Saturday, 27 February 2021

Talking Shakespeare Neljä (Four)

 David Oyelowo, speaking from Los Angeles, remembers a dusty (and intimidating) copy of Shakespeare’s plays in his family’s Islington council flat. He was later surprised to discover Kenneth Branagh’s film of Henry V was also written by Shakespeare, having watched it as a movie, not caring about the language. The real breakthrough for David, though, was seeing a live production at the National Theatre – the visceral production of Robert Lapage’s mudbath Midsummer Night’s Dream with Timothy Spall as Bottom. David started acting accidentally when he tried to impress a girl by joining a youth theatre and then standing in when another young actor couldn’t attend because of a tube strike. His Theatre Studies teacher, Jill Foster, encouraged him to consider acting as a profession and helped David audition (successfully) for LAMDA. His father fully expected him to “get it out of his system” when he was given small roles (seven lines in Antony and Cleopatra) at the Royal Shakespeare Company. But the bug had bitten and seeing someone like Mark Rylance in his fourth incarnation of Hamlet at The Globe deliver the language with “dexterity, musculariy and elasticity” further reinforced David’s conviction that Shakespeare is the “Everest of Acting… so dense, so juicy, so layered.” 

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Snowdrops and Pancakes

Raindrops on roses
If I were to rank order Maria von Trapp’s list from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things I would place at the top:
Silver white Winters that melt into Springs
….which is why it has been lovely this past week to to see snowdrops on our walks – appearing, like magic, in the week when I also discovered a new way to make pancakes. Yes, Shrove Tuesday, it must be the start of Lent:
“And every man and maide doe take their turne,
And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.”
(proverb from 1619)
Well, this year, no Pancake Bell summoned me to be “shriven” (absolved of my sins through confession) but I still appreciated the symbols:
  • Eggs (creation, fertility, eternity, the world itself)
  • Salt (purification, seasoning and wholesomeness)
  • Flour (the staff of life, domestic frugality and hard work)
  • Milk (purity, abundance, the primal food)
and tried a new thing (actually a medieval trick) of gradually making a paste with everything except the egg whites and then folding the whisked egg whites gently into the paste…. Reader, I made them. Fluffy, or what? The collage above includes a picture of one of the more well-done ones (As I Like It) and includes a dollop of stewed rhubarb (cos I is from Yorkshire) and some coconut yoghurt (cos I is a bit tropical.) Oh, and look, there’s the latest completed puzzle. Oh, and there’s me having had my first Covid-19 vaccination…. And after all these months (the first recorded Covid cases in the UK were identified in York on January 31st 2020) I reflect that I have spent the greatest part of the year in the company of one person, so under the collage is one of My Favourite Poems in tribute….
A Marriage
by Michael Blumenthal 

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you. Your arms are tired, terribly tired,
and, as the day goes on, it feels
as if either your arms or the ceiling
will soon collapse.

But then
something wonderful happens:
a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.
So you finally get
to take down your arms.

You feel the relief of respite,
the blood flowing back
to your fingers and arms.
And when your partner’s arms tire,
you hold up your own
to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this
for many years
without the house falling.
Top left, Michael Blumenthal