Hello everyone! I’m back from break and happy to celebrate one of my favorite holidays with you- the one that gave its name to one of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies- Twelfth Night
How to throw a Twelfth Night Party
Intro to Twelfth Night (THe play)
I’ve been in this play three times and I’m continually struck by how fun, romantic, and progressive it is. It raises questions about gender roles, social norms, bullying, and even catfishing and heteronormativity! It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking play and it’s my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies!
Shakespeare’s early comedies are about young love, infatuation, and being ‘madly in love’ (sometimes literally). His middle plays are about mature relationships between men and women and the need for commitment. I would argue that Twelfth Night, (and possibly Much Ado About Nothing), are the best examples of Shakespeare telling meaningful stories about romantic relationships.
Past Posts on “Twelfth Night”
- Play of the Month: Twelfth Night
- The Fashion Is the Fashion: Twelfth Night
- Crafting a Character: Malvolio
- Exquisite Artwork from Twelfth Night
Would you like to know more? Take a class!
In honor of “Twelfth Night,” I’ve created a coupon for my course on Shakespeare’s comedies from now till January 31st: Get $10 off my class “Shakespeare’s Comic Plays” with coupon code HTHESYTIT110 until Jan 31, 2023. Get started at https://outschool.com/classes/shakespeares-comic-plays-868BR5hg and enter the coupon code at checkout.
To finish I wanted to give you a complete production of Twelfth Night for your viewing pleasure, but I can’t decide which one, so I will post a bunch today!
1. 1996 TV movie starring Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean)
2.1996 Thames TV directed by Kenneth Branaugh
Thanks to all my longtime readers, this website has had its best year ever! Here’s to more fun, information, and insight in 2023.
As a New Years gift, from now until January 31st, you can get $10 off my class “An Interactive Guide to Shakespeare’s London” with coupon code HTHESYTIT110 until Jan 31, 2023. Get started at https://outschool.com/classes/an-interactive-guide-to-shakespeares-london-E6KqeBQQ and enter the coupon code at checkout.
Thanks to everyone who’s been listening to my podcast over the last two years. I hope to make much more content and continue to write, talk, and teach about Shakespeare for a long time to come. Thanks for a good 2022, and here’s hoping for an even better 2023!
The Life Of Catherine Of Aragon
Queen Katharine. Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;Henry VIII, Act II, Scene iv.
And to bestow your pity on me: for1370
I am a most poor woman, and a stranger,
Born out of your dominions; having here
No judge indifferent, nor no more assurance
Of equal friendship and proceeding. Alas, sir,
In what have I offended you? what cause1375
Hath my behavior given to your displeasure,
That thus you should proceed to put me off,
And take your good grace from me?
Shakespeare treats Katherine as a living saint- kind, pious, and devoted to her husband, yet accutely aware of the manipulations of Cardinal Woolsey, and the lack of justice in her divorce trial. Just like in real life, Catherine leaves the trial and appeals to the Pope himself!
In her final scene, Katherine is dying on the island of Ely, having lost her crown, her husband, and her home. She is nonetheless still beloved by all in this world and the next. Shakespeare writes a dream sequence for Katherine, where she is visited by angels holding palm branches, signifying that Catherine will be welcomed into Heaven.
[The vision. Enter, solemnly tripping one after]
another, six personages, clad in white robes,
wearing on their heads garlands of bays, and golden
vizards on their faces; branches of bays or palm in
their hands. They first congee unto her, then
dance; and, at certain changes, the first two hold
a spare garland over her head; at which the other
four make reverent curtsies; then the two that held
the garland deliver the same to the other next two,
who observe the same order in their changes, and
holding the garland over her head: which done,
they deliver the same garland to the last two, who
likewise observe the same order: at which, as it
were by inspiration, Katherine makes in her sleep signs
of rejoicing, and holdeth up her hands to heaven:
and so in their dancing vanish, carrying the
garland with them. The music continues]- Stage Direction, Act IV, Scene ii.
No, you aren’t hallucinating. This is a clip from the short-lived Warner Brothers kids cartoon show “Histeria,” an educational variety show, sort of like Horrible Histories or “Who Was.” This clip is a song about the life of Henry VIII.
The show was produced by Worner Brothers for the WB back in 1996. It starred many successful voice actors from other WB projects like Billy West (Renn and Stimpy), Tess McNeill (Tiny Toon Adventures), and Frank Welker (The current voice of Curious George). In addition, the show was created by Tom Ruegger, Executive Producer of Warner Animation, who also created Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain. Those of you who grew up in the 90s know that the WB occasionally sprinkled their shows with educational sketches especially with Animaniacs:
So the idea of using these creative people to create a show about history was not a bad one in and of itself. It could have been a modern-day Schoolhouse Rock. The problem is that the characters are TERRIBLE.While Tiny Toons had likeable characters who were the modern-day successors to classic Warner characters like Buster Bunny, Plucky Duck, and Hampton pig, Histeria has lame characters nobody knows or has any interest in like Froggo, World’s Oldest Woman, and Big Fat Baby. In addition, there is no through line to any of these sketches so it seems like a bunch of random skits. While the Animaniacs was about crazy weird characters trying to escape from the Warner Bros. lot, it seems unclear as to why these characters are talking to me about history.
In short, Histeria feels like a bunch of talented people were forced to make it, and they gave little thought to how to make it a popular series. Still, the animation is good, the voice acting is top-notch, and occasionally, the jokes land very well, and the songs are very catchy. Not surprisingly, my favorite song is this one, where the cast summarizes in song, all 37 plays of William Shakespeare:
This video, of course, is about the life of Henry VIII.