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April 2016


2016 is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, so this month we are celebrating all things Shakespeare – the fact that his works are still going strong after 400 years, and indeed remain a perpetual source of inspiration for new work.

A timeline of Shakespeare's plays at the Globe Theatre

A timeline of Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theatre – photographed by Dysanovic

When we think of Shakespeare do we think of Elizabethan times, the Globe Theatre, conspiracies, modern retellings (books, movies, songs, and plays), the many works inspired by his plays and sonnets, or the new words he coined and left behind?

Curious to know more about this man, you can go in search of Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre, or explore Shakespeare; or even explore more of the times in which he wrote and performed.

There have been many many works (books, movies, songs, and plays) inspired by Shakespeare – whether a reworking of an original play or sonnet, or the exploration of a character or idea.

He drank and saw the spider by Alex Bledsoe is a compassionate retelling of The winter’s tale, Wyrd sisters from Terry Pratchett retells Macbeth, and Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel shows the plays of Shakespeare lasting when not much else does. If you have not yet discovered William Shakespeare’s Star wars series, a joy awaits you.  Try out the William Shakespeare Star Wars sonnet generator. There are ever growing lists of novels inspired by Shakespeare and films and even more films.  Doctor Who meets with Shakespeare and JK Rowling allusions are included as well. Star Trek  and science fiction are also heavily influenced. The Will Speak machine in some of Jasper Fforde’s writing are just some of the allusions to Shakespeare (if you want to see a comprehensive list for The Eyre affair, follow this link). Goodreads has a delightful list of Shakespeare retellings.

While some films are quite obviously inspired by Shakespeare, have you stopped to consider West Side Story, The Lion King, 10 Things I Hate About You, A Thousand Acres, My Own Private Idaho, Big Business, and Forbidden Planet as reworkings of Shakespeare? What about Kiss Me Kate, Deliver Us From Eva, Were The World Mine, Get Over It, or She’s The Man? Gnomeo and Juliet anyone?

Have you ever wondered that Sons of Anarchy so closely resembles some key elements of Hamlet?  Even Doctor Who visits Shakespeare on more than one occasion (okay, there are aliens and monsters involved).

Then there is the music inspired by Shakespeare. Songs which capture the heart and imagination.


But perhaps what sets Shakespeare above all others is the legacy of words he has gifted to the modern world. Do you know these everyday phrases that came from the bard? Or these?

Do you ever think woe is me? Are you stony hearted? Have you been on a wild goose chase?  Do you wonder what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet? Do things vanish into thin air or do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Do you ever think we few, we happy few, we band of brothers? Or do you give short shrift to these ideas?

Are you ready for a sea change? Or would that be without rhyme nor reason or it is the be all and end all? Thinking about all that is going on, we have seen better days. But there is no need to get up in arms as truth will out. Can you have too much of a good thing? What things do  set your teeth on edge?

Hopefully you are not yet ready to shuffle off this mortal coil, or is that a foregone conclusion? Should you stiffen the sinews or send him packing? It could be high time to avoid the green eyed monster, and say good riddance to foul play. In the twinkling of an eye, as good luck would have it, and sharing the milk of human kindness it is such stuff as dreams are made on.

Indeed, the game is up for star crossed lovers because the course of true love never did run smooth.

If you are as dead as a doornail, as merry as the day is long, as pure as the driven snow, in a pickle or in stitches, or the game is afoot you can thank Shakespeare for these and many other phrases.

You can be eaten out of house and home, or brevity is the soul of wit, but screw your courage to the sticking-place come what come may. But, for my own part, it was Greek to me and comparisons are odorous but you may want to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war or dash to pieces.  Do not forget that discretion is the better part of valour.  And you can always chant double, double toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble

Are you interested in fair play, do you have your heart’s content or are you the be all and end all, or exceedingly well read, fancy free or do you fight fire with fire for ever and a day? These household words, while hot-blooded all of a sudden have gone to all corners of the world, and thereby hangs a tale, but it is all one to me. Beware the ides of March, for I bear a charmed life. Lie low or run like the Dickens.  Love is blind but not lily-livered.  It can make your hair stand on end. It is a sorry sight, but at least all’s well that ends well, unless you lay it on with a trowel. More fool you if you are hoist by your own petard.  Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, if not the primrose path or the crack of doom.  Screw your courage to the sticking place I have not slept one wink and I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.  It beggar’d all description for the  night owl but it is meat and drink to me. No more cakes and ale? But neither a borrower nor a lender be and do not makes Much Ado about Nothing. Now is the winter of our discontent, but oh, that way madness lies so once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. To be or not to be, that is the question

We may have gotten a little carried away there, please forgive us, but do celebrate with us the wonder and delight that is Shakespeare!


There will be a twitter discussion on 26  April starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST (UK).  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Please use the tags  #bardread and #rwpchat as you discuss your reading, watching, and playing that is your experience of  #bardread, so that others can join in the conversation too.


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