One day I was perusing the internet to see what Shakespeare plays were available on DVD. It probably had something to do with having seen a particularly good version of a play at the cinema as a part of the National Theatre Live productions, and I wanted to see if some of them were available for purchase (unfortunately, at this stage, this doesn’t seem to be the case). However my eyes fell upon a production of Richard II by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it starred David Tennant. Most of us are probably familiar with him as Doctor Who, however, I had recently discovered that he had starred alongside Patrick Stewart (of the Star Trek and X-Men fame) in a version of Hamlet. As such, I made it a priority to get my hands on a copy of this DVD.
My original plan was to publish this post on the 23rd of April, which was the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. However, due to slackness on my part (and also my failure to actually do any research into the exact date) that unfortunately has not happened. Anyway, it was fitting that if there is one play that I would write about for the belated 400-year commemoration post it should be King Lear since it is probably my favourite of all Shakesperian plays (at least among the tragedies).
Okay, before I continue it would be best that I mention that I am working on the assumption that you have seen this film, which means that there will be spoilers. Anyway I generally don’t write these posts as reviews, namely because I generally do that on IMDB (though I haven’t touched Rotten Tomatoes, and am unlikely to do so since I really don’t have the time to post all of my reviews up there as well, but who knows, I might do so in the future).
One of the things that I don’t like about seeing plays while I am away is that I don’t always get a chance to sit down and write about them while they are still fresh in my mind. In fact that makes it even more difficult, considering all of the experiences that I’d encounter while wandering around the place means that I inevitably land up with so much in my head that it pushes the experience further back, and it is not until I have returned to my comfort zone (or my writing zone as I should say) am I able to think more about it. Then again, that isn’t going to happen for at least a month, so while I am sitting on the train heading out to the Sunshine Coast, I probably should take the time to actually write about the third play that I saw – Merchant of Venice.
I was going to open by saying that I am quite particular with regards to the musicals that I end up going to see, but when I come to think about it I am generally particular about most things (with the exception of pubs – there are very few pubs, and restaurants, that I wouldn’t visit at least once). I guess I don’t want to waste my time reading a book that is of no interest to me, or spending the money to go and see a play (or a movie) that I suspect that I am not going to like. Mind you, I guess that means that I am not opening myself up to new opportunities, but once again there is the time, and the money, factor (and the theatre is actually quite expensive – at least here in Melbourne).
While not one of Shakespeare’s more popular plays, I have now seen a couple of productions of it, even if one of the productions is actually a movie. Okay, a theatrical production and a movie are two completely different things, and sometimes I find that I tend to be drawn towards one medium more than the other, and unfortunately, in the case of Coriolanus, I have found myself attracted to the film. I guess one of the main reasons is that with film the scope can be much larger while the play tends to be quite limited in what you are able to do. Secondly, the film version of Coriolanus had machine guns and tanks (and I have to say that I love Shakespeare with machine guns and tanks). Anyway, here is the trailer for the film (simply because I have to include it in this post):
I was sitting outside a coffee shop in Melbourne one morning and a tram trundled past advertising a production of the Sophoclean play Antigone. Knowing that Melbourne trams have the really bad habit of advertising plays that have long since finished I jumped onto the internet and to my absolute delight discovered that it had yet to begin. I have only ever seen one Ancient Greek play performed in my life and that was an amateur production (though it wasn’t all that bad – its just that amateur productions tend to be a little different – the actors wander amongst the audience beforehand practising their lines), so I decided to immediately book my tickets.
Okay, this may not be the first Bernard Shaw play that I have seen performed, however the previous one, Man and Superman, was a performance by the National Theatre that was filmed and then distributed to various cinemas around the world. Okay, while it may not have been live, it was close enough, and seeing Ralph Fiennes performing on stage was an experience to say the least.
Well, this year the Bell Shakespeare Company decided to put on a performance of Hamlet, quite possibly because it is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. This sort of baffles me though because Hamlet happens to be one of those plays that school kids have to put up with studying, and we all know the story about books that we are forced to study in school – they are hated.
I initially suggested that I have seen the Tempest three times on my Goodreads and Booklikes posts that is) but now that I think about it I believe I have only seen it twice before I saw this production (and I believe that both of those previous productions were also by the Bell Shakespeare Company). Anyway, when I discovered that they were staging another production (this time only in Sydney) I pretty quickly booked my tickets because it happens to be one of my favourite Shakespearian plays.