Visionary director Julie Taymor to release film of her acclaimed stage production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Back in January, Julie Taymor’s stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream ended its run at Brooklyn’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center. But the maverick director has now finished a film version of Dream.

Taymor earned respect from Broadway with her Tony Award-winning production of The Lion King (itself partly inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet) and from Shakespeare fans with her visionary film versions of Titus Andronicus and The Tempest. Now Taymor’s Dream looks to combine the best of her stage and film work.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times says of  the Dream stage production that it “doesn’t so much reach for the heavens as roll around in them, with joyous but calculated abandon.”

But those familiar with Taymor’s work on the ill-fated Spider-Man stage show need not fear any repeats of airborne mishaps. “Spider-Man, it seems, was just a dry run for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Brantley continues, “This time, Ms. Taymor holds on to her wings, and keeps her production and ambitions aloft.”

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Rather than adapting the play as a film or presenting it as a live screening, Taymor has created “a real hybrid of live theater and film” by filming multiple productions and then going in with handheld cameras during the day for close-up footage. While the end result is “very cinematic,” Taymor stresses that “there are no visual effects - they’re all live.”

Taymor reportedly hopes to premiere the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

Go here for more on Taymor’s stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

Doctor Who: The Shakespeare Notebooks reunites two legendary figures – the Timelord and the Bard

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The Shakespeare Notebooks
sees Doctor Who follow the likes of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars in forging a science fiction-flavoured partnership with the Bard.

Published by BBC Books, it offers a uniquely Doctor Who-skewed perspective on the ever-elusive life of William Shakespeare.

Expanding upon the plot of the episode The Shakespeare Code that aired in 2007, Doctor Who: The Shakespeare NoteBooks claims to give “a unique insight into the mind of one of history’s most respected and admired figures. And also, of course, William Shakespeare.”

Presented as newly discovered notes written by the Bard himself, the book contains new scenes, characters and early versions of famous speeches. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy appears in draft form as “To reverse or not to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

The book is on sale now in the UK for £9.99, and will be released in the US on 15 July priced at $12.22.

Go here for UK orders and here for US pre-orders.

Globe’s Read Not Dead presents staged reading of Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

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Since 1995, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre have been presenting productions with less than 12 hours of rehearsal time through their Read not Dead programme. And at 4pm on Sunday 29 June they will be performing Every Man in his Humour in their recently-opened indoor theatre the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

Written by Shakespeare’s famous contemporary, friend and rival Ben Jonson, the play was first staged in 1598 by Shakespeare’s own company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men. And according to the published folio, Shakespeare himself took on the acting role of Old Kno’well.

In Sunday’s performance, distinguished Shakespeare authority Professor Stanley Wells will step into Shakespeare’s shoes by playing Old Kno’well. Joining him on stage will be a cast of experienced actors from stage and screen, including Blackadder comedy hero Tim McInnerny, along with Alan Cox and David Oakes.

Having received their scripts in the morning, the cast will take to the stage at 4pm to perform Jonson’s legendary comedy of misperceptions and deceit. “These are not polished productions, but live experiments,” says a spokeswoman from Shakespeare’s Globe. “There is a shared spirit of adventure and excitement for actors and audiences.”

Go here for tickets and more information.

Every Man in his Humour by Ben Jonson

Sunday 29 June, 4pm

Sam Wanamaker Theatre,
Shakespeare’s Globe,
21 New Globe Walk,
Bankside,
London SE1 9DT

 

Tourists take tea with Shakespeare and wife in the sunshine at Stratford-upon-Avon

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The light hearted afternoon took place last weekend in the sunny, quintessentially English tea garden of Hathaway tearooms, previously a 17th century coach inn, in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Tudor World’s Master William Shakespeare and his wife Anne (formerly Hathaway) entertained the guests with sonnets, snippets from plays, music – and insults.

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Guests enjoyed a high tea that consisted of finger sandwiches, scones and handcrafted cakes, along with lashings of English breakfast tea!

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Go here for more on Tudor World
Email: info@falstaffexperience.co.uk
Tel: 01789 298 070

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Cool Shakespeare art you can wear, carry or stick on your wall – and there’s loads more on the way!

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A new collaboration between Misfit Inc. and Litographs will result in dozens of “wearable, totable and displayable” works using Shakespeare’s words.

For the past three years Litographs has been transforming classic texts into works of art that can be found on T-shirts, bags and posters. Now, they have announced a partnership with philanthropic creative group Misfit Inc. to create designs for all of Shakespeare’s works.

Over the next two years, they will be hosting a number of design competitions to help create the merchandise. The goal is to complete the project in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death in 2016.

In the strain of already existing designs, the products will use the text of the plays to “create images in the negative space that depict the crucial moment or theme of the story”. The print may be tiny, but it is there, and legible for those with good eyesight.

Litographs currently has designs available for Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest available for order here.

Free online course explores the world of Shakespeare’s controversial monarch Richard III

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Starting on 30 June, Leicester University is once again offering its free course on England in the time of Richard III.

Hosted by FutureLearn, the course is completely free and available to anyone. Covering the king made infamous by Shakespeare, the course will also explore mediaeval warfare, life as a peasant, and the food and culture of the era.

Richard’s life spanned a time of the social changes in labour and literacy, as well as political turmoil.

And FutureLearn say this course is not just for history buffs. “Anyone interested in mediaeval England or the recent discovery of Richard III will find something to fuel their interest here. No prior knowledge or expertise are needed.”

The course lasts six weeks, with about three hours of work per week. FutureLearners will engage with articles, videos, and each other in discussions to cover the material.

FutureLearn is owned by The Open University, and works with some of the world’s leading universities to create and offer these massive open online courses (MOOCs). Other courses they offer cover topics ranging from public speaking and study skills to the science of cancer and heart health.

Go here for more details, and to join the course.