By Erica Bock, Archives and Rare Books Library Intern
It is that time of year again. It is starting to feel like fall and Halloween is right around the corner. Netflix is coming out with their top Halloween picks. And a category such as “gory” or “gruesome” is bound to be featured, as it is nearly every year. If you are like me, not only do you enjoy a scary film, but there are also books that fit the season. Maybe you are cracking open Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Stephen King’s Carrie. However, I just may have a new recommendation for you. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is a horror story that would definitely be featured on Netflix’s gory or gruesome film choices. And, believe it or not, it would be appealing to the same fans who adore American Horror Story or Sweeney Todd. But apart from appealing to the horror genre buff, this play addresses some issues that may be very close to home.
Although this story features a horrific fourteen killings, six severed members, one rape, one live burial, one case of insanity and an instance of cannibalism, we can find a number of these barbaric acts relevant to today’s culture. First and foremost, the issue of racism is addressed through these events. Titus Andronicus’ opposing sides consist of the Romans, which are revealed to be the more civilized pale skinned people, and the Goths, the darker skinned people known for their lawlessness and tactlessness. These are simply cultural biases that our culture is no stranger to. However, as the story progresses, both parties commit crimes of hatred, causing the audience to wonder who the heartless and reckless people really are in the end. Continue reading →
“For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”
Those are the final lines in Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers are dead, victims of their own passion and the enmity between the Capulets and the Montagues. Though their story is set in Renaissance Verona, it could be a tale told in any culture around the world in any era of humankind. For all the literary genius of William Shakespeare, scholars have long known that many of his plays were re-workings of stories he heard and historical accounts he read during his lifetime. Whether it was for Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Othello, or others, Shakespeare adapted these accounts for his stage in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that now have been performed countless times for more than 400 years, and over those centuries his own words have been adapted time and again. To see King Lear presented in England or Ireland is not the same as seeing it performed in South Africa or India or China. And of course, to see it once in England or America is not the same as seeing it once again on what might be the same stage in the same year. William Shakespeare’s plays are paragons of beautiful language, infinite interpretation, and above all, compelling stories.
Last week, the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company said hello to their new home at the Otto M. Budig Theater with performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was fortunate enough to be invited to their Media Night on September 7, when I got a first look at the space and the show.
Located at 1195 Elm Street, the new theater features a modern style of architecture one might not expect for a company boasting Shakespeare’s name. There is a large lobby area for everyone to gather before the show and during intermission and it is peppered with Shakespeare quotes and play titles everywhere you turn, from the steps to the seating. I personally am a fan of the bathroom sinks which read, “A little water clears us of this deed” – a direct quote from Lady Macbeth. When you go to a performance, see how many you can find! Upstairs, an open room is used for classes and meetings for various presentations. During Media Night, Jeremy Dubin, Director of Creative Education, gave an informative presentation on the costuming and set design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Continue reading →
Ah, summer. A time for frolicking on the beaches, zipping swiftly through busy cities with bright lights, tolerating that toddler kicking your seat on the plane just because it means you’re finally getting to spend some time away from work, and appreciating the Bard? It’s true. Shakespeare’s home, Stratford-upon-Avon, has been relying on tourism to bolster its economy since 1769.
Read Source, the online newsletter, to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.
This latest issue of Source includes an article with Xuemao Wang, dean and university librarian, about how UC Libraries is utilizing Organizational Development to help bring about transformational change. Kevin Grace, university archivist and head of the Archives and Rare Books Library writes about the Enoch Carson Shakespeare Collection and how it will be a part of autumn 2017 Shakespeare celebrations in Cincinnati. Another great reading collection, the Cohen Enrichment Collection, is also featured in this issue.
In my previous blog I mentioned that the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company would be putting on free productions of Merry Wives of Windsor this summer as part of its Shakespeare in the Park series. If you’ve read the play or seen the show, you know a main plot point is about Sir John Falstaff and how he tries to seduce Mistress Page and her best friend, Mistress Ford—at the same time. Both women, faithful to their husbands, decide to create quite the fool out of Falstaff by feigning interest and arranging secret meetings between Falstaff and Mistress Ford. Those meetings are always interrupted by Master Ford coming home, thus putting Falstaff in precarious positions. One of the most notable scenes involves Falstaff donning a dress, pretending to be the fat aunt of the Fords’ servant so he can leave the house without being recognized. It’s been long thought of as one of the funniest scenes in the play…why? What is it about a man in a dress that gives us a big chuckle? Continue reading →
Congrats to all the Bearcats who graduated and to those who celebrated surviving another semester! Now that it’s summer time, you might be looking for some fun things to do. I can tell you about one that’s right in your backyard…well, park. Once again the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will offer their free Shakespeare in the Park summer series. It opens July 14th and runs through September 4th. Each year Cincinnati Shakes prepares two shows for their various performances at parks around the city and Hamilton County. This year’s shows are Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Past years included A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing. The official schedule hasn’t been posted yet, but it will be coming soon! You can check their website for updates. Continue reading →
In the spring of 1883, Cincinnati held its first Dramatic Festival at Music Hall, performing for a consecutive six days. The show had a lineup of performances of all sorts of dramatic works, with many of them holding Shakespearian titles. The festival was such a big deal that even the Chicago Tribune sent someone over to see what it was all about but unfortunately, the Tribune was less than impressed with Cincinnati’s efforts, claiming that the largeness of Music Hall drowned out the performances of almost all the actors. However, the critics did have some kind words for the orchestra as well as the performances of Hamlet and Julius Caesar. Apparently, these were the only two plays that were “great” enough to be worthy of performance while simultaneously using the space effectively. It certainly helped that in the role of Hamlet was the famous thespian James E. Murdoch.
Happy National Poetry Month! In 1996, the Academy of American Poet designated April as the month to officially celebrate poetry. Here at ARB, we celebrate poetry all year round, but figured we would take this opportunity to talk some about Shakespearean sonnets. Continue reading →