ACT’s ROMEO + JULIET: Beyond the Theatre

A Contemporary Theatre presents ROMEO + JULIET by William Shakespeare from March 1-31, 2019. Librarians at The Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, videos, and a podcast to enhance your experience of the show.

ACT partnered with leaders in the Deaf community to make their production of Shakespeare’s classic story of young star-crossed lovers American Sign Language (ASL) integrated. The cast features deaf actors, including Joshua Castille as Romeo. Castille and others participated in a panel discussion on deaf actors and the use of ASL in musical theater at the Seattle Public Library back in June 2018. The Deaf Movement and Musical Theater is a podcast recording of that event. For other examples of Deaf Theater and Arts, watch the streaming video The National Theater of the Deaf: Performance and Commentary and check out Signing the Body Poetic: Essays on American Sign Language Literature, a collection of essays and an accompanying DVD that celebrate and analyze ASL artistic expression.

There have been many film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet. Notable versions include Franco Zeffirelli’s classic 1968 film, Baz Luhrmann’s frenetic and visually rich William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, and Aleta Chappelle’s recent Romeo and Juliet in Harlem, which features a cast of Black and Latinx actors.

Romeo and Juliet has also inspired a number of unique adaptations. Ronit & Jamil is young adult novel in verse set in the modern-day Israel-Palestine conflict. Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-path Adventure is a choose your own adventure style reimagining with more than a billion possible storylines. Ronald Wimberly’s graphic novel Prince of Cats (soon to be a movie starring Lakeith Stanfield) follows Tybalt and his crew of Capulets as they move through a stylized 1980’s Brooklyn battling the rival Montagues.

For these suggestions and more, see the complete resource list for ROMEO + JULIET.

~ Posted by Richard V.

Bird Week: Shakespeare’s Birds

The Seattle Public Library is partnering with the Seward Park Audubon Center for Bird Week, April 23-30, in celebration of the center’s tenth anniversary and the National Audubon Society’s 2018 Year of the Bird.

Image of William Shakespeare, a bird is perched on his let arm. Text reads: Shakespeare, Illustration from "The Birds of Shakespeare," James Edmund Harting 1871

‘Tis unnatural,
Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last,
A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.
~ Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 4

By coincidence, as we celebrate this Bird Week, it is also Bard Week, as in the birthday of Mr. William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, a noted appreciator of the many qualities of birds. He was born April 23, 1564 according to most sources.

Continue reading “Bird Week: Shakespeare’s Birds”

This Valentine’s Day, Use Your Words!

What truly says “I love you” to your Valentine? A fancy dinner out? Good luck getting a table, or avoiding romantic indigestion as you navigate the desperate crush of other romance seekers. A box of chocolates? Hardly original, and not exactly helpful with our New Year’s resolutions. Do diamonds speak louder than words? Nope – not even close:

          Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
          Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme…

sonnetsWhen it comes to expressing your feelings, use your words. Or… borrow someone else’s! For millennia poets have spilled out their hearts on papyrus, parchment and paper, and into the air itself. From Sappho to Shakespeare, Ovid to Neruda, Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Mary Oliver, our shelves groan, sigh and sing with love’s burden, heavy as the heaviest heart, lighter than air. Here’s a list of just some of the books at your library packed with moving love poetry from all over the world, and all throughout the ages. Continue reading “This Valentine’s Day, Use Your Words!”

FIRST FOLIO! Much Ado About Costumes

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~posted by Ann G.

Shakespeare’s First Folio is still here in Seattle for a few more days—if you haven’t gotten a chance to stop by, consider getting tickets and coming to see it! The library hosted a program recently called “Make Your Own Shakespearean Costume”; we had stations where you could make ruffs, cuffs, brooches, beards, and crowns. It was a lot of fun, and not hard!  We used the titles below for inspiration, patterns and techniques (our projects were pretty straightforward, but if you want historical accuracy and detail, the sky’s the limit!). Enjoy! Continue reading “FIRST FOLIO! Much Ado About Costumes”

FIRST FOLIO! Shakespeare and a Battle Remembered

Click here to view The Holinshed's Chronicles in the SPL catalog
The title page of the 1577 first edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles. Source: Wikipedia.

The power of the pen can be as mighty as a host of lances in the hands of a great poet. One speech in one historical battle has lived on for six centuries, wrapped in myth and inspiration, mainly due to William Shakespeare.

A legendary event during the Middle Ages was the Battle of Agincourt, when the badly outnumbered English army faced the aristocratic armored knights and foot soldiers of the French Army. The English King, Henry V, led his motley group to a fabled victory, destroying the French. The victory was of great significance to British history and to literature.

How has this battle been remembered by posterity? Continue reading “FIRST FOLIO! Shakespeare and a Battle Remembered”