With summer just around the corner, I thought it prudent to bring together some resources on A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Easter is once again upon us - which means that the Shakespeare birthday celebrations will soon follow.
Shakespeare was born and died on 23 April - and over 400 years on, we are still celebrating his birthday with lavish events around the world. Start preparing for the day over Easter by dipping into our Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday.
If there is one Shakespeare play that sticks in my mind, it's A Midsummer Night's Dream ... I think because it is so visual.
Fairies in the wood and the head of an ass stuck on a poor fool - no other play can match this in terms of iconic visuals.
Perhaps the infamous eye gouging scene from King Lear, or Juliet on the balcony are the only close contenders?
So, this month I have turned my attention to building the study guide for A Midsummer Night's Dream, as follows:
Some 400 years ago, Shakespeare was "king pin" in Shoreditch - London's theatre central in Shakespeare's day.
Finally, it looks like the drama may return to some of Shakespeare's venues: The Curtain and The Theatre.
The sites of these two Jacobean theatres are seeking to become theatres once again and now have planning permissions in place.
The Theatre was the original Globe Theatre and was the home of Richard Burbage's The Lord Chamberlain's Men. It was dismantled and reconstructed across the River Thames after a dispute with the landowner got out of hand!
The Curtain was discovered last year and can also be traced to the Lord Chamberlain's Men. It is hoped this venue will reopen as an open-air amphitheatre.
I often hear Othello described as a racist play - certainly, race is a strong theme throughout - but can you really tag this play "racist"?
This is, afterall, the "dark moor" who has made it in a white man's society. I know ... this is a fairly banal statement today, but in its historical context Shakespeare was taking a huge risk.
At a time when non-whites were often thought of as "savage" by the general populace, Shakespeare's presentation of Othello was revolutionary.
Othello is well-spoken, highly regarded and about to marry an aristocratic woman - characteristics that would have cut against popular conceptions. If you were standing in the Globe Theatre some four centuries ago, there must have been an unease amongst the spectators watching this play.
I think for this reason alone, Othello is ground-breaking - the "racist" label is an ill-thought out modernism ... surely?
Also this month
Happy New Year from the Shakespeare pages of About.com!
It's been amazing year for Shakespeare fans, with the World Shakespeare Festival and new interest in the Bard from all ages.
Here's to 2013 ... and to get you started, here are some more Othello resources published this month:
Othello has long been overlooked on this site ... until now! Finally, leaping from the yellowing "to do list", I have put together the first round of scene by scene summaries for this classic play.
The guide currently comprises summaries of
Perhaps it says something about me, but I'm falling in love with the Fool ... the character that constantly reminds King Lear about the consequences of his actions. It seems so safe now-a-days, but in Renaissance England where the King was considered to be divine, the Fool must have been a dangerous role!
Only the court jester who could speak to the King honestly, amusing him whilst also reminding him of his humanity. That sounds like dicing with death to me!
Note: More King Lear scenes have been added...
To accompany the 'King Lear' study guide that is growing month-by-month, we have not started to make the original text available online for study.
To make it easier to study, we have broken the big scenes down into manageable chunks:
More on its way! Enjoy.