What old December’s bareness every where!

This fall has offered a small reprieve from the hard work we put in over the summer, but at the same time, it is starting to feel too long since we were out in the park, speaking Shakespeare’s glorious words to the summer sky.  And we still have the long winter to survive before we can be out there again!  A perfect melancholy sonnet comes to mind…

Sonnet 97

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time removed was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
   Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
   That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

But do not despair, dear readers and Shakespeare lovers.  There is much to look forward to…

Cardenio Resurrected

In a recent post, we joked that it would be great if we could only uncover the lost manuscript of Cardenio.  Imagine our delight in stumbling across an article in which someone is attempting to do just that!

For the uninitiated, The History of Cardenio is Shakespeare’s lost play.  Scholars and historians can prove that the play was performed in the 17th century and originally credited to Master Shakespeare, but the script was never published and any manuscripts that might have existed have been lost to the ages.  Approximately 75 years after Cardenio was originally performed, the playwright and publisher Lewis Theobald published a play called Double Falsehood, presumably adapted from Shakespeare’s Cardenio.  At best, it is clear that many changes were made to the script.  At worst, we can only speculate whether Theobald wasn’t just pulling a fast double falsehood on everyone.

Now, an American Shakespeare scholar has meticulously researched and attempted to re-create the original Cardenio script.  While no one has yet uncovered an original manuscript in Shakespeare’s hand, it looks like the folks at Florida State University are staging the closest approximation of the play that the modern world has ever seen.  Read the fascinating article here:

History of Cardenio: Is Shakespeare’s lost work recovered?

Now more than ever it would be exciting for someone to find the lost Cardenio. Wouldn’t it be fun to compare this modern re-creation to the original manuscript and see if they got it right?

Now That’s Dedication

Today we stumbled across a Shakespeare blog that is both impressive and inspiring!  The author of the blog, Bill Barclay, is billed on the site as an actor, director, composer and sound designer. Clearly, he is also a Shakespeare lover: he has undertaken the endeavor to read ALL of Shakespeare’ s plays, out loud, in public, all by himself.  Now, here at Midsommer Flight we get excited by any outdoor Shakespeare — and Bill’s project is an example of extreme dedication to the work!

Shakespeare Aloud

A recent post on the site suggests that Bill’s worldwide presentation of the plays is on temporary hold while he pursues an opportunity at the Globe in London, but there is plenty of content to explore until he gets back to it.


Year of Shakespeare

Did you know that 2012 is the Year of Shakespeare?  Apparently it is!  According to the website, Year of Shakespeare is “a project documenting the World Shakespeare Festival, the greatest celebration of Shakespeare the world has ever seen.”

I especially recommend listening to the 3-minute audio track on the Year of Shakespeare “About” page for more context on what this project is all about.  Check out the link below and join the discussion!

Year of Shakespeare

Today’s Cool Thing: Original Pronunciation

In America, we are used to hearing Shakespearean text performed in an “unaccented” American dialect, otherwise known as Stage Standard. While most American theatre-makers (Midsommer Flight included) accept this practice and believe the text will be more truthful and resonant if spoken in the actor’s own, un-affected dialect, some Americans do still prefer British Received Pronunciation (aka RP) as the “real” or “correct” way to pronounce Shakespearean text.

But do you know about Original Pronunciation?  In fact, the language pronounced on Elizabethan stages sounded far different from the modern RP we are used to hearing today.  The dialect sounded much closer to some hybrid form of Scottish.  You could even argue, with it’s harder edges and over-pronounced R’s, that OP was closer to a modern American accent than a modern British one. At the very least, it seems safe to say that RP is no more the “right” way to speak this text than American Stage Standard.

In this delightful 10-minute video, a father/son duo demonstrates the differences between RP and OP while standing on the stage of the Globe Theatre in London. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Bill!

Today is Shakespeare’s 448th birthday. (Incidentally, it is also the 396th anniversary of his death.)  In honor of our buddy Bill, here are a few suggestions for how to celebrate.

First, try your hand at this quiz, care of the Huffington Post:

Test your Shakespeare Knowledge!

Then explore Happy Birthday Shakespeare, “a project by bloggers around the world to celebrate the impact of Stratford’s greatest son.”

Happy Birthday Shakespeare

Finally, go back to the text. Pick up your favorite play and read one of those great juicy speeches out loud. Just for the joy of it.

And to Shakespeare we say: thank you for being born.