Monday, 5 June 2017

Calendar Girls - June 2017 - best Shakespeare play - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best Shakespeare play

As a former English major in University, I have spent a LOT of time with the Bard and his plays over the years. In high school, we studied a different Shakespeare play each year in English class. Then in Undergrad, I took 2 dedicated Shakespeare courses and studied Shakespeare in part in at least 5 others. I've seen stage plays, movie and tv adaptations, and in 2005 I even went to a production of The Tempest at the actual Globe Theatre in London. That particular play turned out to be my absolute worst experience with Shakespeare, The Tempest has a cast of 19 characters, in 2005 the Globe put on the production with exactly 3 actors to share all those roles. I got so lost and had such a hard time keeping track of who was who when that I just gave up on the play and started watching the pigeons instead. When I had to study The Tempest a few years later in one of my classes I couldn't bring myself to actually read the play because that production had just put me so off of it.

Out of all Shakespeare's plays I am probably most familiar with the comedies and the tragedies, I don't recall ever having to study any of the historicals so I haven't read them yet, but I do plan to do so, I do after all own a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. In addition to The Tempest which I mentioned above, I've studied, seen stage plays of and seen film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Macbeth. I've studied A Midsummer Night's Dream, As you Like it, The Winters' Tale, Hamlet (I've read the spin-off play of this too, haven't seen the film version of that yet though), King Lear (which I also read a novel adaptation of) and Much Ado About Nothing. I've seen stage plays and film adaptations of The Taming of the Shrew, the stage play I saw was done as a Western which was just epic, there were bustles EVERYWHERE. And I've seen film and tv adaptations of Othello, Macbeth and Hamlet.

Now, after all that, it's time to see which play I chose:

 Twelfth Night, or, What you Will by William Shakespeare

Set in a topsy-turvy world like a holiday revel, this comedy devises a romantic plot around separated twins, misplaced passions, and mistaken identity. Juxtaposed to it is the satirical story of a self-deluded steward who dreams of becoming “Count Malvolio” only to receive his comeuppance at the hands of the merrymakers he wishes to suppress. The two plots combine to create a farce touched with melancholy, mixed throughout with seductively beautiful explorations on the themes of love and time, and the play ends, not with laughter, but with a clown’s sad song.

-- via Goodreads
This is the first Shakespeare play that I fell in love with and I love it just as much to this day. I read it for the first time in grade 10 in the 2001/02 school year, which is also the year I first saw it performed when I went on my school's annual trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, ON. Which means I first saw it performed exactly 400 years after it is believed to have been penned by the Bard. And I just bought tickets last week to take my mum to see this year's production of it in Stratford later this month, because it's still my favourite Shakespeare play. I love all of Shakespeare's comedies that I've read/seen, but there's just something about this one that I love above all the others.

It's got everything really, shipwrecks, cases of mistaken identity, long-lost twins and funny background characters. The main character Viola has always been kind of an inspirational figure in my head, she's spunky and she is determined to do things her own way and get what she wants in the end. This is just one of those stories that I enjoy in any form I get to experience it in. For the longest time, I wanted a 10 things I hate about you style film adaptation for it (FYI, if you didn't already know, 10 things is an AMAZING adaptation of Taming of the Shrew.) and then in 2006, I finally got one in the form of She's the Man starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it because Amanda Bynes can be really really hit or miss, she can be VERY grating and unfunny at times but comedy gold others, so I put off watching it for ages and ages because I didn't want it to ruin my play for me. When I finally did get around to watching it it was good, not 10 Things (which is my favourite Shakespeare adaptation) good but fun enough.

I think Twelfth Night is one of the more underrated Shakespeare plays - as far as I am aware there have not been a lot of direct adaptations of this play, but I do feel like it's lent itself to inspiration for a lot of different things indirectly. To me, all the entertaining elements in this story scream to be adapted. I've actually toyed with writing a novel adaptation myself but I never get off my butt and do it.

What's your favourite Shakespeare adaptation? What's your least favourite play? Do you have an experience as bad as mine with The Tempest?


  1. I'm a bit of a Shakespeare noob really, I've only read 3 which was when I was at school. We did Merchant of Venice which I enjoyed, Julius Caesar which I hated and Romeo and Juliet which I have to say is boringly my favourite. However after reading this I am tempted with Twelfth Night

    1. It is a good onesweetie, it's where I got the name Viola from hehe.

  2. I'm so glad that you picked this play! Like you, this was the first Shakespeare play I fell in love with, and it was definitely my favourite before I came across Much Ado About Nothing and Midsummer Night's Dream! I still find it very enjoyable, and my favourite lines are also the ones you highlighted above ;) I think that I studied this one in grade 9, rather than 10 though...but am not entirely sure, since that was some time ago, hehe. I've never seen it performed, but will have to add that to my Bucket List now though, because I would looooove to see it live!

    Such a great choice, Lauren! And thanks so much for participating in Calendar Girls again! :D

    1. We did Midsummer night in Grade 9 at my school. Romeo and Juliette in 11, and Macbeth in 12. Well if you're under 29 you can get cheap tickets to Stratford's production through the Play On program, gods I miss being eligible for that.

      Glad you liked my choice :)