August 22, 2019

Last night, we saw "The Book of Will" at The American Players Theater.



Highly recommended! The first scene and the last scene are particularly wonderful, with lots of players in action and doing lines from Shakespeare, beginning with a corrupted version of Hamlet's "To be or not to be," which dramatized the need to collect and preserve a written text. The story line is simply how the First Folio came to be.

17 comments:

Laslo Spatula said...

I admire Althouse for going to plays on a regular basis.

Support the local arts.

Do any of the plays have nudity?

I am Laslo.

Wince said...

"It's about what we leave behind. And what do we leave for one another... We've been doing his work for 400 years."

Please, nobody tell the NYT that Shakespeare lived right almost until 1619.

Rory said...

For anyone who may not have heard of it, there's a funny Britcom about Shakespeare called "Upstart Crow." Written by Ben Elton, who was also involved with Blackadder.

Laslo Spatula said...

Ha! I wrote the above comment, then see Althouse quoted "Hair" in a previous post.

When they stage "Hair" nowadays do they still do the nudity, or has then been gentrified out of the work?

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

In one my movies the has-been comic actor from the Eighties is seen in various scenes from his film version of Hamlet (that he did to show he could really act).

At the end Hamlet shoots the Norwegian Ninjas while saying "Perchance to die, bitch!"

So, yeah: I've done Shakespeare.

I am Laslo.

Leslie Graves said...

We saw it about a week ago and loved it. I looked up the woman who wrote it and see that she is fairly early on in her career. She also wrote something called "Pemberley at Christmas".

Mike Sylwester said...

The 2011 movie Anonymous tells a plausible story about how and why Edward de Vere attributed all his artistic works to the actor William Shakespeare.

Fernandistein said...

Philomena Cunk on Shakespeare explains why it doesn't make any sense.

Rory said...

Sampled the Cunk video. Looks very funny.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Edward de Vere actually published many poems under his own name. If you read those you will see how impossible it is that he should have been the secret Shakespeare. Anyone who could write like Shakespeare would never have chosen to write like de Vere.

Also, of course, Shakespeare was like a Hollywood scriptwriter, sort of. He wrote fast for performance; he reworked fast; and he was called in as a script doctor, it turns out--https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Thomas_More_(play). His world was the world of the stage, not that of the aristocratic but unpleasant de Vere.

Although Ben Jonson could get snippy about Shakespeare, I agree with his sentiments in the poem he wrote upon Shakespeare's death:

Soul of the age!
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakespeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still while thy book doth live
And we have wits to read and praise to give.


Supposedly Jonson, Drayton, and Shakespeare indulged in a drinking party in Stratford-on-Avon right before Shakespeare's death in 1616.

In the First Folio, John Hemings and Henry Condell wrote of Shakespeare,

"His mind and hand went together, and what he thought he uttered with that easiness that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers."

Ben Jonson snarked back, "Would he had blotted a thousand" lines.

(In other words, if he wrote so well when he wrote fast, imagine how much better he could have written if he had taken more care!)

janetrae said...

Love APT -- I go every year (from Chicago!)
And, Leslie, it is Christmas at Pemberley, I think.

Ann Althouse said...

"Although Ben Jonson could get snippy about Shakespeare, I agree with his sentiments in the poem he wrote upon Shakespeare's death:

"Soul of the age!
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage!
My Shakespeare, rise! I will not lodge thee by
Chaucer, or Spenser, or bid Beaumont lie
A little further, to make thee a room:
Thou art a monument without a tomb,
And art alive still while thy book doth live
And we have wits to read and praise to give."

In the play we saw, which takes place shortly after the death of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson is an important character. He's a clownish figure (played by the same actor who does Malvolio in "Twelfth Night" at APT this summer). He has all manner of problems with Shakespeare but he is cajoled into writing that intro for the First Folio and we hear him perform that poem you quote.

Ken B said...

If you ever get a chance to see “The complete works of William Shakespeare (abridged)”, do so. Inventive and funny.

tim in vermont said...

Gilligan’s Island did a great Shakespeare, Star Trek did a lousy one..

tim in vermont said...

"Do any of the plays have nudity?”

Shakespeare In the Park’s. Henry V had nudity because, well, you had a pretty actress willing to do it, and as the song. says “It’s hard to say no when she’s. ready to go."

tim in vermont said...

No matter how many cogent arguments you make refuting indiviidual and general arguments for de Vere, conspiracy theorists here will still accuse you of dismissing the arguments out of hand.

They are like creationists trying to make a big deal because the fossil record can be spotty.

Mike said...

Oregon Shakespeare Festival did "The Book of Will" about two years ago. Great performance. They do 3 or 4 Shakespeare plays a year plus 7 or 8 contemporary plays every year. We drive down from the Seattle area twice a year to see all the plays. Most of the plays are really good, though sometimes a play is a dud. You'll never know until you see them.

Ann, it's worth your time to fly to Medford, OR and see the plays. Medford is about a 20-minute drive from Ashland.