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Shakespeare on Abbey Road | Fit for a Fool

By October 10, 2014 No Comments

Shakespeare and the Beatles

The title of the following quiz, published this week–“How Big of a Beatles Fan Are You?”–might seem, on the face of it, to be about as close to Shakespeare as a loaf of bread. But it was question 18 (“I am the Walrus contains dialogue from what Shakespeare play?”) that set my Shakespeare buzzer going. Really? Surely a song as famous as this doesn’t really have Shakespeare’s words in it?

Clearly, my knowledge of the Beatles is very limited indeed! It turns out that King Lear gets an airing on one of the most famous records in history. The tale behind it is even better: the story goes that John Lennon fiddled with an AM radio into the microphone and happened to catch a BBC radio play of King Lear, oops!

It’s a bit from Act IV, Scene 6, lines 219-222 and 249-262. Here’s the song–see if you can catch King Lear! (Listen particularly hard at 2:25 minutes and 3:52 onwards).

It seems it was a week for Beatles and Shakespeare, as Paul McCartney was also heard to be spurting the odd line at his recent concert in San Antonio. After uttering, “in a theater like this, I feel like I should be doing Shakespeare or something,” McCartney then went on to do just that as he reeled off a few words of Hamlet’s “O that this too solid flesh would melt” soliloquy before being cut off with by the audience’s applause.

Shakespeare on Abbey Road | Fit for a Fool shakespeare news The Shakespeare Standard shakespeare plays list play shakespeare Shakespearean Chat-Up Lines

Stuck for a chat-up line, blokes?  Fear not, Shakespeare is here to help thanks to BuzzFeed’s 18 strong list! I think Swift’s might be my favourite on the list: “There’s nothing moderate about this proposal” (snigger snigger–and, yes, I know he was really writing about cannibalism and munching on children). Or maybe you’re more of a Spock kind of guy, in which case try: “I’d like to explore your final frontier.” Shakespeare’s offering isn’t the greatest, but I sense that’s not really the point of the post. Here it is: “I had to invent more words to describe your beauty.”

A quick search for similar posts pulled up this great list of Shakespearean chat-up lines. (For those moments when you really have the need?!) The explanations offered for each line are maybe even better than the lines themselves.

Check out number 6, for instance:

“She’s beautiful, and therefore to be wooed; She is woman, and therefore to be won”- Henry VI

A handy suggestion of how to use it is also provided:

“Whisper this dramatically to your wing man to give him some extra courage before he claims his prize. If you want to be especially chauvinistic and creepy when discussing a woman’s looks, you could go with a line from Pericles: ‘She would serve after a long voyage at sea.'”

Or, if you want something a little more, um, serious, try this list.

The Fun Palace

On Sunday over in Stratford-upon-Avon, Fun Palaces hit the RSC,  celebrating director Joan Littlewood’s legacy with a selection of free events, performances and talks throughout the day. The Fun Palace was created to be a “laboratory of fun,” or a temporary and movable home for the arts and science embracing the motto of Littlewood, “Everyone an artist, everyone a scientist”. Apparently, it led to 100 people getting involved in a rendition of the Henry V prologue.  O for a muse of fire, indeed!

Gilmore Girls

And, finally, Gilmore Girls recently arrived on Netflix, and it even has a nod to Shakespeare now and again. Foolery? I think not!

Check out the following exchange from episode 2, “The Lorelais’ First Day at Chilton”:

               Babette: “Is there a problem?”
               Lorelai: “Oh, nothing Shakespeare couldn’t turn into a really nice play.”


Until next week, fellow foolery lovers, Shake(speare)-it up!

Author Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is a PhD student at Oxford Brookes University, England where she is currently researching female melancholia in the early modern period (as presented in Shakespearean and early modern drama and proto-medical treatises) and contemporary female depression. She is interested in all things Shakespeare related, particularly contemporary Shakespeare adaptation and appropriation.

More posts by Sarah Waters

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