Keep Up Your Bright Swords, For the Dew Will Rust Them.

That statement taking on some extra poignancy, as I sit and reflect on the Kelly Thomas verdict, handed down earlier today.

Disclaimer: I’ve had a bit of a difficult day, and I’m not really feeling on my game.

I’d mentioned in my first post that one of the things I love most about Shakespeare’s works is the way that he managed to
capture the timeless qualities of human nature. It’s only natural then, that his words should hold such relevance today.
Still, I’m feeling unprepared. A bit overwhelmed. I’m struggling to put my thoughts together in any sort of linear fashion.
Things barely make sense to me, right now. To try and articulate what’s in my head to anyone else?
It’s a prospect that seems daunting, at best.
As I mentioned earlier, I pushed through Othello last night, finishing Act V sometime after 2am.
That’s not nearly enough time to fully absorb everything that the play offers and to do it justice in discussion.
Still, I feel obligated to say something.

I’m one of those people who needs time alone with their ideas to fully cultivate them.
I like turning thoughts around in my head, letting them tumble over one another like stones being polished in a stream.
What I’m giving you now are my rough ideas. I’m certain there will be realizations that come to me down the line…
certain A-ha! moments considering the plot and characters in Othello, or Shakespeare’s word choice, or his motivations for doing one
thing or the next. I’ll do my best to record those thoughts and to present them here as they develop, regardless of my reading schedule.

What I don’t want to do is just post for the sake of posting.
I took on a bear. If this had been Hamlet, or Romeo and Juliet (both which I’ve read dozens of times), it
might be a different story. But this is my first encounter with Othello.
I should have known better than to take such a cavalier approach.

I also should have timed my writing better. If I’d started first thing this morning, until waiting for the end of the day,
I would’ve had far less clouding my vision. Less weight on my shoulders.
So there we go…another lesson learned.
And what is this, after all, if not an opportunity to learn?

I’m going to get my thoughts together, and I promise to be back on track in the morning.
Some thoughts about Desdemona, and her relationships with the men in her life…
Should make for a fairly nice transition to Titus Andronicus, as well.

Othello: The Initial Reaction(s)

Othello and DesdemonaI was born two months prematurely, and I’m pretty sure that was the only time I’ve ever done anything ahead of schedule.
That certainly seems to be the case here, anyway, as I’m scrambling and playing catch-up.

While my friend over at A Year of Shakespeare has spent the last couple of weeks examining Othello in depth,
I tore through the entire play last night. I’d intended on taking my time and working through the play this past weekend, but true to form, I left it until the very last minute. It was around 2am when I read the final lines, and it took me quite awhile after that before the thoughts flying around my head calmed enough for me to sleep.

I want to revisit my notes from last night and will whip up a more comprehensive response to the play later on, but here are some of my initial reactions:
Oh, the game of politics. Individuals getting ahead as a result of their connections and personal preference, as opposed to any sort of professional experience or merit? It’s amazing how little has changed in the last few hundred years (and arguably since the dawn of human society)…

I understand that Roderigo holds a grudge against Othello out of jealousy, because he loves Desdemona. But what is Iago’s deal? It seems rare that we see someone who is purely villainous, with no real cause or understanding as to where the awfulness is coming from. Between the one-dimensional quality of Iago’s character and the swiftness with which Othello’s character turns, I was inclined to think that Othello might be one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays. In fact, the opposite is true–Othello was written c.1603, just over a decade before Shakespeare’s death. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. The play was inspired by Giraldi Cinthio’s “Un Capitano Moro“, published in his Hecatommithi in 1565. Perhaps the source offers some insight? Or it could just be that what I’m perceiving as abruptness and one-sidedness are merely dramatic devices. What are your thoughts?

Brabanzio. Oh, Brabanzio. Freaking Father of the Year, right here. I’ll have a lot more to say about this later.

Desdemona. I love her, and at the same time I’m confounded by her. I’ll explain this more in depth later on, as well.

Emilia: the epitome of loyalty, and it becomes her ultimate downfall. Centuries before the X-Files gave us the tagline “Trust No One”, was Shakespeare implying the same? I’m quite curious as to what was going on in The Bard’s world around this time.

Lesson learned: Finish the play before commenting on it. I was feeling very excited and a bit overwhelmed while reading through Othello last night, so I decided to take a brief break. I’d just finished reading the scene wherein Othello and Desdemona are reunited in Cyprus. After Othello mentions how it was worth weathering the storm to see Desdemona, and comments that if he were to die in that moment, he’d be happy, Desdemona replies:

The heavens forbid
But that our loves and comforts should increase
Even as our days do grow.” (2.1.190)

I thought this was terribly romantic, so I posted it to Facebook. Then, I made the comment I’d almost immediately come to regret:
“Some of the best pillow talk I’ve ever encountered in this play.”

PILLOW TALK. Ugggggggh. If only I had known. Ugggggggh. I am SO embarrassed.
The worst part is that I’m certain some believed the remark to be an intentional pun.
I’m cringing just thinking about it, but I have to admit, it is a bit humorous in retrospect.

I should have known better. After all, this is a tragedy we’re discussing, and they’re sort of known for their dramatic twists.
So, yeah. From now on, I’ll be a bit more patient. Perhaps slightly more reserved in my commentary…at least until I know how things turn out.

More to come…

The Beginning

Coriolanus

Before we get started, I guess I should explain how we (or, I, rather) came to be here.

The long story short: it was a happy accident.

As an English major, I’d spent a good deal of time studying the works of Shakespeare. If I’m being completely honest, I was largely unimpressed. That is, until I took a class with Prof. Thomas Olsen in grad school. Perhaps I’d just gained some necessary maturity by that point, but I like to think there was something about Olsen’s approach that finally made Shakespeare accessible to me. In contrast to the instruction I’d received previously, there was no pretention surrounding “The Bard” and his works. Shakespeare was not to be reserved for the intellectuals. Quite the contrary, in fact! While the Early Modern English may seem lofty now, in Elizabethan England it was just the common language. The most extraordinary thing about the themes presented in Shakespeare’s plays was the fact that there was nothing quite extraordinary about them. These were stories created for the common man. That made me sit up and take notice.

For at least the past year, I’ve been periodically glancing at the Collected Works (both the Norton and Riverside editions) sitting on my bookshelf, meaning to revisit the plays that I studied a decade ago. Unfortunately, I never managed to make the time. I suppose it just wasn’t a priority then.

My passion for Shakespeare was more recently re-ignited due to an entirely different sort of “passion”–a bit of giddy fangirling over Tom Hiddleston. Now, before you sigh and roll your eyes, bear with me for a moment. Things might get a bit meta, here, so hang on. You see, Tom is a bit of a fanboy, himself. I knew that he’d had some background in Shakespearean drama, taking roles as a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and portraying Prince Hal/Henry V in the BBC’s 2012 miniseries “The Hollow Crown“. I knew that he was in preparations for his current role, starring in a production of Coriolanus at London’s Donmar Warehouse. But what really got me was this:

Yes, yes, I found myself nerding out over Tom Hiddleston nerding out over Shakespeare’s First Folio. Can you evenĀ imagine what it must feel like to be in the same room as that book (nevermind to hold it in your hands)?! I was reminded of all of the things I loved about Shakespeare to begin with–the beauty of the language, the depth of the characters, the way that his writing captured the very timeless essence of human nature.

And because I can’t help myself, there was this, as well:

There was a spark, indeed, but it merely smoldered in the back of my mind, with the constant threat of being snuffed out by the trappings of daily life.
That is, until I got a message from a friend a couple days ago. It said (appropriately enough), “You showed me yours. Here’s mine.”–referring to blogs (eyes up here, minds out of the gutter, kids!), with a link to A Year of Shakespeare. I knew immediately that I needed to join in on this endeavor, and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve never been so excited about a project in my entire life. That excitement only multiplied when I learned that I was jumping in just in time to start on Titus Andronicus, my absolute favorite play (By the way, if you happen to be in the NYC area this weekend, you should definitely check out these FREE performances of Titus Andronicus at The Schapiro Theatre on W. 115th St!–I’ll post the details at the end of this post for the linkaphobes). Serendipity.

So here we are. Here I am. I’m intending to use this blog to record my various thoughts and experiences as I re-discover Shakespeare. This may also be considered a “companion blog” to A Year of Shakespeare. Another voice in the conversation, if you will. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I’m so looking forward to it!


257A4ACF6-C67A-4016-A86A30B14B4C4287.jpg.pagespeed.ce.LLv_ptsZQRthe lamentable tragedy of

TITUS ANDRONICUS

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LOCATION
The Schapiro Theatre
605 W. 115th Street, New York, NY 10027

DIRECTIONs
Take the 1 Train to 116th Street

DATEs & TIMEs
Friday, January 10 at 7:30pm (First Course)
Saturday, January 11 at 7pm (Second Course)
Saturday, January 11 at 10pm (Late Night Special)
Sunday, January 12 at 3pm (Dessert)

ADMISSION IS FREE
reservations encouraged

EMAIL
titusvictorious@gmail.com

Twitter.com/TitusNYC

KICKSTARTER (Please share!!)

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directed by Matt Minnicino
assistant directed and choreographed by Julia Sears
produced by Gracie Terzian and Emily Macleod
stage management by Rose Bochner
production management by Jill Woodward
lighting by Mike McGee
costume consultation by Noel Grisanti
props by Dianne Nora

featuring performances by
Hailey Bachrach
Sloan Bradford
Marianna Caldwell
Katrina Day
Noel Grisanti
Blaire O’Leary
Sam Parrott
Keith Michael Pinault
Sam Reeder
Alex Rose
Brendan Sokler
Marcel Spears
& Paul Thomas Truitt

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