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#5 NEWSLETTER - “Shakespeare & Co.”
Creativity Is Just Connecting Things. LET’S CONNECT!
WRITING WITH YOUR LEFT HAND
HOW MUCH SHAKESPEARE IS IN YOUR LIFE?
The influence of Shakespeare is timeless and his relevance in the 21st century can't be denied. We obviously know that we use phrases from the bard every day, but do we actually realize just how much? I thought it might be a bit of fun to look into it . Not only did Shakespeare teach us about humanity, but he also taught us about ourselves. Did you know he invented around 1700 words which we still use today? He often changed nouns into verbs, verbs into adjectives, connected words together and came up with wholly original words.
Shakespeare remains vital because his plays present people and situations that we still recognize. His characters have an emotional reality that transcends time, and his plays depict familiar experiences - ranging from family squabbles to falling in love to war.
WHERE WAS “THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER” BORN?
Common idioms and expressions used in conversation can be traced back to Shakespeare's works. Let’s take a look at some phrases that are widely used today:
Green-Eyed Monster (Othello)
In A Pickle (The Tempest)
Love Is Blind (The Merchant of Venice)
Salad Days (Antony and Cleopatra)
Wear My Heart On My Sleeve (Othello)
There's The Rub (Hamlet)
Cruel To Be Kind (Hamlet)
To Be Or Not To Be (Hamlet)
To Thine Own Self Be True (Hamlet)
All The World's A Stage (As You Like It)
Goodnight, Goodnight! Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow (Romeo and Juliet)
All That Glitters Is Not Gold (The Merchant of Venice)
Something Is Rotten In The State Of Denmark (Hamlet)
Et Tu, Brute? (Julius Caesar)
To Gild Refined Gold, To Paint The Lily (King John)
All's Well That Ends Well (All's Well That Ends Well)
Double, Double Toil And Trouble (Macbeth)
Overall, Shakespeare's influence can be seen in a variety of areas and his work continues to be a significant part of our culture.
Did you know there is a bookstore that houses aspiring writers and artists in exchange for helping out around the bookstore? More than 30,000 writers have slept in the beds amidst the bookshelves! These guests are called "Tumbleweeds", after the plants that "blow in and out on the winds of chance"
This famous English-language bookstore which has featured in many movies since the 60s, was opened in 1951, by an American ex-serviceman George Whitman on Paris's Left Bank under the name of "Le Mistral". The store was named after Sylvia Beach's bookstore of the same name which closed in 1941. Whitman adopted the "Shakespeare and Company" name for his store in 1964.
“I created this bookstore like a man would write a novel, building each room like a chapter, and I like people to open the door the way they open a book, a book that leads into a magic world in their imaginations.”
— George Whitman
The bookstore is open again after a long closure due to the pandemic. And you can even have a coffee and croissant at the cafe it has opened next door. You'll see the shop's motto, "Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise", is written above the entrance to the reading library.
In 2010, the bookstore launched The Paris Literary Prize for unpublished novellas, with a top prize of 10,000 euros provided by the de Groot Foundation.
This store is not to be confused with the bookstore in the US of the same name:
Shakespeare & Co. | 939 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10065 | (212) 772-3400.
The plays of Shakespeare were a favorite subject matter for Victorian painters and the tragic-romantic figure of Ophelia from Hamlet was especially popular, featuring regularly in Royal Academy exhibitions in London. Perhaps the most famous of these paintings is the one below by Sir John Everett Millais. It portrays Ophelia (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene vii) after she falls into a stream and drowns.
Countless doomed Shakespearean heroines suffer tragic fates under the thumb of patriarchal tyranny, but none more so than the character of Ophelia. In fact, so much so that, “Saving Ophelia” has become a metaphor for helping young women withstand today’s social pressures.
In Hamlet, Ophelia is a young noblewoman of Denmark and her role revolves around three men; She is the daughter of Polonius, the sister of Laertes and the potential wife of Prince Hamlet. She has no mother to advise her and is driven to madness between the fake insanity of Hamlet and the selfish manipulations of her father. Her character is underwritten and her behavior is defined solely in opposition to the men around her. I believe this treatment of female characters needs to be challenged.
When Hamlet tells Ophelia to “get thee to a nunnery,”
is he calling her a whore?
She is driven mad when her father, Polonius, is murdered by her lover, Hamlet. She dies young from grief and madness. Her death is not on stage but referred to in a conversation between Queen Gertrude and Ophelia’s brother, Laertes. Gertrude describes how Ophelia fell into a river while picking flowers and slowly drowned, singing all the while.
Ophelia has become an image of powerlessness. Let’s reclaim this lamentable figure and reimagine a positive role model for women today rather than a hysterical, child-like woman.
Let’s give Ophelia back her power! CLICK HERE
This recreation of the Globe Theatre is one that was saved by American actor Sam Wannamaker who moved to the United Kingdom after becoming fearful of being blacklisted in Hollywood due to his views.
I try and visit every summer and buy the 5-pound standing tickets. I figure it’s a good way to brush up on my Shakespeare. I enjoy most of the productions but once in a while, I feel their modern takes can be less successful. The location is fabulous, right on the Southbank and you can sit and have a drink afterward in the pub next door.
Outside the theatre are plaques you can purchase (in your name) to support The Globe. John Cleese bought two - one for himself and one for Michael Palin, under one stipulation: to spell Palin's last name wrong! They even shot an episode of Dr. Who here. And you can find great gifts to take home at The Globe store. Here’s a cheerful tea towel I couldn’t resist for my actor friend.
8 SHAKESPEAREAN INSULTS TO WIN ARGUMENTS WITH YOUR FRIENDS
“I am sick when I do look on thee” ...
“Away thou rag, thou quantity, thou remnant.” ...
“You have a February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudiness.” ...
“Out of my sight! Though does infect my eyes.”...
“What, you egg?” ...
“Thou art a very ragged wart.” ...
“How now, thou crusty batch of nature!” …
THE BIRTHPLACE OF SHAKESPEARE -
Just before the pandemic in 2019, I got a chance to visit the birthplace of the bard himself, Stratford-upon-Avon and saw a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). It’s a short trip on the train from London (about an hour and a half) to the town and is really worth a day visit, though much better if you can afford to stay overnight. There’s always a good show or two playing at the RSC which stages both modern and traditional plays. But, be sure to book your tickets ahead of time. The company itself produces over 20 excellent productions a year and conducts tours so you can learn more about them. The actual main theatre itself is called The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and seats just over 1000 people. But, more contemporary plays can be seen at The Swan Theatre which is housed in the same building but more intimate. The Swan closed during the pandemic but will reopen for the first time in April 2023 with Hamnet.
Here is a good article from The Guardian newspaper on how four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare's work and characters are still relevant today.
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Bianca Bagatourian is an award-winning playwright whose play, THE TIME OF OUR LIES co-produced with Viggo Mortensen was nominated for The Amnesty International Human Rights Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. THE TIME OF OUR LIES premiered at The Park Theatre, London, 2019, and told the life story of radical historian, Howard Zinn, through words, movement and music.
What’s Your Story?
Everyone has a story to tell. What’s your story? The story you would like to tell? Though everyone has different writing styles and writing processes, you cannot create in a vacuum! If you’d like to discuss your play or play idea, get in touch. Whether you’re on page one or on the third draft, I look forward to helping you crack your script. After reading your piece, we’ll schedule a two-hour discussion to go over notes. Contact me at: BiancaBagatourian@Substack.com I will also recommend books on playwriting, playwriting classes and workshops online.
Here’s what award-winning poet Aaron Poochigian had to say:
“By identifying the unfulfilled potentialities of my script, Bianca turned my pipe dream into a real, performable play. In retrospect, her suggestions were what should have been obvious to me all along. Without her advice, I might have spent years stumbling around, discovering what my play wanted to be." - Aaron Poochigian