Category Archives: STRATFORD-UPON-AVON

Stratford Triptych

Three awesome conversations today –

1) While waiting for the bus, with an elderly lady who now lives two streets from me, but was born in a cottage opposite the Birthplace.

2) At work, with a Mathematical Psychologist, who’s in England to deliver a talk at the University of Newcastle. But stopping off to visit Shakespeare’s town.

3) On the journey home, with an Erasmus student at the University of Warwick – also a mathematician – who asked me if I knew that Cervantes had died in the same year as Shakespeare.

I wonder how many other people have their birthplace on Henley Street? And how many are still alive – and still living in Stratford? And who else died in 1616 – besides William’s namesake and brother-in-law, the hatter William Hart. Obviously the Jonson-Drayton-died-of-a-boozeup story’s much more romantic, but I wonder why nobody ever suggests that Shakespeare might have also succumbed to whatever killed Hart – their burials are recorded on the same page of the Holy Trinity register.

As for the Mathematical Psychologist (who, I think, lived in California), he told me he’s working on an algebra that can express how and why we learn things. I do love Stratford (sometimes).

WRITING ABOUT WOMEN IN SHAKESPEARIAN PERFORMANCE: 11-12 SEPT 2010

Hosted by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, in partnership with the University of Warwick and Nottingham Trent University

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, registered charity no. 209302WRITING ABOUT WOMEN IN SHAKESPEARIAN PERFORMANCE: The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford, 11-12 Sept 2010.

Join a gathering of writers, Shakespeare scholars, theatre critics, actors and fellow enthusiasts as we explore this fascinating theme. Confirmed speakers include Penny Downie (RSC Associate Artist), Professor Laurie Maguire, John Peter, Professor Carol Rutter and Anne Ogbomo. This two-day conference also includes a performance of 1623 Theatre Company‘s production on Ellen Terry, and a drinks reception. 

This conference will also be available online as ‘webinar’: log on and experience our event virtually, wherever you are in the world. 

We ask: 

  • How do we write about women in Shakespearian roles, past and present?
  • What is the impact of the female presence on the Shakespearian stage?
  • Why are there so few women reviewers?
  • What is the place of single-sex companies in a culture which outlaws sex discrimination?
  • Do men and women see the same show differently and what difference does this make to an audience’s response?
  • What is today’s experience for female actors on the Shakespearian stage?

Registration: £65 (£60 concessions); £57 for Friends of the Trust; £50 students. Please note: ‘webinar’ attendance costs 25% off your appropriate registration fee. 

For more information, or to book, email education1 [at] shakespeare [dot] org [dot] uk. Join the conversation now at Blogging Shakespeare, and follow @ShakespeareBT for the latest updates. 

Going out on a limb here: this is the most exciting conference in the world. I’m delighted to be working with Paul Edmondson to promote the conference, which has to be absolutely the best place IN THE WORLD to be on September 11 & 12. The conference (to quote my friend C, ‘BEST LINE UP EVER’) will tie in with SBT’s exhibition on artefacts relating to Women & Shakespeare, which runs from 3 July. 

Modernism and High Theory did their very best to destroy the relationship between the actress and the academy – L. C. Knights’s first named target in How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth? was Ellen Terry, for daring to lecture on Shakespeare to (as I discovered) “packed houses of women”. Scholarship and stage histories have (largely) privileged tragedy over comedy and male over female, which is why conferences like this are so important, and so exciting. And, er, why I’m writing my DPhil. 

I’m especially interested in the women of the Late Plays, but my favourite Shakespearean heroine will always be Kate, from The Taming of the Shrew. I’m hoping the conference includes lots of discussion of the comedies – the best parts in them, like the romances are female. Would you rather play Rosalind or Orlando? Orlando gets to wrestle, but nobody remembers As You Like It for the wrestling. Innogen or Posthumus? Viola or Orsino? Helena’s much too good for Bertram in All’s Well That Ends Well, and although Leontes is one of Shakespeare’s most fascinating characters, Paulina and Hermione can act him off the stage in Act V. 

Miranda rarely outshines Prospero, and it’s hard to choose between Beatrice and Benedick, but even in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the best-beloved ‘festival comedy’ of British theatre, Helena and Hermia shriek, scratch and claw their way through Act 3 – Lysander and Demetrius, too often, are left behind. 

You can expect to hear a lot more from me between now and September, sharing preparations for the Conference, and the Trust’s experiments with new media. I sometimes wish I could Tweet from the Birthplace, while guiding – we get the most amazing (and often hilarious) comments from visitors. I’m slowly expanding my French/Italian/Japanese/Armenian (no really) vocabularies by working with group bookings and their interpreters. I think I’d look pretty good wielding a Tudor Blackberry. My favourite languages to date are Indonesian and Armenian, neither of which sound ANYTHING like you’ve EVER heard before (unless you’re Indonesian or Armenian, obviously). I’m always pushing people to sign the guest book – they date back to 1812, and 20 to 30 nationalities sign every day. 

The Trust will soon release another, even greater piece of news. It’s huge. My scruples (read: direct orders) prevent me saying more, but it’s stunning, exhilirating, don’t-talk-to-the-press-about-this stuff. Shakespeare geeks and Stratfordians (no overlap there, then), get ready. I just hope the press release arrives soon, so I can gloat…

BRITGRAD: 17-19 JUNE 2010

BritGrad is the Shakespeare Institute‘s annual 3-day academic conference, focusing on all aspects of Renaissance Drama and the culture of the early modern period. This year’s conference runs from 17-19 June, and includes a trip to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of King Lear, now in repertory at the Courtyard Theatre.

BritGrad will be my first academic conference. When I was a Masters student, our saintly co-convenors Professors Fiona Stafford and Stephen Gill (both amazing: mention their names to academics from any nation state and you realise they’re bywords for both scholarship and kindness) gave their twelve MSt 1780-1900 students a one-day practice in confusing each other with papers. Subjects of academic obsession included Penny Dreadfuls; Victorian Women Doing Travel Writing in Scotland; How To Die Of A Migraine in Literature (okay, this wasn’t what Lisa’s paper was actually about. Lisa’s idea of a gap year, pre-medical school and post-Harvard, was an Oxford Masters. She was from Manhattan and we loved her); Fin de Siecle Things (I’m still vague); Trilby; and, Cab Drivers Who Probably Didn’t Seduce Oscar Wilde.

Guess which one I wrote. All in all, it was the embodied awesome that you would expect from people who bonded in their first week over the ability to turn Dickens novels into titles for a certain genre of film.*

I am so excited about Britgrad. Not only is everybody from the Institute awesome, but apparently they’re all also terrifyingly well-organised. There are committees beneath committees. People will be chairing, co-chairing, chair-fetching and chair-stacking with military precision. I have before me/in tabbed browsing the schedule. Between cocktails and catered meals, there will be PANELS and PLENARY SESSIONS. Some of these clash, so you have to choose; I haven’t planned an itinerary with such interest since Disneyland. Currently, my must-sees are —

1. The Female Body in Early Modern Drama. There’s a paper on boy players, so obviously I’m there. I’m also interested in the paper on Titus Andronicus (wish John-Mark were in attendance) and one on Shakespeare’s older women, entitled “Shakespeare’s Aging Women in Today’s Britain: New Perspectives On Old Faces”. I’m hoping for some discussion of the Countess in All’s Well, and perhaps Hermione – but then maybe she ‘ages’ too briefly?

2. Shakespeare and Religion. Religious angst? Yes please. There’s a paper on The Massacre at Paris, so exciting; my favourite Marlowe play, and underappreciated generally.

3. Shakespeare and Eastern Europe. Performances of Shakespeare in Poland and Cold War Germany. I know nothing about this, but a) it’s performance history, and b) peer pressure – go where your friends are!

4. Narratives of Theatre History. In a shock twist of fate. Although it breaks my heart that this panel clashes with Shakespeare and Education, which has panels on teaching Shakespeare in ESL (I’ve seen ESL performances of Macbeth and The Tempest, and would love to direct one, some day) and via Contextual Approaches. But the Theatre History panel includes a paper on Irving, Poel and the 1891 Duchess of Malfi.

5. Naissance and Renaissance. Starring my lovely colleague Elizabeth Sharrett. Basically, three papers on elements of obstetrics/child-bearing/childbed rituals in Renaissance and post-Reformation drama. Beyond crying over Elizabeth Grymeston’s The Mother’s Legacy to her Unborn Child (emotional distress otherwise reserved for Wilde, Truly Madly Deeply, and any instance of people being cruel to Beethoven), I know nothing save what I tell tourists in the Birthroom. So good.

Speakers in the plenaries include Professor Jonathan Bate, Greg Doran and Dr. Emma Smith. As an undergrad, I only knew Emma by report, as my friends’ tutor. I got to know her better as a postgrad, and very much look forward to her paper.

If you’re reading this & coming to Britgrad, do get in touch – what are you most excited about?

Expect another post on conferences very shortly – if you like women, Shakespeare and performance (or even women performing Shakespeare, who can say), watch this space.

*God, I miss my degree… they’re all much too vulgar to be reblogged here, but ask me when I’ve had a Bellini…

Stratford-on-Avon PPCs: Zahawi, Johnston, Turner et al (and why you should save your spin for the Bodleian)

My prized collection of spin, hope and lunacy.

The John Johnson Collection, the Bodleian Library’s Archive of printed ephemera, are collecting material related to the General Election. If you have received any leaflets/postcards/scratch ‘n’ sniff perfume samples from your PPCs, don’t throw them away! Election ephemera can be sent direct to the relevant librarians – email me at clamorousvoice [at] gmail [dot] com to learn more.

PPCs for Stratford-upon-Avon (as of 29th April):

Conservative: Nadhim Zahawi
Labour: Rob Johnston
Liberal Democrat: Martin Turner
Green: Karen Varga
Independent: Neil Basnett
English Democrats: Frederick Bishop
UKIP: Brett Parsons
BNP: George Jones

What I’ve learned about these candidates, so far

In February, the blogosphere claimed that Zahawi had received “the promise of a safe Conservative seat” in Stratford – “ultra-safe”, according to the Voter Power Index. For a while, Jeffrey Archer’s crony looked set to become the Midlands’ latest British Asian Tory poster boy, along with the charismatic Allah Ditta, Worcester’s first Asian Mayor. Now, however, Independent Neil Basnett has frothed up to split the right-wing vote. He’ll do well – if Stratford’s unhappiest Tories are too blinded by bigotry to notice his lack of policies.

Meanwhile, Rob Johnston’s got himself a PPC webpage – even if it is empty – and was sighted at Alcester Grammar School. A schoolfriend of mine claims he bought her a drink and was nice (perk up, Johnston, I agree being given S-on-A to fight is shitty, but there’ll be another election soon and important people are watching). Martin Turner‘s a Baptist and knows a sheep farmer. Vince Cable likes him (Turner, not the shepherd). Karen Varga may just be a conspiracy theory. No, wait, she has a blog. The most recent entry starts “Weapons kill – no seriously“. I think I’ll vote for the sheep.

Stratford also boasts three nationalist-slash-racist-slash-embarrassing candidates, in the form of Frederick Bishop, Brett Parsons and George Jones (I shan’t link to them). From what I can gather, the English Democrats hate everyone who’s not English, UKIP hate everyone who’s not British, and the BNP hate everyone who’s not white (and British. And Christian. And straight). George Jones doesn’t look quite as hilarious as the pencil sketch I posted two weeks ago, but does resemble Fagin’s seedier half-brother.

Which is ironic.

I can’t vote Labour. I think the Liberal Democrats (and, realistically, a coalition government/hung parliament) are our best hope for a) change and b) the destruction of the New Conservative dream. I just hope Nick Clegg doesn’t meet any bigots in the forthcoming week. I bet Murdoch wouldn’t have broadcast Cameron with his microphone left on.

1970s and 1980s earrings (I have wonky ears but my mum doesn’t)

1980s vintage earrings

A Stratford-on-Avon voter has just 0.078 of a vote. That’s less than 8% of a real vote, based on constituency size and the prospect of the party in power changing. I may be more optimistic than the Voter Power Index, but it’s still a bit depressing.

So have some earrings. Vintage earrings.

These beautiful confections of plastic, glass, sci-fi glitter, seashell and bronze are authentic late 70s/early 80s earrings. Which is a bloggy-vintage-yah way of saying, “they belong to my mum”. ♥

What do you think?

We don’t need no stinkin’ content

  1. Apparently, I will not rest until I have made this blog look as ugly as possible.
  2. My father has returned from a night shoot and currently exists in his own timezone.
  3. Today I walked round London in HIGH(ish) HEELS for the first time. I currently have stabbing pains in my soles previously associated with Year 8 School Discos.
  4. I have seen the garb I am supposedly wearing for this choir I have supposedly joined with the artist formerly known as my mother. Said garb was described as TABARD but LESBIAN BASEBALL JACKET would be more appropriate. Suspect she has signed us up for Scientology.
  5. On Thursday I am going to the Press Performances of both The Drunks and The Grain Store! Dizzy with the prospect of using my THEATRE tag once more.

REVIEW: Julius Caesar, dir. Lucy Bailey, RSC Courtyard Theatre

Greg Hicks as Julius Caesar I’ve published my first piece on the Alligator! It’s a review of the RSC’s new production of Julius Caesar, featuring local actors Sam Troughton and Hannah Young, as well as Greg Hicks (left) in the title role. You can read my review here.

In other & exciting news, my friend Elizabeth (who writes Oxford, Abridged) just told me that we’ll be graduating on the same day – her from her M.St, me from my BA. So I’m really pleased about that.

REVIEW: AS YOU LIKE IT, COURTYARD THEATRE, RSC

Katie Stephens (Rosalind) and Jonjo O'Neill (Orlando). (c) Ellie Kurtz

Katie Stephens (Rosalind) and Jonjo O'Neill (Orlando). (c) Ellie Kurtz

In Michael Boyd’s new production of As You Like It, the action moves from the frozen monochrome of a court in crisis to a forest less welcoming than a Siberian tundra. The comedy of Rosalind following her father into exile in the Forest of Arden is often portrayed as a play of riotous thigh slapping and lurid green sets, with plenty of opportunity for flowers, straw, and a strutting “Ganymede” (Rosalind’s male alter-ego; this being Shakespeare, she exchanges her skirt for trousers for much of the play). Instead, the latest Royal Shakespeare Company production finds both savagery and beauty in this beloved Shakespeare play. The result is a compelling exploration of the comedy’s dark heart.

Returning from the Histories season, Boyd and designer Tom Piper create a new aesthetic for the new RSC ensemble. From the blue-ochre blaze of the Histories sets, Piper has moved to a starker, colder look.  Initially, the stage is spare, the back of the courtyard dominated by a gleaming silver-white structure of square panels. Its metallic sheen provides a static backdrop to the glittering, inhospitable court that Duke Ferdinand, Orlando and Adam, Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone successively flee.

But then Boyd and Piper unleash destruction on the set: the wrestling bout between Orlando and Charles smears the panels with blood; an enormous ball of straw bursts through double doors—quite literally the forest of Arden. Inside is Richard Katz’s Touchstone, a man with the frizzy grey hair of a clown, with his legs strait-jacketed together. The square panels are opened, battered, or removed altogether, revealing a casual abattoir (a deer hangs from a meathook, coat glistening), dead branches, or a dusty, yellow light. Instead of elegant poems on parchment, Orlando’s sonnets are big black letters on scrappy placards, enormous cardboard panels suspended from the flies or pinned to the pillars and set. In this production, the concepts As You Like It usually conveys with charm—clown, forest, poetry—are pushed to their limits, creating visual shocks that alternately amuse and surprise.

At the end of the interval, Geoffrey Freshwater as Corin guts and skins a real dead rabbit onstage. Detractors may find it too gory, but even the decapitation (a flash of the cleaver while the audience braces itself) is remarkable more for its efficiency than for its horror. The moment is an effective metaphor for a production fighting audience assumptions about this cosy comedy. Boyd’s As You Like It refuses the notion that a big-budget staging has to look safe or beautiful.

Where other productions gloss the play’s darkness to foreground the comedy, Boyd and his cast address the psychological impact of the characters’ experiences. Katy Stephens’s Rosalind is, above all, a woman who has just lost her father, and her performance has the sharpness of raw grief. Rosalind’s love for Orlando is as painful as it is instantaneous, and in the intimacy of the courtyard, it’s a shock to see her stand on the stage with tears in her eyes after the first wooing scene. Rather than looking the part of a wriggling schoolboy, when Stephens cross-dresses to become Ganymede, she turns into a dashing young man. She is the only Rosalind I’ve seen who convinces in the fainting scene, when Rosalind has to endure news of her beloved Orlando’s tussle with a lion, herself dressed as the male Ganymede (a slightly spivvy aesthete in Barbour and moustache). Usually, Rosalind keels over at the briefest flash of Orlando’s blood-stained handkerchief; here, she is forced to stand with the gory white scarf around her neck until the proximity of the blood becomes excruciating. Both of them are fighters, the extent of the blood indicating just how much Orlando had to bear.

Mariah Gale’s Celia is Rosalind’s junior, a princess full of an enthusiasm that renders her vulnerable. Celia is a problematic role: she tends to disappear into the trees as the Rosalind-Orlando relationship takes over. Her own last-minute love plot with Oliver is conveyed in a couple of sentences. Nevertheless, Boyd fleshes out the role with a bizarre, but enjoyable, dream sequence and a well-cast Oliver. As Oliver, Charles Aitken, a veteran of physical theatre companies such as Headlong and Frantic Assembly, echoes Stephens’s Rosalind by rooting his performance in trauma, which stems from a father’s death.

The most memorable performance comes from Forbes Masson as Jacques, the melancholic courtier who masterminds the utopian project of Duke Ferdinand’s exile. Masson plays a gin-soaked Goth with sneering blacked eyes and a purple velvet blazer, faintly ridiculous with his Cuban heels and ginger hair ruffled to the ends. Masson sings with intensity. His tenor is disarmingly icy, like Rufus Wainwright turned malevolent choirboy. There’s a hint of the jilted lover in his sneering, bitter relationship with Clarence Smith’s Duke Ferdinand, the exile who sets out to find “sermons in stones, books in the running brooks”. Ferdinand raises Jacques’s hopes of a utopia in Arden, but by the end of the play, those hopes are dashed. When Duke Ferdinand’s crown is miraculously restored, the company drops to their knees, while Jacques stays standing. His sense of contempt as Ferdinand takes the crown—the lure of power is just too strong for the exiled duke—is palpable; their sylvan dream is shattered. Jacques skulks offstage alone, leaving the festivities he can no longer enjoy.

The members of Boyd’s new ensemble have, in As You Like It, created an almost flawless conception of a fiercely flawed world. This company will perform together until 2011, opening the New Royal Shakespeare Theatre currently being built. Traditionally, acting contracts are much shorter, forcing actors into hothouse collaborations lasting only for the few weeks of rehearsal. The Long Ensemble, together since January, has time to develop intense relationships with one another and with the roles they will reprise in future seasons. The visceral emotion and fierce intelligence of this production suggests that summers in Stratford will be hot for years to come.

As You Like It | dir. Michael Boyd | The Royal Shakespeare Company | The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

This review originally appeared in the Oxonian Review. To subscribe to the Review, click here.

BNP, MEPs: Not a protest vote.

Reading about the election results tonight, unable to sleep, I started wondering if this was all some big karmic joke; paying the UK back for years of smugness about US politics – yes, Tony Blair was a goon in a tie, but at least he wasn’t George Bush, at least our bloke wasn’t stupid. I shared in that smugness, I was that stupid. Accordingly I was simultaneously ecstatic, ashamed and envious the night the leaders of the free world voted to make their leader Barack Obama.

It’s less an issue of karma than complacency. In the good times, we (some of us) could ignore the way (some views in) this country were going. Now, predictably, the bad times have brought dissatisfaction, bigotry, corruption and cruelty into view, from voters and politicians alike. For the first time, my house in Stratford got leafletted by the BNP.  Some people have seen the BNP’s gains, including the appoinment of former NF and National Socialist member Andrew Brons as the BNP’s first MEP and his fascist leader Nick Griffin as their second. People have voted to give the BNP and far-right parties what The Times has called ‘a cash bonanza‘. And these votes, sadly, are not a “protest vote”.

Yes, the economy is in the shit and yes, the politicians of all three major parties have behaved badly with the expenses scandal. But there were alternatives; there are always alternatives. We have fourteen major political parties in the United Kingdom, and at least a further twenty-five minor political parties in England alone.

Immigrants and non-white Britons did not cause the economic crisis. They did not cause the expenses scandal (my God, even if you’re somehow stupid enough to disagree with the former, surely you don’t believe that the average Polish plumber somehow compelled Douglas Hogg to charge us for cleaning his moat?). The BNP cannot solve any economic crisis. Voters are angry with political corruption, but surely they cannot imagine that people capable of uttering the words “Hitler, God rest his soul” are going to conduct themselves with more honesty, judgment and fairness than members of the three main parties?

I don’t think that even BNP voters (disgusting bigots all) can be stupid enough to really, truly believe that immigrants caused the housing crash, the culture of bankers’ bonuses, or MP corruption. They may keep themselves willfully ignorant (racism cannot survive open-minded learning), but they cannot really believe it. Nobody can. If the BNP voters were really casting protest votes, they would have spoiled their ballots, or gone for the local incarnation of the Monster Raving Loony Party (I remember finding out about them as a very small child; they charmed me, as does their current Joan Crawford-esque policy of no more wire hangers).

Perhaps I am underestimating the stupidity of the electorate. But not, I think, their racism: what’s gone on here is scapegoating and voluntary, even willing venting of racist hate. This isn’t a new problem, this isn’t a problem caused by inflation or MP expenses. And it’s not the same problem oilrig workers complain about when companies undercut them with foreign workers through loophole accommodation deals. That’s not so-called ‘affirmative action’, so loathed by right-wingers: that’s white businessmen doing anything to save money at the expense of their employees. No, what’s happening here is that the racism of our society is being exposed by a convenient set of circumstances; ones which allow people a suddenly “acceptable” reason to give up on mainstream politics and show what they truly believe. That worth is determined by skin colour and heritage, that difference is disgusting. And that instead of solidarity in diversity, the best way forward is for an insular and ignorant clump of voters, clinging to some long-dead notion of ‘indigenous’ Britain, to uphold their long-term racist goals under cover of a short-term protest.

And the most terrible thing is, this time it’s worked.

I hope the repercussions aren’t huge, and I hope that Brons’s influence is as limited as his viciousness deserves. But I don’t know, and I’m frightened that after the next election, when Gitface Smileshit David Cameron gets in, everything’s going to be so much worse.

Degree results // David Tennant as Hamlet, now with added film…

Summer in Oxford. This is not me enjoying it. For one thing, I am inside editing my dissertation. For another, I am not a man.

Summer in Oxford. This is not me enjoying it. For one thing, I am inside editing my dissertation. For another, I am not a man.

My room is in that state rooms are in when you’re close to a deadline. I could punctuate this post with bursts of uppercase terror, but will refrain. Here’s a funny story.

My Masters course is split into four (count ’em) different strands: Medievalists, Early Moderns, Actual Moderns (with a side order of American) and Us. We are 1780-1900, the Long Nineteenth Century, in fact two periods – Romantic and Victorian. I am a Victorian. Sam is a Victorian. Gabby is a Victorian. Michael and Heather, meanwhile, are Romantics. And so it goes on. The psychology of these strands is very interesting: the Medievalists subtly look down on us all, because they are Medievalists and their love is pure. We look down on the Modernists because they do Woolf, however the Modernists look down on us because they do Woolf, everybody looks down on the Americans but secretly wants to be them because they’re in a cool little club and lovely Professor Bush takes them out for dinner. While most people have an awed and baffled respect for the Medievalists (their love might not be pure, but their manuscript-reading classes were significantly harder), opinion is divided on the Early Modern. I mean, obviously, they’re the period of Shakespeare and thus essentially better than we can ever be, but on the other hand, as individuals they seem to be studying all manner of rot (pick from words like ode – late – Milton – Jonson – elegy – revival, and string them together into something frankly terrifying) when they could be doing lovely Shakespeare and occasional Marlowe.

And everybody looks down on us. Nicely. We are unmistakeably The Best Group, for which other strand produces postgrads capable of destroying with a single swipe, entire tables of glasses at the English Graduate Christmas Party? Who else devotes hours of their lives to thinking up porn film titles for adaptations of Dickens’s novels? Who dominates the URR, strays into other strands’ classes, and writes entire dissertations on migraines in Victorian fiction? Oh yeah. MSt English (1780-1900), that’s who.

Thing is, though, for all our wit and charm, there’s either a temperamental incompetence associated with wanting to read a lot of Keats and/or administrative malice that means we literally never know what’s going on. Our course convenors are unparalleled in their brilliance, and we had a splendid mini-conference with both of them smiling kindly and then giving us sandwiches from Pret. We are even now planning the lavish presents which we shall lavish on them when this lousy war is over and our dissertations are in (Victorian hair jewellery to which we would all contribute a lock is the current best idea). I personally bow to no one in my love for a certain convenor’s red jumper, and wish the wearer was my grandad (I also wish he’d give up that racing bike, can it be safe). Equally, though, we are the last strand to get our results from last term, aka half our degrees. The Medievalists had theirs a week ago, Renaissance yesterday and Modern/American apparently got theirs today. See. See.

Of course, we could have just emailed our convenor at once, but preferred instead to spend five hours in a state of seething neurosis on email, before Ben (who is going to be a journalist and is accordingly hard-hitting) emailed our convenor for his results and got them Just Like That. I mean really. I of course was not brave enough to do this, having been rung by my Modernist seminar partner hours earlier and promptly sent a THE YANKEES ARE COMING sort of email to the cohort, who promptly ran over to their respective colleges in order to collect results that weren’t there.

We get our results tomorrow. I am not calm. I am dwelling. I have come to the conclusion that there’s absolutely nothing anyone can say to me by way of comfort which will not essentially make me want to bite them. In fact, the only good thing about anything is that – oh my god, watch this pathetic segue from narrative to content, it’ll clunk, it’ll audibly clunk – the RSC are filming David Tennant’s Hamlet (HURRAH) for the BBC (HURRAH, screw you ITV & Channel 4 and other independent media ohgod sometimes I worry about myself) and the production company IS BLOGGING this glorious televisual feast. The whole cast has signed up; principals Tennant/Patrick Stewart/Penny Downie and Oliver Ford-Davies, but also people like the amazing Ricky Champ and Ryan Gage. There’s going to be a BBC minisite, to boot. I wish I was there. I wish I was official blogger. Or hatstand, frankly.

An excuse for me to show you David Tennants pretty face again, although oh I hope he doesnt get so skinny, this time.

An excuse for me to show you David Tennant's pretty face again, although oh I hope he doesn't get so skinny, this time.

There’s understandably been a lot of coverage of news of the film (after all, 5,000 fans were petitioning for it as far back as January), but one thing nobody’s discussed (as far as I can see) is the film’s length. The new version will apparently come in at 180 minutes, which interests me: at Stratford, we used to go up at 7.15 and FOH would get out at about 10.50 – presuming we finished at 10.40-45 (sounds about right) and had a 20 minute interval, it sounds as if the filmed Hamlet will come in very slightly shorter than the stage version – I wonder what will go. The film will be broadcast on BBC2 later in 2009, and then in the US and Japan in 2010 (which seems a bit redundant – it’ll be ripped online as soon as it’s shown here).

The search for gainful employment from September continues, incidentally. It does not gallop apace, but it does continue. Beloved readership – you seem to be growing, people keep telling me they read this blog, I mean it’s terribly nice of you but do make yourselves known – has inexplicably failed to provide me with wealth, goods etc. This must change, and soon.

ETA: Hamlet as Facebook feed. “Hamlet’s father is now a zombie“.