Shakespeare Solved ®

Shakespeare Solved ® is a forthcoming series of novels that covers the Bard's entire life and work.

These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

This blog explains some of my ideas and discoveries, to prepare for this series of novels.

Please join over 70,000 people on facebook, Twitter & Google Plus following Shakespeare Solved ® -- the number one Shakespeare blog in the world!

Articles Written For:

The University of Oxford's Bodleian Library & The Royal Shakespeare Company

Most Popular Posts:

1. Shakespeare's Shylock Solved 2. Shakespeare's Othello Finally Identified 3. Shakespeare In Love Sequel Solved 4. The Real Romeo and Juliet 5. Shakespeare's Malvolio Solved 6. Shakespeare's Real Petruchio

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thank you!


 Almost 2000 page views in only 2 short months!

Correction -- just hit 2000 page views!

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you that have visited this blog and have joined Shakespeare Solved on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and Tumblr.

All of you are the very first, and I am excited that so many of you are sharing in this new vision of Shakespeare!



Seeing The World Differently -- Artists & Paper

We live in an age where so many people see the world differently.

I see Shakespeare differently, and here are some artists whose unique visions are realized with paper.

I seem to have a fondness for paper, as you probably could tell from my earlier post about origami. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's because I write and I do enjoy the tactile experience of physically writing on paper, as opposed to typing onto a computer screen.

I especially like this image above, where every single word in the book is cut out!

Please follow the link to see more:

click here for article



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Lincoln Harrison

We live in an age where so many people see the world differently.

I see Shakespeare differently, and Lincoln Harrison has a very unique vision of the world.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, more like 10,000 words.

He takes these time-lapse pictures of the Australian Outback, for up to 15 hours, and they are a combination of different images that are fit together.

I have seen a lot of time-lapse imagery before, but I don't think I have ever seen them as artistic as these.

click here for article

click here for video



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Gilles Trehin

We live in a world where so many people see the world differently.

I see Shakespeare differently, and Gilles Trehin sees a whole different world!

Trehin is an artist and author, and autistic savant, who has been drawing a fictional city called Urville.

He has been painstakingly drawing this cry of Urville for 10 hours a day, for the last 20 years!

He published a book of the drawings, which shows the city from many different angles, and describes the fictional history of the city.

As you can see for yourself, the drawings are very precise and it looks like a city that might really exist.

Please watch this video for a look at a very unique and talented artist.

click here for video



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Discoveries & Discoverers -- Rae Heim

We live in an age where so many discoveries are being made.

I discovered a new way to see Shakespeare, and Rae Heim is discovering the United States, running from coast to coast -- barefoot!

Yes, as in not wearing any shoes.

You may have heard of minimalist running, with shoes that have thinner soles.

But Rae is running just with the feet she was born with.

You may not consider her discovery as significant as say, finding the location of the Curtain Theatre, but in her own way, she is breaking many pre-conceived notions about the human body. Sometimes it seems that we are only just beginning to understand the potential for the human body, and I don't think we fully comprehend how much we can endure.

I love stories like this -- about the three men who ran across Africa (111 days for a distance of 4300 miles, or 6920 kilometers). I especially love the fact that Eddie Izzard ran across the UK (43 marathons in 51 days) when he had never run more than a couple hundred yards before, and he did it when he was 47 years old!

Well, those guys did it with shoes!

I have a confession -- I have been running barefoot for the last 6 months and love it! It takes hard work and patience, but the results are worth it.

I applaud her spirit and I encourage you to learn more about her, and the charity for which she is running.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Ben and David Crystal

We live in a world with so many people who see the world so differently.

I see Shakespeare differently, and Ben and David Crystal hear Shakespeare differently!

Ben and his father David are the authors of Shakespeare’s Words, and The Shakespeare Miscellany. Ben wrote the books Shakespeare on Toast, and Sorry, I’m British!
They are determined to change the way we understand Shakespeare.
And here, I want to share with a recording and a video of Shakespeare’s words as they would have sounded 400 years ago!
The video explores the significance of what is called OP, the Original Pronunciation of Shakespeare's plays and poetry. The sound is very different than what our modern ears expect. Ben calls this the "received pronunciation" of Shakespeare, which we find in Branagh, Olivier, etc. 
I love how Ben describes this received pronunciation as "reverential"and "highfalutin!" He recites an excerpt from As You Like It in both OP and RP, and the true (and bawdy) meaning of the lines comes out only in OP.
I couldn't agree more with him. I adapted my versions of the plays was to get away from the "received," "reverential" and "highfalutin" methods of presenting the plays. My versions are as "lowfalutin" as you can get!

Ben makes another excellent point about the fact that in Shakespeare's day, the plays began at 2pm, so there was a lot of light in the theatre. He mentions how the actor would have direct eye contact with the crowd, which creates a "two-way dynamic" and a "complicity." Ben describes how the actor as Hamlet, in a monologue, can ask the audience if he should kill Claudius or not.

Music to my ears! 

But as you will see when you read my adaptations, I think the monologues and soliloquies were actually dialogues and colloquies. I am convinced that the audience talked back, and Shakespeare encouraged this "complicity."

This is really fun, so please do yourself a favor and watch the video and listen to this excerpt. If you open your ears for a moment, it will definitely open your eyes!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Kumi Yamashita

Japanese artist Kumi Yamashita's shadow art is really spectacular. She definitely sees the world differently.

click here for article

The reason I wanted to share her work here, on a blog about Shakespeare is because I see Shakespeare differently. I have a vision of Shakespeare that is unique, and her shadow art is a good metaphor for this.

I think most people are watching performances of the plays, and reading the plays, but they are only seeing the shadow on the wall. They are not looking at what created the shadow in the first place.

Too little attention is paid to Shakespeare the man, and to the period in which he lived. He did not write his plays in a vacuum. He was a man of his times, and he wrote plays to please, excite and entertain his audience.

My adaptations attempt to illustrate this -- Shakespeare as he lived and worked in the theatre.

I encourage you to explore her whole website, as there are several techniques and medium she is using.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Ben Underwood

Here's a remarkable story, of the late Ben Underwood -- who was blind but could see through Human Echolocation.

His ability to adapt to the world around him, and develop a technique of making sounds in order to navigate, is truly inspiring.

The video is quite good, and I especially like the part where he plays video games with a friend -- and beats him!

click here for video

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Aerial Images of America

I love things like this -- things that open our eyes to the world around us.

Here are some beautiful images of America as we have never seen before.

Follow the link for video clips.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Origami

I see Shakespeare differently, and I love to find others with unique visions of the world.

Please take a brief look at this documentary (which I urge you just to order right now, it's so good) ago about the artistic expression and scientific applications of Origami -- Japanese paper folding.

Many of these artists and scientists make hundreds and sometimes thousands of folds to one piece of paper without cutting it.

If you do buy the video, I especially love the origami master who reduced the art to making just one fold!

click here for video

click here for documentary website



Monday, June 18, 2012

Was Portia... Portly?

Portia by Millais

I have a confession to make.

When I did research in preparation to write my adaptation of The Merchant of Venice, I did not investigate the names of the characters. I did not look up the name Bassanio, or Gratiano, or Jessica, etc. I thought that the names were not relevant to the matter at hand.

And I didn't look up the meaning of the name Portia.

Oh how I wish I had!

Did you know that the name Portia comes from a Roman clan name, derived from the Latin "porcus" or "porcius" -- which means "pig?"

Portia the pig??

Why on Earth would Shakespeare give "fair" Portia such an un-fair name?

Well, if you have read my adaptation of Merchant, you will see that while I did not know that Portia was literally a pig, I had already discovered the un-fair Portia within the play.

As I read Portia's lines I sensed that she was far from lovely and fair and righteous. In fact, I discovered evidence that she is the exact opposite. And I had a strong sense that she was a glutton. That's why I introduced the running gag where she is almost always seen with food in her hands and a with her mouth stuffed.

Just look at the very first lines she has with Nerissa, her maid, in Act I, Scene II:

By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of
this great world.
You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in
the same abundance as your good fortunes are: and
yet, for aught I see, they are as sick that surfeit
with too much as they that starve with nothing. It
is no mean happiness therefore, to be seated in the
mean: superfluity comes sooner by white hairs, but
competency lives longer.
Good sentences and well pronounced.
They would be better, if well followed.

I added the emphasis to point out the clues I picked up on, the first of which is "little body."

If we accept that Portia is accurately describing herself as petite then there is nothing funny. But if Merchant is indeed the comedy it is classified as, then perhaps there is a joke in Portia's very first line. What if Portia is in fact... portly?

I also picked up on the fact that Nerissa is weary of listening to Portia whine about how "aweary" she is: "You would be, sweet madam, if your miseries were in the same abundance as your good fortunes are."

Translation: How can you complain, when you have so much?

She then tells Portia that people who have a lot (surfeit with too much) can be sick just as those that "starve" with nothing, i.e. Nerissa. She counsels Portia that to be happy is to be in the middle, "seated in the mean." She also warns Portia that she will live longer by not having too much, "white hairs" come sooner with "superfluity."

How I love Portia's reply to Nerissa's pointed advice: "Good sentences and well pronounced."

Translation: Yeah, yeah, whatever.

We can hardly blame Nerissa for giving a final dig at Portia: "They would be better, if well followed."

I ask you, how does Portia come across in these very first lines?

Does she comes across as a fair and wise princess?

Or does she sound more like Kim Kardashian?

I made the conclusion, long before I learned that the name Portia means pig, that Shakespeare wanted to create a princess from Belmont who was fair, lovely, wise, and delightful -- in her own mind!

What would Shakespeare's audience see in her?

I don't want to ruin the surprise for those of you who haven't read my adaptation of Merchant -- but let's just say that Portia was not fair in appearance -- she wouldn't have looked anything like the painting by Millais.

And her behavior was anything but fair, especially to Shylock in the trial scene. Under false pretenses -- dressed as a man and acting as a lawyer -- she makes a mockery of the bond between Antonio and Shylock!

I think Shakespeare's audience would have howled with laughter at this scheming, bawdy, gluttonous princess.

After all, in a comedy, what's funny about a princess who is wise, virtuous and fair?



Friday, June 15, 2012

Shakespeare Woodcut Illustrations

Here is an artist who has just published Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet with his beautiful woodcut illustrations.

click here for more

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Nick Veasey

Artist Nick Veasey's X-Ray look at the world around us is just mesmerizing. He is definitely not satisfied with seeing the world as it is.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Judith Braun

Here is an artist who takes something as simple as finger-painting and turns it into a means of self-expression that is truly inspiring.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Serge Salat

Here is an artist who definitely sees the world in a way that we do not. There are many pictures of his work online, but for a fuller immersive look, I recommend watching this quick video.



click here for video

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bear-Baiting & Shakespeare

I have been thinking recently about the significance of Bear-Baiting and Bull-Baiting in relation to Shakespeare's plays.

As you may know, bears or bulls were chained to a post in an arena and were then attacked by dogs, until either the dogs were dead, or the dogs killed their prey. Audiences would bet on who would win.

It was a bloodthisty sport for crowds that couldn't get enough of blood, especially in London. Perhaps the greatest fan was Queen Elizabeth herself. In Shakespeare's London, there were also public executions, public disembowelments, beheadings, criminals displayed around the city, decapitated heads on spikes mounted on London Bridge, and undoubtedly the killing and cutting of animals at every butcher's shop across town.

What has this to do with Shakespeare?

I think it was a challenge he faced when he wrote his plays. He had to compete with this. He had to lure people into a theatre to see his plays, when they might rather see a bear get killed, or see an execution elsewhere.

In fact, when he first started out, at The Theatre in Shoreditch, he would have had to lure audiences far from central London, outside the walls where the authorities would not police, and where people were at greater risk of being robbed or killed. I can't imagine that would have been an easy thing to do. The challenge would have been greater, and his plays would have had to be as exciting as possible to get the crowds to come.

He also had to get crowds to come and pay money! They had to pay admission to see Bears baited. But executions and other public displays of torture were free. He had to entertain crowds and excite them so much to get them to spend their hard earned money.

As I wrote my adaptations of Hamlet, Richard III and The Merchant of Venice, I couldn't help but think of this constantly. Shakespeare had to grab the crowd by the throat and never let go. He had to get them to laugh, cry, scream, and yell -- just as they must have made noise as they watched a bear or bull (or chimpanzee!) get killed by dogs.

I have never seen production of Shakespeare that grabbed me by the throat. I doubt any of us have.

It appears that in place of an actual bear or bull getting mauled to death in the theatre, Shakespeare created characters who would serve as a sacrificial bear. Hamlet and Shylock are both strong men who succumb. Richard III seems to be a particularly vicious bear who kills many dogs before he ultimately falls.

As you read my adaptations, I think you will agree that Shakespeare's plays must have been a riot to see, and may have indeed caused riots!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week!



Friday, June 8, 2012

I Could Never BASE Jump

I don't think you'll ever catch me BASE jumping like Valery Rozov in this great article -- he jumped 21 thousand feet from a Himalayan mountain!

That's not me. But I do like the quote from the article "Hd apparently believes that anything truly worth doing is never easy." I can relate to that.

As you can probably tell from the posts here on my blog, I like people who see things differently and people who discover things.

Because when I started down the path that leads me here, writing a blog to you, to share with you my adaptations of Shakespeare, I felt like I was the only one who could see Shakespeare from the point of view of Shakespeare's audience -- the audience he had when he wrote his plays. That was the discovery I made, and I was so eager to share that way of seeing with you.

So, while I will probably never BASE jump -- I took a leap of faith several years ago that was frightening at the beginning but has transformed into a vey exciting and happy ride.

At the moment, the number of people who are seeing this blog, liking the Shakespeare Solved Facebook page, following Shakespeare Solved on Twitter, and buying the books online, is growing much faster than I had hoped.

Thank you to all of you, the ever-growing family of fellow discoverers who are starting to see Shakespeare in an entirely different way.

click here for article

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Discoveries & Discoverers -- The Curtain Theatre


It's not every day that there's a discovery as amazing as this -- they found the location of The Curtain Theatre!

What's remarkable to me is that it has taken so long to find it, given it's historical significance. Well, anyway it's found and that is a cause for celebration!

I find it odd, however, that this article never mentions The Theatre, which is close to The Curtain, and whose location was discovered recently.

click here for article

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Jan Weeden's 3D Brain Scans

I love things like this. It seems like almost every day there is another significant and unprecedented discovery.

Here are images of the brain that are unlike anything we have ever seen.

Do yourself a favor and look at the scans in the article -- they are breathtaking.

click here for article

And here's a video -- just astonishing!

click here for video

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seeing The World Differently -- Ari Dyckovsky

When it rains it pours.

Here is further evidence of seeing the world differently, from an 18 year old student who published a paper on quantum entanglement.

My favorite line in the article is how his grandfather helped inspire him: "... my grandfather kept telling me to look at it in a different way."

click here for article

Monday, June 4, 2012

A 350 Year Old Mystery Solved!

As you can see, I like stories of people who see the world differently.

10 year old Clara Lazen sees a new molecule that has never been seen before.

Ron Piccirillo sees animal heads in DaVinci's Mona Lisa that had been hidden for 500 years.

And now a 16 year old student, Shouryya Ray, solves two (!) of the most difficult puzzles in physics.

click here for story