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Breaking Bard: A Ripe Good Scholar Podcast

Breaking Bard: A Ripe Good Scholar Podcast

Author: ripegoodscholar

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Breaking Bard aims to break down the mythic image that has been constructed around Shakespeare by having honest conversations about Shakespeare and his plays. Feel free to contact me at ripegoodscholar@gmail.com
18 Episodes
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Shakespeare and Plague

Shakespeare and Plague

2020-05-2926:59

“I could draw forth a catalogue of many poore wretches, that in fields, in ditches, in common Cages, and under stalls (being either thrust by cruell maisters out of doores, or wanting all worldly succor but the common benefit of earth and aire) have most miserably perished.” -Thomas Dekker “The Wonderful Year” The bubonic plague was a regular part of Shakespeare’s life. He lived through several large outbreaks, and even when there wasn’t an outbreak, the threat always loomed. With each wave significant portions of the population died. Death was everywhere and the ringing of the church bells served as a grim reminder. Shakespeare, as a man of the theater, was particularly susceptible to the effects of plague because an outbreak meant the theaters closed, which meant he received no pay.  So, what did Shakespeare do with his time? Well, he most likely wrote. In his early years, it was poetry to be published. In his later years, he probably wrote plays. Today we will be exploring how the bubonic plague affected Shakespeare and his writing. Strap on your plague masks and join me and Eli as we discuss plague shutdowns in Shakespeare’s England. Sources:The GuardianThe Folger Shakespeare Library Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“From his father’s usurpation of Richard II’s throne in 1399, when Henry was but twelve, he was active in the government of England. [...] Henry V came to the throne extensively experienced in politics, administration, and warfare: few kings have been so well trained for their job.”  - Peter Saccio in Shakespeare’s English KingsHenry IV Parts 1 and 2 are some of the least historically accurate of all of Shakespeare’s history, and that is saying something. This is largely due to the fact that he focused so much of the play on Prince Hal, the future Henry V. Shakespeare was working with what the Tudor chroniclers provided him, which was an inaccurate portrayal of the young prince. They painted Prince Hal as a lecherous youth that drank too much, was friends with the wrong sorts of people, and even committed a few crimes.This picture, according to contemporary records of the time, is almost certainly wrong. From a very young age, Hal was participating in battles and leading armies. For years before his father’s death, he dominated the council and essentially ruled for a period of time. That is not to say that everything about Shakespeare was wrong. There was a certain amount of tension between father and son over Henry IV’s fear of being usurped by his own son. In the end, we have a complicated picture of a complicated prince, so what exactly is wrong and right about Shakespeare’s portrayal? That is what Eli and I will be exploring today, so grab your sack and let’s spend some time with Prince Hal. Sources:Shakespeare’s English Kings by Peter SaccioAsimov’s Guide to Shakespeare by Isaac AsimovFoundations: The History of England from Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors by Peter AckroydThis Realm of England Vol. 2 1399 to 1688 by Lacey Baldwin Smithrddddd Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Hamlet and Grief

Hamlet and Grief

2020-04-2101:15:20

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Breaking Bard, I’m your host Sara. You may have noticed a distinct lack of a cold open. That is because this episode is very long and my fluff was deemed unnecessary...by me. On today’s episode I am joined by Dr. Lisa Grogan, a clinical psychologist and close friend. I am also joined by Sara Clark with the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. She was casted to play Hamlet in a production that was cancelled as of our recording. However, since recording, they have announced that Hamlet will kick off their 2020-2021 season in August. I for one, am pumped. Please enjoy as I discuss Hamlet and grief with these two intelligent women. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“For now will I go straight to my matter,In which you may the double sorrows hearOf Troilus in loving of Criseyde,And how that she forsook him ere she died.”Troilus and Creseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer Troilus and Cressida is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays, and I kind of understand why. The ending is not the most satisfying. However, Shakespeare did not come up with this story. Chaucer did. Or at least, Chaucer wrote it down. Of course, Shakespeare adapted the story for the stage, but the core elements are there.The key difference between Shakespeare’s version and Chaucer’s is that Chaucer was making a clear statement about courtly love. The idea that loving someone brought you closer to the divine. Shakespeare’s play does not have such a clear message. In fact, by shortening the timeline and making the characters more blunt, Shakespeare seems to have an almost nihilistic view of the situation. All the mushy love stuff is stripped away and we are left with harsh reality. Shakespeare adapting source material is nothing new, however, this example is notable because of what changed. Today, Eli and I will be discussing Troilus and Cressida, so strap on your armor, we’re heading to Troy. Sources:Bradbook, M.C. “What Shakespeare Did to Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 3, 1958, pp. 311-319., doi:10.2307/2867331. Accessed April  2020.Davis-Brown, Kris. “Shakespeare’s Use of Chaucer in ‘Troilus and Cressida’: ‘That the Will is Infinite and he Execution Confined.’” South Central Review, vol. 5, no. 2, 1988, pp. 15-34., doi:10.2307/3189567. Accessed April 2020. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“The swooning lover crashed into Elizabeth’s chamber in his filthy travelling clothes ‘so full of dirt and mire that his very face was full of it’ to confront his fair mistress, barely out of bed, her wrinkles brutally exposed in the morning light and her wig off." - Lisa Hilton, The Renaissance PrinceThe swooning lover here is Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and that wrinkled old woman is Queen Elizabeth I. Unsurprisingly, this incident marked the start of Essex’s downfall. Prior to this time, he was the Queen’s favorite. He benefited greatly from her favor and seemed to know how to keep it. She gave him money and power. He was a tireless flirt.Success did not become him, however. He became arrogant and just generally unpleasant to be around. Elizabeth was fond of him though, so the other courtiers had to stay silent and wait. Fortunately for them, they didn’t have to wait long because he quickly wasted an opportunity. He should have kept in mind that Elizabeth regularly banished favorites from court for getting married without her permission. He didn’t though and his fall was spectacular. Spoiler alert, he gets executed.Today, we’ll be discussing the Essex Rebellion and the role Shakespeare played. Sources:Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa HiltonElizabeth’s Bedfellow by Anna Whitelock Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“Two households both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents’ strife.”-Prologue, Romeo and JulietNearly everyone is familiar with the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, two teens in love separated by their warring families. These two teens are often put up on a pedestal as the perfect representation of love. There’s even a whole movie about it, Shakespeare in Love. But, are they?They are young teens, who meet, fall in love, get married, and commit suicide in less than a week. On the surface, not exactly what one would aspire to emulate. And yet, here we are. It begs the question, is it possible that they were in love that quickly? The play is without a doubt full of beautiful, poetic language and packed full of emotion, but does it accurately represent love?These are the questions Eli and I will be grappling with today as we discuss Romeo and Juliet. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“It has become a commonplace of Shakespearian biography that, from roughly his age of twenty to his age of twenty-eight, we encounter the ‘lost years.’ But no years are ever wholly lost. There may be a gap in chronology, but the pattern of a life may be discerned obliquely and indirectly.” - Peter Ackroyd in Shakespeare the BiographyFrom the birth of his twins to his arrival on the London theatre scene, we have no record of what Shakespeare was doing. This isn’t from a lack of trying, but if you weren’t getting baptised, married or buried, if you weren’t involved in a court case or a land purchase, and you weren’t a member of the nobility, you basically didn’t exist. If no one was writing about you, there would be no record. On top of that, Elizabethan record keeping wasn’t exactly top notch and there were quite a few fires thrown in there for good measure. What does this all mean? Well, it means we will never be able to say for 100% certainty what Shakespeare was doing during these years. We can make educated guesses and speculate, but until a magic document shows up, there’s no irrefutable proof. Not all hypotheses are created equal though, so it is worth examining the most prevalent theories and how likely or unlikely they are. Which is exactly what Eli and I will be doing today. Strap on your deductive reasoning caps and let’s explore Shakespeare’s lost years.  Primary research sources:Shakespeare: The Biography by Peter AckroydThe Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Richard III

Richard III

2020-02-1156:26

“And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,To entertain these fair well-spoken days,I am determined to prove a villainAnd hate the idle pleasures of these days.Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,To set my brother Clarence and the kingIn deadly hate the one against the other”Richard III Act I, Scene 1When I say, Richard III, images of a hunchback villain likely come to mind. One that is cruel and tyrannical to his core. A man obsessed with power and willing to go to almost any length to secure that power. This image is what the Tudors wanted us to believe. It was Henry Tudor, or Henry VII, that defeated Richard and brought a new era of peace to England. That’s not the whole story though. Henry Tudor had a pretty weak claim to the throne, so they had to use propaganda to secure the Tudor dynasty. This meant painting Richard as the villain, and they did that very effectively. The Tudor chroniclers bent the truth of what happened to provide nefarious motives that were not laid out by contemporaries.It was the Tudor chroniclers that Shakespeare sourced from for his plays, namely Holinshed. This meant that Shakespeare dramatized history and in doing so, created one of the most memorable villains of all time. In terms of events, Shakespeare is largely accurate. He compresses timelines, of course, but overall what happened in Shakespeare happened in reality. Where the play deviates from reality appears to be with Richard’s character, so that is what Eli and I will be exploring today. It’s time to look past the Tudor myth and find out who the real Richard III was. Key source material: Richard III by Chris Skidmore Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
MacBeth Sources

MacBeth Sources

2020-01-1440:52

“But screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail” - Lady MacBeth Act I, Scene 7 of the Scottish PlayMany have heard of MacBeth, the tyrannical title character of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Many more are unaware that MacBeth was a real Scottish King. Shakespeare however was completely aware because he relied heavily of Raphael Holinshed’s history of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Now, whether Holinshed was accurate to history is a whole different story, but Shakespeare borrowed heavily from the works of Holinshed while writing the Scottish Play.But, just how much did Shakespeare borrow from Holinshed? Was he quote unquote true to the history of MacBeth, or did he pull from a few other places? That is what we will be discussing today and by the end of it, hopefully we will have answered these questions and much, much more. So, don your favorite kilt and let’s head off to Scotland. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Diagnosing Portia

Diagnosing Portia

2020-01-0244:49

A little disclaimer about this episode. Dr. Lisa Grogan and I are talking about Portia from Julius Caesar. There is a significant discussion about self-harm and suicide, so if those are subjects that bother you, you may want to skip this episode. “I have made strong proof of my constancy, giving myself a voluntary wound here, in the thigh; can I bear that with patience and not my husband’s secrets?” Portia in Julius Caesar Act 2, Scene 1Brutus’ wife, Portia, has a tiny part in Julius Caesar, but there is a lot to unpack there. We are introduced to Portia when she stabs herself in the leg to prove her loyalty to Brutus. Then, she has a clear panic attack when he goes to stab Caesar. Finally, we get the news that she committed suicide after being overwhelmed with anxiety about Brutus’ fate. See what I mean? There’s a lot there, so I decided this would be an excellent topic for me to discuss with my dear friend Dr. Grogan and see what treatment options would be available to Portia today. This gets a little heavy, but please join us as we dive into the psyche of Portia. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Fairies

Fairies

2019-12-17--:--

“We fairies that do run.../ Following the darkness like a dream/ Now are frolic; not a mouse/ Shall disturb this hallowed house./ I am sent with broom before/ To sweep the dust behind the door” Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 5 Scene 1Today when we hear the word fairy, a small winged creature probably comes to mind. A little glowing girl fluttering amongst the flowers. This, however, would not be the image that came to mind for most Elizabethan playgoers. They would have been picturing a wide variety of creatures that were all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some were benevolent and some were evil. One thing was for certain though, you did not want to anger a fairy.Today we will be discussing fairy lore as Shakespeare’s audience would have understood them. There was a long held belief in fairies and so the lore behind them is plentiful. We do our best to sum up what a fairy was to Shakespeare and his audience, but there is so much more to talk about for those who are interested. So, sit back, relax, and come into the English countryside with us to learn all about the fairy folk.Primary resource: "At the Bottom of the Garden" by Diane Purkiss Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“A nobler man, a braver warrior, lives not this day within the city wall” - Titus Andronicus Act I, Scene 1Not too many people are familiar with Titus Andronicus, one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays. It is also easily Shakespeare’s goriest play. Most of the main characters die, some after horrible mutilation. A couple even get baked into a pie and fed to their mom. It’s quite a doozy. The copious amount of violence can make it easy to dismiss this particular play. However, that is doing a disservice to Shakespeare and the possible audience. You see, Titus is a perfect example of how man’s own faults can lead to his ultimate downfall. The question though is what is that flaw? Is it loyalty? A commitment to the status quo? Or a need to follow the correct protocol? Perhaps it’s a little bit of everything.Join Eli and I as we discuss Titus and his flaws.Check out by blog at ripegoodscholar.comTeller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
“We may see the young Shakespeare, therefore, spending thirty or forty hours each week in memorising, construing, parsing and repeating prose and verse in Latin. We may hear him talking the language, to his schoolmaster and to his fellow pupils.” Peter Ackroyd in Shakespeare: A BiographyA common argument of anti-Stratfordians is that Shakespeare was uneducated. He only completed grammar school and never even attended a single day of university. So, it seems impossible that a man with a “grade school” education could grow up to be such a prolific writer. That idea, though, completely disregards the realities of Elizabethan Grammar School.Yes, Shakespeare only attended school for about four years. However, in those four years he received an education similar to that of a modern day classics undergraduate. The students, by years three and four, were encouraged to speak only Latin at school. That means for 12+ hours a day for 5 ½ days per week for 44 weeks per year, they were speaking Latin. To say Shakespeare was uneducated is simply incorrect. He was not as educated as other writers, but with his grammar school education he was given all of the tools necessary to write his plays.Today, we will be taking a closer look at what Shakespeare’s education was like and how it contributed to the writer he became. Grab your quill and ink pot and let’s head to school.Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Diagnosing Henry VI

Diagnosing Henry VI

2019-11-0536:37

One of Shakespeare’s earliest and arguably worst plays is probably Henry VI, all three parts. It’s essentially about the start of the wars of the roses. As such, I would not qualify Henry as the star of his own play. This is actually an excellent reflection of his life. He was king from infancy and lacked the strong will necessary to be a medieval ruler, so he was dominated by other nobles and even his own wife. By some accounts he was feeble minded, by others extremely pious. One thing the historians can agree on however, is that he had some sort of mental breakdown. He went into what we would now call a catatonia for over a year. It has been the source of much debate for centuries. Today, Dr. Lisa and I take on the task and discuss what a possible diagnosis could have been. Sit back, enjoy, and let’s jump into Henry’s head. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Beginning quote from the unpublished biography of Henry VI by Kerry R. J. Tattersall
"Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our leave to Milan let me hear from thee by letters of thy success in love, and what news else betideth here in absence of thy friend and I likewise will visit thee with mine" - The Two Gentlemen of Verona Act 1, Scene 1For being an Englishman, Shakespeare set a surprisingly few number of plays in England. Many people assert that Shakespeare either travelled Europe during the lost years or was not the man from Stratford at all. These people seem to forget that Shakespeare had an extremely poor grasp of geography, so bad in fact that it is almost easier to believe that Shakespeare never saw a map than it is to believe he travelled to Italy. Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
A Comedy of Errors

A Comedy of Errors

2019-10-0830:03

In this episode we look into the plot points of William Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors and why it makes for an excellent farce. Music: Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/  Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Sometime around 1595 William Shakespeare penned a new play, The Life and Death of King Richard II. If you couldn’t already guess, it was a history play. History plays were all the rage at the time. However, it was a daring endeavor because it depicted the deposition of a legitimate monarch. One shouldn’t be too surprised that the current monarch at the time, Elizabeth I, who faced multiple coup and assasination attempts, may have not been the biggest fan of a deposition play. But, the play went on with the deposition scene usually removed. I say usually because there was one critical performance that included this classic and controversial scene. The Earl of Essex, Elizabeth’s former favorite, paid to have the play performed with the deposition scene. This was because he was planning a revolt. It epically failed. However, Elizabeth, according to legend, was supposed to have said that she was Richard II. Is this true? Who was Richard II? Why was he so hated? Because the play only covers a very small portion of his life, and the audience would have been familiar with the whole story, we will spend our time today looking at the entire Life (and death) of Richard II.Sources:The Making of England 4th edition by Warren HollisterThe Kings and Queens of England by Jane MurrayFoundation by Peter AckroydShakespeare's English Kings by Peter SaccioAsimov's Guide to Shakespeare by Isaac Asimov Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
In this introductory episode, we explore the thesis of the podcast: the need to break down bardolatry.  Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4467-teller-of-the-talesLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeodLink: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4056-minstrel-guildLicense: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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