23 Apr 2016

All the world’s a stage

From RNZ Music, 6:00 am on 23 April 2016

Every possible angle on the life and work of William Shakespeare is being explored around the world to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.

“If music be the food of love...

In New Zealand, the Pop-up Globe theatre – a replica of Shakespeare’s old stomping ground in London - recently hosted Play On: A musical imagining of the great soliloquies. Twelve of Shakespeare's most well-loved solo soul-searchings were set to new music by Tui-award winning composer Paul McLaney, and presented as a song cycle by a dream cast of local actors and musicians. RNZ Music went behind the scenes of Play On, as well as recording the one-off performance on the 3 April 2016 for posterity.

The video shows Maisey Rika performing Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?) in te reo Māori , Mara TK performing 'The Sound & The Fury' and Esther Stephens performing Love's Labour's Lost.

You can hear more from the show here:

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

How shall I celebrate thee? Let me count the ways...

Shakespeare portrait by Cobbe

Shakespeare portrait by Cobbe Photo: Public Domain

The Pop Up Globe has been so successful its Auckland theatre season has been extended, and elsewhere in New Zealand there’s a Bard’s Birthday lunch hosted by the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ (Shakespeare's birthday and death day are both celebrated on 23 April) and the annual Sheila Winn Shakespeare Festival for secondary school students kicks off on 2 June.

Elsewhere in the world one theatre company is presenting the complete murders - all 74 of the stabbings, poisonings, smotherings and smashings to be found in the 38 plays. Chicago’s chefs are cooking up 38 culinary interpretations of the dramas. And at the Edinburgh Fringe festival each night’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream features a different cast member... extremely drunk. The remaining cast do their best to improvise around them.

From a writer who never even made it to university, Shakespeare’s monologues (solo speeches), soliloquys (solo soul-searchings) and sonnets (14-line poems) remain the most read and performed in the English language, not to mention the translations into every modern language as well as Klingon... and Māori, and many words and phrases coined by the bard remain in common use today.

Play On Music Details

'Karakia' (Maisey Rika)
'Heart's Ease' from Romeo & Juliet - Act 4, Scene 5 (Paul McLaney / all cast)
'The Deeds of Mercy' from The Merchant of Venice - Act 4, Scene 1 (Maisey Rika)
'Until This Night' from Romeo & Juliet - Act 1, Scene 5 (Mara TK)
'The Lunatic, The Lover & The Madman' from A Midsummer Night's Dream - Act 5, Scene 2 (Julia Deans)
'Love' from Love's Labour's Lost - Act 4, Scene 3 (Esther Stephens)
'Come Away Death' from Twelfth Night - Act 2, Scene 4 (Paul McLaney)
'Sound & Fury' from Macbeth - Act 5, Scene 5 (Mara TK)
'Our Revels Now are Ended' from The Tempest - Act 4, Scene 1 (Laughton Kora)
'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' Sonnet 18 (Maisey Rika)