Saturday, April 9, 2016

Shakespeare’s First Folio: The Most Important Shakespearean Document?

Even though it was published seven years after his death, did you know that Shakespeare’s first folio could be the most important Shakespearean document cause without it he would be largely forgotten?

By: Ringo Bones 

With the recent find of a rare first edition copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio that was published in 1623 at a stately home on the Scottish island – i.e. the library at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute back in April 7, 2016 seems to yet again to remind the whole world how important this vital document is, not only to Shakespeare fans but also to all of humanity as well. Even though it was published seven years after his death, without a number of Shakespeare’s First Folio surviving over the centuries, William Shakespeare would have been largely forgotten if there are no surviving copies of his plays. 

Published in 1623, Shakespeare’s First Folio brought together the majority of Shakespeare’s plays and without it there would be no copies of more than half of them, including Macbeth, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and Twelfth Night. And the First Folio is also the only source of the famous “balding portrait” of William Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. The find brings the total of known surviving copies to 234 which is of vital importance given that we will be observing the 400th Anniversary of the playwright’s death on the 23rd of April. Academics who authenticated the book called it a rare and significant find. A copy owned by Oxford University sold for UK £ 3.5-million back in 2003. 

Prof. Emma Smith - one of the scholars who authenticated the find and author of Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book – says it is uncertain the exact number of copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio were produced back in 1623, although some put the figure at about 750 copies. The Scottish find had been previously owned by an 18th Century literary editor and then appears in the Bute library collection in 1896. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Calais’ “The Jungle”: All The World’s A Stage?

With the recent performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Calais’ The Jungle refugee camp proves that all the world’s a stage?

By: Ringo Bones 

“All the world’s a stage”, indeed, when Shakespeare’s Globe Theater took Hamlet into the notorious “Jungle migrant camp” in Calais. About 300 refugees watched Hamlet – “a play that speaks to the human spirit in its darkest moments” – in biting cold. Under a steely gray sky, in bitter cold weather, actors from Shakespeare’s Globe Theater performed Hamlet back in Wednesday, February 3, 2016 to about 300 refugees in Calais at the ad hoc refugee camp notoriously known as “The Jungle”. Majority of the refugees have not even heard of William Shakespeare and his plays their whole life and there are even a large number who don’t even speak the English language. 

It was a wild thing to do but also entirely appropriate, Joe Murphy, a playwright and co-founder of the Good Chance Project, said it was the ideal play. “Hamlet is the story of a young man who is depressed and frustrated, between life and death, who does not know what to do, who is struggling to make decisions,” he said. “That story is going to translate to thousands of people here who are exactly in the same position.” One of the aims of the Good Chance Project is to provide some light amid the bleakness. Approximately 6,000 refugees from 22 countries live in the camp, the vast majority hoping to get to the UK. Volunteers say most are pessimistic that it will ever happen.  

Murphy said Wednesday’s performance was “a remarkable, beautiful thing.” The audience, who were offered popcorn, chai and synopses of the play in English, Pashto, Farsi, Arabic, French and Kurdish, did not get every nuance, but Murphy said: “Who does?” Well, at least the great English bard will gain a few thousand more fans.