While scanning over various online lists of Shakespearean “facts,” I came across this interesting tidbit taken from “10 things you probably didn’t know about William Shakespeare:”
“4. Although Shakespeare wrote plays set in France, Scotland, Italy, Cyprus and Vienna, among many other locations, it’s entirely possible that he never left England. That may account for the most embarrassing geographical cock-up of his career: grafting a sea-coast on to land-locked Bohemia (part of the present-day Czech Republic) in The Winter’s Tale” (Times Online, April 9, 2009).
There is no evidence that William Shaksper/Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon ever set foot outside of Merry Ol’ England, therefore orthodox scholars typically excuse the playwright’s supposed lack of geographical knowledge. But, what if we were to learn that this alleged blooper was actually a true historical fact?
I decided to look into this purported “geographical error,” and referred to Chapter 11 of The Shakespeare Guide to Italy by Richard Paul Roe.
Research into the history of Bohemia reveals that the kingdom of Bohemia under the rule of Ottakar II once included Carinthia and “Carniola, which in turn touched the Adriatic Sea” (Roe 251). Therefore, from 1269 until Ottakar was killed in 1278, Bohemia was not landlocked.
The Winter’s Tale is a play that hearkens to the romantic tales of medieval times, so referring to the Bohemia of this period in history is not a stretch.
In my next post, I will discuss another curious detail in The Winter’s Tale that demonstrates the playwright’s uncanny knowledge of travel outside the boundaries of England.
In the meanwhile, check out the colorful scenic slideshow of the real-life settings of Shakespeare’s Italian Plays and retrace “The Bard’s Unknown Travels” in the linked blog post by Hilary Roe Metternich.
Apologies for my long absence from blogging; my literature classes this semester leave me little time for recreational reading and writing!
But today I write of good news for Shakespeare lovers on the East Coast, particularly in the NY/NJ/PA area. Spring has arrived, and before long, there will be opportunities to enjoy outdoor theatrical performances.
One not to be missed, is the 2013 Season of “Free Shakespeare in the Park.” Yes, I said FREE! Click on the link for details regarding the schedule of performances and location (Delacorte Theater in Central Park, NYC).
If outdoor performances aren’t your thing, or you’re itchin’ for some Shakespeare right now, The Winter’s Tale is being performed at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre from April 2 through 21. I have my ticket for the April 2nd performance, and can’t wait to see it!
One more production I need to mention, is The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s staging of Othello starring Tony-nominated actor Forrest McClendon. I will also be purchasing a ticket for this play which I’ve recently studied, yet never had the opportunity to see performed.
Remember Hamlet’s words everyone: “The play’s the thing!” Go see a performance, and watch Shakespeare’s words spring to life.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. So, when my daughters both announced that they are reading it in their middle school literature classes, I was thrilled! Unfortunately, they did not share my enthusiasm.
Since I’ve taken it upon myself to make Shakespeare as fun as possible, I ordered the film version on DVD, starring Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer, from Netflix.
Next, I dug out my old homework and searched for helpful notes to ease my daughters “suffering.”
In the process, I found a paper I’d written last semester and wanted to share it with my blog readers. I hope it motivates others to read between the lines of the plays; I found the process fascinating.
Disclaimer: this was my first attempt at Deconstruction, so bear with me!