SOAR Project fundraiser

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SOAR thumbnailEach year the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library has held a special sale in our Bookstore to raise funds to cover our basic costs … mostly website maintenance and fees, and acquisition of new books. But in recent years our costs have increased, mostly involving the publication of James Warren’s Index to Oxfordian Publications each year, and of then transferring all the entries from the Index into an online catalog (the SOAR Catalog, maintained with specialized cataloging software on LibraryWorld’s library OPAC web servers), and finally (but most importantly!) of maintaining and enhancing those records (the SOAR Project).

The SOAR project is now the major ongoing activity of the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library, and it will take years more to complete, with the ultimate goal being that every single one of the 5,000 records presently in the catalog (and the thousands more to come in the coming years) will each include an abstract and/or excerpt from the article itself, subject tagging of all records so that ALL similar items in the catalog can be retrieved in one search (however and whenever they were published), and, finally, links to an online version of the article, maintained in the SOAR archive, or on any website anywhere in the world. To date more than 1,000 of the SOAR records now have direct links to PDF copies of individual articles, e.g., all of Shakespeare Matters (2001-2013), and the first 15 years (1965-1980) of the Shakespeare Oxford Society Newsletter. More of these links are added each week. Also, more than 500 records now have abstracts and/or excerpts from an article embedded in the record, giving users a quick look at what an article is about before reading it. Much of the recent history of how the Index and the SOAR Project have evolved since 2011 was reported in Linda Theil’s Febrary 24, 2015 news report for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship.

INDEX TO OXFORDIAN PUBLICATIONS (Cover thumbnail, resized_2)So, with all this recent history in mind, this year’s Fundraiser features deals on An Index to Oxfordian Publications, with a discounted price of $25.00 in our Bookstore, and with several combined bundle offers on the Special Offers page. These are pretty good deals for Oxfordian texts that are, in our humble opinion, historic and invaluable. Check them out.


Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” plays with the Shakespeare authorship

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Here’s an early review of the latest Jim Jarmusch film (‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ | Under the Gun Review) which is of special interest to all anti-Stratfordians because right in the middle of the film British actor John Hurt turns up playing Christopher Marlowe, who goes off about “Who wrote Shakespeare” question and ends up calling the Stratford man an “illiterate swine.” We first heard about this last summer, when during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival (while the film was in production) this moment in the film was discussed, and both Jarmush and Hurt weighed in with their thoughts. Here (below) is a clip of the press conference, from YouTube (with the Shakespeare authorship exchanges running from 3:50 to 6:20). John Hurt is asked about his role in the film (he plays Marlowe) and he goes straight into how much Jim Jarmusch believes that Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare. The discussion goes on for several moments, with Jarmusch enthusiastically expounding on the issue while Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston look on with goofy grins. It concludes with Hurt also expressing his anti-Stratfordian views and informing Jarmusch that Sir John Gielgud should also be counted as an anti-Strat who — in the end — was an Oxfordian. The interviewer finally jumps in to get things back on track.

From the movie review:

A veritable auteur of indie cinema, Jim Jarmusch has oft been described as a filmmaker ahead of his time. His latest picture however, the gorgeous Only Lovers Left Alive, feels more like a relic from a treasured past. Its depiction of supernatural companionship harks back to a time when such stories were rarities and not mass marketed products for young adult audiences.

The high point of the entire thing may be John Hurt popping up as Christopher Marlowe – an acquaintance of Eve’s in Tangier, fully embracing the conspiracy theories about Shakespeare’s authorship and dismissing him (fantastically) as an illiterate swine.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Movie Review – Anonymous

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    • You don’t screw with The Bard.

      “He has long been regarded as one of the finest literary minds in all of human history; his 30+ plays, countless sonnets and poems, and sheer volume of respected works have become established English language mainstays for centuries. William Shakespeare, however, is seen by many as a fraud. It has been claimed by those who follow the Oxford theory, that the works of Shakespeare were actually penned by a nobleman during Elizabeth I’s reign, the 17th Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. The question of authorship has long been disputed by both sides of the argument, although exactly what’s at stake for the “winner” of the argument baffles me – surely, no matter who wrote them, the quality of the work itself is not diminished? In any case, the weight of a major Hollywood director has been thrown into this controversial subject, in Roland Emmerich, a man best known for destroying the planet in nearly all his feature films thus far. Watching films like Independence Day and 2012, you might find it hard to imagine that a director of such commercially successful blockbusters might risk his reputation (ha!) on a film about the great English playwright, but it’s true. There’s no approaching asteroid, no gargantuan alien army, no marauding menace from Mother Nature here: no, Anonymous pits Emmerich against his most powerful foe yet – the English language. Does he succeed in making sense of the arguments? Does Emmerich lay waste to the naysayers and poppycockers that claim Shakespeare alone was the author of literary gems such as Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth? Or is Anonymous too wrapped up in its own mystique to make much sense to anyone other than those for whom the argument remains a legitimate question?”

      “I’m no expert on Shakespeare, but even looking at the most miniscule evidence I did while researching this review, it’s a fair bet that some, if not most, of the plays attributed to the man weren’t written by him. I know, there’ll be some who cry heresy at that statement, but how can any rational, free-thinking man believe that an illiterate man like Shaksepare could produce some of the most glorious prose in the history of the English language. Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, this controversy only serves to fan the flames of Anonymous’s often zealous charges against the legitimacy of old Willie’s claim to authorship. The film presents itself in a cloud of political and dramatic postulating and posturing: Anonymous is a terribly dense film to watch, and for most people I suspect it’ll be too much. The film wanders tangentially through a variety of time periods, skipping back from present day, to Elizabeth I’s later reign, and back again to the early part of her life, all to try and encapsulate the eras that influenced one of literature’s great authors. Which, on reflection, is probably the film’s key failing.”

      “Performances across the board are exemplary. The entire cast, and I mean the entire cast, never put a foot wrong, in either delivery or characterization; leading the charge is Rhys Ifans, who is soulfully circumspect and potently driven as de Vere, bringing an intensity I’d not seen in him as an actor before. Vanessa Redgrave, as the older Queen Elizabeth, is simply breathtakingly powerful in her delivery – she reminds me of Judi Dench for the ease of her ability not to look like she’s acting. Redgrave’s real-life daughter, Joely Richardson, plays the younger version of Queen Elizabeth in a casting coup – Richardson’s nowhere near the level of her mother, but she’s good enough not to shortfall on this dual role. Sebastian Armiesto is commendably solid as a competing playwright, and of all the players here, it’s he who provides the most poignant emotional performance – he’s the Everyman character here, in a role I saw paralleled with F Murray Abraham’s Salieri in Amadeus: Ben Jonson wishes he could write like de Vere, but cannot, so he remains content simply to be a lesser man. It’s a potent portrayal of a man destined to be forgotten by history, although you’d never know it.”

      “The film is bookended quite potently by a monologue by Sir Derek Jacobi – himself a vocal proponent of the Oxford theory – and it’s here that Emmerich sets up the story, and the motivation to tell it, quite well. It’s the attention to detail that Emmerich provides the film with that I really enjoyed, regardless of the story. The unfolding drama seemed to my untrained eyes to be a collision of ideas and concepts, of personalities in clash with one another, and without a direct motivation as to why this story needed to be told in the first place. It is a well told story (if you can follow along), but the film’s about twenty minutes too long, and not focused enough on the core story, which should have been the authorship of Shakespeare.”

      “…but at its core Anonymous remains a loud, forceful film arguing against the legitimacy of one of history’s greatest writers. Whichever side of the conspiracy you come down on, regardless of your appreciation of the works of Shakespeare himself, there’s little doubt that Anonymous provides ripe fruit for discussion, and that in itself can only be a good thing. Densely plotted, almost infuriatingly so, Anonymous is recommended only on the strength of Ifans’ performance and the hilarious work of Vanessa Redgrave as the Queen.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Anonymous (2011) Movie Review – Joely Richardson

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  • Recorded history is … creatively re-imagined in order to present a compelling period drama in which the theatre of Shakespeare’s day becomes caught up in political manoeuvrings and a power play to decide England’s next monarch after Queen Elizabeth.

    As the Earl of Oxford explains; “All art is political, otherwise it would just be decoration.”

    Anonymous is also original and engaging in the way in which it deals with a range of other subject matter, including conspiracies concerning Queen Elizabeth and Essex’s Rebellion, although at times these did seem to overwhelm the Shakespeare storyline. Nevertheless, the film was highly watchable and will probably act as inspiration for others to do their own research on the subject of England’s Greatest Playwright.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Horrible Histories launches first feature film with story of William ‘Bill’ Shakespeare

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    • "The BBC’s Horrible Histories children’s show will make the leap to the big screen when the untold story of William Shakespeare is revealed in the first feature film created by the team behind the award-winning series."

    • "Written by and starring Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond, BILL tells the story of how hopeless lute player Bill Shakespeare leaves his family and home to follow his dream."

    • "The producers promise: “It’s a tale of murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth. Can one man prove the quill is mightier than the sword?”

    • "Rickard and Willbond said: “BILL is a comedy adventure for all the family. We’re playing with history, just as Shakespeare did, for the entertainment of the audience. And we like to think he’d be OK with it. Apart from the bit where he’s dressed as a tomato.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

New Shakespeare film coming up: Much Ado About Nothing

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Here is a preview clip of a new version of Much Ado, done in a contemporary setting. Advance word is very enthusiastic, with awards at film festivals already coming in. Stay tuned.

(NB: After the clip plays, more clips start automatically playing. Just hit the stop button on the player.)

Coriolanus (2012) review by That Film Dude | That Film Guy

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    • Coriolanus demonstrates brilliantly how well Shakespeare can be adapted to a modern context, with the setting allowing for sharp commentary on the political situation in the Balkans. As the innumerable modern revisions of Shakespeare have shown, it is astonishing how universal the themes the Bard tackled are, and Coriolanus is no exception: the turbulent politics and the conflict between the aristocracy and commoners of Republican Rome translate extremely well to the modern setting, and there are more than a few echoes of the Occupy movement in the plebeians’ criticisms of the patricians.

    • The play, one of Shakespeare’s longest, has been edited down considerably to fit into a two hour run time, but the resulting increase in pace fits the modern setting very well. While I do wish it had been longer so the characters and their motivations could have been explored more, there’s never a feeling that material has been left on the cutting room floor. Coriolanus is an extremely refreshing film; not a stately Roman play, but a raw, fierce, exhilarating take on one of the Bard’s least known works.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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