Hello world!

Welcome to yet another Shakespeare blog !

My name is Paul, an amateur, non-actor, non-academic enthusiast of the written and performed works of Shakespeare.

Each month we will explore in some detail one particular work, which will usually dovetail with what is under consideration for some of us in my meet up group that has been gathering on Thursdays at a coffeehouse in Chicago’s Logan Square called New Wave Coffee.

Feel free to follow on Facebook under the same name, Shakespeare All Damn Year, an open group. Just invite yourself in.

Now might be a good time to explain the reason for such a blog name.

I have long been a fan of Shakespeare’s sonnets, tried to memorize them, and carted around for 20 years my late great uncle Frank’s collected works of Shakespeare, in separate Yale Shakespeare hardback copies. A few years ago I vowed to read all the plays in one year, but after a couple of months of the media fast required to concentrate on such a task, and speaking to colleagues and friends of nothing but Shakespeare, I soon wearied said colleagues and friends. They knew of my resolution, but seemed to enjoy asking me how long they had left to endure of my conversation sans current events and seasoning of poetic eruptions. My stock response became “all damn year,” which they enjoyed hearing me repeat, after asking me again, “how long?”

So, it’s Shakespeare all damn year. And it’s going on three years, with no end in sight. Although I’ve heard books-on-tape recordings from a professional acting troop the works of Timon of Athens, Cymbeline, and Pericles (also seen at Navy pier’s Chicago shakes: not bad that time), I haven’t managed to persuade others to join me in a close examination of them. As for Venus and Adonis,  along with those sonnets, we shall see how long it takes.

Over the past couple of years I have gone through about half of the Canon reading, debating, admiring with others in the Meetup group, and I’m got a good taste of what passes for Shakespearean controversy in the previous meet up group .

I’m not a fan of controversy, or speculation overly much. If anyone wishes to leave a sample of their Oxfordian scat here, it will be ignored. Shakespeare is an ocean; speculative cultural detritus makes for a poor foam.

I began reading the Riverside Shakespeare but soon learned the value of the Arden Shakespeare or Oxford Shakespeare, and have recently admitted to the actors’ utility of the Barnes & Noble’s Shakespeare. Helps and Guides come among the deep readers, such as Booth, Frye, Bradley, and Goddard, among others, along with Ben and David Crystals’ Shakespeare’s Words, Eric Partridge’s Shakespeare’s Bawdy, and the Applause First Folio in Modern Type. I admire the line by line reading of the folio champions such as Peter Hall (Advice To The Players), John Basil, and especially Barry Edelstein’s Thinking Shakespeare (hint: get it – $8 at B & N)

This coming Thursday, May 7th, some of us from The Shakespeare Lover’s Meetup Group will be discussing and reading scenes from The Life and Death of King John at the usual place – New Wave Coffee, in Logan Square…It can be a noisy place, but the weird waves of sound blasts serve as another (irritating) character. We might go back to The Bourgeoisie Pig on Fullerton and compete with the philosophy group, or climb back into the fireplace room or patio of the Ten Cat Lounge where Mistress Not-So-Quickly serves us IPAs and PBRs until Shakespeare stops being spoken so clearly. No place is perfect. So far the caffeine and music in this central city locale is doing well for most of us.

I will try to have something in the way of a synopsis or an outline before the Meetups’ topic/play, then write up a review of how the play or theme discussion/readings went, after the Meetup – giving this blog a capacity for 3-4 entries/month, minimum. Of course anyone’s comments would add to the month’s entries’ complexity.  I hope we can bring life to the Collected works.

If you would like to ask a question, leave a comment, add to the discussion, or merely say hello then feel free to post a comment. As long as it’s reasonably close to something under discussion – something Shakespeare related, or derived from his works – then your input is welcome

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