It’s Hard to be a Woman: Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Cordelia, Desdemona, Juliet, Lavinia, and Ophelia: What do these strange names have in common? For one, they are all women in Shakespeare’s plays, as you might have guessed. More specifically, they are all characters from his tragedies. Based on their individual circumstances, it’s easy to see that Shakespeare was not kind to his women—but to be fair, he wasn’t very kind to the men in these plays either. Even so, I’d like to point out that none of these women died because they did something wrong. Most of these women died as a result of men acting irrationally. Most of them were pawns in games of power Laviniaor revenge. At least the men died because they were the ones that did something stupid, so some of them kind of deserved it. It’s hard to discern the order in which to rank these undeserved tragedies, but I’m going to go ahead and let Lavinia take the crown.

Poor Lavinia, from the devastating tragedy of Titus Andronicus, is the daughter of the play’s namesake. Her father deals in some shady business about who he is going to have her marry, and it ends with her being dragged through the woods by three men. It’s pretty easy to guess what they wanted to do with her in the woods. After they each had their fill, they cut off her hands and slit her tongue out of her mouth so she couldn’t reveal what had happened. Eventually, she was able to write out what had become of her by holding a stick in her mouth and writing in the dirt. Enraged, her father took revenge on the men. Then he realized that since his daughter was no longer innocent and this had happened out of wedlock, she was not fit for life. He then killed his daughter whom he had just worked so hard to avenge. Feel free to argue that another woman on this list had it worse, but I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement on this one. Continue reading It’s Hard to be a Woman: Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroines

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Hamlet Goes To The Movies

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Nine. NINE Hamlet adaptations worldwide listed on iMDb (Internet Movie Database)! The adaptations range from a traditional version filmed in England to a modern-day (well, 2000s), New York City adaptation. I’ve listed the films below in chronological order. Before I get started, let me make it abundantly clear that I have never ever seen any of these movies. The closest I’ve come is The Lion King, and even that was years ago. Even so, I’m going to make comments on these given the little information I have. What I find most interesting is the progression of ratings: Unrated, G, PG, PG-13, R. What?? Did they not show fighting and death in the G-rated version? If not, they royally screwed with the storyline.

1948: UK
2h 35m

The first adaptation noted was filmed in the UK in 1948. Hamlet was played by actor Laurence Olivier. The only other particularly notable talent in the movie was Jean Simmons who played Ophelia. Other than that, there’s not much to say about this one. Continue reading Hamlet Goes To The Movies

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Was Shakespeare an Inspiration for UC’s Alma Mater?

By:  Kevin Grace

William ShakespeareWho knows for sure? As we celebrate the quadricentennial of the playwright’s death this year by exploring our Shakespeare holdings in the Archives & Rare Books Library, we tend to run across the many phrases and words that he coined or brought into the common lexicon. And, one of those is “Tower of Strength.” Continue reading Was Shakespeare an Inspiration for UC’s Alma Mater?

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Seven Questions With Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Jeremy Dubin

Interview by: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

SV: What is your position within the company, and what does that entail?

jeremy-dublin-smallJD: My position is Artistic Associate. It is a bit of an umbrella term. I am a member of the acting ensemble, and I direct two to three plays each season. I also serve as the resident text coach for the company, and head up a couple of our educational programs. I handle auditions and various other odds and ends. Continue reading Seven Questions With Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Jeremy Dubin

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Centers of Celebration

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

100 years ago, the whole world was in a commotion over Shakespeare’s Tercentenary. People were celebrating in: Cincinnati, London, Germany, everywhere really. It was such a big deal that countries were literally arguing over who Shakespeare related to more. It seems now that 100 years have passed people are less excited by The Bard. His works are still very much prominent, but there aren’t announcements of festivals and grand celebrations as much as there were back in 1916.

The Complete Walk - London

Of course the anniversary will not be completely overlooked. In London, The Globe Theatre is hosting events all year long. Many of these have passed, but the best is yet to come. On the weekend of April 23 and 24, they will be hosting The Complete Walk. When they say “complete,” they mean it:

37 screens along a 2.5 mile route between Westminster and Tower Bridge will play a series of specially-made short films. At the heart of each film, some of the world’s finest actors will perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, shot in the place hovering in his imagination when he wrote them. (“The Complete Walk”)

Continue reading Centers of Celebration

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Shake it Up with Shakespeare This Weekend!

By:  Sydney Vollmer

henry_v_act2_sc5So what are you doing tonight?  Tomorrow night?  This weekend?   Maybe you’ve already got your next few days filled up.  That’s okay, because the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will still have showings of Henry VI: The Wars of the Roses, Part 1 up through February 13th!  (And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the cheating game on KISS107 in the mornings).  This show is all about actual war. Continue reading Shake it Up with Shakespeare This Weekend!

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Darth Vader, WTFeth, Man?

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

The Empire Striketh BackA brief moment ago, in a galaxy that is our own, Shakespeare has been reimagined. It is a time of artistic freedom and a lack of brand new ideas. Authors left and right are taking popular works and translating them into Shakespeare’s style. The remaining few are taking Shakespeare’s works and translating them into modern texts, literally. Star Wars is an empire that has befallen this fate. Iambic pentameter maketh Yoda sound yet wiser, and Han Solo a fairer knave. Thank thee Maker! Forsooth, never before have two groups with such extreme cult followings come together to create a new work! Shakespeare lovers and Star Wars fans alike can now come together. Continue reading Darth Vader, WTFeth, Man?

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A Program By Any Name: Calling All Theater Goers and Performers!

Shakespeare Celebration BookmarkWe need your help! The Archives and Rare Books Library is expanding its Shakespeare holdings as part of the 2016 quadricentennial . In our effort to document and preserve the heritage of Shakespeare productions in the greater Cincinnati area over the past two centuries, we’re building an archival collection of local Shakespeare play programs. It doesn’t matter if they are from 1902 or two days ago. They can be programs from performances by CCM, high schools, professional theater groups, or the couple next door who are forever emoting on Romeo and Juliet. It doesn’t matter! The only requirement we have is that the performance took place somewhere in the tri-state.

Please mail your submissions to the Archives and Rare Books Library, P.O. Box 210113, Cincinnati, OH 45211-0113 or drop them by our library on the 8th floor of Blegen Library. If you have any questions, just contact us via email ( or give us a call Monday through Friday, 8-5, at (513) 556-1959.

Thank you all so much for following our celebration, and a special thanks to anyone who can contribute. We can’t wait to see the wonderful programs you have in store for us! To learn more about our Shakespeare commemoration, have a look at our web page,

Program for Macbeth at CCMScript of Hamlet, presented in Music Hall, Cincinnati

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Will(iam) You Allow Me To Deviate?

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

William Shakespeare     I’m going to depart from the traditional format of my blog posts for just a moment. Instead of trying to share some story or educate you on our holdings, I would rather take a second and start a discussion with all of you.

Recently I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal, titled, “The Coming Shakespeare Extravaganza” (you may have seen it on our Facebook page). The article goes over the impending 400th anniversary celebrations, but it also asks if we are celebrating William too much. I would like to ask you all the same question, but in broader terms. Continue reading Will(iam) You Allow Me To Deviate?

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UC Celebrates Its Library’s Founding Collection as It Celebrates Shakespeare 400

Shakespeare Celebration BookmarkEvents around the world will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in April. University of Cincinnati Libraries are showcasing UC’s rare Shakespeare collections and highlights of the UC Shakespeare Tercentenary a century ago.

Cultural, creative and educational organizations around the world will kick off celebrations honoring the legacy of William Shakespeare as the world observes the 400th anniversary of his death, which was on April 23, 1616. Here at the University of Cincinnati, the Archives & Rare Books Library’s Shakespeare collection is one of the university’s original library collections, purchased for the university back in the 1890s.

The Enoch T. Carson collection holds more than 250 volumes. The collection has illustrations from editions of Shakespeare’s works along with pamphlets, clippings, excerpts, criticism, almanacs and various souvenirs that were collected by Carson. Over the past century, dozens of additional volumes have augmented that original collection, including rare editions illustrated by Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, and W. Heath Robinson. Continue reading UC Celebrates Its Library’s Founding Collection as It Celebrates Shakespeare 400

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