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#154Sonnets1min

#154Sonnets1min

We did it.

We being Homepage Shakespeare Dallas in the AT&T Wyley Theater on May 28th, 2017.

So Shakes Dallas had a 5 year plan to complete the oeuvre of WS. The final read-through consisted of 154 Sonnets. And Yours Truly got the job of hosting them.

As incidental Shakespeare events go this takes the biscuit. I mean you spend years memorising the sonnets and then someone asks if you can host a Sonnet marathon? There are other candidates. I know of a handful of us who do this.

So rained off the plaza Sonnet 18 Dallas mic check

We headed inside and over the next 4 hours, 80+ actors and actresses and stage managers and artistic directors and front of house and back office read sonnets:

1-51
52-104
105-154

And to finish it off we handed out 154 sonnets to the audience and did all 154 in 1 minute.
The result is filmed in 360 degrees so pan around the room:

My heartfelt thanks to EVERYONE involved that day.
And for those that supplied the Southern Hospitality.

How now, Sir William!

How now, Sir William! whither were you sent?
My name. His name. Yes Sir.

Whither go you, George?
Third of me middle names.

Whither and thither indeed.
Yet I cannot go thither, without knowing whither.

We’ll to Sutton Co’fil’ tonight.


Faith, sir, a’ has an English name;

Lord help us, he’s too, too vain!

My fore-past proofs, howe’er the matter fall,
Shall tax my fears of little vanity,
Having vainly fear’d too little.

What fears stop the achieving of dreams?
Who makes dreams harsh realities?
Harsh? Why harsh?
Fore-past proofs, or all that’s done, not in vain.


Away with him!
We’ll sift this matter further.

We will.

Postscript:

My middle middle-name’s Cuthbert.

He talked of Bertram and Hubert and Robert.
He used his brother’s name, Gilbert.
He spoke of libertines and liberties and liberty.
He even coined Flibbertigibbet.

If he knew St Lambert,
he knew St Cuthbert (wiki-wik).
Definitely.
He almost used all of me.

Relationships

Relationships. Like it or not, we are born into a relationship with Shakespeare.
Some are in more deeply than others.

He exists as a brand for Stratford upon Avon, his birthplace.

He decorated a credit card and that guy/meme is on twitter and fb.

He adorns trinkets and mugs and cushions and rubber ducks to open your purse strings.

Many are his, by imbuing his plays and poems with life and embodying his characters.

Some of his characters are almost persons in their own right:
Falstaff, Hamlet, Malvolio, Shylock to name a few.

His historical characters that lived and breathed, he gave a new life:
Richard 3rd, Richard 2nd, Prince Hal, who became Henry 5th par exemple.

Their stories that he wrote are not their histories.
Writing doesn’t work like that.
A one-on-one correlation i quote:
never, never, never, never, never.

The genres he used, Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, and Romances
spawned the City comedies and revenge tragedies of his contemporaries.

His play ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ an early Farce.
Another play ‘As You Like It’ became the blueprint for Rom-Coms to this day.

But the central piece of the puzzle in our relationship remains his characters.

Our New direction with SHAOKE focuses on the characters.
Strengthening your relationship with Shakespeare.

The basis of a great relationship is showing up and putting up.

Henslowe at SWP:

A month ago feels like a fleeting year since playing Henslowe and improvising in Original Pronunciation.
Henslowe and Alleyne. What a pair!

Grace Iopollo’s lecture-performance (with actor reading) told us about Edward Alleyne who forced a change in Henslowe’s Will the day before he died. He could barely hold the quill. A bunch of witnesses all swore he was in his right mind. He started the Probate process of the Will the day after. A sunday nota bene.

There was a lot at stake. For example, Dulwich College would not exist without it. (mind you his own diversified portfolio was substantial in and of itself). Alleyne’s consolidating his assets with Henslowe’s, literally funded the College. Quelle geste! as Cyrano might say. A selfless gesture he needn’t have made. Why did he?

Alleyne’s wife was Henslowe’s step-daughter. Henslowe’s relatives by birth or marriage missed out on some nice pieces of pie as a result. History isn’t always based on virtuous results. Even if the results are virtuous. Conspiracy anyone?

Speaking of which.

The FB Group of this BLOG finds me defending the man from Stratford once again in a most contradictory way. Because i say, the authorship question (SAQ) doesn’t matter as we have the extant plays and poems written by whoever.

Yet whenever the Authorship enthusiasts put up a website or post comments: there i am, defending and arguing. i’m not alone. There is a website devoted to it called OXFRAUD. We, the members of Oxfraud on fb, rebut the newest arguments and various fallacies many individuals bring to the game.

Hooligans or Supporters

This has as much to do with enjoying Shakespeare as football hooligan firms do to football. And is frowned upon as much by virtually every University, College and School on the planet with a minority of exceptions.

The main players in the SAQ tried for over 150 years to legitimise their claims. (they will tell you since Rev Wilmot in the 18thC). The online world of the 21stC provides them with a platform. The problem is after thorough ad hominem bashings in the various forums, they retreated into secret groups on fb and troll the news looking for new comment threads. They proselytise amongst each other and are active with blogs and websites. And self-published books.

Not that that’s bad.Sonnet Book by WS.

Their latest champion Ros Barber. Each month she adds more words to her e-book thesis, i.e. smashing what is known and held as evidence about Shakespeare in order to pave the way for some other. (she wrote a book about Marlowe, so presumably he her man).

Agreement?

The one and only thing the other team agrees on is that

it wasn’t Shakspere of Stratford (spelling and place vilified and scorned) who wrote the plays and poems attributed to him.

They conclude that all evidence for him is flawed and biased, or an incomplete narrative.
Other than that they contradict each other constantly and I think that’s what i enjoy.

The other side aren’t stupid btw. They number a handful of judges and an astro-physicist, a psychiatrist, and an ex-CIA guy. Some are extremely knowledgeable about the Early Modern period. Others not so, and they simply swallow the kool-aid the wiser sort hand them.

Ovine or Bovine?

But then that’s exactly what they say i am doing. I am either a sheep or a cow who definitely cannot think for myself. Enthralled to the Stratford tourist industry headed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who they believe keeps us on their payroll. This belief is becoming widespread thanks to the web.

My stomach hurts from laughing at the improbability of this ever having happened or happening. And yet it’s still believed. Ros for example is being assisted by her organisation, so why not? Except it isn’t.

Full disclosure: i have been paid to perform at the SBT for their members. And i count Stanley and Paul as friends. But i certainly don’t need to fight their battles for them.

i also attended the Shakespeare Institute and i love scholarship. The other side often claim :

Get Shakespeare wrong and you get the whole Elizabethan era wrong.

Hear, hear. Boy o boy are they wrong. Because if you follow their logic, then all scholarship on Shakespeare for the last 400 years is wrong.

But that leaves the inconsistencies they bring to the feast.

There are enough websites that state the historical case for Stratford man and London theatrical playwright and poet William Shakespeare. Fortunately original documents and source reading materials are becoming more accessible.

Try this:
Shakespeare Documented

Remember Shakespeare was an infinitesimal speck of worth in his own times. The historical record preserved this much. And yes it has been questioned every step of the way. Scholars barely agree as it is.

Caveat emptor. Buyer Beware.

Having spent far too much time researching and arguing this subject, i now condemn it as regularly as i can.

Starting with the magnum Opus by Charlton Ogburn senior and his wife Dorothy moving on to Mark Anderson and his SBAN down to Diana Price and her biased writer’s trail, i can honestly say i hate this subject.

Not because they’re right. Because each new website, author, pundit, whatever; makes the whole argument like Groundhog Day.

Now i feel i should make a Prospero-like gesture and bury my wrath and antagonism some five fathom deep. But i can’t.

There is one other thing we all do agree on and that is

the quality and sublimity of the content in the plays and poems.

Keep repeating this mantra:

The Shakespeare Authorship Question doesn’t factor into the works at all.

But judge for yourselves if you think it does.
Flout em and scout em thought is free.

Just remember the way out of an argument about the SAQ is to remind the person shoving your ignorance down your throat that it just doesn’t matter if you are performing the plays or reading them.

Do i contradict myself?
So be it.
Do you think i’m deluding myself?
i challenge you to sonnets at dawn!

And Henslowe at the SWP?

What a joy to be able to concentrate on someone who spans the entire theatrical period contemporary with all the Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, poets, actors, and theatre owners slash entrepreneurs and not to have anything at all to do with that much-maligned and over-publicised
William Shake-speare.

pax vobiscum

Shakespeare 400-So far

Shakespeare 400 -So far the fear in this Shakespeare Year has abated, to be replaced with baited breath.

This year is Shakespeare 400 and my contributions so far are small and insignificant to the whole. Yet giant and most most fulfilling to those i shared them with. My thanks to Ben Crystal are legion for the opportunities to explore with the Passion in Practice ensemble.

LIST of W.S.’ W.Sh. relished events this year so far

MOTTO:

felt the fear, and did it anyway

* Leadership Workshop for the Algemene Bestuurs Dienst, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken, Den Haag. Put together by Henriette Koomans. My Richard and Buckingham ‘you were never wont to be so dull’ scene went down well with the Cream of the Crop bureaucrats.

* Lunchpause Shakespeare Karaoke Lunchpause Website. Hosted at Effectory, showed that even a 30 minute session revives workers and increases their afternoon potential.

* Savannah Music Festival: Pericles Recomposed. April 5th, Savannah, Georgia, USA.
Words cannot do this justice. The Festival arranged our P1 visas (skill set = speaking OP) excellent care and a theatre that Kevin Spacey helped to rebuild. Plus meeting a Professor who is sonnet crazy like moi. Plus half the cast American, other half Brits or Euros, including my fave actor and Leicester supporter Colin Hurley. Did a half marathon of sonnets the day we left watched by roomie and No Holds Bard podcast podcaster Dan.

WSLucasTheater

* Shakespeare Karaoke show April 23rd: British Library, London.
OK The British Library is centred around the book collection of King George the 3rd. Our Sha-oke show was in front of this monumental collection. The punters loved it. Couldn’t have made it so spectacular without my partner in crime Sassy, Mistress of the Props and snacks. London we will return for more with even more stroopwafels. The actual birthday night showcased some awesome alternative talent. The Late at the (British) Library 23rd April 2016 Livestream can be viewed still.

WSBLSassy+Will

* Played Philip Henslowe in a devised piece May 26th, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Globe, London. Henslowe400, Henslowe too died in 1616. Ben asked if i could be him and over a 8 day period; saw Grace Ioppolo’s Henslowe’s Will at the SWP. Then attended the Henslowe symposium that weekend. (Thanks Globe Ed)! Read the entire diary in OP in 2 days. Devised a script with Marie Fortune and improvised with David Crystal and PiP members Jenni, Matt, Marie, Ben, before improvising in OP as Henslowe. The Dulwich College folk were happy so that makes me happy.

In so profound abysm I throw all care of others voices,
My adder’s sense to critic and to flatterer stopped are,
Sonnet 112:

I wish that were true.

I’m at my best when i have a bunch of shows lined up and all i have to do is prepare for each of those in their own special place where they happen. The understanding that your crowd in Savannah will not be that of Amsterdam or London.

And big scale or small scale up to 300 seats is where you learn the most.
Though if I ever were to do Stadiums, the dressing room riders would contain impossible to do Early Modern stuff like 3 quill pens from the 3rd wing feather of a goose. Elderberries in season. And large scale maps of EM London Paris and Amsterdam.

Whether NOT busking the 14th Sonnet Marathon on the Bankside and
entertaining a group of schoolkids who couldn’t believe i memorised all the sonnets…
WSNotbusking

Or lounging in the lobby of the British Library
watching rehearsals for the birthday celebrations…
WSLounginBL

This year isn’t over yet. What’s gone…

*14 Sonnet Marathons SO FAR:
all 154 sonnets spoken in Original Pronunciation.

Started in Amsterdam in January. Deciding, hey 52 Sonnet Marathons would be cool.
Discovered my OP needed work and it’s lonely when no-one bothers to listen to you.

People do stand out of your sight-line,
listening intently for a sonnet, or five, or ten, or twenty.
Them giving you a wide smile, thumbs up, and sometimes a ‘dude you’re rocking it’ and

‘my adder’s sense…’

Stop the thoughts.

*Rollende Keukens in the Westerpark Flexitarian Vleesch noch Visch stand up sonnetry
WSROLLENDEKEUKENS

Focus on the words again for heaven’s sake,
recite from 1-77-
maybe take a break, or NO, continue to 104, or 126,
then a break.
Or do stately blocks of 1-52, 53-104, 105-126, 127-154.

There’s an arc and the story’s meagre curve demands to be kept.
I’m not a machine though many take me for one
(Are you the sonnet machine a scholar asked me at the Globe.
YES! I replied ‘coz i crave validation).
A Dutch paper Vrij Nederland called me a Sonnet Jukebox.

Amongst these Shakespeare related events
including each actor and every volunteer who helped
I’ve had a great year SO FAR:

This sonnet was recorded on the fly. Shot by Maarten Toner.

Sonnet 104 from Maarten Toner on Vimeo.

1616-2016 NEW YEAR SHAKESFEAR

1616-2016 NEW YEAR SHAKESFEAR
Will it all be too much? This celebration of his death.
The world is going all out to celebrate.
Will our own contribution be lost?

The fear isn’t about his language.
Nor that some other biography will be proven.
The fear makes the difference.
The difference lies between our ears.
The difference is the same as it has always been.

Do it or don’t.
No more.
Take away the prevarication (a word he never used)
and the readiness is all.

All or nothing is/are, words to avoid like the plague.
Creamy-eyed milchings, posset-curdled nothings.

52 sonnet marathons in a year. One a week. In OP.
Or maybe by the 14th backwards or some other ordering.
Tomorrow 7th january we start at the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

This time not at the Rose Theatre like back in 2005.
Ben Crystal lighting a candle for every sonnet recited.
Shouting out after each set of ten.
So much water under the bridge since first your eye i eye’d.

William btw means determined.
Get the job done son.

EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT

It has come to my attention that the Passion in Practice Ensemble will reconvene at the SWP:

Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe – in Original Pronunciation
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe
Sunday 22nd May at 16:00
Book at the Globe Box Office and get Tickets for Marlowe in OP

PS
Ralph Alan Cohen has written this book and
since i last year started using the word Shakesfear
you now know the probable unconscious source:
ShakesFear Cure
Ralph Alan Cohen is Co-Founder of the American Shakespeare Center
and Professor of Shakespeare and Performance in the Master of Letters and Fine Arts program,
which he established at Mary Baldwin College.
He was the project director for the building of
the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia.

Another place we’re longing to perform at.

Sonnet Book 2015 edition

Sonnet Book 2015/2016 edition
NOW for SALE!
Click on the BUY NOW button and it will take you to our PAYPAL account.

PayPal – The safer, easier way to pay online!

Place your order and it will be shipped within 2 days.

We have satisfied customers from California to Glasgow.




We have a run of 750 sonnetbooks.
Each book is verified with a personalised series number
and signed by William S.
i.e. 1/750 WS. 2/750 WS. etc.

HERE’s why you’ll want to get YOUR copy.
SIMPLE EASY typeface and POCKET SIZE.
COLOUR + ORGANISATION SCHEME allows you to see at a glance
regular Iambic Pentameter, (YELLOW)
feminine endings, (PINK)
Run-on lines, (ORANGE)
and how many lines are broken. (GREEN)

BEST OF ALL
PRICE: 10 Euro
(plus shipping to UK, EUROPE + USA/CANADA).
Buying more than one book REDUCES the shipping cost.

Will’s Sonnetbook is recognised and registered by
the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands.

ISBN: 978-90-9029441-4

If you have any questions, do send us an email:
General Inquiries
info@shakespearekaraoke.com
SUBJECT: ORDER SONNETBOOK

A new version of William Sutton’s Q1609 Edit of the Sonnets,
in a very easy to use book.
The new edition is the same handy A6 size with a heavy-duty spiral binding.
The paper weighs 200g; so thick, tear-proof, and durable.
The book totals 81 pages with flexible transparent covers.

These books, like the poems, are built to last.

Continue reading Sonnet Book 2015 edition

Shakespeare for the next generation

Shakespeare for the next generation. Wouldn’t that be nice? To be an influence for the good where Shakespeare is concerned. It’s not about us, it’s about him. All in a non-bardolatrous mold. There’s another Workshop 27th in Jerwood Space happening at the end of september.

You’re only as good as your last show

There are few shows in a performer’s life that stand out. Mine happened in january 2015 Blog post on Pericles at the Berwaldhallen in Stockholm. Pericles the play. There are photos below and that video that gives a sense of how amazing it was. We wrote of it OP Pericles earlier this year.

I must confess

That isn’t what made it stand out. The day after performing and celebrating til early, we left to go back to our respective homes. We hit the airport mid afternoon and i was buzzing and full of the night before, humming the score and massively pleased with myself. My partner Sassy is far more grounded than I and tagged along putting up with uber-thespian’s enthrallment to the post-show glow.

I hit the loos just before security and coming back Sassy told me she’d seen a man who was wearing a shirt that looked like a member of the music ensemble from the night before. I didn’t hear the looked like and started to assume everyone around me was a member of the ensemble.

By this time we’re approaching security and taking off shoes and belts. I’m scanning the crowd around me looking for the ensemble members. Sassy repeatedly telling me i was mistaken, but I’m hearing nothing, except the voices and music in my head of our shared experience.

We proceed through security with me rubber necking for recognition. On the other side as we are all gathering our belongings…

Wham! I see a group of four men in suits and immediately I recognise one as someone i had talked to post-show the night before. Without thinking i walk up to him, point a finger at him and exclaim, ‘You, (pause for maximum effect) were f***ing brilliant last night!’

As soon as i said it, i knew it was wrong. Me, in suit and cashmere overcoat with a gold lining, pointing at a random Scandinavian businessman whilst his friends shocked responses started already to make this guy’s life a living hell.

Being the consummate professional and performer I ignored all of that, turned on my heels and walked assuredly away. Sassy practically bounced from stifling and holding in her laughter. The rest of the flight and the whole year since has made this story family legend.

However I can’t help feeling sorry for that guy whose career, and possibly personal life I’ve ruined whilst he remains ignorant of what prompted me to do it. I hope somebody sees this, knows him and we can make amends. His friends however can only thank me…

The King in his coat. The fool inside it.

The King in his coat. The fool inside it.

Daniel Hope, Daniel Harding, Ben Crystal

Daniel Hope, Daniel Harding, Ben Crystal

Hilton, Jenni and Joan

Hilton, Jenni and Joan

Here’s an impression of what it looked like.

PHOTOS by Aslam Husain

Crimson Tempest

Crimson Tempest. What do you see? What do you know?

Perhaps you know it appears in Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Richard 2nd.
What makes a play?

We interrupt this blog for promotional purposes.

Our primary purpose of this post selling tickets to a production of Henry V at Tanner St.
3rd August: GALA Night.
4th-5th August:
50% discount for Students, Equity members, Seniors and Unemployed;
they use the code word concession when booking online.

Now back to our regular posting.

Delivery of text continues to be a deciding factor in good Shakespeare.
What does that take? Too forced and you lose. The Shakespeare voice appears.
Too disconnected from physicality and you lose. The Shakespeare voice wins.
Too. Many. Pauses. The Shakespeare voice bores.

Text is physicality. The smallest unit of sound, the phoneme, requires effort.
There is a literal physical journey of the words on the page arriving on the stage.

The punctuation dictates the shape of the thought. Thoughts contribute to ideas.
Our ensemble uses the First Folio text, double checks with any available Quartos,
triple checks with modern editions and returns to the text as given.
Questioning everything; whether it be spelling, italicisation, or capitalisation.
Accept and or reject based on exploration and expediency of the characters.

Our own cherished thoughts and ideas aren’t infallible.
Linguistic and literary scholar, Jonathan Hope helped us explore 72 linguistic features
about where Henry V sits in relation to the entire corpus of 544 extant Early Modern plays.
Then in relation to the corpus of Shakespeare’s 38 (!) Tragedies, Comedies and Histories.

The mind steering them contributes more to their acceptance.
Dr Hope teased us with a Scottish 20 pound bet whether we could guess
Shakespeare’s most average play? funniest scene?
Examining the sets of data lead some in one direction, others in another.
Opinion divided us all.

The casting of a production selects the guiding individual actor minds.
The crossroads of physicality and thought employs the actors skills.
Our Ben excels in choosing an ensemble. Script analysis is a tool we use.
Character exploration happens unspoken with stick work.
Sub-text arises from interaction.

Being wrong never feels good. Being judged less so. Justification follows.
Justification of one’s deeds, regrets, things we shouldeva wouldeva couldeva done,
all occur after the fact.

We did what we did, (Hilton, Katrina and myself had to leave)
and do what we do (Colin Hurley joined in, Matt Mellalieu picked up my roles).

Tomorrow night from 3rd to 5th August my band of brothers and sisters
perform at Tanner Street Studios. Tickets are still available.
Go experience a rich vein of Shakespearean work being mined.
Else all that remains are words, words, words. And you can simply read those:

Poster for Tanner Street 3rd-5th August 2015

Poster for Tanner Street
3rd-5th August 2015

And the production is cut to David Crystal on Henry V in OP 2 hours traffic of the stage.
And these actors have learned their lines by heart within two weeks.
And there are some textual additions from the earlier plays in the 1st tetralogy.

Thanks to Patrick Spottiswoode from Globe education.
Also Clare and our two minders, Aidan and Alice.
Plus the staff at the concession stand for making our Americanos,
showing that London is as international as it ever was.

BTW the answers to the bet questions are Hamlet,
and the buck basket scene from Merry Wives of Windsor.

Shadows at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Shadows at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Things change in the shadow world. Fear meets awareness, the imagined becomes real. Paper cutouts make an army.

Shadow Army

Candles cast shadows. Lots of them. Lights are brighter than candles. They too obscure. The rehearsal process is a shadow of the final show. Topping and tailing a shadow of rehearsal.

The pit, the deck and the balcony are fully explored. Straight lines turned to curves. Actors now characters shaped by cue scripts and walking with sticks. Push, pull, resist and yield.

Yet magic happens all along. The details of the programme and flyers for Tanner Street require attention. Three photographers in the ensemble. Behold the cast and crew shot by our Twitter feed of rehearsal photos Aslam. To see them live:Buy your Ticket for Tanner Street 3-5th august 2015

Photo Credit: Aslam Husain Photography

Photo Credit:
Aslam Husain Photography

The dog fetches the tennis balls…