All posts by rsreid

What I King Lear[ned] Part II

I attended Theatre Calgary’s performance of King Lear last week and it was fantastic!  I didn’t even feel like falling asleep once! I was glad that I had seen the Ian McKellen movie before hand so that I could really appreciate how incredible the live theatre version was.

I found the live version much easier to follow because even though the actors weren’t mic’d their voices were clearer than the film version and I found their enunciation to be better than the Royal Shakespeare Company’s version… Way to go Calgary!

I was astounded by the direction of the play.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a theatre performance, I’d forgotten how clever directors can be with sets, props and stage directions.  I found that the settings were much clearer in the stage version than in the movie.  While I was watching the movie, I was constantly confused as to where the scene was supposed to be taking place.  The Theatre Calgary version used the balcony and a movable staircase in various compositions to clearly show that the setting had moved to another house or to outside.

The casting was outstanding.  It was quite similar to the Royal Shakespeare’s casting, one noticeable difference to me was that Cordelia was a brunette and not a blond.  Being blond seemed like an important facet of her character since she was supposed to be the most fair and the most virtuous, but if I hadn’t seen the Royal Shakespeare production I don’t think i would have questioned the casting choice.  The other difference was that Edmund wasn’t caucasian like his father, but since Edmund is a bastard the disparity in race doesn’t distract from his performance because there’s nothing to say that Edmund’s mother wasn’t of a different race.  Also his performance was impeccable, so I was a big fan of the casting choice.

I found that the ability for my eye to wander around the set kept me more engaged during some of the longer monologues and ranting that happens during the play.  When I was watching the movie, there wasn’t any liberty for my eye and mind to wander because I was limited to what the director chose to put into a given scene.  On stage, there’s so much to see and engage with that compliments the language- the set, the other characters on stage, the reactions of the other audience members to the play-that it kept the performance alive. Whereas, I found that the Royal Shakespeare company’s performance started to fade near the end because the sets and language became too monotonous.

Overall the Theatre Calgary performance of King Lear was much more engaging than the movie and the added excitement of being in a theatre that is modelled after the globe theatre made the experience all the more fun!



What I King Lear[ned]

Okay, let’s be serious here…

Actually, let’s not be serious, because I just watched a three hour long movie that was nothing but serious!  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not suggesting they should have thrown in any sunshine or rainbows, but perhaps some daylight?  And I understand that Shakespeare was originally performed on a plain stage, but I’m pretty sure they turned the lights on in the Globe Theatre.  I think the Royal Shakespeare company must have fired their lighting guy right before production started and just said, “Oh well, we’ll just go without”.  Also could they have delivered one line without shouting it…?

Okay, okay, I’m over it.  Here are some comments on the benefits and downfalls of watching  film production of a Shakespearean play:

1. I found I was able to follow the plot just by looking at the costumes and listening the the tones of voice that the actors were using, which was good since I wasn’t actually able to catch much of what they were saying.  Especially Ian McKellen- he really needs to work on his enunciation. It’s charming when he’s playing Gandalf or Dumbledore, but throw Shakespearean English on top of blurred consonants and I was sure lost.

2.  Seeing characters in costumes (or lack of costumes in the case of Edgar) made keeping the characters straight a lot easier.  Like I mentioned in my post on annotation, I’m a very visual learner, so being able to see a face and a costume was very helpful for me in understanding the play.  I found that the costumes made the characters roles quite simple to sort out.  For example:

-the king is wearing a crown (the crown is askew or removed when he’s acting crazy or “unroyal”)

-the pure/chaste sister is wearing white

-the other sisters are wearing darker costumes

-The upper class are wearing fancier clothes than the lower class. Kent, for example is dressed very plainly.

3.  I found was that I was limited in my understanding of the content by the way the lines were presented by the actors.  I’m sure that I will see some different tonal interpretations when I listen to the audio version of the play and that will change/add to my understanding of King Lear.

4.  I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the beauty and complexity of the language that was being spoken.  Don’t get me wrong, I recognized the complexity, but didn’t appreciate it quite like I did when I was reading Lucrece and I had the footnotes to guide me to a fuller understanding of the language. Perhaps if the film was played at half speed (the downfall of which would be that the film would extend to six hours long…) I would be able to catch more of the language, but as it was my understanding  of what was actually being said was limited.


Rebecca Reid


My attempt at a sonnet- Please don’t be to hard onnet!


English 205, a course for the ages.

O Shakespearean verses fortunes have’t we study

Stanzas and  lines we read pages and pages.

Themes, and parallel phrases we looketh upon thee

For between thy plain structure, O Meaning we find you.

Meaning of strange words and worlds, woveth in

The tapestries of e’re told tales for us to find anew.

Thou timeless Bard baffled billions. Why did you spin

The words that you did.  We spend hours trying to know

the thoughts in thoust noggin at th’hour when parchment and quill

married to make sums many more than their parts e’re show.

Tell me, is a tree just a tree or did you have further will?

Nothing  by thy pen is as the flowers appear to the sun;

‘Tis more akin to an onion, but many leagues more fun.








A NOTE on An-NOTE-ating



(Yes.. I do think I’m pretty funny.)

On the first day of class I thought to myself, “But Dr. Ullyot, I’ve annotated before! What could I possibly have to learn about annotating?”

The answer it, A LOT!  My exploration of annotating techniques are as follows:

When I started reading Lucrece, the first thing I thought to myself was, “… What in the world is the crazy bard talking about…?????”  (as a side note, I didn’t do Shakespeare in high school, curse their souls, so this being my first Shakespeare-ence, I really just wanted to figure out what in the world was going on)

So my annotations were mostly paraphrasing, with a little bit of highlighting mixed in there for good fun.  Okay, not just for good fun, I was using my highlighters to follow various themes.  In the end my text looked a lot (if not exactly) like this:

photo 4photo 3



“Rebecca,” You say, “That looks pretty boring and bland.  And not to mention it’s kind of hard to tell exactly what is important.”

My thoughts exactly.

So I set out in search of a new technique for annotating!

[Enter the Twelfth Night followed by a band of coloured markers]

As you can see from the pictures below I found a much more rainbow coloured (i.e. less boring) and more effective way of annotating my copy of the Twelfth Night.  I created a colour coded index that told me which coloured marker corresponded to which themes or characters.  I then used the markers to underline or bracket words, phrases, or passages that fit the description of the colour.

It sounds complicated, but it’s really not. Let me show you how it works:

Here’s my index. It’s rather extensive, but one can only blame Shakespeare for that- If there weren’t so many crazy twisted, tangled, upside-down relationships to follow in the Twelfth night, my list would be much smaller.

photo 1[3]


Say I’m reading through the first page of the story and I come across a line such as, “O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art though,”.  Well, I’d take that line an I’d underline it it red because red in my index relates to the “intensity/nature of love.”

photo 4[3]


Isn’t that great?!

I think so too.

There are many more examples below.  Feel free to pursue them at your leisure.   I’ll see you at the bottom of the post.

[Exit Rebecca]

photo 3[3]photo 2[4]photo 4[2]photo 3[2]photo 2[3]photo 1[2]photo 4[1]photo 3[1]photo 2[2]photo 1[1]photo 1



[Enter Rebecca with a delicious looking sandwich wearing some mustard and a guilty look on her face]

Oh, hello there! I’m glad you finally made it through my extensive gallery of great annotating!  I think my favourite part is the ends of my fingers photo-bombing every picture…

So sue me, I’m an english student, not a photographer (or a hand model).

Not a photographer but a visual learner, so having my text annotated in colour made going back to analyze the text a breeze!

[Exit Rebecca]