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Posts Tagged ‘Exhibits’

When he wrote  “Home Thoughts from Abroad” in April 1845, Robert Browning yearned to be back home in England. But in the spring and summer of 2012, Shakespeare lovers might yearn to be in England  because Shakespeare is blooming everywhere.

As part of the Cultural Olympiad, the London 2012 Festival features more Shakespeare than has ever been assembled anywhere.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is hosting the World Shakespeare Festival which features a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright with over 50 arts organizations and thousands of UK and international artists,  thousands of teachers and young people, seventy productions and exhibitions, plus events and activities, right across the UK and online. The RSC estimates that one million tickets will be on sale, so if you get to England, you’re sure to see tons of Shakespeare.

The Folger will be represented at the RSC’s Worlds Together, an international conference exploring the value of Shakespeare and the arts in young people’s lives. The conference, held at London’s Tate Modern, runs from Thursday September 6 to Saturday September 8.

Meanwhile at Shakespeare’s Globe, one can see 37 plays in 37 languages in six weeks. Their Globe to Globe program began in April and runs until June 9. Some of the more unusual choices are Romeo and Juliet in Brazilian Portuguese,  The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew, and The Taming of the Shrew in Urdu. According to the Globe, if you’re prepared to stand, you can see every play of Shakespeare’s, each in a different language, for only £100.

Shakespeare: Staging the World is on at the British Museum from July 19  to  November 25. According to the museum, “the exhibition provides a unique insight into the emerging role of London as a world city, seen through the innovative perspective of Shakespeare’s plays. It also explores the pivotal role of the playhouse as a window to the world outside London, and the playwright’s importance in shaping a new sense of national identity.” Find out more about the exhibition and book your tickets here.

But what about those of us who can’t get to England?

Well, summertime is always outdoor Shakespeare time, so check out those productions in your local area.

Starting in June, BBC television will air new versions of four history plays — Richard II, both parts of Henry IV and Henry V. All four were directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes and feature Jeremy Irons, Julie Walters, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey) and John Hurt. Those of us in the US may eventually get them via PBS, though no date has yet been set.

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Opening next week at the Folger is an exhibit about Extra-Illustration – the art of adding illustrations (and materials) to a book to make it a personal item for one’s reading experience.  The works of William Shakespeare were some of the most popular books to be illustrated in this way, next to the Bible and encyclopedias, rising to popularity after an historian named James Granger encouraged his readers to add pictures into his text to illustrate historical figures.

 “Grangerizing” books became popular because it gave people points of reference for their personal reading experiences. They would add in everything from doodles in the margins to full-page watercolors over text, from playbills of productions they’d seen to artists’ renderings of famous actors, and everything else they could think of. Their own personal tastes and styles became part of the book they were reading, and allowed them to express the way they saw the plays in their minds.

 Today, I’m going to borrow a page out of Mike LoMonico’s e-book to offer this modern “grangerizing” activity: Hypertext

 For example, take Sonnet 130 (because I am listening to Alan Rickman read it on the album When Love Speaks). Choosing words that stick out, create hyperlinks to pictures which illustrate these words by using a simple image search.

 My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

     As any she belied with false compare.

 With this activity, you’ll have a chance to see what individuals choose to represent words in the text – you can find a million pictures of “eyes” but one has to stick out to you in order to choose it. And how do you picture a “pleasing sound” or “delight”?  Try e-Grangerizing, or having students illustrate their own chosen passages with original drawings, magazine cutouts, or other media.

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