Happy Birthday to Shakespeare…and me!

Another year older, and hopefully a little bit wiser! In honour of my shared birthday with the Bard, I’d like to produce a second annual “Shakespeare’s Birthday Resolution” list, in which I make a game plan with all the ways I can work towards becoming a more active Shakespeare enthusiast, aka, Bardolator!

But first things first: let’s have a look at which of last year’s resolutions I can cross off my list!

  • I was able to audit a super interesting summer course on Shakespeare and Early Modern Print Culture, where I got to learn with a slushie in my hand and no stress of deadlines.
  • I got to visit the wonderful Stratford Festival, where I saw a touching production of Cymbeline, as well as Much Ado About Nothing, starring one of my Festival favourites, Ben Carlson.
  • Me and Alan Cumming after Macbeth!

    Me and Alan Cumming after Macbeth!

    Traveling a bit further, I had a veritable Shakespearegasm seeing Alan Cumming’s exceptional one-man production of Macbeth. I couldn’t understand how it could be done, but Cumming makes it work, bringing the gender issues of the text to life in a dynamic (demonic?) way. The production has since transferred to Broadway; if you’re in the city sometime before June 30, it’s a must-see!

  • While I did not get the chance to custom-make Shakespearean Wall decals, I did finally get the posters up in my Shakespeare shrine…I mean, home office!
Paul Gross as Hamlet, 2000

Paul Gross as Hamlet (2000)

  •     Likewise, I did not write a groundbreaking essay on the Shakespeare references in the Hunger Games trilogy (the avox Lavinia being the “speechless complainer” whose voice begs to be heard), nor did I get to see Benedict Cumberbatch perform something Shakesperean, but my fingers are still crossed for him to blow minds as a deep-voiced Richard III. A worthwhile consolation was meeting my Canadian Shakespeare idol, Paul Gross, who signed my copy of Hamlet and hinted at an eventual return to the Stratford Festival stage.

Despite all the ambition, my proudest accomplishment of this year was surviving: I took the tremendous weight of grief and trauma that I experienced over my father’s illness and death, and used my research as a tool to help me overcome it. Having to leave school for a short while and deal with what was far too much “real life”, I threw myself into my work upon my return. My research took on the flavour of blessed escape, rather than the thing to procrastinate away from, and from this experience, I’m proud to have published my very first  article (in the Shakespeare Institute’s spankin’ new Shakespeare Institute Review), which deals with loss in Twelfth Night.

Joss Whedon's Much Ado (2012)

Joss Whedon’s Much Ado (2012)

The cherry to top off my year, inspiring me towards another year of Shakespearean awesomeness, was the Shakespeare Association of America meeting in Toronto. There, I got to work on some much needed professionalization and networking, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that in the years to come, I can meet the scholars (with whom I’m intimate friends, insofar as they’re names on the well-worn books in my personal library!) without letting my mouth hang open, and blurting out the painfully terribly rookie words: “Wow! You’re a big deal!” The conference also hosted a special advance screening of Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Much Ado. Most of all, I helped bring the conference hashtag, #ShakeAss13, to life by dancing my tail off at the annual Malone Society Dance. There, I got to boogy down with the great David Bevington (the first Shakespeare scholar to edit the entirety of Shakespeare’s corpus…to say nothing of his immensely valuable editorial work on many other early modern playwrights), and even experienced my first Shakespeare conga line!

My most ambitious goal from last year was to attend BritGrad, one of the most exciting events for grad students of Shakespeare, as the biggest English Shakespeare scholars often come out to offer sage words. I didn’t make it, but have found a couple of ways to make up for it:

  • One, is that British Shakespeare Scholar extraordinaire Stanley Wells will come to me, leaving his island to visit the Stratford Festival in August.
  • Before that, though, I am finally returning to England, to attend a conference on Reading and Health in Early Modern England, where I’ll be showcasing some new dissertation work!
  • I’ll also be mixing some business and pleasure by visiting some dear friends living in London, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon. At the latter, I hope to celebrate Gregory Doran’s first year as Royal Shakespeare Company Artistic Director, and resolve to plant myself at the “Dirty Duck” Pub until I meet him and his partner, my favourite English Shakespearean actor, Sir Antony Sher.

So what do I resolve to do this coming year? More Shakespeare!

Computer-generated image of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, opening in 2014

Computer-generated image of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, opening in 2014

  • Before even leaving to England, I’m already planning my next trip! I’d really like to get to BritGrad before I graduate, and I am also just too excited to visit the brand-new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which is a replica of the type of indoor playhouse at which King Lear and Cymbeline would have been performed. This year, they’re showing some of the best non-Shakespearean drama, including John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi and Francis Beaumont’s Knight of the Burning Pestle.
  • I’d also like to continue my annual pilgrimage to the Stratford Festival. Aside from hearing Stanley Wells speak, I’m also hoping to see Measure for Measure, featuring Stephen Ouimette and Geraint Wyn Davies, who played alongside Paul Gross in Slings and Arrows.
  • As a blogger, I’d like to revamp the site. A new, easier-to-pronounce nickname (that doesn’t include the oh-so-90’s number afterwards!), a new look. If you have any suggestions, or any free design services to offer, inquire within!
  • I’m also hoping to get back blogging with more frequency. I recently posted about the BBC’s Hollow Crown series, and I plan to watch and blog about the rest! Ditto goes for finally posting my review of Whedon’s Much Ado!
  • As a scholar, I’ve just got to keep working! I want to finish a dissertation chapter, start another one, and have something to publish on the go, but I realize that these are “marathon efforts.” They require longer spans of time and exertion, so I’ve got my thinking cap on and my Starbucks card fully loaded, so I’m ready to tackle the Shakespearean New Year with my best foot forward!

Shakespeare2To Shakespeare, and everyone celebrating, Cheers!



Filed under Current Events

2 responses to “Happy Birthday to Shakespeare…and me!

  1. Basel

    Great accomplishments in one year. Happy birthday

  2. Pingback: Shakespeare’s Birthday Resolutions: 2014 Edition! | The Bardolator

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