How to (Mis- Understand) Shakespeare – A Summer Guide

The most tactical way to understand the Bard’s blahs be it at the Shakespeare Globe, or an open-air performance elsewhere.

 

This year celebrates the Bard’s 400th birthday. With so many exciting activities and events, chances are, you’re never more than a few miles away from a performance of one of Shakespeare’s plays. This could be an ample opportunity to re-educate yourself and delve deep back into your GCSE English syllabus, finally getting round to reading that copy of ‘The Collected Works of Shakespeare’ that seems to be gathering dust on everyone’s bookshelf. Or, you could turn up a fool at the Globe and ad lib your understanding of his plays (funnily enough Elizabethan English hasn’t aged too well). I am reminded of an actor friend’s anecdote about a leading man forgetting his lines during an outdoor production of Henry IV and having to improvise a 5 minute monologue whilst the set was being blown away by an unexpected windstorm. This is exactly the vibe we’re going for. So grab a jug of Pimms, hide it under your coat, take off your shoes, and head to the Globe to get the full Ignorant Shakespeare experience. So far, this is what LondonFlux has managed to cobble together whilst dazing in and out of consciousness in the Globe’s peasant pit. Valium is a hell of a drug. Here’s a list of Shakespeare plays as we’ve understood them.

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Hamlet
This film takes place in the Pride Lands of Denmark, the King of Denmark and Queen Gertrude present their new-born son Hamlet; the new heir of the throne, to the people of Denmark. Hamlet’s Uncle; Claudius, is fuelled by anger and rage due to being unable to take over the throne, and plots to kill The King and Hamlet in order to take his place as King. Claudius causes a stampede through the canyon along with his hyenas where both the King and Hamlet are. Claudius ensures the King falls to his death and blames the death on Hamlet.

Hamlet fleas Denmark after being told to run away and never return. Hamlet is found and rescued after collapsing by Rosencrantz and Guildernstern. The three become the greatest of friends. Ophelia, Hamlet’s childhood friend accidently meets Hamlet whilst hunting and begs him to return to Denmark; now a place of starvation and ruin. After some wise words from Horatio, Hamlet returns to Denmark to fight Claudius for his Kingdom. After learning that it was in fact Claudius who was responsible for his father’s death, Hamlet takes revenge through an enraged battle. Hamlet triumphs and takes his place as the rightful king, completing ‘The Circle of Life’.

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Taming of the Shrew
Popular, pretty Bianca Baptista is in dilemma. A family rule forbids her from dating until her unpopular, rebellious, boy-hating older sister Kat gets a suitor of her own. In an attempt to win Bianca, a potential boyfriend desperately attempts to set Kat up with Petruchio Verona, another rebel who may just be able to win Kat’s heart. Mis-informed Shakespeare quotes are rampant in Shakespeare Blackfriars.

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Romeo & Juliet
On the west side of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets are Italian and Puerto Rican gangs respectively who hate each other and who battle each other for territory in their neighborhood. Their feud makes a small connection when at a gymnasium dance, Romeo, one of the founders of the Montagues but who is now inactive in the gang, and Juliet, the recently arrived sister of the Capulet’s leader Tybalt, spot each other across the crowded room and fall in love at first sight. For many of the male gang members, that connection is the last straw in their feud that leads to the decision to have a rumble to determine territory once and for all. Conversely, Nurse, Tybalt’s girlfriend, supports Juliet’s decision to romance whomever she wants, even a Montague. However, even Nurse may not be able to endure so much in her stance to support true love. As Juliet and Romeo try to meet each other clandestinely at any opportunity, Juliet makes a request of him to foster peace between the Montagues and Capulets, which inadvertently leads to a series of tragic events not only for the collective but personally for Juliet and Romeo.

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