Costuming a King

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Since the beginning of theater, costumes have played a crucial role to the understanding and enjoyment of the stories.  Over time, they have developed both in design and technique.  It was the Greeks who first invented costumes, using them to differentiate between characters of different class.  They were often ornate, with patterns and masks.   Romans continued the tradition of costuming, but no major changes were made for hundreds of years.  By the time Shakespeare came about, costuming had evolved so that actors would don whatever their character would wear in real life. Continue reading Costuming a King

Julia Marlowe – A Cincinnati Girl Learns To Be Juliet

By: Sydney Vollmer

Julia MarloweOn August 17, 1866, Sarah Frances “Fanny” Frost was born in Caldbeck, England to John and Sarah Frost.  As Julia Marlowe, she died at age 84 in New York City’s Plaza Hotel.  Between those two events, she discovered passion, love (multiple times), and fame.

The future Shakespearean actress was born into a relatively normal family.  She had four siblings, three sisters and a brother and her parents owned a general store while also working in the trades of needlework and boot making.  Her father sometimes got drunk and her mother always got frustrated with him.  At the age of 5, though, all of that “normalcy” changed for Marlowe.  It was the year that her father whisked the family away to America.  Plenty of people were immigrating to America during the 1870s, but Marlowe’s father did so to stay out of trouble.  During an impromptu horse race between her father—where he was most likely drunk— and one of their neighbors, Mr. Frost allegedly took out his competitor’s eye with his whip.  Knowing that he would surely face prosecution if he stayed, he immediately took his wife and children to America.  Once arrived, they first settled in Kansas, but soon moved to Portsmouth, Ohio with the new surname “Brough,” which was the maiden name of Julia’s mother.  Later on, the family would find out that the competitor had been playing a cruel joke and there had not been any reason to leave so urgently. Continue reading Julia Marlowe – A Cincinnati Girl Learns To Be Juliet

The Taming of the Rude

By: Sydney Vollmer

You know by now that 2016 the year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and that the Archives & Rare Books Library is celebrating it in a big way by highlighting their Shakespeare holdings.  BUT it’s also Women’s Week at the University of Cincinnati!  Surprisingly, the two have something in common, but we’ll get to that.  For the next few days, the topic of feminism will be spread gender equal opportunity or representationacross Main Street all the way from TUC to the Rec Center.  Women’s Week is a nice enough concept.  I believe in strong females, and I certainly consider myself worthy of any opportunity a man is given.  There’s always that stigma about feminism though…a stigma that being feminist means triumphing over men.  And that’s where my problem lies both with feminism and with Women’s Week because last night, I saw a picture of a girl on Main Street holding a chalkboard that referred to boys as stupid.  My definition of feminism has a lot more to do with mutual respect and a celebration of differences rather than drawing a line between the two sexes and saying one is better than the other.

Taming of the Shrew title page

Continue reading The Taming of the Rude

What Fools We Mortals Be

By:  Sydney Vollmer

Rackham, What Fools These Mortals BeWe all remember Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  What a little imp.  Well, actually, he isn’t quite an imp.  He’s more of a hobgoblin.  In fact, Puck is less a name than a species.  Throughout mythology, “Puck” is interchangeable with “Robin Goodfellow.”  The names come in different forms among various languages, but they all translate roughly to either “pixie” or “hobgoblin.”

Throughout A Midsummer Night’s Dream, poor Puck is given orders to put spells on people he doesn’t recognize and things go awry.  His willingness to perform, and then correct, shows his true obedience to King Oberon.  However, if you aren’t King of the Fairies, a puck may not be as obedient.  Pucks have a knack for being temperamental.  It’s said that they’ve been known to do some minor household chores if they take a liking to you, but the helpfulness stops as soon as you offend them. Continue reading What Fools We Mortals Be

Dealt a Similar Hand: An Analysis Between Macbeth and House of Cards

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

With our political choices today, we wish we could pretend that what’s going on is some twisted, comedic version of House of Cards.  Unfortunately for all of us, it’s completely real.  There’s no use in dwelling on it, so let’s just pretend it doesn’t exist by diving back into House of Cards while we (patiently) await the fifth season.

Macbeth and Frank Underwood

I’m not a big HOC buff, but I saw the majority of episodes each time my dad monopolized the couch after every season’s release.  The series magnifies brutality and corruption, somehow getting its audience to root for unlikeable characters.  Truly, there is no one on the show that you can look at as the underdog, or the person who deserves their prize.  When you think about it, the show is a complete extension of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, if his characters hadn’t died at the end.  I’m certainly not the first person to make this comparison—not by a long stretch—but I did come up with this realization without external influences.  That means that the comparisons are so strong that multiple people individually have stood up and said “Frank Underwood is the modern-day American Macbeth.”  And there is plenty of evidence to back this up; I’ll show you what I mean. Continue reading Dealt a Similar Hand: An Analysis Between Macbeth and House of Cards

Joe Should Respect the Throne in Scotland, PA

By Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Do you remember when I thought there were a lot of film adaptations of Hamlet?  Well, it turns out that number is nothing compared to the number of films made on Macbeth.  The adaptations started as early as 1916 and are still running strong.  Over the past 100 years, more than 15 film adaptations have been created.  That number doesn’t even include the amount of television shows based on the play, episodes with Macbeth as their title, or all of the times the play has been filmed for television. (See full list below.)  Many of these films are direct adaptations, but a few are creative twists on the traditional story.  These twists include: Joe MacBeth (1955), Throne of Blood (1957), Men of Respect (1990), and Scotland, PA (2001).

Joe MacBeth film poster

 

Joe MacBeth
1955
1h 30m

In this adaptation, we no longer are traipsing through dark castles in Scotland, but ducking through the alleyways as Lily MacBeth urges her husband to take down the top mob boss.  Starring in this movie is Paul Douglas as “Joe MacBeth” and Ruth Roman as “Lily MacBeth.”

 

Continue reading Joe Should Respect the Throne in Scotland, PA

Greed Makes Ghosts in the Scottish Hills

By: Sydney Vollmer

MacbethActors have this weird superstition about the name “Macbeth.” I know you’re not supposed to say it inside a theater unless you’re actually rehearsing the play, but I wonder if there is an official rule on saying it outside before the show starts. My reason for asking is that this summer the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company has chosen to add Macbeth to their list of free Shakespeare in the Park performances along with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet. Continue reading Greed Makes Ghosts in the Scottish Hills

I’m Insulted We Haven’t Talked about This Sooner

By: Sydney Vollmer

When the stupid *$&@___ in front of you in line can’t make up their *@($-ing mind, don’t you just want to pull out your hair and tell them what an %*$%&*! they’re being? But you can’t. Why? Because there are children around. And because we live in a “civilized” society where doing such things would get you kicked out. After all, you just want your #$*(-ing coffee! Four letter words won’t save you this time. You’ll have to get more creative.

William Shakespeare Continue reading I’m Insulted We Haven’t Talked about This Sooner

Tales from the Rare Books Room

By:  Sydney Vollmer

GhostWhat’s more chilling than a good book? Perhaps the ghost that guards them. It’s been awhile since my encounter…but I decided that the world needed to know about our much rumored ghost.

Whether it is a he or she, we cannot say. For the sake of time and space, let’s call it a “he.” He resides in our rare books room here in the Archives & Rare Books Library in Blegen—one level above the library space that is open to the public. Some background on the rare books room:  it’s cold (necessary for preservation), it’s dark, (again, necessary), and it’s spooky (necessary for Ghost and Internpreservation?).  When you get up the stairs and open the massively heavy door, all the lights are off. Each individual row of book shelves has its own light. Last year, one didn’t. Continue reading Tales from the Rare Books Room

Jonesing for Some Good Illustrations

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Winter's Tale CoverIt’s always a surprise what you’ll find when you go up to the rare books room. Last week, Kevin (our head here in the Archives & Rare Books Library) asked me to go find half-a-dozen beautiful Shakespeare volumes for a presentation given to the dean’s advisory committee. I went upstairs. There were the Charles Knight editions. They’re nice, but we’ve done so much with those already. I pulled the Rackham, Dulac, and Thompson volumes, because they’re classic illustrations that everyone enjoys seeing. I still needed at least three volumes…

Winter's Traces, Act 1, Scene 2 Continue reading Jonesing for Some Good Illustrations