SHAKESPEARE AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT..

Tequila, pizza and gold spangled pants – no, it’s not a scene from your Uncle’s stag do, but rather a euphoric chunk from Filter Theatre‘s (in association with RSC‘s) production of Twelfth Night.  A 90 minute explosion of hysteria, live music and playfulness, this contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic was not for the faint-hearted.

Twelfth-Night-Citizens-Theatre-Glasgow

Held at Sherman Cymru, the play opened up with the foolishly lovable Orsino (played by Shakespeare veteran, Jonathan Broadbent) uttering those famous words: “If music be the food of love, play on!”.  And play on they did.   From start to finish, the show was mayhem – in the best sense of the word.  Well known for their bold and boundary pushing work, Filter Theatre has taken this churned out classic and spun it on its head making it more accessible – and more bizarre – than ever before.  The cast were comically en pointe, interweaving the much loved words of Shakespeare and the fresh, imaginative mind of director Sean Holmes.  With plentiful opportunities for audience interaction (including a theatre wide conga line!), the play had the room gripped from the word go.

And what was so incredibly refreshing to see was the hugely diverse audience.  People of all ages spanned across the theatre; it truly paid homage to the work of Filter, and the excitingly expansive audience their joyous adaptations called out to.

Really it’s difficult to sum up the experience the show gave me.  Part of me left bouncing off the walls, and the other half left not knowing what the hell had just happened.  Whatever it was, it was infectious.  Was it Shakespeare for me?  Probably not, but then who’s to say that’s a bad thing?  What Filter did was take what has become a rather tired piece of work and dazzled it into a heady concoction of carnival like splendour.  If you’re looking for a night to just let go and have some real laughs in the process, then this is a must see.  Although please be warned – you may never look at yellow socks the same way again.

LOVE AND POETRY..

I was recently asked by my eldest sister to write a piece of poetry to read at her approaching wedding.  Of course, I was incredibly honoured and humbled by this touching request.  However – slight terror couldn’t help but creep up to the surface!  As much as I adore writing, how was I going to put into words the overwhelming love I felt not only for my sister, but also the beautiful relationship between her and her fiancé?

And yes – that terror remains.  So I have been increasing my poetry reading with the hope that inspiration will take control and allow the words to spill onto the page.

So why not share here?  I have been fairly lacklustre recently with my blog posts – a mixture of a dry spell of shows (that I was able to attend!) and an increasingly busy work schedule while the company tours has meant I haven’t had quite as much to write about.  The two combined is a dreadful mix; there are so many excellent shows out there right now (including the fabulous work WOW Film Festival has to offer) but work commitments have barricaded me from attending many.

Alas, that is no excuse!  So I solemnly do swear that from now on, whether I am attending productions or not, I will continue my loving commitment to this little blog.  Starting off with one of the most inspiring – and most appropriate – sonnets, it is of course Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.  And as an aside, enjoy this rather geeky picture taken of me recently at the home of this absolute legend…

Image

Stratford-Upon-Avon Selfie!

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BOOKS..

After recently seeing a delightful article on Buzzfeed about book inspired accessories, I felt compelled to do a bit of my own online hunting for literary trinkets to add to the wishlist.

I’ve had an imaginary wishlist for a while now; I’m constantly spotting little items of jewelry, notebooks, phone covers and clothes inspired by the classics close to my heart.  However, they’re those items that you can’t really justify buying for yourself… well, a 22 year old graduate can’t justify it anyway!

So I think it’s about time I created a solid list of these sweet gifts.  Perhaps I’ll make my way through them like my ever expanding book list.  Or perhaps it will simply introduce these literary stores to you, passing on a touch of the excitement that they provide me with.

The Literary Gift Company

GG

West and East egg pendants – The Great Gatsby

£35.00

This one does what it says on the tin.  A gorgeous selection of literary gifts ranging from pendants, to book ends, to quotable chocolate bars and wrapping paper!  I could spend hours on this website… there really is something for book lovers everywhere.  I’ve particularly got my eye on this “best friends” necklace.  Gold plated, one side of the pendant reads “West” and “East” whilst the other sides read “Jay” and “Daisy”.  If you’re a fan of the Gatz this can’t fail to melt your heart.  Simple, quaint and a bit tongue in cheek; I love it.

The Literary Emporium (snappy name!) 

SS

Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare

SALE:  £8.40

I love this site because of its exquisite references to the most mesmerising quotes of our literary past.  Each item is presented on a hand-crafted postcard with a quote that promises to inspire, touch and delight the buyer.  Albeit one of the most quoted and discussed Shakespeare plays, I can’t help but favour Romeo and Juliet above all other romantic plays.  The quotes will never get old, and they will always find a way to lift me to a magical place.

Bookish England

TOTE_1006_3__73722.1345217787.420.420

The Great Gatsby tote

£10.00

Similar to The Literary Gift Shop, Bookish England is a buffet for bookworms.  They have a dedicated focus to Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby.  Easily one of my favourite books of all time, I am instantly drawn to anything Great Gatsby, and this tote would be an adorable accompaniment to… well, anything!

Scribbelicious

SCRI

Shakespeare bard in a bottle 

£15.00

Scribbelicious hand-makes bespoke literary jewelry from real pages of vintage books.  Everything they make is unique as they personalise all items made to order.  If you have a favourite quote, poem or song lyric, they can turn it into the perfect gift.  Based in Wales (hooray!), they recycle old books and make them into something beautiful.  I could spend so much on this website!  I love these Shakespeare ‘Bard in a bottle’ necklaces; the Midsummer Night’s Dream pendant has a firm place on my wishlist.

Truffle Shuffle

Unisex_Blue_F_Scott_Fitzgerald_The_Great_Gatsby_Novel_Sweatshirt_from_Out_Of_Print_500_478_514_76

The Great Gatsby Unisex Jumper

£54.99

Truffle Shuffle is the place to go for all things retro.  They have a brilliant selection of fairy tale / book based tops and jumpers.  For a ridiculously long time (hint hint family!) I have longed for this jumper.  But let’s face it, if I can’t justify buying anything other than “value” food, I can’t spend £55 on a jumper for myself.  But as the days pass and I see my sad little wardrobe crying out for this jumper, I’m becoming more and more inclined to just throw caution to the wind and get it.

Etsy

il_570xN.503044125_anyr

Hermione Granger Time Turner necklace

$1.88 plus postage

Etsy is well known for their stunning literary items.  And my wishlist wouldn’t be complete without some Harry Potter items.  I would do anything for my own Time Turner necklace; and this one is authentic looking and a perfect size.  It was hard to choose only one thing from Etsy to put on the list; their website is full of incredible and magical items from all the novels you could imagine.  I. Need. This. In. My. Life.

If you have any other hints and tips on where to find the best literary items, please drop me a comment; it’s always great to hear of other secret little discoveries!

THE MADNESS OF MACBETH..

When it comes to plays, Shakespeare wrote the book.  There is arguably no author that has seen his work re-adapted, re-jigged and repeated quite like him.  From classic interpretations, to modern twists, there’s always something being cast out on stage.

In all honesty, I tend to be more partial to a classic portrayal.  In my eyes the plays are classics, and that’s how they should stay.

However, I’m always keen to see the different, imaginative ways people reconstruct these famous tales.  That’s why I was so excited to see Pontardawe Arts Centre presentation of Macbeth this week at Barry Memorial Centre.

Image

The performance has already had a lot of media attention around South Wales.  Pontardawe Arts Centre are on a mission to bring Shakespeare to a younger audience (never a bad thing!) – so far, it really does seem to be working.  One of their main aims is to show that Shakespeare is still relevant in a tech-obsessed, social media frenzied society.  Great ideas – I was interested to see whether this translated on stage.

Barry Memorial Centre hosts quite a small, intimate theatre.  For this performance in particular, the seating was set out in an even more intimate fashion, cocooning the stage.  I was a bit worried this would be a bit intimidating, but the performance really used it to its full advantage.

The show started with a bang – quite literally.  Explosions shattered the stage as a man dressed in soldiers attire flung himself in front of us, before collapsing to the ground in a heap.  The soldier in question was our very own Macbeth,

It transpired that Pontardawe’s interpretation of the play placed it right in the middle of an Afghanistan battle field.  The Scottish play didn’t even touch the British Isles.  I thought this was a very brave decision, but certainly a wise one.  Such a potent subject in today’s society, I immediately saw them reaching out to new audiences.  Keeping away from the castles and cauldrons, they kept the play real.

After the explosive start, I had myself set for similar effects throughout the rest of the play.  Unfortunately, that’s where they stopped.  But it really didn’t matter – the acting spoke for itself.

For me, Lady Macbeth stole the show – but as my favourite character in the play, that could be a bit bias!  The moments where madness begun to grip its claws into the two mains were when they really begun to shine.  Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were so believable.  There raw performance coupled with the almost claustrophobic setting made for uncomfortable viewing – a job well done for such scenes.  You felt as if you were peeking through the key hole at some sordid, twisted event.  It just made the whole thing so much more believable; it made you feel as if it could happen anywhere.

Throughout the whole show, characters would run in from all different parts of the theatre – ducking and diving between chairs, creeping up behind you, appearing as if from no where.  Sirens sounded from behind the seating, soldiers were screaming and shouting from all around.  Again, you felt as if you were really a part of what was going on – you were connected to it.  Had the show been performed in a larger theatre, you just wouldn’t have had the same close, intimidating atmosphere of the battlefield.  The stage was absolutely ideal.

The final battle scene between Macbeth and Macduff was really realistic – so much so I was actually wincing as Macduff seemed to smash Macbeth’s head to the ground!  No swords, just bloody daggers plunging into character’s defeated chests – that and good old fists!  We all edged further and further to the edge of our seats as the fatal moment happened, and Macbeth fell to his death.  A hush.  Silence.  The cast created an incredible atmosphere, and with the final words, the set disappeared into a sinister darkness.

All in all, the show was impressive.  I love what they are trying to do – and what I think they certainly will be able  to do!  They made the play so relevant, and it will appeal to an interesting new audience.  Shakespeare’s stories will always be relevant – power, madness and destruction.  It happens all around us every single day.  Warlords gain more and more power with terrifying repercussions.  We still have madmen around the world in positions of extreme control, with no real means to stop them.

Due to personal taste only, I still prefer a more classic portrayal of the play.  But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it immensely – more than anything, it was a fantastic feeling to see so many fresh faces around me loving Shakespeare’s work.  A huge well done to the company, and good luck with all the rest of their shows!

Take a look at their work here.