Joss Whedon does Shakespeare

When I first heard that Joss Whedon, one of my favorite director/writers was doing an adaptation of Much Ado, I was super excited. I think everyone told me… definitely my uncle, and my friend Jess, and my co-youth group leader.

This will be delightful, given that it’s basically the Joss-verse doing the Shakespeare verse. And Nathan Fillion is in it! I can go all fangirl over him, ever since he was Mal on Firefly, but particularly as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible.

Can’t wait! C’mon DC movie theatres, let’s pick this one up!

Romeo & Juliet + Romeo & Juliet = Romeos & Juliets?

Given how much Shakespeare I haven’t seen, it’s comical how much Romeo and Juliet I have seen. At Shakespeare’s R&J, so many moments from other Romeo and Juliets crept into my head:

Paris is always Paul Rudd


I found myself falling into the Paul Rudd/Clare Danes party scene in Baz Luhrman’s Romeo & Juliet as Paris chases Juliet at the Capulet’s party. I’m pretty sure that, in my head, Paris will never not be Paul Rudd.

On a similar theme:

Balthasar is always Jesse Bradford


Remember Romeo’s adorable sidekick with exactly one EXTREMELY IMPORTANT JOB, which he manages to mess up? Yeah, he was the guy who was supposed to tell Romeo that Juliet was only fake-dead, but he didn’t get the message, and it ended up like this:

Via tumblr

Anyway, my high school friend LOVED JESSE BRADFORD, so his few cameos were a big deal. Because of this, Balthasar is way more important than most characters in Romeo and Juliet (at least in my world).

He kill your brother

It’s hard to survive the post-Tybalt death time without a small mental homage to West Side Story. Really “Tybalt’s dead and Romeo banished!” does that to me.

Ben Affleck as the most affected Mercutio

Depending on how much swagger Mercutio has, he occasionally reminds me of Shakespeare in Love, when Ben Affleck’s character gets assigned the role of Mercutio, under the guise that Mercutio is the most important character. Oh Mercutio. You plot device, you.

Puns kill me

The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works has forever changed my hearing of “call me but love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet”… Butt-love! Butt-love! In the height of one of the most romantic moments in the play, I struggled to stifle a giggle.

Scenic, but Cynic in the light

The romantic nights followed by the harsh realities of the day just make me want to say “This plum is TOO RIPE.”

For reference, I don’t have a Romeo

As much as I have a Balthasar and a Mercutio, I don’t have a particular actor I think of when presented with Romeo. Leonardo DiCaprio is really Titanic for me. And you can’t be Romeo and die on a transatlantic crossing in 1912.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Kindle vs. Real Book

I was perusing a used book rack today and saw, all in a row, the 6-volume Complete Works of William Shakespeare! Of course I scraped together the $3 for the set.
My new pile of books: the 6 volume Bantam Complete Works of William Shakespeare
So, I’ve been reading plays on my Kindle, because it’s easy to carry and that’s a big deal for me. But it’s frustrating, because the edition I’m reading has some typos, and doesn’t have really good intros or contextual information.

A cursory glance at this edition has SO MANY EXCITING THINGS compared to my Oxford Complete Works, Kindle Edition.

Shakespeare wrote in l33t?

This is picky, but my Kindle Edition has some line numbers in the text of the play. They’re neither consistent nor useful for reference – I’d complain less if they appeared on every line or if they were formatted to appear along the right side of the screen. This is probably a remnant of an OCR scan of the paper version, and should have been removed before publication. I understand the complexity of digitizing books, but really, Oxford, pay attention to detail.

I'm sure Shakespeare intended the line number to be in the text...

Kindle edition has stray line numbers in the text.

I'm sure Shakespeare was thinking about line least the paper edition isolates them from text.

Paper version keeps the line numbers out of the way.

The Kindle Edition makes up more words than Shakespeare

The Kindle edition has some misspelled words.

Why is your cheek so pate? (What is pate?)

The book spells the words correctly.

Oh, PALE. He meant pale.

…and you can’t look them up

One of the biggest perks of having a digital book is how quickly you can look words up. But Shakespeare’s language isn’t always in the dictionary. It seems ironic that the books have more meta-information than the digital copy

Looking up the word "momentany" results in a "No Definition Found" response.

When the words on the Kindle are correct, you can’t always look them all up.

Momentany means "lasting but a moment" according to the paper version's glossary.

Definitions are on the bottom of every page in the paper edition.

Each volume weighs a kilo

Each book weighs 927 grams.

Three Kindles make One Book

Note: This includes my Kindle case. Kindle Touch (what I have) is freakishly light.
Kindle Weight: 299 grams

In conclusion, books weigh a ton

I held part of the 6th volume to get a reading, because all 6 books maxxed out my scale.
6 books max out my scale, but a partially supported pile is 5.131 kilos.

Everything I know before reading or seeing: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

One of the plays most conspicuously out of my Shakespeare knowledge and repertoire is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m going to see it next weekend at the Indiana Repertory Theatre with my parents.

Fun fact: Family friend Henry is in the production we’re going to see.
ADDITIONAL FUN FACT: Henry and I were born in the same hospital. Crazy!

In preparation for this new life experience I’ve assembled my current knowledge of the play. Needless to say, I WILL take a read of it, but for now, this is what I know and where I know it from. About half of what I remember is from Dead Poets Society.

There are fairies

There are fairies in the play. I believe these show up when everyone’s out in the woods partying maybe halfway through the play. I know about this because I went to the ballet once, and they were doing an act of the play in ballet form, and there were fairies.

I also know this from watching Dead Poets Society, because so many people were fairies.

And I triply know this because people in my high school were fairies in it.

At least one scene is in a forest

Part of the play takes place in a forest. I know this because we had an EPIC tree in my high school theatre department from their production of Midsummer. I believe this was the year before I was a freshman. We re-used the tree in every production that needed a tree, including Robin Hood, where I also worked on making a tree. Both trees were chicken wire stapled to a wooden superstructure, then covered with muslin and glue.

There’s a play-within-a-play


Hermia, Puck, and Bottom are in it

There is a character named Hermia. I’m not sure where I got that from, but I’m pretty sure she’s really important. I think Lysander’s probably in this play, too.

Someone turns into an ass

There is definitely an ass in the play. And I’m pretty sure at another part in the play, they are a person. I’m not sure why or how, but I’m pretty sure this happens in the overnight, in-the-woods festivities, and that the faries are involved. And I’m not sure if it’s because he is an ass or because he’s a fool. I think this is part of my extant knowledge of Shakespeare – there is an ass in Midsummer. I think it’s just a fact.

The hole in the wall monologue

In the play-within-a-play, there’s the hole-in-the-wall monologue, where Bottom (I think) holds his hand up and makes a hole, and talks about what he sees on the other side. This scene was featured in Dead Poets AND was one of the Shakespeare scenes I remember from Drama class. I think there’s a moment in Fantastiks that references this. It’s a good bet that this is a standard cultural reference.

What fools these mortals be!

I feel so clever knowing that I know so little about this really well-known play.

Cymbeline – The Play I Knew Nothing About

I vaguely remember a director telling me this was their favorite of Shakespeare’s plays when I was little. Upon hearing my plan to see every Shakespeare play, my uncle warned “good luck with Cymbeline.” What was this mythical play? And who is Cymbeline, anyway?

The Shakespeare Challenge: Can I not start with Cymbeline?

I’ve had some trouble getting started with this project. There are so many plays, and it’s been hard to pick just one to start with.

I thought about starting with All’s Well that Ends Well, starting with the stages of man monologue (you know, “All the world’s a stage…“) for my birthday.

But it seemed like maybe I should start with something unknown, so I looked at the plays I’d really never heard of (Pericles is a play?).

I figured I was overthinking it, and considered starting reading something I did know, like Romeo and Juliet.

But then they discovered the bones of Richard the Third, and I thought I should do a timely play and glom on to world interest.

But every time I tried to start reading a play, something would stop me. I came back to the challenge of getting to know Cymbeline.

Do you know anything about Cymbeline?

Cymbeline Paris

First off, I thought Cymbeline was a girl’s name. False. This is about a king named Cymbeline. But I’m not the only one with this confusion. I googled it, and the top ranked sites for Cymbeline are for the Cymbeline (a designer) wedding dresses.

After I established that the full name of the play is “Cymbeline, King of Britain” (his gender is so clear with the complete title), I stumbled upon Ferretbrain’s podcast of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Cymbeline.”

The Ferretbrain podcast is hilarious. I can’t lie, while I was listening to the podcast, I was one of those awkward people walking alone, giggling awkwardly to myself. Thanks to the Ferretbrain commentary, I bit into the play calling Clotus “Stupidhead” and with the assumption that this was a crazy absurd play.