, we might see a man who has lost all those dear to him, as well as most of his physical possessions, since he was buried in an unmarked grave as a result of debt.

I would love to know the history of Hamlet after his death and therefore extend the image of him as well. Fortinbras has "four captains Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage" (Act V scene ii) and I feel like he is portrayed like a tragic hero as a result of the tone at the end of the play. However, is he a tragic hero in the afterlife? Is he born "like a soldier to the stage" or does he have to answer for his murders and inaction postmortem? If only Shakespeare had taken a cue from Dante and written a little epilogue about Hamlet's afterlife experience...then we could extend the scene and have a clearer portrait of the famous, or infamous, Hamlet.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hamlet vs. Laertes - Righteousness

People often compare Laertes and Hamlet, and both do have a lot of similarities, but I would like to point out a difference that, I think, at least casts Hamlet in a little more favorable light in this instance. In Act III scene iii, Hamlet resolves that he will kill Claudius, and goes to the king's chamber to find him "praying" (we find out a few lines later that he was trying to pray but to no avail). Anyways, Hamlet decides that he cannot kill Claudius right then, because he was doing something righteous and "And so he goes to heaven, And so am I reveng'd. That would be scann'd. A villain kills my father; and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven."

Laertes, on the other hand, does not care about righteousness or wickedness, he just wants revenge. Claudius asks him how far he would go to kill Hamlet and he responds, "To cut his throat i' th' church" (Act IV scene vii)! Obviously Laertes is a little more bloodthirsty than Hamlet, and goes as far as not worrying about his own soul as well as others. Which character is the better person? I say neither, for many reasons.