Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The We Love Shakespeare Tag

It's We Love Shakespeare Week over on my other blog, Hamlette's Soliloquy!  I'm doing my bit to celebrate by filling out the official tag, and I'll be reviewing a version of Hamlet later this week, reviewing a Shakespeare coloring book... and I've posted two games over on my other blog too.  You can read everyone else's tags and other posts right here.  Come join the fun!  There's a giveaway too, which is open world-wide.

1. When and how did you first encounter Shakespeare's plays?

When I was in my mid-teens, our homeschool group went to a local community college to watch a travelling theatre troupe present something about Shakespeare.  This would have been around 1996 or so.  They did a few scenes and speeches and talked about common phrases we use today that come from Shakespeare.

And I discovered that afternoon that there were LOTS of titles of Star Trek: The Original Series episodes that come from Shakespeare.  "The Conscience of the King" and "Dagger of the Mind" and "By Any Other Name" and The Undiscovered Country (okay, that's a Trek film instead).  I was fascinated.  I decided to read ALL of Shakespeare's plays to find ALL of the titles and other allusions from Shakespeare that were used in the series.

I got a giant, red faux-leather-bound volume of the complete works of Shakespeare out of the library and simply began with the first play in it, which was Two Gentlemen of Verona.  Not a stellar place to start, but I stuck it out and determinedly read my way through a dozen or so of his plays, renewing the book as often as I possibly could.

So, yup, I owe my fascination with Shakespeare to Star Trek.  

2. What are your favorite Shakespeare plays? (Go ahead and list as many as you like!)

1.  Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
2.  Much Ado About Nothing
3.  The Taming of the Shrew
4.  The Merchant of Venice

3. Who are some of your favorite characters in his plays? (Again, list however many suits you.)

Hamlet, Horatio, Laertes, Ophelia, Beatrice, Benedick, Hero, Don Pedro, Portia...

4. Have you seen any of his plays performed, whether live or on film?


I've seen 15 different filmed versions of Hamlet (complete list here) because I'm a wee bit obsessed with it.  And I've seen movie versions of Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, Richard III, Love's Labours Lost, The Taming of the ShrewTitus Andronicus, and two versions of Romeo and Juliet.  I've also seen retellings of The Taming of the Shrew (10 Things I Hate About You and Kiss Me, Kate), Romeo and Juliet (West Side Story), and Othello (the opera Otello).  

Because I studied Shakespeare, literature, and drama in college, I got to go to a lot of live performances of his plays for classes, including The Tempest, Twelfth Night, and Antony and Cleopatra.  Plus, my college's theatre department put on A Midsummer Night's Dream while I was there, which was so much fun.  And since college, I've seen Hamlet performed live twice (in 2009 and in 2018), and Much Ado About Nothing.

5. Have you read any of his plays?

Yes.  I've read 17 of them.  And I've read my favorites multiple times, especially Hamlet, heh.  Definitely more for me to read and enjoy in the years ahead!

6. Share a dream cast for one of your favorite Shakespeare plays.

We need Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in a new version of Taming of the Shrew, and we need them NOW.

7. What draws you to Shakespeare's plays? (Language, themes, characters, the fact that they're famous, whatever!)

The characters and the dialog, as always.  I enjoy reading his plays for their clever wordplay and wonderful dialog, but the ones I read over and over, I read because I love the characters.

8. Do you have any cool Shakespeare-themed merchandise, like t-shirts or mugs or bookmarks, etc? Share pictures if you can!

Um.  Yeah.  Um, so... the truth is... I have a ton of Shakespeare stuff.  Most of it is Hamlet-related.  I have four different Hamlet-related shirts, a Hamlet Christmas ornament, a whole bookshelf of books about Shakespeare in general and Hamlet in particular, a couple of Shakespeare coloring books... and I have this gorgeous and hilarious mug that my sweet friend Olivia gave me for Christmas a couple months ago.

9. How do you go about understanding his language? (Do you prefer copies with translation notes, look things up online, or just read so much stuff written in Elizabethan English that you totally know what everyone's saying?)

I definitely like copies with little footnotes so I can check on the meanings of words and phrases if I'm unsure of what they mean.  I'd rather not have to go look things up on the internet or in a dictionary, so if there aren't footnotes, I'll just plunge on without checking on stuff and understand the general gist of it anyway.  I've never really found Shakespeare hard to understand overall, even as a teen, but I definitely understand him better when I see his stuff performed than when I just read the text.  I'm a very visual learner.

10. What are some of your favorite lines from Shakespeare? (Maybe limit yourself to like ten, okay?)

I have so many favorites -- what was I thinking when I wrote this question???  Okay, I'm going to take my cue from DKoren's answers to this tag and list off lines I say in real life (or think in my head a lot).  I'm doing these from memory, not looking them up, so forgive me if I miss a word here and there, or if I punctuate them oddly.

"Oh, horrible, horrible -- most horrible!"  (Hamlet)

"The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.  It is a nipping and an eager air."  (Hamlet)

"Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner."  (Much Ado About Nothing)

"How all occasions do inform against me!"  (Hamlet)

"Sigh no more, my lady.  Sigh no more."  (Much Ado About Nothing)

"Now could I drink hot blood."  (Hamlet)

"Once more unto the breach, my friends!  Once more."  (Henry V)

"The game's afoot."  (Henry V) (Hahaha, you thought that was from Sherlock Holmes!  Well, it is, but he's quoting Shakespeare there.  Holmes quotes Shakespeare quite a lot, really.  I catch him tossing bits of Hamlet around all the time.)

"A horse!  A horse!  My kingdom for a horse!"  (Richard III)

"Adieu!  Adieu!  Remember me!"  (Hamlet)


  1. "Against my will, I am sent to bid you come in to dinner."<-- "There's a double meaning to that." ;-)

    Wow! You've read a lot! My one to your seventeen is pretty pitiful. Oh, I so want to read/see Taming of the Shrew! From what I know about it, it seems like I'll love it.

    Thanks for hosting this, Hamlette!

    1. MC, precisely. I love that part of Much Ado :-)

      Don't forget I've been reading Shakespeare for 20 years now. You've got time to catch up :-)

  2. Aw, that would be a great Taming of the Shrew!!! I should really see Much Ado again, I really can't even recall the plot anymore.

    I can't hear "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" now without hearing Monty Python.

    That is a fabulous mug. I do own 4 books, but wasn't sure that counted as merchandise! I have Who's Who in Shakespeare, Azimov's Guide to Shakespeare, The complete plays (the big faux red leather edition, I think it's the same one you mention!), and a book of his sonnets.

    1. DKoren, we definitely should watch Much Ado together, then. Since it's on Prime and all.

      Well, I think books ABOUT Shakespeare count as merch. I have that Azimov book too! Is your big red version like a coffee-table-book size, and has gold writing, and onionskin pages?

  3. Your casting choices for Taming of The Shrew is amazing! I think it would be great to see them together!

    Due to this blog party, I have now really developed an interest to delve more into Shakespeare (thanks so much for that!!). Do you have book recommendations for Shakespearean beginners?

    1. Ivy Miranda, I love that they're married in real life. I haven't seen the one movie they've made together, as I think it looks too sad for my taste (The Light Between Oceans), but I like both of them in other stuff, and I think they'd have a great time in that.

      Hmm, recommandations. I absolutely loved Shakespeare's Restless World by Neil MacGregor (review here) because it helped me understand things that happen in some of his plays better. It's very accessible and interesting.

      Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare is a good way to understand the story in some of the most famous plays. Also, the No Fear Shakespeare series are really great, both the plays and the graphic novels based on them.


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