Monday, December 12, 2011

The Grande Finalle

That was an incredible production. I thoroughly enjoyed everyone's part in the production on Friday. Being able to see Shakespeare through so many different lenses helped me understand how many ways a person can study his works.

Doing the music video was a blast! A lot of it was just coming up with ideas in the beginning, but once the wagon started rolling the vision we had became reality. Scenes took preparation, but once we knew (1) What we were going to say (2) Who was going to say it and (3) Where or how it was going to be said it was like clockwork. Although some of the scenes took 3 or 4 sometimes up to ten cuts, we eventually finished them all and Cara did most of the editing.
One thing Cara referred to that I thought was true was our different parts in the music video. Cara was the mind for what we should do, Chris kept us organized, Meg was willing to do anything (including skipping class one day), and I was the action person. It could be because I am an entrepreneur. When people have great ideas, they are worthless, invaluable, until they are brought to fruition. Therefore, it does not satisfy to sit around and create an idea and reform it over and over until we are all unified etc. To me, when we actually start doing the things we talk about, the idea continues to unfold, new things come to mind, and the product begins to become tangible and real.

Looking back on the first day of class, I feel like my Shakespeare world has turned upside down. The ironic thing about our final project is that I used to be the one who thought Shakespeare was pretty much love and roses. Although there is a lot of love, Shakespeare deals more with truth, guilt, greed, lust, war, age, nature, and other topics than I realized. One I feel like I have learned especially a lot about is truth. I have not only read about but applied a lot of the ideals we read in Shakespeare into my own life. I am noticing through my own experience that what I talked about in two older posts, Trusting the Untrustworthy and Considerest Not the Beam that is in Thine Own Eye is true today.
Of course reading through Shakespeare has helped gain the most Shakespeare literacy. King Lear, although I feel like I have just scratched the surface of understanding its meaning, was a great play that taught me a lot, especially in the last lines of the play.

To analyze Shakespeare critically I have focused on the lines I enjoy, like the last link points out. Reading that post shows how I analyzed the lines of the play, took opinion from some of my classmates, and looked up a more scholarly opinion on the matter. Dr. Carson had interesting things to say because she knew some of the history of King Lear. In comparing two of the renditions she pointed out the impact of different characters delivering the two lines. This developed my own creativity and personality because (1) It's not what you say, it's how you say it and (2) Whatever it is, the person who delivers the "line," whether in real life or in a play, makes a difference in the meaning of the message.
Doing the music video project also taught me a lot about Shakespeare's "one liners." A lot of his text was explained to me by the "far more literate Shakespearean than I am" Chris. It helped when delivering lines to hear his, and Meg's interpretations of the lines. Chris would explain to me exactly what the lines meant and what was happening in the scenes. A good example would be between Aerial and Prospero. When we are having the conversation with Meg in the orange jumpsuit, Chris explained how Aerial was opening the eyes of her master. "This is the paradigm shift," Chris would say. Understanding the lines as individual pieces of text helped me to analyze Shakespeare critically.

Memorizing lines, acting in front of a camera, and directing scenes of the music video all were ways I engaged Shakespeare in a way I thought I never would. Chris and I took a day to film a few scenes together which turned out to be nothing short of an adventure. We bumped into a young girl who we felt was perfect for our "who suffers alone suffers most in the mind" scene and I looked at Chris for the go ahead. He nodded and I opened my mouth and asked her if we could film her. Finally we ended up in her family's home, with all of them giving us a tour of spots to film the scene we had created in our mind. With the camera rolling, I directed her in her actions and emotions to get the right feel. Again this happened in our nature scene from King Lear and again in our jealousy scene from Othello. Chris and I drew upon our creativity skills as we directed our players.
In connection with all of this, being on the camera meant we were memorizing lines. In our dialogue between Aerial and Prospero, with King Lear, and with Biron I had to memorize a few lines in order to give the right look. Also, this involved understanding the message we wanted to portray through delivery. Portraying the messages of individual lines was a creative way to engage Shakespeare.

Sharing Shakespeare was probably the biggest focus of the class for me. Even though going to class took three or so hours a week, I feel like most of our attention was turned toward expressing our thoughts and research through blogging. One of the more formal posts this semester was mentioned above where I talked about the last lines of King Lear. Another one of my favorite, which I referred to on our midterm post was my analysis about war. Doing this was one of my favorite posts because it tied back the play to Shakespeare's time.
My informal sharing came through blogging and inviting people to the performance on Friday. I think hearing other people's brushes with Shakespeare was a treat. In fact, one girl I met had simply read the article about our Shakespeare event and decided to come out of a shear love for the art. We shared about some of our favorite plays, and finding out she had not read the Winter's Tale, I made sure she got the book as a prize (I didn't cheat I promise). :)

Overall, this class boosted my appreciation for the arts. Not just Shakespeare, but many literary and ancient realms of art. I can recall times when I saw situations through the lens of Shakespeare analysis I gained in class. That means a lot, when the things I learn in the classroom, become a part of my life outside of the classroom.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Bit of Better Posting - Summing up my Blogging Experience

Over the semester I must say that this whole blogging thing has been really good for me. The terrifying mystery social media was to me is now friendly and VALUABLE. Two reasons. FIRST I learned how to blog. It's something I can do for the rest of my life to promote business (of which I plan to have many), to involve others in events like a family reunion or something, and to keep others posted about current events, for example if I travel to India or go see Machu Picchu. SECOND the steady consistent work we did helped me see what it takes to develop a new skill. Even though it is daunting at first, if we just try, and I mean honestly try, we can do it. It's like playing the piano, the first song you pound out is tiresome and long, but after daily practice over months and years, it comes naturally.
Now I am not saying I'm an expert, but here is one of my favorite blog posts I've done about a favorite Shakespeare plays Henry V. Obviously I put a lot of time into it and it felt good to analyze and think about the events from a historical viewpoint. On top of that, reading other's comments was informative.
Another one that I liked, which was more recent, is about the last lines of King Lear.

The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

You can check that one out by clicking here.

Reading over my peer's posts and comments throughout the semester has been a treat. I was put into a dynamic group and feel like we heard positive, but different opinions all throughout the semester (I always enjoy an intelligent debate). One of my classmates, Christa (I could have used one from just about any of them, especially J.J.), posted about Music on her blog. The posts goes into detail about the use of music in Shakespeare's plays, analyzing the text and certain scenes from the play. She shows three of the four class outcomes in the post, gain "Shakespeare Literacy, analyze Shakespeare critically, and share Shakespeare meaningfully. The first is shown as she briefly acknowledges the "Tempest" as a contrast to another Shakespearean play, "As You Like It." Second she quotes the text and refers to scenes from the play to develop her point that "music and enchantment are eternally intertwined." And of course, by sharing her insights she is sharing it with all of us.
Again, I really feel like there were a lot of good posts given by classmates, here are two more I felt were superb. J.J.'s post, referring to the live blogging I thought the whole process was a very good, creative idea. Kelsie's post detailing how the director of the "Tempest" made Aerial and Prospero's relationship like a puppet and puppeteer.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Orange Jumpsuit

Well things are coming together for the final project. We all met today for class at the law building and shot some film in the court room. I thought I was going to be in a scene wearing a suit, so I dressed up, but it turns out I was fit to be the convict and zipped on the orange jump suit. The things you have to do for show business!
The atmosphere of thought changed. My collared shirt wouldn't cut it for a man on trial, and we had Meg jump in to the suit and I cinched back up my tie. Chris and I played Prospero and Ariel and quoted lines about forgiveness and mercy. I don't want to reveal too much, but I think it will turn out pretty cool. Kara really knows what she's doing with directing.
To finish off the day we divided up the rest of the scenes, set a deadline for when they need to be in the drop box. After that we have to do the editing and put the picture to some music and the project will be finished.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Last Lines of All the Plays Turns Out to be One of My Favorite

I loved King Lear. There are a lot of good speeches given by the different characters. One that made me stop and think was the one that ended the play, where the Duke of Albany says:

The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest have borne most; we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

Dr. Christie Carson, Royal Holloway University of London (shown on right) commented on the influence of these four lines on the play. Because the play has many renditions, there are times when Edgar delivers the line and, like the one we read, the Duke of Albany does so.


Here, she quotes the director of the 1997 play in the National Theater, Richard Eyre. He says in essence that because Edgar has experienced some of the biggest tragedies in life, but stayed pure through it all it is perfect for him to give the advice to "open your heart, speak what you feel."

Duke of Albany
The lines of course have the same meaning, but a different effect when they are delivered by a different character. By his deliverance the words are kosher to the audience because of his "seniority," but she still feels like there needed to be a change to fit the audience's needs. By changing the character who delivered the lines from the Duke of Albany to Edgar, the play ends with more hope rather than "absolute despair."

My Own Interpretation

The first line really talks about the brutality of this life. There a lot of things we must go through in this life, there is no way out.

The second line, "speak what we feel, not what we ought to say" refers to being honest with ourselves no matter the cost. In our group, we talked about how this line refers to the beginning of the play. Christa pointed out how Goneril and Regan both said what they thought they should say while Cordelia said what she actually felt. Even though this put her life into a whirl, she seems the type of character that would not take back her actions had she the chance to do so.

The third and fourth line to me give glory and wisdom to old age. It submits that youthful people should honor the aged because they ultimately have gone through these trials. In connection, "we that are young shall never see so much, nor live so long" refers to the fact that youth can always learn from their elders. Even with time, the old will be older than the young and more experienced.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just Doing My Part

I am glad to be part of the music video team. The filming has been an adventure to say the least. Since we met, we have divided up the different scenes by looking at who is going where over the break and what resources they will have. Because I drove through Las Vegas, I was assigned to video some of the city there as it fits right into our theme, "Shakespeare's Commentary on Society."

My First Footage
Driving down the fifteen I poked my head out the window and got my camera above my car to get a good view. The buildings were in plain sight and I shot places such as the space needle, the pyramid, and some of the beautiful hotels along the strip. Hopefully those, combined with others that I get on the way up will suffice for our "city shots."

A Work in Progress
Another theme I'm trying to capture is nature. I've been asked to film a man screaming lines from King Lear but in a modern day setting, of course, in a huge storm. If we can't get it, we may have to use a fan and a few buckets of water.... :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shakespeare and the Army

What a successful day! We had a lot of good experiences that helped us realize what we are doing will have the intended impact.

Project Progress
First, we sat down and cranked out the story board. With the lines set, we went through each page and decided what shots to shoot, assigning each person with shots they could do over the next week. Cutting, adding, expounding, and pulling ideas from past and present, we finally finished and raced over to the ROTC we we had set up a meeting with the soldier over PR.

A Well Rounded Soldier
When we got there we explained to Cadet Hess that we wanted film of different soldiers quoting lines from King Henry V's famous St. Agincourt rally cry. He jumped for excitement. "I've got the whole thing memorized!" I was astounded to see that this man had learned the whole thing by heart. Before filming though, we had to go and talk with one of the Majors.

Shakespeare. Love and Roses?

When we went in he was a little hesitant and seemingly opposed the idea. "What on earth does Shakespeare and music videos have to do with the army?" he asked. Both Kara and I knew he had asked the perfect question, the question we wanted our audience to ask so we could uncover the truth.
Kara began to explain how we wanted to show clips of soldiers reciting a speech by Shakepeare that glorified war. When we left, he realized not only that we had a good motive, but also that Shakespeare is not all, "love and flowers," as Kara phrased it.

Another Unexpected Shakespearean
Finally while sitting in the hall, waiting to follow the fifty to one hundred soldiers to their training site, one of the officers exploded with emotion. "St. Agincourt speech?! What about 'O God of battles; steel my soldiers' hearts!" I was in awe. There was a stark contrast between these two US soldiers who knew Shakespeare so well they could quote it, and the one who thought the only connection between Shakespeare and the military will be demeaning.

Evidence Toward Our Analysis
I don't blame him, it is the understanding of the general public that Shakespeare is feminine. Thus my point, and the point of our music video. WE WANT TO SHOW SHAKESPEARE IS MORE THAN LOVE! (Check out the first search result when I typed in 'What is Shakespeare's message?')
I feel like our group as a whole contains a diverse understanding and wide variety of knowledge about Shakespeare in order to get our point across.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Music Video

The direction we are going with the music video is one we can all agree on. I like the idea of having themes from the different plays incorporated into our song and of course video.
I agree that focusing on Shakespeare's commentary toward society, rather than just the "love" and other things people think Shakespeare is about, will be beneficial to educating our audience. Some of the themes that fit this category to me are:

1. Nature - Including lines from the Tempest and King Lear about how it is used to subject us to a higher power. I think we could take advantage of the snow storms that frequent the area.

2. A Play within a Play, or Music Video within a Music Video - I think we can get creative with this and show people preparing for a music video in a music video while developing other themes at the same time. Some of the lines that will work well with this are form Hamlet.

3. Knowledge - This can developed within the music video as a sub theme. For example, lines from Prospero going to study and losing power, or the men from Love's Labours Lost seeking knowledge and swearing off women.
Under this theme, I think it would be awesome to use parts from Biron's "justification."

Consider what you first did swear unto,
To fast, to study, and to see no woman;
Flat treason 'gainst the kingly state of youth.
Say, can you fast? your stomachs are too young;
And abstinence engenders maladies. Line 1640
And where that you have vow'd to study, lords,
In that each of you have forsworn his book,
Can you still dream and pore and thereon look?
For when would you, my lord, or you, or you,
Have found the ground of study's excellence Line 1645
Without the beauty of a woman's face?
[From women's eyes this doctrine I derive;]
They are the ground, the books, the academes
From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire]
Why, universal plodding poisons up Line 1650
The nimble spirits in the arteries,
As motion and long-during action tires
The sinewy vigour of the traveller.
Now, for not looking on a woman's face,
You have in that forsworn the use of eyes Line 1655
And study too, the causer of your vow;
For where is any author in the world
Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye?

4. Intensity of War - There are many good quotes to along with a music video here. Some of them include the famous St. Crispin's Day speech (we could use parts) or powerful, poetic lines that show vigor such as "there's not a piece of feather in our host..." A lot of King Henry's lines are very poetic. If we want to run with a theme related to him it would be fitting for a music video. Here are some of his lines:

Shall this his mock mock out of their dear husbands; 435
Mock mothers from their sons, mock castles down;

Cheerly to sea; the signs of war advance:
No king of England, if not king of France. 830

5. Acting vs. Our True Identity - This is one of my favorite themes in Hamlet. There are so many lines where Hamlet is tearing apart his emotions to find out who he is. We could use a lot of his self reflecting lines in order to capture this theme. Further, the music video could portray one of us in different scenes going about (hitting on different themes in different venues) to find out who we really are.
Check out some of Hamlet's self reflection:

To be, or not to be- that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer Line 1750 The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep- No more;...

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out Line 2265
Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother!
O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom. Line 2270
Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites-
How in my words somever she be shent,
To give them seals never, my soul, consent!

"O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! ...

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Line 340
Possess it merely. That it should come to this! ...

She married. O, most wicked speed, to post Line 360
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue!"

I am excited to talk it over with you guys. We can use all of these or one of them. This is going to be an awesome project, but a lot of work.