Portia’s Casket Rundown, September to November 2011

Here is a rundown of articles I have written as the Associate Editor for Voices for The Shakespeare Standard. Click the title to read the entire article.

Portia’s Casket (Intersection) | Voices News for the Week of September 7

Shakespeare intersects numerous aspects of our everyday lives. Funny enough, the Bard intersected a lot of my favorites themes in this week’s Voices.

Magic. What is in common with Harry Potter and Shakespeare? Ralph Fiennes! “Actor Ralph Fiennes is hoping Harry Potter fans will be lured to watch Shakespeare when he stars in The Tempest in London’s West End.” Lord Voldemort will transform into Prospero this time around. Ralph Fiennes has been widely acclaimed and recognized as the main antagonist in the Harry Potter Series, despite the heavy prosthetics, and will now play a protagonist forThe Tempest. This could be an arena for Shakespearean voices to intersect into the popular audience. From the trunks of Hogwarts, a lead casket has been opened.

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Portia’s Casket (Various Voices) | Voices News for the Week of September 14

Remembrance. Nick Schifrin reflects on his experiences of the 9/11 attack on Reporter’s Notebook: Mulling Revenge, via Shakespeare, After 9/11. Such events, 10 years ago and today, reminds him of Titus Andronicus, particularly of the effect on the people, “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, where I have lived for the last three years, I’ve often wondered: Has the United States made many of the same mistakes that Titus Andronicus and his fellow tragedians made? Prioritizing revenge and killing the enemy over helping the local populations? Choosing allies who help produce short-term gratification (security gains) but long-term trouble? Refusing to truly engage with a population that seemed so different from themselves?”

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Portia’s Casket (Her Voice) | Voices News for the Week of September 21

Bronze Casket. Its adorable to open the first bronze casket from an adorable girl. She wrote in her moleskin notebook about the phrases we use everyday that we owe to Shakespeare. It went viral. Though a lot of people also sent in their corrections, it’s still something that it went viral in the first place. People do still find Shakespeare interesting. Its always a good start. It received various reports, even from the Shakespeare Geek. Its a bronze voice worth listening to.

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Portia’s Casket (Going Back) | Voices News for the Week of October 5

Starving Artist? Yet you want to watch the Bard and other plays? Well, Orlando Shakespeare Theater now offers a “Starving Artist” Pass for those employed in a non-profit art organization. Matthew Palm reports”Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF is offering an opportunity to those employed by nonprofit arts organizations to purchase tickets for the 2011-2012 season at a reduced rate with a “Starving Artist” pass. Starving Artist passholders will receive one ticket to each of Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s six Signature Series productions for only $30. (Limit two per person).” This is certainly good news and a show of much needed appreciation for artists, art lovers and cultural workers who love to go to the theatre but may not always be able to afford it. They want to hear the Bard’s voices most, but usually can afford it least.

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Portia’s Casket (Quoting Shakespeare) | Voices News for the Week of October 12

Kahle Reardon as Sarah Connor in Terminator the Second (Image by Morgan Paige)

Quoting Shakespeare. “If all else fails, at least I can quote Shakespeare…” Majoring in English, Literature, Theatre Arts and other Liberal Arts poses a lot of problems, as presented by Abdul Siddiqui. There often comes a lot of employment difficulties after graduation, I should know, as it is also the problem I faced after graduating with an Art Studies degree. Yet, there are a lot of job opportunities out there, you just have to be persistent enough in looking. You can also consider volunteer works that can help you enrich yourself as well as get your name out there. The Shakespeare Standard and other sites also provide information on scholarships and publications that you also want to explore. So, really, there is no need to resort to just quoting Shakespeare. Let’s start opening some more caskets…

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Portia’s Casket (On Anonymous) | Voices News for the Week of October 19

The debate for the Bard’s lovers and haters… Care to join them? Personally, I think its just another Hollywood sparkling golden casket. So, let’s hear them out.

Newsweek Magazine’s The Shakespeare Shakedown. They say don’t buy it, so do I.

Sam Blumenfeld, author of The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, says its Marlowe who wrote Shakespeare and that his book should’ve been the one turned into a movie rather than Anonymous in his column Who Wrote Shakespeare? for The New American. I guess everyone just wants a piece of the Bard.

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Portia’s Casket (Beyond Anonymous) | Voices News for the Week of October 26

What is up for this week? My newsfeed is still abuzz over AnonymousBut honestly, are you as over this hype as I am? The facts are out there, the most disturbing aspect is the distribution of the “documentary” to schools where it confounds students. Why can’t we just give respect where it belongs. Clearly, this glitzy and glamorous golden casket is just plain that.

Moving on, remember the Subway Shakespeare? Now we have Shakespeare on an elevator!  Hillard reports, “Rothhaar and Pasqualini are part of Salty Shakespeare, a California theater group dedicated to bringing Shakespeare to public spaces in a way that penetrates the electronic wall that often surrounds us. The group has performed on Venice Beach and currently has plans to take Romeo and Juliet to a shopping mall. Back on the elevator, once the doors open, people move quickly. Not all of them realize that they’ve just witnessed a performance.” Now this is an interesting bronze casket. I wonder when I will ever run into the Bard like this. This deserves a round of applause.

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Portia’s Casket (Laughter) | Voices News for the Week of November 2

There is nothing like laughter to bring Shakespeare closer to the people. As was my habit in Portia’s Caskets, I love looking for bits and pieces that will develop the love of the Bard and bring him closer to everyone. No, he is not an Earl; he is an ordinary person, just like most of us, and it never stopped him from creating the plays that we all know and love. Our own respective status will not stop us from being what we want to be, Shakespeare is one of the best inspiration of that belief. Stratford-Upon-Avon, keep up the fight.

Students at Bernards High School will present “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”

Such fun and laughter is inspirational in the works of children, “Next weekend, the students at Bernards High School will present The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a play that takes a jab at all 37 of the Bard’s works in a production that runs just under two hours.” We can all remember our high school Shakespearean readings, but for Lynn Weltler, director of Bernards High School’s theater program, “Now imagine if the female characters wore bad wigs and overacted like the actors on Saturday Night Live.” Hopefully, more schools will follow their lead for a fuller Shakespearean experience.

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Portia’s Casket (Sunrise and Sunsets) | Voices News for the Week of November 9

(Tom And Steve/Getty Images)

Hello dear readers, sorry for the bit of delay for today’s Portia’s Casket. Our second semester just begun and everyone is busy catching up, including me. Once again, I play a dual role of a teacher and a graduate student. Such longing for the recently ended vacation brings me to our first casket, Shakespeare, Global Warming, Sunset, and You. Bill Blakemore starts with this reflection, “Imagine you’re reading Shakespeare on an unseasonably warm evening while sitting on a dune looking west across the sea at sunset.”  How I wish I can ponder the authorship debate in this setting. There is nothing like this relaxed atmosphere to wonder about various issues that are plaguing us, “You watch the reddening sun move down toward the horizon until the bottom edge of the bright disc drops behind the rim of the sea. The still visible portion of the sun morphs into various shapes as it moves inexorably down until it’s just a tiny point of light. Then, as you can plainly see, it is suddenly gone as the sun travels even further below the horizon.” But he is also right, the sun does not sink in the horizon, it is the earth that actually moves, so it is us that must also move.

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Portia’s Casket (Difference) | Voices news for the week of November 16

Difference. Most times, it is difficult to be so different from others. But this difference makes us special. Shakespeare helps us express this. His plays and our adaptations of it often focus on difference. And this difference makes the practice of the Bard amazing.

To do this, we have to start from the beginning. It is no surprise that art education is in dire trouble today. Teri Hein and Darren Lay points out, “THE No Child Left Behind Act drove schools to slash programs that don’t directly contribute to the goal of higher achievement in reading and math. The technology revolution, with its emphasis on math and science, has further pushed us to prioritize those disciplines.” Arts education receive help, yet it is growing increasingly difficult as the funds are now strained more than ever, “While schools focus their limited resources on math, science and reading, the task of engaging children in the arts falls increasingly on the shoulders of organizations like 826 Seattle and Young Shakespeare Workshop. We are deeply proud of the youth we serve, but there are thousands more every year who never find us, or for whom we simply have no capacity.”

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Portia’s Casket | Voices News for the Week of November 30

Everybody is back from the Thanksgiving hiatus. Its good to be back. How did Shakespeare speak to us this week?

Relevance. Ralph Fienne’s performances are mostly rewarding to watch and his directorial debut of Coriolanus was no exception. Newsweek Magazine reports, “His main aim for the film was to be relevant and accessible today, which meant reining in Shakespeare’s language to make it as direct as ordinary conversation. On one Belgrade location Butler could be heard roaring obscenities of frustration, but Fiennes, hunched behind the monitor, was gently cajoling. “That’s great, Gerry, don’t lose that focus,” he urged, until finally the lines were sounding unforced. “He came in with a raggedness, which was exciting,” Fiennes said later, “But then, in the last few takes, he used it and refined it. It was a real process.””

Click here to read more.

Here is the rundown. I started with Ralph Fiennes and ironically, I also ended up with Ralph Fiennes. Writing Portia’s Casket has been rewarding. I hope to write more for The Shakespeare Standard and I always hope for more readers. Let’s keep on opening the Bard’s Caskets!


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