As the summer melds gradually into autumn, it’s time to take in some theatrical delights.
And…I’m lucky to live very close to a wonderful theater in the vicinity of Princeton University campus: McCarter Theatre.
This month, (from September 5 – October 5) theater-goers will be treated to a sultry rendition of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Emily Mann, an award-winning director and playwright who, as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre for 25 years, directed over 125 productions.
The leads are played, respectively, by Esau Pritchett (Fences) and Nicole Ari Parker (Boogie Nights, Soul Food).
Click Antony and Cleopatra to be redirected to the informative website that contains links to educational resources regarding Shakespeare’s play, as well as the historical context.
The theater is located at 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 08540. For student and/or group discount rates, call McCarter Theatre Center directly at 609.258.ARTS(2787).
Start a fall tradition that enriches the soul by treating yourself to a little culture, Shakespeare style!
First, I must apologize to my readers for the long hiatus I’ve taken from my blogging. As most of you know, I’m a non-traditional college student writing my way to my first bachelor’s degree in English.
This semester, I took a break from my Shakespearean studies and just completed a class entitled: “The Beatles and Their World” at The College of New Jersey.
I’ve never had more fun reading, researching, and writing than I’ve had while taking this course.
For my final paper, I chose to research the Beatle I had become fascinated with: John Lennon.
John’s persona grew to mythical proportions during his lifetime. After his murder, his image morphed into that of a martyred hero – at least for awhile.
Then the ugly stories began pouring out, page after page.
I wanted to play armchair psychologist and investigate a hunch that had nagged at me while reading about John’s volatile nature, which resonated with “Jeckyl and Hyde” overtones:
Could John Lennon have suffered from mental illness?
If you were ever curious to learn a little more about John Lennon, or wondered about this yourself, please take the time to read my paper. (click on link below)
John was known for cutting through the bull—- and emphatically rejected the public’s idolatry of the Beatles; just feel the sarcasm in his ballad, “Working Class Hero.”
So, OK, this post has NOTHING to do with Shakespeare. But consider this,
both Shakespeare and the Beatles are British “institutions” AND both have developed into revered myths of the Modern World.
With that in mind, I think John would have forgiven me for stripping away his facade in order to get to the truth.
For those of you in the NY/NJ/PA metro area looking for a Shakespeare fix, I’ve got a recommendation:
This stage adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy stars Tony award nominee Forrest McClendon who thrilled the Philly audience last year with his powerful performance as Othello at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre.
I had the pleasure of meeting Forrest after a performance of the aforementioned play last year; he is a warm and charismatic soul (and a brilliant talent) with a contagious enthusiasm for performing Shakespeare. So, I look forward to witnessing his transformation into yet another Shakespearean tragic figure.
Tickets are selling quickly, so purchase yours now. Student discounts are available, so I’m going to snag one ASAP!
(In Modern English)
To my Bess:
Sweetheart I doubt not but you shall hear ere my letter come to you of the misfortune of your friends, be not too apprehensive of it, for God’s will must be done, & what is allotted to us by destiny cannot bee avoided; believe that in this time there is nothing can so much comfort me as to think you are well & take patiently what hath happened, & contrarywise I shall live in torment if I find you vexed for my cause, doubt not but I shall do well & please yourself with assurance that I shall ever remain
Your affectionate husband
This passionate letter most likely never made it to its addressee. It was written by Southampton to his wife either while he was temporarily detained at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s palace at Lambeth, or after he had been transferred to his prison chambers within the Tower.
Mercifully, Southampton’s execution day never came. There are several possible reasons why Robert Cecil had Southampton’s sentence commuted from execution to life imprisonment. Public sentiment leaned toward the side of Essex and his followers, especially after the botched-up beheading; therefore, another execution could potentially create a hostile environment for Elizabeth’s government.
One factor that may have weighed heavily on Cecil’s conscience is mentioned in an excerpt from the desperate letter written to Cecil by Southampton’s mother, Mary:
It appeared to me many times his earnest desire to recover her Majesty’s favour, his doleful discontented behaviour when he could not obtain it, how apt despair made him at length to receive evil counsel and follow such company…
Akrigg points out: “If Queen Elizabeth had not so relentlessly maintained her dislike of Southampton, denying him access to her Court, and refusing him from the generalship of the horse in Ireland and then the governorship of Connaught, Southampton might never have turned to treason” (129).
The sickly earl remained imprisoned in the Tower for over two years. When Elizabeth I died on March 24, 1603, James VI of Scotland peacefully ascended the throne of England.
As mentioned in a previous post, Essex and Southampton had championed James’ right to succession. So, one of his first acts as England’s king was to send forth orders from his castle at Edinburgh for Southampton’s release.
On April 10, 1603, Henry Wriothesley was given a chance to start anew with his title and estate restored to him.
Months later, Southampton was installed into the order of the Knights of the Garter, appointed to the Privy Council, and the sweet wine profits that had once been granted to Essex, were transferred to him. Things were looking hopeful for Southampton with a new sovereign on the throne.
Sadly though, as time passed, the headstrong earl would fall out of James’ favor, too. But I will take a breather from the history lessons for now.
As promised, in an upcoming post, we will briefly examine some controversial theories that suggest a very intimate connection between Southampton and Shakespeare.
Hint: If you’ve seen the 2011 Roland Emmerich film Anonymous, you’ll know where I’m heading!