Tag Archives: Shakespeare’s birthday

My Top 5 Shakespeare Plays

Well, I couldn’t let this occasion pass without mentioning my favourite plays by the “world’s most celebrate playwright”, could I?

I actually really like Shakespeare. This was quite a difficult choice as I have seen quite a lot of his plays, but these are the ones that have stuck in my mind over the years.

So, and I’m probably going to get all cliché and popularist, but these are my favourites:

5.  The Winter’s Tale – OK, so this made it in only because it has possibly the best stage direction ever – “exit, pursued by bear”. But I did see a thoroughly brilliant production of this play a couple of years ago and the performance of Autolycus was so utterly and brilliantly funny it has stuck in my mind.

4.  Hamlet – this had to be in really. I’ve seen the Mel Gibson and Kenneth Brannagh movie as well as seeing both David Tennant and Jude Law play the roles. I always fancied playing Ophelia – maybe because of the flowers – but to be honest I don’t think I would make a very good Ophelia, I don’t think I could carry off the wistful look and I’m far too tall for a start.

3.  Macbeth – this was the second Shakespeare play I was ever introduced to. I was in my final year of primary school and our headmaster introduced us to the bard and we had to sit and listen to a record of the play (yes, a record!!!) Did I understand it? Not really. I then saw it whilst I was a drama school – admittedly it was an understudy rehearsal so the cast were playing several characters, which was equally confusing, but then they went and killed the good-looking one!!! Why??? I have seen Macbeth once since then and it was only after watching the short play afterwards – called “Elsie & Norm’s Macbeth” – did I actually get what the play was about.  So thanks Elsie and Norm, and for anyone studying Macbeth who, like me is a bit stuck, then try and find Elsie & Norm to explain it to you.

2.  Much Ado About Nothing – OK I unashamedly admit this is in purely because of the Kenneth Brannagh film, the Italian countryside and Keanau Reeves sporting a brooding look and leather trousers!!

1.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream – yes, I know it’s obviously all about the fairies, but this was the very first Shakespeare I read and saw when I was about 8. I love everything about this play.  Being tall I always wanted to play Helena, but I’ve got a hankering to play Titania as well one day. This was also the first Shakespeare play I took SC to – he was 6 and he sat through it at The Globe. It was a cracking production and made even more memorable due to several mishaps on stage which had the cast in stitches.

 

Where do you stand on Shakespeare? Love him or can’t abide it? What’s your favourite play?

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Friday Poem – All the World’s a Stage

I thought I might resurrect my Friday poems and the obvious choice for today is William Shakespeare, in honour of his 452nd birthday tomorrow, but more importantly the 400th anniversary of his death.

This most famous of phrase’s and the monologue from which it is taken is spoken by Jacques in the masksplay As You Like It.

All the World’s a Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

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