(Re)Search Update

Hello Friends!

I am learning exciting things and while I am proud to that I am documenting them in a properly-MLA-formatted annotated bibliography, I wanted to document them here for anyone who might be curious about textbook printing practices in America at the start of the 20th century and how it pertains to Shakespeare. Continue reading (Re)Search Update

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Beginning the (Re)search

I find the term “research” odd. I’m not doing something a second time, so why the “re” prefix? I’m searching for the first time. I know full well the OED has a perfectly adequate etymological explanation, but I question the term not only for its surface inaccuracy, but also because I find the term “search” more exciting. It lets me feel like Indiana Jones.

Not only does conceptualizing this as a search allow me more agency, the title alludes to my mildly alarming lack of direction. In the three months I have been working on this thesis–working be a very generous term for my accomplishments last month–I have developed three different abstracts, not merely in form but in content. And I highly doubt that I have settled on to the content that will remain constant through the year.

Despite that uncertainty, the past week of delving into my topic–the form of early paperback printings of Shakespeare’s individual plays in America–has been positively electrifying. I’ve chased many rabbits, most of them resulting only in metaphorical dirty boots and literal wasted time, but I’ve found a few gems along the way.

I’ve looked through dozens of articles, checked out books from three libraries, and given the poor people at the ILL offices their fair share of work for the week. I’ve even bought myself some copies of a 1911 paperback printing of Shakespeare’s plays.

I’ve learned more about paperback printing and cover design in the early 20th century than I ever thought I would know, and it is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying to think that I have just scratched the surface.

Basically, it’s going to be a wild ride and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.

Year (D)one.

This morning, I finished the last of the requirements for my first year of graduate school;  such an event should, probably, be marked with some self-reflection.

The year has been good. Challenging, and frustrating, and confusing, but very very good. Challenges were met, frustrations were overcome, and confusions were clarified. Naturally, new ones spring up immediately, but the obstacles make the journey interesting, so I won’t complain.

When you love something, someplace, or even someone, there’s a natural hesitance to get to know it better, at least for me there is. A year ago (to the day actually), I was ending my time at Messiah–a school I grew to love, but my time there did not start that way–and looking towards starting my time at MBC–a town and school I loved from my first google search. So, when the time came to move and start classes, I felt scared to get up close and personal with something, someplace, I adored from a distance.

My fears were unfounded.

Not to say everything here is perfect–there are plenty of quirks and issues–but the issues that we face are superficial, not integral. The actualities of the program and company might be imperfect, but the people working with and through them are good people attempting to do good things.

Reflecting on this year, the number of amazing opportunities I have had astounds me.

Within a month of starting classes, I performed on the Blackfriars Stage in a staged reading of The False One.

Over the course of a weekend, I heard more brilliant thoughts and met more brilliant scholars than ever before.

In my first semester, I performed as Hamlet, the Gravedigger, and Beatrice.

In the span of two weeks, I helped mount of a full production of The City Nightcap with Sweet Wag Shakespeare.

In my second semester, I directed one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite shows with some my favorite people.

In the course of the year, I have seen dozens of performances at the American Shakespeare Center, all of which make me laugh or cry, or frequently both.

Over a semester, I delved deeply into Macbeth and mounted a pretty freaking awesome production with my classmates.

In ten rehearsals, under the direction of my mentor I took on my biggest (full) role to date, and not only ended up with a decent performance, but had a blast doing so and learned a ton.

Looking back on all of this, I don’t know what I did to be so lucky to be doing what I love, where I love, with people I love. I am humbled and confused and incandescently happy.

Let’s do it again next year, eh?

 

ASC: The Winter’s Tale

To commemorate the lovely productions from this season, I’m going to be documenting my thoughts for each of the shows (hopefully). Here is the first:

In staging William Shakespeare’s genre-defying play The Winter’s Tale, companies face three main obstacles: the bear, the time, and the statue. If the production successfully addresses those problems with a coherent and committed cast, the production flourishes. Luckily for audiences at the American Shakespeare Center, guest director Jenny Bennett crafted a heartwarming and heartbreaking fairy-tale, that barely flinched at the imposing challenges. Continue reading ASC: The Winter’s Tale

Detoxing the Bard

The Wall Street Journal published an article about an upcoming project by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The project involves updating or translating Shakespeare’s plays, but I am not too concerned with the project itself.

Adaptation and translation are important for interpreting Shakespeare. Perfectly valid endeavors; some turn out better than others; they are nothing to get too excited or upset about. I hope this venture of the OSF goes well, and am interested to hear more about it. That’s all for that.

What does have me fuming is this article spouting illogical at best, and deceitful at worst, information about Shakespeare’s contemporary relevance. Continue reading Detoxing the Bard

Life Beyond the Bard

For the first time in my life, I think there’s enough Shakespeare around me.

Yesterday, I wandered into a little art shop after class, and struck up a conversation with the owner. She asked what style of art I did, and when I mentioned Edward Gorey her eyes lit up. We spent the next ten minutes gushing over his style and the way it has been emulated through theatre productions and recreations. As I finally paid for my small purchase and departed, she apologized for talking my ear off.

I quickly correcter her, “Don’t apologize! It was lovely to talk to someone as enamored with Gorey!” Continue reading Life Beyond the Bard

Summer Reading: All’s Well That Ends Well

If this play’s title had a subtitle, it would be “…But Does It Really?” After my first reading, I remember being thoroughly confused, frustrated, and disgusted at the trite simplistic ending, where perfect Helena ends up with the seemingly unrepentant scumbucket Bertram.

However, coming back to it several years later (and I’d like to think moderately wiser, at least in terms of Shakespeare), this play intrigued me. It really is such a bizarre little thing, that I don’t know how to articulate what it is or exactly how I feel about it, aside from perplexed. Continue reading Summer Reading: All’s Well That Ends Well

Summer Reading: Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare

Despite popular belief, there are a handful of Shakespeare plays that I have neither read nor seen–that is changing this summer in preparation for my upcoming adventure at Mary Baldwin College.

First on that list is Two Gentlemen of Verona. Coming into the play, I had some minor knowledge about the plot–something about love and betrayal–and had used one of Speed’s monologues as an audition piece (I know, bad form to take a monologue out of context and fail to get the whole story, oh well).

Continue reading Summer Reading: Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare