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Shakespeare Magazine reader Cindy M Cohen tells us why she decided to adorn her skin with a bespoke Hamlet and Sons of Anarchy-themed tattoo

“To thine own self be true.” 

These are the words Polonius says to his departing son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

And sure, it’s very good advice, but as my old English Literature teacher pointed out back in my days as a “liceo linguistico” pupil in Italy, it reveals the man’s rather selfish attitude as well.

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This duality of the quote touched me deeply the first time I heard it. So when I decided I wanted a tattoo revolving around Shakespeare – the author who made me fall in love with the English language and whose plays I’ll never tire of seeing produced and re-envisioned – it was my first choice.

(Hamlet, if not my favourite play, is definitely in my top three)

However, given the vast popularity of the quote and its use (and misuse) in our everyday lives, I knew I didn’t want a simple basic lettering tattoo but something bigger, perhaps with a more traditional style.

Photo by Luca Braidotti

Photo by Luca Braidotti

 

One of my favourite TV shows has been Sons of Anarchy – from its very start to its Shakespeare-worthy ending.

If you’re not familiar with the show, it is Hamlet re-set in a motorcycle club.

One of the tattoos we see on the women of said club is a crow. So what better idea than to base my own tattoo on that one, to link the show to our own “upstart crow”?

Cindy tattoo full

I brought the original design and my idea to Luca Braidotti at Cold Street Tattoos in Udine, Italy.

He took care of all the alterations, re-designing the crow and adding the parchment with the quote.

After about four hours, a little bit of blood, a tad of bearable pain, and a bright red and swollen inside part of my forearm, my long desired Shakespeare-themed tattoo was done.

My very own original permanent tribute to the Bard, a reminder to keep true to myself and what I believe in, and my little homage to one of my favourite TV shows.

Photo by Luca Braidotti

Photo by Luca Braidotti


Currently based in Udine, Italy, Cindy is a 23-year-old student of Arts, Music, and Entertainment.

Find her on Twitter @itsCindyC

Lois Leveen, author of the novel Juliet’s Nurse, talks about the power of the plague in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet

“As Mercutio is dying he says not once, not twice, but three times, ‘A plague on both your houses!’ And that made me think about plague, which first came to Italy in 1348 and killed about 40 percent of the population.

LoisLeveenHeadshot by John Melville Bishop

“When I started the novel I never thought that we would be struggling with something like what’s happening with Ebola now. But certainly there is so much fear about contagion and disease. We understand contagion and infection much better, but in an era where understanding about why some people got sick and others didn’t, why some people died and others got better…

©Globe/Opus Arte

©Globe/Opus Arte

 

“Trying to imagine, not what it was like live through that – because the book is set ten years after that wave – but people are really dealing with what it means to be dealing with that aftermath. Cultural or social post-traumatic stress disorder that everybody in society is dealing with.

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“And trying to think about what it would be like to have to go on in the wake of that when you don’t really have a scientific understanding of what happened, and trying to make sense of the world.”

Read the full interview with Lois Leveen in Shakespeare Magazine 05.

How jealous are we of these students at Shakespeare Summer School in Urbino, Italy? Answer: Very!

shakespeare in italy people
As Shakespeare fans in the UK and USA experience stormy weather of King Lear-like proportions, over in sunny Urbino, Italy it’s a very different story. Starting last week and ending on 26 July, Shakespeare in Italy offers the chance for Shakespeare fans to immerse themselves in the text and culture of Shakespeare’s Italian plays.

The course will go beyond lectures and readings, containing a mix of “expert input, practical work on scenes, discussions, and evaluations of contrasting film versions of the plays.”

Fronting the course are four leading minds from the world of Shakespearean theatre. Bill Alexander, who was an Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company for 14 years, leads an exploration of The Merchant of Venice. “What I’ll be trying to do,” he says, “is take the participants through a sort of speeded-up version of the rehearsal process.”

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Leading the study of Romeo and Juliet is Michael Pennington, who was an Honorary Associate Artist with the RSC and co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company.

Josie Lawrence will use her film, television, and stage acting experience to guide the discussion of Much Ado About Nothing.

Josie Lawrence italy
Finally, Martin Best, who is known as an international performer and who has worked with the RSC for 30 years, will perform his lecture-recital Shakespeare’s Music Hall and lead a seminar on the Sonnets.

Co-founders of Shakespeare in Italy Mary Chater and Julian Curry will also provide input and be involved in the courses. After three days studying the text, Chater will lead alternative pursuits that will give the students a chance to explore Urbino and the Italian culture as it relates to the plays.

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Amazingly, we’ve heard there may still openings on the course. Go here for more information and to register, or e-mail Mary Chater: mary.chater@alice.it