There is an interesting article by James Shapiro on Shakespeare and how the plague affected him and the theatre in 1606. Click here to read.
As Benedict Cumberbatch prepares to play Hamlet in London, interesting background information can be found here. The production won’t be reviewed by critics officially for a some time; however, one surprise is that the production opens with the “To be, or not to be soliloquy,” which is bound to raise some hackles. Here’s another link for more early commentary and pictures of the production.
Now, apparently, “To be or not to be” is to be restored to its normal position in the play. See this report in the Telegraph.
For Michael Billington’s thorough and thoughtful review of the official first night, click here.
There’s a new production of Othello at Stratford-upon-Avon starring Hugh Quarshie as Othello with Lucian Msamati as Iago. The review in the Observer indicates there are some rather strange directorial and acting choices. For a fuller and more considered review, there’s this one in the Independent. The production runs until 28 August.
Disagreements about Shakespeare’s sexuality have erupted between various Shakespeare scholars, as reported in the Daily Telegraph. Brian Vickers argues that Shakespeare’s sonnets are not autobiographical (and hence give no indication of his sexuality), while Stanley Wells has taken an opposing view. For a portrayal of Shakespeare’s bisexuality, see The Shakespeare Diaries.
Is 23 April 2014 the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth? We don’t know. What is known is that Shakespeare was christened on 26 April 1564. The 23rd is a possibility for his birth, but not a certainty. The 23rd is also St. George’s day, and so there is a happy (and fortuitous) association of England’s greatest dramatist with its patron saint.
If you are interested in details of productions of Shakespeare’s plays on the London stage from 1 January 1890 through 31 December 1959, check out http://www.jpwearing.wordpress.com. A series of calendars provides what plays were performed, where, and by whom. Bibliographies of reviews, commentaries, and other useful information is also provided.