Shakespeare and the Elections | Fit for a Fool

By April 24, 2015 No Comments

This week is perhaps more exciting, and Shakespearean, than some weeks. Given that yesterday (the 23rd) we celebrated his 451st birthday (or at least the day we set aside when he was probably born), and kicking off in Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend will be all manner of festivities in his honour. But backtracking a little, let’s stop and take a look at the Shakespeare foolery picture for the last week.

First up it’s Hamlet and emojis. Yes, seriously. I came across this article, this week which discusses a production of Hamlet for the “emoji age” – is this the new term for the kids and youth of today, hanging on every apple update for the new emojis? It baffles me slightly, but it seems it’s making its presence known far beyond touch screen technology and into Shakespeare productions in New York. As the article begins,

[quote_regular name=”” icon_quote=”no”]Every age has its Hamlet: Enlightenment Hamlet, Romantic Hamlet, nihilist Hamlet Marxist Hamlet, existential Hamlet, post-structuralist Hamlet. And now, at last, a Hamlet for our own era: emoji Hamlet[/quote_regular]

I must admit, not a theatre trend I would’ve predicted, and while this production doesn’t get a particularly good write up, it’s interesting to see the company working closely both with the source material and contemporary culture. I say working closely with the source material.. The ghost doesn’t actually feature in the production, so they’ve certainly played round with the play about. But if they hadn’t it probably wouldn’t have ended up on your foolery column doorstep. Take a look at the reviews and see what you think.

Many people, at some point, will have to write a dissertation. Or even an essay. And probably at least one of these will be allotted to Shakespeare. Aptly then BuzzFeed have a quiz to determine whether or not you’ll be destroyed by your dissertation. Whether you’re in the midst of one (in which case there’s also a post on the 25 Stages of Dissertation Hell) or it’s a distant memory, why not take the quiz.

If that doesn’t satisfy your quiz hunger enough, here’s another one. Decidedly more Shakespearean – this time it’s all about your knowledge of Shakespeare’s English, for instance, what does Margaret mean when she describes Richard as a cacodemon (in Richard III)? Test yourself and see whether you ace the class or need to go back and read the dictionary again.

More?! Yes, for all you Oliver Twists out there, here’s another quiz. This time it’s testing your movie and Shakespeare knowledge all in one. The name of the game? Determine which play each film is based on, ranging from the easy 10 Things I Hate About You (clue: it rhymes with the movie title), to a few harder movies and the surprising presence of Pocahontas. Go, go go!

Politics, Shakespeare, and elections. Yes, that unlikely threesome have come together in a number of cartoons recently, as this article details. The election is coming up in England and cartoonists seem to be having great fun in the run up. From the star cross’d lovers of Ed Miliband and Nicola Stergeon, to the Hamlet themed cartoon featuring Tony Blair in a previous election. Shakespeare and election fever sit more comfortably together than you might imagine.

Shakespeare and the Elections | Fit for a Fool shakespeare news The Shakespeare Standard shakespeare plays list play shakespeare

Wherefore art thou Romeo? (Peter Schrank)


The Independent, 4 Feb 2001 (Peter Schrank)









But it’s not just in England – Schrank also used a Hamlet themed cartoon when Obama and Syria were hitting the headlines in 2013.


The Independent, 16 June 2013 (Peter Schrank)

It seems there are no limits to where Shakespeare might pop up, and political cartoons are no exception.

Want to impress your friends with some Shakespeare trivia? Why not have a look here, where you’ll find a selection of facts including tales of an unusual souvenir and some wood cutting.

But that’s all for now folks. Until next time, enjoy celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday and keep foolin’ around Shakespeare style!

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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