B and I have been so busy and focused on work lately. B, especially, has been putting in a lot of extra time at the office due to some serious deadlines. And my job (teaching 8 year olds) can be very intense and draining both physically and emotionally. When life gets this hectic, both of us begin to wonder what on earth we are doing… and so we decided to do something that would remind us that life is so much more than just work. If you want perspective on life, read Shakespeare!
We decided to read Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest, (which Anthony Burgess calls Shakespeare’s “swansong”) because neither of us had ever read it, and because the whole idea of Shakespeare doing this last big project and then retiring sounded awfully good to us (wish we could do the same, but we have miles to go yet)! We agreed that we would try to experience it in as many different ways as possible over the next few months — so we started searching out different written versions of the play, and looked for a variety of films, audio books, theater performances and artwork. There are no deadlines on our project, we are simply enjoying it as time allows. And what fun we’re having!
Here’s our progress thus far:
Retellings we have read:
- E. Nesbitt’s retelling for children in her book, The Best of Shakespeare
- Charles and Mary Lamb’s retelling in Tales From Shakespeare
- Bruce Coville’s lovely book for young people, with those beautiful illustrations by Ruth Sanderson
- Leon Garfield’s version in his 2nd volume of Shakespeare Stories
- My favorite prose retelling by Bernard Miles in his out-of-print volume called Well-Loved Tales From Shakespeare
- Neil Gaiman’s tenth book in The Sandman series, The Wake, includes a story based on Will Shakespeare writing The Tempest. That was fun!
Reading the Play Itself:
- Audiobook: Arkangel Shakespeare: The Tempest, with Bob Peck (Prospero), Adrian Lester (Arial), and Jennifer Ehle (Miranda)
- DVD: Shakespeare Comedies: The Tempest. BBC Production, 1980.
- DVD: Shakespeare Behind Bars. A film about a production of The Tempest by inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky.
Looking Forward To:
- Live performance of The Tempest: Vancouver, B.C., summer 2008: Bard-on-the-Beach Shakespeare Festival
- Audiobook (on wait list at the library): The Tempest, with Sir Ian McLellan as Prospero.
- VHS (on wait list at the library): Prospero’s Books, with Sir John Gielgud as Prospero.
- Book (on wait list at the library): Shakespeare Through the Ages: The Tempest, by Harold Bloom
Artwork and Photographs:
Michael Hordern, Warren Clarke, and Pippa Guard in the 1980 BBC film.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itelf,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.