Monday, August 29, 2016

Sweet Indulgence

Sometimes we have to leave the garden behind, turn our backs on the weeds, start the automated irrigation, and leave to nurture our other parts.

Juliet in Romeo and Juliet declares
"that which we call a rose/
By any other name would
smell as sweet;"
I spent a good part of my life with William Shakespeare, reading McBeth in high school, suffering through my Shakespeare undergrad class with Dr. Jones, teaching Romeo and Juliet to high school freshmen. I didn't acquire a true understanding and love of Shakespeare until my graduate class with Dr. Walter Princic, a prince of a professor who read to us, explained to us, nurtured us to gain a better understanding of the Bard and his work. Finally it was my turn to share Shakespeare with with students in my Introduction to Literature course. Students enjoyed the comedies, A Midsummer's Night Dream and Much Ado About Nothing. As a teacher, I learned and loved even more.

The highlights of this long life of mine outside of marriage and my children, were my two trips to England when we visited the New Globe theatre in London. In 2001 we saw Macbeth and   in Stratford on Avon we attended Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I've visited his grave, toured his birth house, and wandered through his wife's cottage and gardens.  In 2006 we returned to England when we once again went to the New Globe to see Titus Andronicus.

So when my friend (whom I traveled with to England and taught with all these years) invited me to go see the Shakespeare  folio, in Boulder, I cleared my calendar.

I could, of course, deliver an entire lecture on Shakespeare, but I'll only explain one thing: The   First Folio, as referred to by scholars and it's importance. Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, complied by his friends posthumously, contains 36 plays, with 16 of those plays having been previous published. It is attributed as the only complete and authentic collection of his work. Originally 750 copies may have been printed; now 234 copies survive spread out between multiple institutions: The British Library (saw that copy), National Library of Scotland, and others in England, and across the world. The Folger's Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. holds the largest collection with 82 copies. Thus to commemorate Shakespeare's 400th birthday, the Folger's library is allowing some of the copies to travel the country; University of Colorado, Boulder has a copy on display. The copy itself is protected in class with the page appropriately turned to Hamlet's "To be or not to be; that is is the question," probably Shakespeare's most famous line in Hamlet and his body of work.

The rest of the small exhibit contains mostly artifacts from the local Shakespeare productions, including our favorites: the donkey mask worn in Midsummer's Night Dream, scenes from Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and of course Barrymore as Hamlet.


Grand and elegant Elizabethan costumes. When we saw Macbeth at the New Globe, we all looked so forward to seeing a traditional production as it would have been in the 16th century. Instead it was staged with the actors wearing 20th century formal evening dress. We anticipated a more traditional staging of Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre--one would think. Yet again, we saw another non traditional production with no props, rifles instead of swords, and actors dressed in 1940s style military garb. 

None the less, despite staging and costuming, Shakespeare's plays captivate and hold an audience spell bound as it gets caught in the story and the characters. His tales while not original, based on historical events and English royalty, inspired by folklore, legend, fairytale, and even other play writes, his plays are timeless and classic. They reflect the human condition. Combined with 
Shakespeare's ability to understand human nature, even explain it, and his command of language and word, his plays always entertain and inspire. 

Little wonder that for me today's television and movies don't hold much interest.

More costumes and props

Photographs of the folio

More Photographs of the First Folio

And the folio itself. We drove for an hour and half, navigated brutal traffic, hunted for parking,  and traversed  an unfamiliar, busy campus (enrollment around 25,000).

My favorite Shakespeare play? King Lear, a story of greedy sisters who betray their father and the love of one daughter who holds strong against the sisters. Don't ask me why because it is so dark and grim. My students didn't like at all. So I switched to the comedies. 

We had a lovely day nurturing our friendship, indulging our love of Shakespeare, remembering our travels to England, wishing we could do it all over again. 

On our way home, my friend wanted to show me her family church south of Boulder outside of Longmont, a little chapel that her grandfather had built, Rysby Church, built in replica of the family's church in Sweden. Her family are buried here in the back of a still function cemetery. She told stories of her childhood attending church her, proud of Colorado pioneer heritage. 

A most interesting shadow

A pretty iron gate

A quite Colorado country road.

It was wonderful to get away for the day to nurture a part of me that I set aside when I retired, to spend time with a dear friend, to share part of her family history, too. 

Thanks so much for allowing me to indulge in one of favorite things. What is your favorite Shakespeare play or do you have one? There are some wonderful movie productions if you'd like to explore more of Shakespeare. And thanks for stopping by. 

I'll be linking with 

Hope to see you there. Have a fabulous week.


  1. Hello, What a nice get away. Always great to spend time with friends. The exhibit is interesting. I like the images of the church too, the shadow shot is awesome. I would have to say Romeo and Juliet was my favorite Shakespeare play. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  2. How interesting. I, too, am a retired English teacher, though I did not always have the enjoyment of teaching literature. I like King Lear, Othello, and I like good, old Hamlet. I prefer the tragedies oddly enough. You did have a wonderful day. It is always good to be able to nurture those areas that interest us most. I enjoyed seeing the church and churchyard, too.

  3. Such an enjoyable day spent with your friend Ann. My Shakespeare experience was from high school and I'm afraid I didn't cultivate a love for his works. We have theatres in Stratford, Ontario where many of the plays are from Shakespeare.

  4. I'm so glad you got to go and enjoy the day! I love that shadow on the sidewalk. And you asked about a favorite? I would probably say Romeo and Juliet too. Enjoy your week! Hugs, Diane

  5. Such a great time for you, Ann, and I found it enlightening as I know nothing about the man behind the plays. My English teaching daughter might love this post, she teaches a full semester of Shakespeare to her 'kids'. This would be quite interesting!


  6. Interesting post - have a great day!

  7. A most wonderful post, Ann. It sounds a bit as if the 'midsummer dream' of going back to England one day with your friend is not to be in the near future. But you spent a memorable day and let us share with you. I was more into Goethe than Shakespeare ;-)

  8. A great post on Shakespeare Ann and you and your friend must have had a lovely day.
    My favorite Shakespeare is Romeo and Juliet, but A midsummer´s Night Dream is scoring high too, Love´s Labour´s Lost and also Hamlet of course, I love the words `There´s rosemary, that´s for remembrance, Pray, love, remember. And there are pansies, that´s for thoughts`.
    Thank you for your story and memories teaching Shakespeare to your students, I enjoyed reading it.

  9. Macbeth for me, studied at school and loved it. I wonder if people realise how many of the phrases in common use today started life as a line in one of Shakespeare's plays.
    You might like this link
    all the best, Maggie

  10. I enjoyed this post on many levels, Ann. First of all, the maintenance of a friendship is such an important thing - nurturing shared interest and staying in one another's life. Then the Shakespeare and your photos of the folio and the exhibits. What a treat that must have been. I, too, have seen (too many) modern productions of some of my favourites, and while the themes endure and seem always timely, I SO enjoy the sumptuous period costumes. The little pioneer church and the lovely shadow cast by its fence were worth their own post. How lucky you were that your friend thought of showing you that part of her heritage. Finally, the thought you expressed regarding the nurturing of a part of you that you'd left behind on retirement really struck a chord for me. Altogether it was the sort of post that keeps me reading blogs.

  11. Ann, what a wonderful post. It's always a joy to have an adventure with a friend. I really enjoyed seeing Shakespeare and the folio through your eyes -- it was very special for you, I am sure. The shadow you captured at the lovely church is very special. Sharing and friendship -- A+!

  12. I envy you your Shakespeare education - I have very little understanding of his plays, but when I see actors performing them it does come to life for me and I can understand more, when I read them it all seems like double Dutch :) So glad you enjoyed your time with your friend, it makes all the difference to share with a likeminded soul.

  13. Wonderful post, Ann! Hmmmmm. Tough question. I think A Midsummer Night's Dream.

  14. Such a lovely getaway! Love the costumes and props ♥

  15. How wonderful to see that old folio. My favorite Shakespeare play is probably Much Ado about Nothing. But I'm embarking upon another season of teaching English 9, which involves Romeo and Juliet, and trying to interest students in the play. Great post.

  16. Thank you for the beautiful and interesting post, Ann!
    I have seen a lovely performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (here in Finland), but perhaps my favourites are "Romeo and Juliet" and "Julius Caesar"... and I strongly dislike "Merchant of Venice". :)
    Have a happy and sunny September!