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.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shakespeare Muse of Fire Documentary

I can’t wait to see the new documentary Muse of Fire, on BBC4 tonight at 10pm.

The filmmakers talk with most of the greatest actors today who have performed Shakespeare, including Dame Judi Dench, Tom Hiddleston, Alan Rickman, and many more.
Dame Judi Dench

There was a recent article about that documentary. Some of these actors had some rather surprising confessions.
Michael Gambon, famous for playing Professor Dumbledore, admits that he is “frightened” by Shakespeare.

Michael Gambon

Mark Rylance (perfoming Twelfth Night and Richard III on Broadway now) arguably the greatest stage actor in the world today, and one of the greatest interpreters of Shakespeare, admits that he sometimes has “that familiar feeling of giving up at a Shakespeare play”.

Mark Rylance

Ralph Fiennes admits that when he was at school he “didn’t know how to answer a complex question about King Lear.”

Ralph Fiennes

I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a hard time sometimes with Shakespeare!
I’m in good company!
I think these are wonderful confessions they are making.
It is good that they can frankly express what it is like to grapple with Shakespeare’s work.
Hopefully, these confessions will comfort others, especially students, when they get frustrated with Shakespeare. 
We are all human and all of us get lost in Shakespeare from time to time.
Also, hopefully it will inspire other actors, especially those who have never done any Shakespeare, to try it for themselves. For example, I have written before about Emma Watson, Keira Knightley, Russell Crowe, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
What I find fascinating is that in my own education, and in the education of others, so little attention is paid to Shakespeare the man, and the world in which Shakespeare was living.
I have an uncle who took a graduate level course on Shakespeare. He couldn’t wait to dig deep into the subject, to read the plays in detail, discuss their meaning and explore Shakespeare’s life and times.
He was profoundly disappointed when the Professor spent the entire time discussing the use of certain words and images. Instead of looking at the big picture, they studied the fine print.
When Shakespeare is taught as literature, as is so common today, it should come as no surprise that people, even people as brilliant and talented as Micheal Gambon, Mark Rylance and Ralph Fiennes, would find Shakespeare difficult.
If Shakespeare were taught differently, where his plays and poetry were discussed in the context of the period in which he lived -- how he performed for Queen Elizabeth and King James! -- I have no doubt that  students would find him more interesting, and engaging.
Please do yourself a favor and watch this very interesting documentary.

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