My history of British Manufacturing

My history of British Manufacturing
My history of British Manufacturing

Monday 20 May 2024

Shakespeare and me

I am revisiting Shakespeare.

My first encounter with William Shakespeare was at my prep school, Davenies, in Beaconsfield. In the grounds there was a dell which formed the perfect open air theatre. The first performance I remember was Julius Caesar because my dad and I made a wooden sword for me to use. The second more memorable performance was Henry V where I played the Bishop of Ely. I remember that the Buckinghamshire Advertiser commented on my youth; I think I also played a younger part. The enduring memory is of my lines:

Awake remembrance of these valiant dead, and with your arms renew their feats. 

I took these lines as the text for a sermon on Remembrance Sunday many years later. I was for some years a Church of England Lay Reader.

Shakespeare passed me by at secondary school apart from a non speaking part as a slave in Troilus and Cressida

In my twenties I saw Romeo and Juliet at the Young Vic.

Some thirty years would pass before I studied humanities at Vaughan College of the University of Leicester.  On our Ruskin College residential weekend we encountered Titus Andronicus and the gruesome but brilliant Anthony Hopkins film. This led to the purchase of a couple of academic books on Shakespeare which I now discover I hardly read. More significantly I took the whole family to Stratford to see a brilliantly dark Midsummer Nights Dream.

From there it was Hamlet at the Old Vic with Sinead Cusack as Gertrude. I was entranced. 

Our move to Cornwall brought a wonderfully light Twelfth Night at the Hall for Cornwall and at the Minack an atmospheric Tempest. In the continuation of my humanities degree at Exeter, I studied a module on Shakespeare looking at Hamlet  

We now move to the RSC in London and first King Lear with Corin Redgrave as a Lear who made me feel the play was all about fathers and daughters. The RSC at the Barbican offered performances of Titus Andronicus , Macbeth and Measure for Measure.

This year my interest had deepened with a BBC Documentary William Shakespeare Rise of a Genius and three books of which I will write in subsequent posts: Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent, Judi Dench and James Shapiro's 1599 A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and The Year of Lear..

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