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Living with Shakespeare: Essays by Writers, Actors, and Directors

par Susannah Carson (Directeur de publication)

Autres auteurs: F. Murray Abraham (Contributeur), Isabel Allende (Contributeur), Cicely Berry (Contributeur), Eve Best (Contributeur), Harold Bloom (Avant-propos)34 plus, Eleanor Brown (Contributeur), Stanley Cavell (Contributeur), Karin Coonrod (Contributeur), Brian Cox (Contributeur), Peter David (Contributeur), Margaret Drabble (Contributeur), Dominic Dromgoole (Contributeur), David Farr (Contributeur), Fiasco Theater (Contributeur), Ralph Fiennes (Contributeur), Angus Fletcher (Contributeur), James Franco (Contributeur), Alan Gordon (Contributeur), Germaine Greer (Contributeur), Barry John (Contributeur), James Earl Jones (Contributeur), Ben Kingsley (Contributeur), Maxine Hong Kingston (Contributeur), Rory Kinnear (Contributeur), JD McClatchy (Contributeur), Conor McCreery (Contributeur), Tobias Menzies (Contributeur), Joyce Carol Oates (Contributeur), Camille Paglia (Contributeur), James Prosek (Contributeur), Richard Scholar (Contributeur), Antony Sher (Contributeur), Jane Smiley (Contributeur), Matt Sturges (Contributeur), Julie Taymor (Contributeur), Eamonn Walker (Contributeur), Harriet Walter (Contributeur), Bill Willingham (Contributeur), Jess Winfield (Contributeur)

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Why Shakespeare? What explains our continued fascination with his poems and plays? In Living with Shakespeare, Susannah Carson invites forty actors, directors, scholars, and writers to reflect on why his work is still such a vital part of our culture. We hear from James Earl Jones on reclaiming Othello as a tragic hero, Julie Taymor on turning Prospero into Prospera, Camille Paglia on teaching the plays to actors, F. Murray Abraham on gaining an audience's sympathy for Shylock, Sir Ben Kingsley on communicating Shakespeare's ideas through performance, Germaine Greer on the playwright's home life, Dame Harriet Walter on the complexity of his heroines, Brian Cox on social conflict in his time and ours, Jane Smiley on transposing King Lear to Iowa in A Thousand Acres, and Sir Antony Sher on feeling at home in Shakespeare's language. Together these essays provide a fresh appreciation of Shakespeare's works as a living legacy to be read, seen, performed, adapted, revised, wrestled with, and embraced by creative professionals and lay enthusiasts alike. F. Murray Abraham ● Isabel Allende ● Cicely Berry ● Eve Best ● Eleanor Brown ● Stanley Cavell ● Karin Coonrod ● Brian Cox ● Peter David ● Margaret Drabble ● Dominic Dromgoole ● David Farr ● Fiasco Theater ● Ralph Fiennes ● Angus Fletcher ● James Franco ● Alan Gordon ● Germaine Greer ● Barry John ● James Earl Jones ● Sir Ben Kingsley ● Maxine Hong Kingston ● Rory Kinnear ● J. D. McClatchy ● Conor McCreery ● Tobias Menzies ● Joyce Carol Oates ● Camille Paglia ● James Prosek ● Richard Scholar ● Sir Antony Sher ● Jane Smiley ● Matt Sturges ● Julie Taymor ● Eamonn Walker ● Dame Harriet Walter ● Bill Willingham ● Jess Winfield… (plus d'informations)
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I would recommend this marvelous book to anyone who has an interest in Shakespeare. Not only are the many essays insightful, some are deeply personal. The contributors run the gamut from actors who have been knighted for their brilliant contributions to comic book writers to novelists to critics. Each in its own way sheds new light on one or more plays or characters.

Everyone will have their own favorite essays, but the following are what stick in my mind:

I felt privileged to read Ben Kingsley's reflections about how various theatrical spaces shaped one company's performances of "The Merchant of Venice," and James Earl Jones' thoughts on Othello as "The Sun King." Ralph Fiennes gives insight into his choices in making the film version of "Coriolanus" (a favorite of mine) as does Julie Taymor in her marvelous "Tempest" with Helen Mirren as Prospera.

I didn't care much for "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" when I saw it performed, and I have no real interest in the questions of the differences in the different extant versions of Shakespeare's plays, but somehow I found myself completely engaged with Jess Winfield's discussion of Shakespare's texts, using "Complete Works (abridged)" -- which he was part of creating -- as a lense.

Whatever your interest, you will find something here to enjoy -- and probably more than you expected to. I will be keeping this volume close and revisiting the individual chapters as I study the different plays. ( )
  jsabrina | Jul 13, 2021 |
My long time fascination with Shakespeare started a long time ago when I was attending the British Council. I won’t dwell on it again.

In this “Living with Shakespeare” I didn’t get much on Hamlet, but I kept thinking about Hamlet's five soliloquies; the humour and poignancy of Kent's words in King Lear; the horror of what happens to Gloucester and the heart-rending ending of the same play. The mixed emotions of the finale to Macbeth. Mark Antony's speeches in Julius Caesar. Iago's words in Othello. Shakespeare gave the world a literary water-fountain around which to gather when engaging with the great issues of each passing generation. His heroes and villains, his comedies and his tragedies make up an unerringly eloquent compendium of human frailties/motives as the world changes - and yet nothing changes. And I've hardly scratched the surface of how Shakespeare's words have the power to move and shock and create laughter like no one else has been able to before or since. The naysayers should take the time to experience a play performed live or, at the very least, watch a film version. It will hopefully change their minds. And he is not just for 'middle class snobs'! Shakespeare's for everybody. After having finished this book, I'm reminded of Harold Bloom's comments about Marlowe in 'The Western Canon', when he says that Marlowe the man 'can be meditated upon endlessly, as the plays not'; sometimes the writer's life - especially with Marlowe - can be even more interesting than their work. If the story of Shakespeare's life was that good he would have written a play about himself... maybe that is what he did with "The Tempest". I remember watching a video of the play "Cheapside" at The British Council in the 80s, wherein David Allen's brilliant play about Richard Greene has Shakespeare darting on occasionally as a sharp-eyed (upstart?) magpie always on the lookout for gleaming lines and plots to lift. In the closing scene he lets himself into the dead Greene's room and rummages surreptitiously through the half-finished manuscripts. "'Story for a Snowy Night'" he muses to himself. "Mmm.... A Winter's Tale?'" It's such a cheeky cameo - lovely stuff.

Shakespeare remains relevant because his understanding of universals was profound, and his language remains piercingly fresh. He was a genius living at a time when the English language was still wonderfully malleable. It was an age in which the known world was expanding with the discovery of the Americas, when England was a centre of growing prosperity and technological advance - and the headiness of living in a country in such flux is palpable in the texts too. That Shakespeare was a brilliant literary innovator just isn't in doubt; you have only to read Spenser, Marlowe and Jonson to see it. They are all stupendous in different ways (I recently reread Jonson's “The Alchemist” and was astonished all over again), but the acuity of Shakespeare's phrases, the penetrating psychological insights in Macbeth, Lear and Hamlet, the sheer beauty and strangeness of the language and the thinking set him apart. To say Shakespeare remains an icon for English-speaking people all over the world contradicts the well-known idea that Shakespeare is a 'universal soul'. All of my friends whose first language is not English regard Shakespeare as a great. The poet transcends not only time but culture and language. I've always wondered how it can be possible to translate Shakespeare into modern foreign languages, especially languages which are linguistically remote from English like the Portuguese Language, yet people do it, amazingly. As Ian Dury once wrote - 'There ain't half been some clever bastards'.

Politicians have done much to undermine a common set of values among us human beings. Thatcher's "there is no such thing as society" comes to mind. In the Bard we find touchstones that are timeless and inform our basic values - simply as people. In many situations the words Macbeth, Brutus, Cordelia, Shylock or Malvolio are all that is needed to set the tone or the scene. Good point about politicians. People get suckered by them, child-like, time after time. I'm sure Shakespeare had something to say about gullibility. Must check it out when Benfica’s team is not on...

NB: We should not overlook Shakespeare's influence on the development of German drama via the translations of Gottfried Herder. But Herder to Goethe in a letter: "Shakespeare hat Euch ganz verdorben"! The same happened to some Portuguese people... ( )
  antao | Jun 3, 2018 |
Shakespeare and Me is a collection of essays by a variety of (mainly) writers, actors and directors, on what Shakespeare means to them and how he is still such a big part of modern culture. Throughout the essays, most of Shakespeare’s plays are mentioned, with many of the writers concentrating on just one.

As with all books featuring contributions by different people, some appealed more than others. My personal favourites were the three essays on Othello, and especially James Earl Jones’s ‘The Sun God’ (I was amused by the fact that he mentions actor Hugh Quarshie, and writes that he thinks Quarshie should play Othello – this essay was written prior to Quarshie’s performance as Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre last year, which I was lucky enough to see). Eammon Walker – who himself played a fantastic Othello at the Globe Theatre – writes ‘Othello in Love’; and Barry John writes ‘Othello: A Play in Black and White’ which studied how the staging of a production of Othello started to draw parallels to the play itself.

I also enjoyed Re-revising Shakespeare by Jess Winfield of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Shakespeare and Four-Colour Magic by Conor McCreery (where he discusses turning Shakespeare and his characters into comic book stars), and Ralph Fiennes’s ‘The Question of Coriolanus’.

If you have any interest in Shakespeare, I recommend this book. ( )
  Ruth72 | Oct 6, 2016 |
This wide collection of essays about Shakespeare is not a stodgy academic ruminiation on the intricate metaphors of Shakespeare, but rather a series of reflections on working with the Bard: grappling with the archaic language, sifting through the various folios and quartos to find the underlying message, transposing the language of 1500s England to more far-flung places, and finding oneself and ourselves "living with" William Shakespeare.

I greatly enjoyed this book, as I could flip through on any day and read just one essay, or seven. The quality of writing and engagement of the reader varies between the different essays, but they are generally well-written. I do wish there had been a key in the table of contents that would identify which of Shakespeare's plays were discussed in which essay, but the serendipitous nature of stumbling across a reflection on the history of performance of Julius Caesar was alright.

If you have a Shakespeare geek or a theater geek friend (or are one yourself!) get this.
  kjgormley | May 20, 2013 |
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Nom de l'auteurRôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Carson, SusannahDirecteur de publicationauteur principaltoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Abraham, F. MurrayContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Allende, IsabelContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Berry, CicelyContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Best, EveContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Bloom, HaroldAvant-proposauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Brown, EleanorContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Cavell, StanleyContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Coonrod, KarinContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Cox, BrianContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
David, PeterContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Drabble, MargaretContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Dromgoole, DominicContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Farr, DavidContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Fiasco TheaterContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Fiennes, RalphContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Fletcher, AngusContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Franco, JamesContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Gordon, AlanContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Greer, GermaineContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
John, BarryContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Jones, James EarlContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Kingsley, BenContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Kingston, Maxine HongContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Kinnear, RoryContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
McClatchy, JDContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
McCreery, ConorContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Menzies, TobiasContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Oates, Joyce CarolContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Paglia, CamilleContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Prosek, JamesContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Scholar, RichardContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Sher, AntonyContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Smiley, JaneContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Sturges, MattContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Taymor, JulieContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Walker, EamonnContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Walter, HarrietContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Willingham, BillContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
Winfield, JessContributeurauteur secondairetoutes les éditionsconfirmé
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Why Shakespeare? What explains our continued fascination with his poems and plays? In Living with Shakespeare, Susannah Carson invites forty actors, directors, scholars, and writers to reflect on why his work is still such a vital part of our culture. We hear from James Earl Jones on reclaiming Othello as a tragic hero, Julie Taymor on turning Prospero into Prospera, Camille Paglia on teaching the plays to actors, F. Murray Abraham on gaining an audience's sympathy for Shylock, Sir Ben Kingsley on communicating Shakespeare's ideas through performance, Germaine Greer on the playwright's home life, Dame Harriet Walter on the complexity of his heroines, Brian Cox on social conflict in his time and ours, Jane Smiley on transposing King Lear to Iowa in A Thousand Acres, and Sir Antony Sher on feeling at home in Shakespeare's language. Together these essays provide a fresh appreciation of Shakespeare's works as a living legacy to be read, seen, performed, adapted, revised, wrestled with, and embraced by creative professionals and lay enthusiasts alike. F. Murray Abraham ● Isabel Allende ● Cicely Berry ● Eve Best ● Eleanor Brown ● Stanley Cavell ● Karin Coonrod ● Brian Cox ● Peter David ● Margaret Drabble ● Dominic Dromgoole ● David Farr ● Fiasco Theater ● Ralph Fiennes ● Angus Fletcher ● James Franco ● Alan Gordon ● Germaine Greer ● Barry John ● James Earl Jones ● Sir Ben Kingsley ● Maxine Hong Kingston ● Rory Kinnear ● J. D. McClatchy ● Conor McCreery ● Tobias Menzies ● Joyce Carol Oates ● Camille Paglia ● James Prosek ● Richard Scholar ● Sir Antony Sher ● Jane Smiley ● Matt Sturges ● Julie Taymor ● Eamonn Walker ● Dame Harriet Walter ● Bill Willingham ● Jess Winfield

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