What’s In a Name? The Elsinore Gets New Moniker Just Days Before Opening

As reported here and elsewhere, I am designing The Elsinore at 17 Stanton Street  -but is this true? Alas, I must say no. In a daring move to correct a glaring problem, the players-to-be-named-later at 17 Stanton are dropping the name and opting to go with a new one. Named after the castle Elsinore from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the name didn’t get the desired traction, and hours before opening, the change has been made. I am sworn to secrecy about the new brand, but personally like it a lot more. I thought The Elsinore was an awful name and found few who liked it. On three separate occasions, people heard it and declared "they’ll call it El Snore". At BINGO the other night, a nightlife operator said it was "the worst name he had ever heard." I got all defensive but a thousand "I knows" would not have lessened the feeling of emptiness I felt that something I was building would be saddled with "Elsinore".

William Shakespeare, who I will refer to here as Billy, Willy, Will, the Common Bard, or the Bard of Avon said it best with his "What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I double-checked the spelling of Billy’s last name and got this:
"During Shakespeare’s career as actor and dramatist, variations seemed to have had decreased considerably, and on many documents concerning Shakespeare’s land deals and theatrical company patents, the name is spelled Shakespere, although Shakspeare, Shakspere, Shackspeare, and Shakespeare also appear, often with multiple spellings occurring within the same document."
The 17 Stanton Street space, which is all blue and beautiful, will soon be known by its new name. The Elsinore will soon be forgotten, the sun, the stars, and the moon will rise and set, and the beautiful people will come and drink and be merry and embrace the change as they embrace all change. If they get a little confused or have to think about it too much, they’ll just pop another bottle. The castle Elsinore still stands in Denmark where it always has and will surely remain oblivious to the usurpers and their flock at 17 Stanton.
That movie Anonymous, and a whole lot of sharp people (not just internet conspiracy nuts), think Willy may not have written these plays at all. They think this dude Lord Edward de Vere may have been the real author.
The new name of 17 Stanton will be revealed today or tomorrow. As the Common Bard once said (maybe): "Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t." Before you go quoting Will at me with stuff like "Lord, what fools these mortals be!’ I’ll sling some Bard of Avon at you: "If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then unto me." I agree, for "therin lies the rub" (attribute to Bill or Lord de Vere, your call). 
Will the new name have time to catch on as the joint opens in just a few days? Mr Shackspeare might have said "Boldness be my friend!" This is a bold move by experienced players. I heard their misgivings about the name The Elsinore and quoted Billy Bard at them: "For my part, it was Greek to me." Although something in the back of mind whispered Danish. I continued with another Williamism: "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." When asked what the hell that meant, I replied, "I’m never really sure with The Bard of Avon." I dug deep into Bill and spat out, "I am not bound to please thee with my answer." And doubled-up with "Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness"… to confuse them.
Someone sent for some CliffsNotes and slung these Bard bows and arrows at me: "The golden age is before us, not behind us," followed by, "If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottage princes’ palaces." I googled Will and offered "No legacy is so rich as honesty," and then quickly, "I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano; A stage where every man must play a part, And mine is a sad one." I could have taken some words of Willy and offered them in The Elsinore’s defense: "Tis better to bear the ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of." I could have tried to make them pause, delay them from this deed with some Common Bard stuff like, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I did not. I agreed with the change. I was sad to say goodbye to "The Elsinore" on some weird nostalgic level, but agree it was just a bad name. I believe that the place and the players will come out of this smelling sweeter than roses without that moniker.
The players weighed living with a name they didn’t love but losing some marketing steam or going with something new and grabbing some publicity (like this) to offset that. There is a lot more to this story, but my designer hat is stifling my writer hat.  I have read, indeed, my Shakspere and offer "the pattern of all patience; I will say nothing." I whipped up my Hamlet CliffsNotes and heeded the words from Act V, Scene ii: "The rest is silence."
Alas, poor The Elsinore – I knew him. I close with some predictable words from Lord Edward or William Shakespeare… "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."

From Gus van Sant to Orson Welles: Looking Back at the Best Shakespearean Adaptations on Film

For the last century or so, many a filmmaker has tried their hand at revamping the wonderful world of William Shakespeare. It’s certainly no easy feat but there have indeed been a handful of minds who’ve mananged to capture the essence of the text in a way that allows it to rise from the page and come to life with vigor, whereas others sadly just fall flat.  There are those which have provided literal and deeply precise re-workings of plays such as King Lear, Richard III, Hamlet—brilliantly acted and cinematically challenging, yet a bit stale. Then there are the Baz Luhrmann’s of the world who take Billy Shakes’ age old words and wind them into a modern world, blowing dust off the pages and infusing classic tragedies with a renewed sense of purpose and thrill. And lastly, there are those who have abstractly crafted their own contemporary tales based on various pieces of Shakespearean a la My Own Private Idaho.

And this weekend, we’ll see the premiere of Joss Whedon’s absolutely charming, sexy, smart, and delightful Much Ado About Nothing—which mixes both the classical precision with modern thrill to give us unqiuely totally refreshing. So if you’re in the mood to revisit some favorite adaptations in anticipation for Whedon’s Much Ado, here are our favorites for you to peruse. Enjoy.


Romeo + Juliet, 1997



Richard III, 1955



Hamlet, 2000



Ran, 1985



Hamlet, 1948 



My Own Private Idaho, 1991



A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1935 



Much Ado About Nothing, 1993



West Side Story, 1957



Hamlet, 1996



Othello, 1952 



10 Things I Hate About You, 1999 

Watch a New UK Trailer for Joss Whedon’s ‘Mucho Ado About Nothing’

When it comes to cinematic preferencs, I usually tend to favor things that make me a bit ill. Well, not always ill but elicit a strong reaction, some physical response that tells me, yes this is working. Usually it’s tears, but rarely do I absolutely fall in love with a film that made me smile for its entirety. And with Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Billy Shakes’ merry war betwixt lover, Much Ado About Nothing, I found myself absolutley delighted throughout. 

Starring Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher and Reed Diamon, Whedon’s black and white adaptation provides a respite from his usual Hollywood blockbuster pictures and shows the pleasure and fun in his minimalistic dramam efforts. He gives us a modern look at Shakespeare that feels at once feels homespun yet crafted with the hands of someone who truly knows the ins and outs of the classic text. And in case you’re not familiar, the film goes as follows:

Leonato, the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John. Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick and Claudio. While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato’s daughter Hero, while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice, the governor’s niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for a marriage.
In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro, with the help of Leonato, Claudio and Hero, attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to trick the two into falling in love. Meanwhile, the villainous Don John, with the help of his allies: Conrade and Borachio, plots against the happy couple, using his own form of trickery to try to destroy the marriage before it begins.
A series of comic and tragic events continue to keep the two couples from truly finding happiness, but then again perhaps love may prevail.

We’ve seen a first theatrical trailer for the film, as well as posters and stills, but today, distributors have released a new UK preview. Personally, I prefered the snappy, upbeat jazziness of the first but this one’s not too shabby and highlights the more dramatic elements of the comedic film which premieres June 7th. Take a look below.

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Scotland Now Has Its Very Own ‘Macbeth’ Tour

Move over, Sex & The City tours. (Seriously, do those things still exist?) Scotland is counting on enough rabid fans of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth that it has created a tour of locales pertinent to the book in attempt to boost tourism. 

As the UK’s Telegraph reports, Macbeth was a real-life Scottish king (also known as the Thrane Of Glamis) who reigned from 1040 to 1057 and lived in castles throughout the country. But unlike our conceptions of tourist-trap-style tours which take place on double decker buses, this Shakespeare tour will be for individual motorists.

The Scotland Herald describes the locations on the tour to include "Glamis, Lumphanan, a village in Aberdeenshire where Macbeth was killed in battle in 1047, and Cairn O’Mount, Aberdeenshire, where Macbeth took his supporters en route to Lumphanan."  

The tour also hopes to separate facts from fiction, as some Scots are apparently butthurt by the way Macbeth was misportrayed in the Shakespearean play. Oh, those Europeans!  

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Julie Taymor Heads to Brooklyn With ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

O spite! O hell! It seems Julie Taymor is taking a step away from Broadway and into Brooklyn with the staging of a new production of Billy Shakes’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After the torturous effort that was her hand in Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and all the chaos that ensued, it seems the innovative and grandiose director will be venturing into a land many have dared to travel before. Her new production of Midsummer will find a home at the Theatre for a New Audience in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and will be the first production of the company’s new home.

Scheduled to open on November 2nd with previews in mid-October, Taymor will once again be collaborating with Oscar-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal, who will compose the accompanying music for the group of young Athenian lovers, fairies, and mechanicals. In her long oeuvre, Taymor has tackled Shakespeare before with The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, and Titus Andronicus, as well as the film versions of The Tempest and Titus

As someone who frequently puts on one-woman productions of the Midsummer alone in her bedroom, I can say that I am both equally excited and nervous about what Taymor has in store for the comedy so near and dear to my heart. Let’s just hope it doesn’t look like this:

Shakespearean Sonnets: Download Them On Thy iPad

Thou art a reader of the Shakespearan sonnet? Thy luck is good! Faber released an app called The Sonnets of William Shakespeare last week for the iPad.  

The $13.99 app features 154 poems with annotations, as well performances of some sonnets by actors such as Dr. Who‘s David Tennant, Sex & The City‘s Kim Catrall and comedian Stephen Fry. (A DVD of just the performances is also for sale on TheSonnets.tv.) Additionally, the app offers interviews with Shakespearean scholars about the works.

But the coolest feature might be the ability to Share-a-Sonnet via Facebook, Twitter or email. Courtship just got that much easier, boys and girls.

Did A Whore Inspire Shakespeare? The British Museum Will Show You

You know How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, thanks to the book of the same name. Now, how to be inspired like William Shakespeare? The British Museum in London has devoted an entire show to precisely that subject.

The show will include paintings, jewels, and the piece de resistance, a "racy" image of a Venetian woman thought to be both an aristocrat and a courtesan. A panel on the woman’s dress can be lifted, revealing men’s underwear and shoes underneath. Quite the scandal, I know. Yet the UK’s Telegraph reports the image supposedly inspired Shakespeare when writing the courtesan Bianca in Othello. Will also loved writing cross-dressing ladies in other plays, as he you can see from Viola in Twelfth Night, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, and Rosalind in As You Like It. And don’t even get me started on Gwnyeth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love.

Shakespeare: Staging The World won’t be all about ladies of the night, however. Visitors can also peep at one of the only 40 First Folio’s of Shakespeare’s work in existence; plus, Royal Shakespeare Company actors will perform excerpts from his plays. The show opens July 19 and you’d best be getting there before it’s gummed up with London 2012 Olympics tourists.

Will.i.am & Jay-Z: The New Shakespeare?

Here’s a great way to get the youngs to pay attention: Compare some boring old thing to the new hotness. Michael Boyd, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, might have been going out on a limb when he said Jay-Z and Will.i.am are modern day Shakespeares, but it makes for a hell of a think piece. "The closest to Shakespeare in contemporary times are rappers," Boyd told the Daily Mirror. "[They use] that extraordinary quick fire, highly-organised, very witty metrical rhyming language which is brilliant in terms of consciously addressing the whole of society."

"The reason Shakespeare is still alive is that he couldn’t help being relevant. He was trying to be relevant," he said. "He needed to explain the world around him to himself. Rap is like that too.” Continuing, Boyd specifically pointed to Jay-Z as a poet adding to the collective lexicon, just like the Bard. “Good poetics comes out of a need. They are thinking how can you say this so that it is absolutely on the button, doesn’t get you in trouble and is memorable – not just for the ­audience. Shakespeare invented a great number of words. He joined words together in new ways enriching the vocabulary and finding new ways of talking.”

When you put it that way, it makes a lot of sense. It just seems doubtful that "I Gotta Feeling" will endure the same way as Hamlet, or even Titus Andronicus. Boyd also unveiled a few other theories he’s working on: "Jehovah, the Creator: How Odd Future’s Biblical Anarchy Speaks to the New Creation"; "Paradise Boss: Springsteen’s Miltonesque Journey Through Good and Evil"; and "Twain Team: Exploring America Through Choreographed Dances to ‘Round of Applause.’" Coming to a Tumblr near you! Alas, there are no plans to stage Cam’Ron’s Killa Season in the fall.