23 April 2012

Share Thy Shakespeare Challenge

Happy BIRTHDAY Shakespeare!  
Celebrate by thinking of the Bard
and taking the challenge. 

The Share Thy Shakespeare Challenge is not so much a challenge to think of a line from Shakespeare or a book or a sonnet, but a challenge to stop and think about Shakespeare.  Try and remember the first time you heard a piece of Shakespeare or the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Shakespeare.  So think about William Shakespeare and we want to know what comes to your mind.  

We found some good resources to help you if Shakespeare is new to you or you find him hard to read or to understand:
  • Need Help reading Shakespeare?  How about some help that is fun to read click here for Joseph Smigelski's "How to Enjoy Reading Shakespeare.
  • Know of a particularly good Shakespeare Festival, please tell us!

Please use the following format for your comment:  
Write down your thoughts on Shakespeare and post.


  1. First of all, I LOVE that my daughters love Shakespeare. Our love is thanks to a few things: Stanley Tucci, Lakeside Shakespeare Theater and William himself.

    Stanely Tucci because he was in A Midsummer Night's Dream (along with Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Klein and many others www.imdb.com/title/tt0140379/) I loved everything about the movie and since I loved it, we watched it together and now we all love it. The girls were introduced to Shakespeare through film and listening to stories read aloud --they like the way it sounds.

    Lakeside Shakespeare Theater (lakesideshakespeare.org) must be thanked as the lovely actors gave the Sisters their first taste of outdoor Shakespeare and they were instantly hooked.

    And I must thank William himself --for Romeo and Juliet, for Petruchio and Katherina, for Oberon and Titania --while I do find the language challenging-- the more I watch the plays and read the books the more I learn, there is always more and that is the magic of Shakespeare --it never gets old!!

    Two books I suggest to help learn from the Bard: a good Shakespeare Dictionary and Usborne Stories from Shakespeare (there is something about this book that makes us all want to carry it around.)

  2. If the tongue be the voice of the heart, then speak,
    for speech is the blood of society!
    Better that we should of honesty reek
    than be mute in a scentless piety.

    (Go Cubs!)

  3. This is my favorite scene from the play A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Thisbe says:
    Asleep, my love?
    What, dead, my dove?
    O Pyramus, arise!
    Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
    Dead, dead? A tomb
    Must cover thy sweet eyes.
    These My lips,
    This cherry nose,
    These yellow cowslip cheeks,
    Are gone, are gone:
    Lovers, make moan:
    His eyes were green as leeks.
    O Sisters Three,
    Come, come to me,
    With hands as pale as milk;
    Lay them in gore,
    Since you have shore
    With shears his thread of silk.
    Tongue, not a word:
    Come, trusty sword;
    Come, blade, my breast imbrue:

    Stabs herself

    And, farewell, friends;
    Thus Thisby ends:
    Adieu, adieu, adieu.

    Thisbe Dies

    P.S. You'll know why I like this if you've read the book or watched the play or movie --its a comedy and this scene is actually played by a man who realizes in this scene that he's a good actor.

  4. My first Shakespeare experience was to see Taming of the Shrew in modern dress. I think I was in middle school. The coolest thing about it was the stage that turned - it was a circle!

  5. Anonymous2:39 PM

    It is said that the UK and USA are countries divided by a common language! Not really nowadays, though you guys over there do need some help with your spelling! The English used by Shakespeare (as with King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer - best usage at the time) is still essentially in use today - without Thee/Thou! Words change ("indifferent" = careless now, impartial then) - it's the ideas, situations and characters that REALLY count. That's why, for instance, Romeo and Juliet translates to West Side Story, etc. But he does have a way with words! Don't overlook the Sonnets. Best wishes to all.

    Peter Holman, Cornwall, UK

  6. Anonymous3:11 AM

    Personally, I think that the most interesting thing about Shakespeare is the language used as it shows how English has evolved (as it still is evolving)Also the time that it was written was a very traumatic time to be around. Conditions for the ordinary people were very harsh and the judicial system wasn't exactly a bundle of laughter either if you happened to be on the wrong side of it.
    But back to our boy William....
    Of course, some people take delight in looking for conspiracies and now some question if Shakespaere was in fact more than one person and if so, how many of them worked together and who were they? At least with the modern poets (People like Spike Milligan, Harry Graham and A.A. Milne), we don't get that problem.

    Cogito Ergo Doleo
    (I think, therefore I'm depressed)

    Alan Horrocks
    Also from Cornwall, UK (why is it that you wait ages for someone from Cornwall, then two suddenly appear as if from thin air?)

  7. I have read and loved Shakespeare at many points in my life.

    One of my favorite Shakespeare memories is from my Senior year in college. I took a couple summer courses and one of them was a Shakespeare course.

    I spent that entire lovely semester biking through MSU's beautifully treed summer-quiet campus and reading plays on the river bank. Moving from one patch of warm sun to another while absorbing each perfectly turned phrase. Meeting up with classmates over coffee to read passages aloud.

    That was a truly luxurious summer...

  8. I couldn't respond to your Shakespeare challenge immediately because it set my mind going in too many different directions and I couldn't stop it. So let me try to sort some things out and I'll write more than one entry (and perhaps another challenge) so you don't have to read this all at once.

    1. My favorite Shakespearean play is Hamlet.

    2. In my senior year of high school we presented A Midsummer Night's Dream. I played Hippolyta who is, basically, just Theseus's eye-candy trophy. But I know the play well and enjoy it.

    3. What really turned me on to Shakespeare, however, was Macbeth. We had gone through it the year before and I don't remember "studying" it. I just remember listening to a recording of it as we followed along in our books. I loved the sounds of the language and the characters and the sights that were conjured up in my mind - and the frustration, even then, at not being able to stop Macbeth from making the choices that brought about his doom. And that led me to...

    4. The cleverness of the prophecies of the witches, which he felt made him invincible because he couldn't conceive of their ever coming true. And that led me to...

  9. 5. The Parsee's 3 prophecies in Moby Dick that led Ahab to believe that he would be invincible. I recognized that Melville "borrowed" that device from Shakespeare and

    6. right away my mind jumped to other borrowings from Shakespeare. IMMEDIATELY, The Sound and the Fury. In one of his soliloquies Macbeth says "[Life] is a tale told by an idiot, Full of sound and fury Signifying nothing." I knew when I picked up Faulkner's novel where that title came from, and the full quotation stayed in my mind as I read the first section - the tale told through the stream-of-consciousness of the 33-year-old idiot, Benjie, who has never spoken a word, only makes noises and cries. Then

    7. I thought of other book titles that are references to other works and how, when you're a reader, "...way leads unto way...": Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath; Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises... and I finally cried to my mind, STOP!
    ( But maybe our Books for Walls family can create a place where others can list titles and authors we can share and try to come up with the original author and quotation?)

    8. P.S. My mind went on to times I've borrowed from Shakespeare. Twice I've begun a shared recollection at a funeral with Marc Antony's words from Julius Caesar: "He (she) was my friend, faithful and just to me." And on the front of the program for my husband's funeral, these words from Hamlet, "Now cracks a noble heart, - Good night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

  10. Anonymous5:07 PM

    My first encounter with Shakespeare was in
    High School English & the play was Romeo & Juliet.
    I loved it. I was especially taken with all the
    insults and bantering of the rival Capulets &
    Montagues. It all seemed so alive and contemporary, not old or dry. I never struggled with it and couldn't understand my classmates
    difficulties. My favorite, favorite is Midsummer
    Night's Dream. Love those fairy names.

  11. Shakespeare … what a marvelous icon!

    Probably the two plays I remember most from my early years are Midsummer Night’s Dream and then later in high school, the Taming of the Shrew. The former was sweetly mysterious with fairy worlds; while the latter was an insight into the Shakespearean era!

    Hamlet and Henry V were favorites in high school. We would read the play and then watch the film. Henry V’s St. Crispen's Day Speech filled my mind with thoughts of valor and chivalry.

    Kudos on the Big Sister’s topic and the Big & Little Sister’s love of Shakespeare at such early ages!

    PS jolynbarrett’s reflections were superb and sacred…thank you…

  12. Peter Berlinghof11:17 AM

    In high school I made a point to have a few of his sonnets commited to memory to impress girls from Sacred Heart.

  13. Shakespeare is everywhere... this morning while The Bean was reading to The Big and Little Sister --Stage Fright on a Summer Night/Magic Tree House Series. There was good Old William --jeez, Jack and Annie get to hang out with the coolest people...

  14. While in Antarctica for the year, I committed myself to re-reading the complete works of Shakespeare. Then, I found out my friend Michael had also embarked on this lofty goal, so we began getting a group together every couple of weeks to read a play aloud. Snacks and drinks are provided, and we draw character names out of a hat to see which part we get to read for each Act. Men play women, young plays old, and if you don't like your part, you get to switch soon. It is a great deal of fun to be drawn in by this amazing playwright and poet, even all the way down here at the bottom of the world! Next up: Titus!

  15. Honorary Auntie1:03 AM

    I was very fortunate to have the Inimitable Mrs S for a fifth grade teacher. She was like SARK before I knew SARK existed. She started a cool children's choir (as opposed to a lofty and official Children's Choir) taught Creative Writing to kids as early as 3rd grade, and delivered William Shakespeare to our 5th grade classroom.

    We built our own version of his Globe Theatre (which is now, in a random act of auspiciosness, a part of the fort in our back yard!)we made costumes in full Elizabethan high fashion, and we produced quality performances as children, by children, for adults (and children).

    I had no idea then, at the age of 10, what a big deal this guy was, I only knew that he wrote sonnets that spoke the way I thought love must sound like and that to this day, i can recite the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet as well or better than Pretty Woman, a 90's movie I watched entirely too much of...

    This early introduction made me understand and be comfortable with difficult literature and I learned to speak and dance and carry on in play after play!

    I also grew up to marry the 5th grade Romeo, by the way!

  16. meg louwsma5:50 PM

    I have a cool old book that outlines and discusses all of the plants and herbs mentioned in Shakespeare's plays ,it's kinda fun.
    "so sweet a kiss the golden sun
    gives not
    to those fresh morning drops upon
    the rose." -Love's Labour Lost
    and Johnny-jump up...
    "The little Western flower upon which
    the bolt of Cupid fell" -Midsummer Night's Dream
    Thanks for reminding me that Ol' William is a fun (if arduous) read!

  17. Meg,

    What fun! Who would ever think of such a thing?! The book world is a marvelous place!

  18. Anela Oh8:28 PM

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle's compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    I happen to have heard this one for the first time when i was watching Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen and i was struck by it... Truly I love all the plays and sonnets by the Bard that i have read or watched but what comes to mind when i think of him is this one...

  19. My first experience to discover Shakespeare and the Atlantic World was with a scene of the play The Tempest

    Had I plantation of this isle, my lord-- ...
    And were the king on't, what would I do ? I'th'commonwealth I would by contraries
    Execute all things; for no kind of traffic
    Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
    Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
    And use of service, none; contract, succession,
    Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
    No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
    No occupation; all men idle, all;
    And women too, but innocent and pure;
    No sovereignty.

  20. HAPPY EASTER and Happy Spring Dear Readers...

    a few words from dear William:

    “In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
    When birds do sing, hey ding a ding;
    Sweet lovers love the spring.”

    We are relieved the spring seems to have finally arrived to Northern Michigan! And with it arrived the Easter Bunny ;)

  21. The Librarian3:54 PM

    My earliest Shakespeare recollection…when I was 12…

    Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble

    ...from MacBeth.

    Don't remember all the details, but I was lucky enough to get to act out the witch scene with a few good friends. I've never forgotten the above chant...and very excited to talk in a shaky, crackly, voice.

    Double, Double Toil and Trouble

  22. i love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love love any Shakespeare !!!!!!

    the big* sister :)

  23. Friend of Will6:18 PM

    Every year we go to Stratford, we never MISS --ever. What would life be without William?