Waving the boat of gender constructs goodbye courtesy of Shakespeare

19 Mar Troy Clements

Troy Clements

So I grew up in a very rural area of Prince Edward Island, Canada. And when I say rural I mean friggin rural! With a population of 75 people in my village (well it’s actually defined as an unincorporated area, but village is just easier to say), it gives you an idea of what I mean when I say small.

Not like… “Hey I’m from a rural place too” “oh yah, where’s that” I ask…”oh just outside of Kingston, Ontario.” Yah buddy that’s not what I mean by small…small like, shooting rats at the dump with your dad’s 22cal riffle. Or waking up at the crack of dawn to head to the wharf on setting day, sending the lobster fisherman off with a friendly wave…

There ain’t nothing like waving at boats!

I made the big move in 2010. Not the one where you go to Alberta and make lotsa money in the oil biz so you can buy a big truck, the one where you move to Montreal and make no money but yet discover a bit more of yourself.

When I arrived I realized Montreal has lotsa boats leaving the harbour, but nobody really finds waving at them as fun for some reason. And there are rats but they won’t let ya shoot em’….even if your gun is registered…go figure eh?  So as you can imagin’ my horizons were broadening quickly. One example would be Bard Brawl.

Back home you would never have an opportunity to join a group that got together once a week, had a couple of beers and read Shakespeare…and out loud, like in front of people, not just by yourself hiding in your room in fear of being seen as something different. I mean we would brawl back home, but it usually involved more than a couple of beers and few broken noses in the end.   So yah, Montreal…here I am, discovering something new everyday.

So now that you have an idea of where I came from and who I am, I will get to the point…I found an episode of CBC Ideas, “Not With the Eyes,” that struck a chord with me. It was about gender identity as it is in our contemporary culture compared to how it was when Shakespeare was observing and writing about his time.

Being from where I’m from I was always pushed to be male, to be a man. Like be a man…suck it up, you shouldn’t respond that way to a given situation, you should respond this way because…”you’re a man!” And I mean I followed that. I didn’t push back or anything, I really thought that’s how it was.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite where I grew up, I was a little bit more open-minded than others in the community. I accepted anyone who identified as gay or transgendered for example, but I never thought about where I was in that spectrum, and this episode of Ideas really allowed room for me to question my gender. Not my sexual identity but my gender.

You know like…what is gender really?

I mean physically there is a difference but how one perceives oneself is not so obvious. For example, as mentioned in the episode, race was a created construct. Sure we have similarities to a certain group in comparison to others but nowadays, for the most part, race is slowly ceasing to exist.

We don’t see one race compared to another as much any more. There are still differences but we are realizing more and more that we are all just Homo sapiens, and we are getting away from separation of people because their skin is a different colour or because they cook with different spices. And so like race, gender (when looked at in a certain light) was a created construct as well… and one that is slowly moving away from a “you’re a man” and “you’re a woman” type thing.

When we truly ask ourselves who we are, it’s not easy to say. Like personally, I have been questioning if I am male or female…or if either really exist. And I tell you what…it feels so liberating to question that.

Especially coming from rural PEI. Let’s talk about washer tossing some time.

So does gender exist and how did it exist when ole Shakespeare was writing? I mean when you read between the lines Shakespeare was writing about what he seen among the population, usually the upper class of citizens, and poking fun or at least making a comment about how people perceived themselves and the world around them. And so, as mentioned in the broadcast…in his plays he had men playing women roles/parts and these women would then dress up as a young boys. In turn you would have male characters in the play attracted to these ‘young boys’ who were actually women who just looked like young boys. So you have a sort of taboo issue being discussed through a form entertainment.

That’s crucial. As long as it is in some form of theatre, poetry, song writing, etc., one is less likely to get his or her head cut off for it. Sorry Patricia Jannuzzi but Facebook doesn’t cut it!

Helena (in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adds this nerdy editor) says, “Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind,” and so the question is what are the eyes actually seeing? If you fall in love with the mind, what are the male characters physically seeing in these women who resemble young boys?

When we discuss a similar situation nowadays we see the same thing more or less. We have people who consider themselves sapiosexual.

sapiosexual: (adj) a form of sexual orientation characterized by a strong attraction to intelligence in others, often regardless of gender and/or conventional attractiveness.

So once again falling in love through the mind.

This still leaves the question, what is it that the eyes actually see then?

And so this speaks to the fluidity of gender and sexuality, that nothing is fixed, that there can be many forms of gender and many forms of attractiveness toward that gender and that they are in a constant state of change and flux. And this fluidity is part of a continuum that exists where people exist, that it’s not just fixed to one time or another.

Shakespeare saw it and now we see it. It will evolve but I’m not sure if we will ever know what the eyes actually see.


 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Troy’s essay is in response to the program “Not With The Eyes” produced for the CBC program Ideas. The link is here:

http://www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?clipId=2648111044

BB: Titus Andronicus, Act II

15 Mar

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back Brawlers to the Bard Brawl’s eleventh and bloodiest play, Titus Andronicus.

Listen to or download the podcast.

 

He makes fun, but we all know Eric will be the next great mustachioed brawler.

 


There are already a couple of people dead after act I but that’s nothing compared to what happens to Lavinia in act II.

If you’re trying to impress a girl by taking her out to some Shakespeare to show her your cultured and refined sensibilities, you may want to pass on Titus Andronicus. Not my recommendation as a first date play.

She may get the wrong idea is all I’m saying. (I’m also saying that this play is fucked up.)

In scene 1 we meet “Empress” Tamora’s boy toy, Aaron the Moor. He’s pretty excited that Tamora’s slept her way to the top and he imagines that this means his mistress has just graduated to sugar mommy. He’s pretty pumped about that but when Tamora’s sons Chiron and Demetrius start fighting about a girl, he gets worried that they’re about the mess it up for everyone.

Aaron breaks up their fight but when he finds out that the girl they’re both fighting over is Titus’ daughter Lavinia, he sees a way to strike at Titus. So he suggests that instead of fighting over her, they should team up and just rape her in the woods.

As this seems like such a well-reasoned and logical solutions, they sheath their weapons and head off. Mommy will be so proud. (No, really. She will.)

Anyhow.

Everyone is gathered in the forest about to go hunting in scene 2 but Lavinia decides she’ll stay behind and chill. Coincidentally, so do Demetrius and Chiron, probably the most despicable characters in Shakespeare.

While her new husband is off with Titus hunting, Tamora finds a little alone time with Aaron. But he’s not really interested because he’s too preoccupied with his plans for vengeance! (Wait. What did anyone actually do to Aaron? Did I miss something?) He hears Bassianus and Lavinia approach so he tells Tamora to pick a fight while he gets her sons to back her up.

The Empress accuses Bassianus of following her, Lavinia calls her a slut, and Bassianus says he’ll rat her out. Enter Demetrius and Chiron who stab and kill Bassianus.

This makes mom very happy, but not as happy as the idea of her sons raping Lavinia.

Lavinia tries to appeal to Tamora to make them stop but she just tells her sons to make sure that once they’re done, they make sure “this prostitute” can’t tell anyone about what they did to her. Demetius and Chiron throw Bassianus’s body into a pit and drag Lavinia off.

What the hell, Shakespeare?

Just then, Aaron leads Titus’ sons Martius and Quintus to the open pit, where one of them falls in, completely by accident (really?), and identifies the body in the pit as Bassianus. Vertigo, or idiocy, must run in the family as the other brother falls in while trying to help the first one out. By the time Aaron returns with the hunting party, they’re both stuck down there with the body, probably covered in Bassianus’ blood, and not worried in the least.

Of course, Saturninus sentences them both to death for killing his brother, but Titus begs him to spare his sons until they can be proven guilty. Too bad Tamora brings out a fake letter implicating Quintus and Martius in the killing of Bassianus.

But no worries. Tamora tell Titus that she’s got his back and she’ll think of something to help him. And off goes Titus with his only remaining son, Lucius. [Cue evil laugh.]

While that has been going on, Demetrius and Chiron have been busy. Once they finish raping Lavinia, they decide that they won’t kill her. Instead, they cut out her tongue so she couldn’t tell anyone about what happened. And just to be sure, they cut off her hands too, to make sure she can’t write about it either… nor get a rope to hang herself.

So yeah. That happened.

Finally, Lavinia is found by her uncle Marcus who can’t believe that someone did this crazy, fucked up shit to her.

Call it a hunch, but my guess is there’s some bad shit around the corner waiting for Tamora, Demetrius and Chiron. And as yesterday was pi day, probably some pie.

You won’t want to miss any of it.

Kayla Cross returns to the brawl and reads sonnet 54 with all pomp and dignity.


 

'Zounds!, Act I, ii

‘Zounds!, Act I, ii

 

 

Check out the rest of the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Buy Volume II NOW.

 

 


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Herding Mad Monarchs

9 Mar
Looks like a CCCCEO to me!

Looks like a CCCCEO to me!

Hey Brawlers!

Co-captain and CCCCEO Eric with a quick update. So I got my hair cut about a week ago. I think it looks really nice!

But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about today!

No!

As important as this may be, we have even more important news!

That’s right. Amidst weddings and art shows in Boston (congratulations to Brawler Stephanie EM Coleman!), work continues on ‘Zounds! We’re hard at work prepping those mad monarchs for publication!

But until it launches, click on the link for the exhibit she’s a part of at the Nave Gallery, and if you’re in Boston, go check out the show before March 28th! (That’s ‘Nave,’ not ‘knave,‘ Brawlers.)

And don’t fret! We gathered up the brawlers and recorded act II of Titus Andronicus for you. We’ll get that edited, commented and up for you ASAP so you’ll finally have that to listen to on your commute to your moonlighting gig as a part-time Fool.

Brawl on, Brawlers!


'Zounds!, Act I, ii

‘Zounds!, Act I, ii

 

 

Check out the rest of the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Buy Volume II NOW.

 

 


 Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

Titus & Tamora (simply put: wrath)

15 Feb 'Zounds! Act I, scene ii, available now at fine Montreal book stores.

The third instalment of ‘Zounds! is coming. The Mad King is destined to be amazing with some great submissions already in. If you would like to be a part of the epic journey along with the Bard Brawlers, click here and check out the submission guidelines. Better yet, buy a previous edition and get the idea of what ‘Zounds! is all about.

Here is an poem from ‘Zounds! Act I, scene ii: T by poet, singer/songwriter, playwrite and overall good guy Andre Simoneau. Enjoy.


Titus & Tamora

(simply put: wrath)

Andre Simoneau

Listen to or download a dramatic reading by Andre.

1.

look:

here is the shape of a tragedy

a violence forged twixt two pillars

two parents

warmother and warfather

queen, general

opposite progenitors of a wrathful legacy

a bloodline most cold

here is a lesson in shape of a massacre:

vengeance begets vengeance

sin sin

and wrath paid is repaid hundredfold

until all this your world is burned flat

in all white raging fire

all burning

all: wrath

2.

look:

enter Andronicus in shape of hero

Tamora shape of slave

bound and kneeling

made to pray for her life’s life

her eldest Alabrus

now see your hero’s slaying pride

his devotion to the form of victory

see the cost of it:

how quickly his stony countenance crumbles to marble dust

leaving naught but a silent taut thread of grief

drawing on to a snap

a sudden hot shock of recognition:

Titus you fool, you lost tragic tool, it was you

and all the wailing in the world

can only be now but a pale shadow of the true torment

in this Roman father’s warring chest

3.

look:

enter Aaron

with a flourish of pure malice

a villain beyond understanding

see the gleeful depravity

with which he schemes

see a murder of shade stretching out long beneath a copse of trees at day’s end

in a darkened wood

on the king’s hunting grounds

and ask:

what is a corpse in a hole?

4.

ask:

what are hands?

tongues?

what is rape?

witness vile Chiron, hateful Demetrius

these feral prowling sons

these cackling Gothic brothers

and ask:

how does this happen?

what evil is this?

what terrible hunger is it that leads beasts to sever youth

from herself?

and where is that burning brink of mind beyond which reason is annihilated

finally, irrevocably?

and just how much of a person may be excised in basest surgery

before they become more lack than presence?

ask:

what is it to touch?

to speak?

to taste?

what is the weight of evil?

what is the worth of life?

5.

look:

see these shapes of violence played out in grotesque dumbshow

by this maimed daughter, haunted Lavinia

and ask:

what is a mouth full of shade?

see her father’s fury in all its pathetic contortions

all its Roman spectacle

see him drunk on wrath’s hateful liquor

and hungry to feed his heart’s despised enemies

on all the roiling gore that stews inside his own gut

his hangman’s knot of twisted entrails

now see the ugliness of the wrathsnake feasting on itself

this is a warning in shape of the blade that

kills Tamora

kills Titus

6.

look:

the shape of revenge is recursion

the shape of revenge is recursion

the shape of revenge is recursion

Poet, singer/songwriter, playwrite and overall good guy Andre Simoneau at the mic.

Poet, singer/songwriter, playwrite and overall good guy Andre Simoneau at the mic.

'Zounds!, Act I, ii

‘Zounds!, Act I, ii


Check out the rest of the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Buy Volume II NOW.


Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!


BB: Titus Andronicus, Act I

8 Feb T is for Titus
Yum! Pie!

Yum! Pie!

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back Brawlers to the Bard Brawl! I promised you blood so here it is: the Bard Brawl’s eleventh play is Titus Andronicus. Heads will roll, blood will flow and folks will be baked into a pie.

It’s going to be an awesome, late Roman bloodbath.

Listen to or download the podcast.


This play is an early one, probably the first tragedy which Shakespeare wrote, and in some ways it’s kind of a hot mess (pun intended) with the story serving only as an excuse for violence, sex and gore. Think Evil Dead II but with Romans. Or, you know, HBO’s Rome.

Even though it’s the earliest of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, it actually is the one which takes places the latest in Rome’s history. It’s set late in Rome’s history, about a century before the fall of Rome.

Only one scene in act I but it’s a little tough to follow because so much stuff happens that you don’t have time to understand what the hell is going on or why the heck we should care. (My money is that if Shakespeare had a do-over, this would be broken up into several scenes over 2 acts or so so we’d really get the full effect. Or he might mash it up with other historical periods like Julie Taymor did in her cleverly titled film, Titus. Whatever.)

In any event, here goes.

The Emperor just croaked so naturally his two sons Saturnius and Bassianus are trying to get the support of the masses to take over the job. Things look lie they’re about to get ugly but Titus Andronicus shows with his war prisoners in tow. Titus Andronicus is a badass general whose just finished kicking the crap out of the Goths with his sons but unfortunately he lost one of his sons during the campaign. They’ve brought his body home to be buried in the family’s ancestral crypt.

To fend off any angry ghosts which they might awaken by opening up the crypt (as anyone knows), they’ll need to sacrifice the most important prisoner they’ve captured which in this case happens to be Alarbus, the Queen of the Goths’ eldest son. Tamora (that’s the queen) asks Titus to spare her son but he tosses him over to his sons Lucius, Quintus, Martius and Mutius who drag him off-stage to chop him up and throw him on the sacrificial pyre

Titus is about to lower the coffin down when Lavinia, the tribunes, Saturnius and Bassianus show up. Marcus Andronicus (a tribune who happens to be Titus’ brother) suggests that instead of either Bassianus or Saturnius getting the crown, Titus should get it.

Shit’s about to go down again between Bassianus and Saturninus’s supporters but Titus refuses the crown and, seeing as he’s the most popular guy in Rome right now, he names Saturninus Emperor with the support of pretty much everyone.

First order of business for a new Emperor of course is to pick out a wife so he picks out Lavinia. Titus’ daughter. And as soon as that’s agreed, Saturninus turns around and puts the moves on Tamora. But no one really notices what’s going on apparently because Bassianus is busy telling Titus that ‘he loves her more’ and the Emperor should’t have her.

Titus’ sons back Bassianus and while trying to stop them from running off with Lavinia, Titus stabs and kills his son Mutius. And instead of backing Titus, Saturninus turns on him, insults his family and accuses them of having publicly insulted him because they wouldn’t make Lavinia stick around and marry him. (Nevermind the fact that he’s probably got a hand up Tamora’s shirt the whole time.)

But hey, since he’s been dissed, he figures he may as well hook up with Tamora on the up-and-up.

So everyone leaves for a bit and Titus is standing there with another dead son at his feet but he’s so pissed at this one that he refuses to bury him in the family plot. His sons and brother plead with him and he eventually agrees to let them bury him.

Oh, but the scene isn’t finished yet! Nope.

At this point, everyone comes back on-stage: Saturninus, Bassianus, Lavinia, Tamora and her sons Demetrius and Chiron, some Moorish guy named Aaron who hasn’t said a word and ‘others.’ Seems that Bassianus will get his Lavinia in the end but Saturninus isn’t too happy about it, and neither is Titus. Tamora finally speaks up and backs Titus, though she whispers to Saturninus that’s she’s just being politically savvy. Titus is still too popular with the people to mess with and he’s been Emperor for about 5 minutes so he should probably take it easy.

So Tamora convinces everyone to kiss and make up and Saturninus invites Bassianus and Lavinia to get married on the same day they do. (Must be so they can save money on catering.)

In case you need a little help with the characters, here are the most important ones:

  • Titus Andronicus: A general who kill his son in a fight over who his daughter Lavinia will marry.
  • Lucius, Quintus, Martius: Titus’ sons (the ones who aren’t dead by the end of act 1 anyhow)
  • Livinia: Titus’ daughter. She must be the only good-looking woman in Rome because just about evety guy in the play want to get with her. She wants to marry Bassianus.
  • Saturninus: The emperor who was rejected by Lavinia. Hates Titus and his sons for helping her get out of marrying him..
  • Tamora: Was the Queen of the Goths, now she’s Saturninus’ wife. Good for her.
  • Demetrius and Chiron: Tamora’s sons. Yup, they have it bad for Lavinia too.
  • Bassianus: Saturninus’ brother who wants to marry Lavinia.
  • Aaron: Tamora’s “friend with benefits.” He’s not too happy about the new arrangement. You’ll see.

So the next scene will be a happy wedding scene, right? With meat pies for all, I hope so.

This week, the lord of St. Leonard Mark Della Posta returns with acclaim to read sonnet 41.


 

'Zounds!, Act I, ii

‘Zounds!, Act I, ii

 

 

Check out the rest of the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Buy Volume II NOW.

 

 


 Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

BB: Sonnets 30-35

26 Jan Artwork - Leigh MacRae
Artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman

Artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

Welcome Brawlers (finally!) to another episode of the Bard Brawl!

So every so often, do you get that experience where you keep looking at a word which is spelt correctly but you’re just convinced that some letters are missing?

Yeah, that word today is sonnet. No idea what letters might be missing but it still seems… off.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that all of these sonnets have been recorded by male sonnetteers so maybe that’s what’s throwing me off this episode. However, I promise that you won’t be disappointed by our readers.

Enjoy the latest sonnets podcast, au masculin!


Listen to or download the podcast.


Sonnet 30 (Episode: Pericles, Act I; Read by: Eric Fortin)

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.

Argument: So, when I’m thinking about all the things I used to have but have any more, I feel about as crappy as I did when I first lost them. That makes me cry my eyes out about my dead friends and my worse breakups while I go through all of the worst moments of my life all over again. But if I think about you, then all that goes away and I feel awesome.

 

Sonnet 31 (Episode: King Lear, Speeches; Read by: Jack Konorska)

Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead;
And there reigns Love, and all Love’s loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stol’n from mine eye,
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things removed that hidden in thee lie!
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give,
That due of many now is thine alone:
Their images I loved, I view in thee,
And thou (all they) hast all the all of me.

Argument: Check this out. All those people who I thought were gone forever, well it turns out that I can kind of see them all when I look at you. Cool, right? Like, I totally thought I would never see any of them again but when I look at you it’s like – Bam! – they’re right there! So no more visiting each grave one at a time because you’re like a whole cemetery.

 

Sonnet 32 (Episode: Richard II, Act II; Read by: Jack Konorska)

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bett’ring of the time,
And though they be outstripped by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love’.

Argument: If I die before you, and you just happen to come across my poems – entirely by accident, of course – can you please hold on to them and not recycle them. I know that these poems kinda suck so don’t keep them around because you like them but because you loved me. Oh, and can you please go around telling everyone: “Yeah, modern poetry is better but, you know, he wrote these for me so that’s pretty awesome.” (And maybe a little creepy.)

 

Sonnet 33 (Episode: Timon of Athens, Act IV; Read by: David Kandestin)

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth.

Argument: Man, I’ve seen the sunrise make the world look and feel golden so many times only to let itself get covered up by rude-ass clouds. You did that to me once, when you looked at me. It felt pretty amazing to know you were looking at me. But yeah, that didn’t last too long though. I’m not mad though, bro. If the sun can paint the sky red, why should I be mad that you sort of stab my heart like that?

 

Sonnet 34 (Episode: Twelfth Night, Speeches; Read by: “First” Jay Reid)

Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o’ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke?
‘Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak,
That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace:
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief;
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss:
The offender’s sorrow lends but weak relief
To him that bears the strong offence’s cross.
Ah! but those tears are pearl which thy love sheds,
And they are rich and ransom all ill deeds.

Argument: Why the hell did you tell me to leave my jacket at home when you knew it was going to rain? And then you rub it in my face by posting my picture on Facebook, too? You might have apologized but I’m still soaked. WTF? Oh… no. Stop. Please don’t cry. I didn’t mean… just… (sigh) It’s fine. Just forget I said anything. Don’t worry about it.

 

Sonnet 35 (Episode: Pericles, Act IV; Read by: Andre Simoneau)

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud:
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
Thy adverse party is thy advocate,
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
That I an accessary needs must be,
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Argument: Seriously,.don’t worry about it. You made a mistake, you’re only human. I guess. I mean, I just can’t stay mad at you, no matter how hard I try. Even when you mess up big. It’s messed up but I guess it’s just my lot in life to stick up for you, even if it means that I take your side over mine in every argument.

What’s coming up next on the Bard Brawl? Blood, and lots of it. Stay tuned!

If you like sonnets, or the Bard, or the Bard Brawlers, or cats, or Batman, or hockey, or poems, or artwork, or Game of Thrones, or Star Wars, or anything else you can think of, why not pick up a copy of the first edition of ‘Zounds!, a Bard Brawl Journal.

'Zounds!, Act I,i

‘Zounds!, Act I,i

Winter, 2014: ‘Zounds! Act I,scene i - One to Seventeen -

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BB: Twelfth Night, Act V; REDUX

5 Jan artwork - Leigh MacRae

 

artwork - Leigh MacRae

artwork – Leigh MacRae

“… let no quarrel nor no brawl to come taint the condition of this present hour,” Fabian

Welcome back to the Bard Brawl and to the final act of our Twelfth Night redux!

The gauntlet of relatives, three heaping platefuls of cipâtes, your second copy of Moneyball in as many days (*pokes Niki Lambros), that the guy you made out with at the New Year’s Eve party who you later discovered was your second cousin (Dramatization, may not have happened.), you survived it all.

You made it! Pat yourself on the back, enjoy what’s left of the bubbly (we sure did) and have a listen as we wrap up Twelfth Night in true Bard Brawl style with a little NKOTB.

Side note: Enjoy the “crusher” guitar intro. We sure did.


Listen to or download the podcast.


Only one scene in this act but it’s a pretty wild one.

Orsino, that lazy, pathetic ass, has finally decided that if he wants Olivia he should probably make some sort of effort himself to win her over. He runs into Feste and Fabian outside of Olivia’s house. Insert a couple of jokes about friends and asses before Orsino sends Feste to fetch Olivia. While he waits, Viola (yup, still disguised as Cesario) notices Antonio being lead before the Duke by an officer. Orsino immediately recognises him as a pirate, but Viola tries to plead for mercy as Antonio defended her from Sir Toby and Andrew Aguecheek’s attacks.

Antonio attempts to defend his presence in Illyria by explaining that he was bewitched by Sebastian’s good looks and obvious character into making stupid decisions like exposing himself to the death penalty by being caught wandering the streets of Illyria. To make matters worse, he accuses Viola (thinking it’s Sebastian) of having refused to give back the money he had given him in trust. Of course, everybody thinks he’s a little nuts because Viola honestly has no clue what the hell he’s talking about. Both Orsino and Antonio claim to have been with “Viola” for the last 3 months.

Olivia arrives and once again refuses Orsino’s advances. To make matters worse, she hits on ‘Cesario’ who she thinks she just married an act ago. When Viola says she plans on following the person she loves, Orsino, Olivia accuses her ‘husband’ of being unfaithful. Viola denies it, of course, but just then – by total coincidence – the priest comes in and backs Olivia.

Moments later, Aguecheek comes in asking for a doctor for Sir Toby who was just injured by ‘Cesario.’ More confusion as Aguecheek blames Viola for Sebastian’s actions. As Belch and his buddies are lead out, Sebastian walks on stage. Finally we have both siblings on-stage at once! Olivia seems particularly happy at the prospect of two Cesario’s: “Most wonderful!” I’ll let you finish the porn joke in whatever way seems best to you.

Sebastian and Viola tease out the moment where they finally admit that they’re brother and sister and that, strangely, all of this is totally okay in the end. Olivia is just as happy with Sebastian, Sebastian is all too happy with Olivia’s money; Viola finally gets to have Orsino, who now seems perfectly happy to give up his hot widow for woman he has spent the entire play confusing for a boy. This will make for some interesting swinger parties.

There are a few other loose ends to warp up. They read Malvolio’s letter and realise that maybe he’s not nuts so they may as well let him out of the asylum. Malvolio accuses Olivia of having toyed with him but Olivia denies that she had anything to do with it. Malvolio swears vengeance. I imagine everybody just laughs.

We also learn that Sir Toby and Maria are getting married but I’m sure they won’t be invited to the swinger party.

And then there’s a little N.K.O.T.B.

The inspiration for Act V.

The inspiration for Act V.

 

If you have any suggestions for which speeches you would like us to revisit, now’s the time as next week is the Twelfth Night speeches podcast!

Sonnet 27 read by sonneteer Hannah Dorozio.


 

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BB: Twelfth Night, Act IV; REDUX

4 Jan Artwork - Leigh MacRae

“This is the air, that is the glorious sun, this pearl she gave me, I do feel’t and see’t…” IV,iii Sebastian.

Welcome Brawlers to act IV of Twelfth Night.

New Year’s Eve has passed but there are still a couple of days before Twelfth Night which means a few more days of eating, drinking and pranks. Hope you kept some space for cakes and ale!

And don’t mind the funny-looking raisins.

On a Two Gentlemen of Verona note, there’s a new production coming out soon. “2GoV” (that’s how the cool kids send text messages or Tweets about it) is not done often, which is odd seeing as another one of those “I will love you forever but then get distracted by the first beautiful girl I see” romances is done, like, all the time.

Go check out the trailer. Looks like a lot of fun!


Listen to or download the podcast.


Before everything untangles itself, Shakespeare’s going to up the ante and string us along for another act of mistaken identities and practical jokes.

Cesario (Viola in what has to be one hell of a disguise), is mistaken for Sebastian (Viola’s mystically identical twin brother) by Antonio at the end of act III. In act IV, scene 1, it’s Sebastian’s turn to be confused for Cesario. Feste mistakes him for Sebastian and only leaves after Sebastian gives him some cash. Then, Sir Toby, Fabian and Andrew Aguecheek come on stage, planning to attack the defenseless Cesario but they are beaten by Sebastian who, unlike Viola, is an able swordsman. Olivia shows up, breaks up the fight and invites Sebastian in thinking that she has finally managed to win over Cesario.

Confused yet? You shouldn’t be – I’m sure you’ve had all the practice tracking disguises when you listened to our The Taming of the Shrew Brawl.

Sebastian has never seen Olivia in his life but figures, what the hell? How often does a beautiful, rich widow throw herself at you and offer to give you everything she has? Seems like the natural thing to do. (I’m told it happens to Daniel all the time.)

If it helps, this is a composite image of the Olivia Shakespeare probably had in mind:

Olivia Wilde

While Sebastian follows Olivia Wilde out of her garden and into her sex den house, Maria, Sir Toby and Feste decide that they’re going to spend scene 2 messing with Malvolio. They dress Feste up as a priest who is visiting ‘Malvolio the Lunatic’ to exorcise his demons. They taunt him and toy with him until Sir Toby calls off the prank. He’s afraid that his niece Olivia will get mad at him if he pushes the joke too far. At the end of the act, Malvolio calls for some pen and paper – he means to write a letter proving that he’s not crazy.

The third scene is very short. It’s the marriage of Sebastian and Olivia. I’m not sure how this is supposed to work. Olivia thinks she’s marrying Cesario, Sebastian has no clue who he’s marrying but she’s clearly hot and has a lot of money. (See picture of Shakespeare’s inspiration above if you don’t believe me.) They don’t even have each other’s identities sorted out.

Unless they learn to communicate, I can’t see how this is going to work for either of them.

Join us next week for the final act!


 

Though you’re far away, you’re near in our hearts Zoey Baldwin here reading sonnet 29.


 

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The Meggings Make the Man

3 Jan Yellow Stockings, Cross-Gartered

The third instalment of ‘Zounds! is coming. The Mad King is destined to be amazing with some great submissions already in. If you would like to be a part of the epic journey along with the Bard Brawlers, click here and check out the submission guidelines. Better yet, buy a previous edition and get the idea of what ‘Zounds! is all about.

Here is an entry from ‘Zounds! Act I, scene ii: T by fashion writer, designer and artist Stephanie E.M. Coleman. Enjoy.

Stephanie E.M. Coleman

Let’s admit we all follow trends.

Hypercolour t-shirts? Yeah man. My armpits were blue and the rest of my shirt was pink, but it was cool. Lipstick pink Juicy Couture velour tracksuits? Hot, in a Paris Hilton kind of way (glittery trucker hat mandatory, of course). Rave pants and soother necklaces? Sweet dude, just don’t forget your angel wings.

These are all lovely memories and everything, but we all hope they remain the stuff of ironic Halloween costumes and nothing more.

Perhaps you shuddered a little like I did when leggings came back in style, around 2005. Gazing at the racks of flimsy legwear at the retail store where I was working at the time, all these memories of lace trimmed white leggings I wore in grade 2 came flooding back to me.

And I was expected to build a wall display with these things?

I mean right in front of me I had evidence that the trends I wore as a kid had now cycled back into the forefront of designers’ minds, which would mean that they were vintage. That was a blow my 23 year old mind had a hard time absorbing, though I’ve since gotten used to the phenomena. (Hedi Slimane’s 2013 ‘grunge’ collection for St. Laurent was the real kicker.) I’m now sort of numbed to any further appropriations.

Anyway.

Fashion trauma aside, it would seem that leggings are here to stay, clinging to the flesh and gripping onto every contour and sinew in all their spandex glory. Printed with skulls or crosses à la Alexander McQueen, classic black, or granny style floral, tights are the ubiquitous fashion non-statement that just won’t quit. Stubbornly resistant to the ebb and flow of fashion, we see them turn up time and again under skirts, shorts and tunics.

Black Milk Clothing leggings (see right) are a favourite of the Bard Brawl and may just appear in the third instalment of ‘Zounds! Yep. That’s the first act of Hamlet on her legs.

Model: Saphia; Photo Credit: Jacques Carrière; Leggings: Black Milk Clothing

Model: Saphia; Photo Credit: Jacques Carrière; Leggings: Black Milk Clothing

Even for men.

Yes, in case you hadn’t heard, ‘meggings’ first appeared on Givenchy’s runway in 2013 with black tights worn under shorts. The look has since become a streetwear trend in Europe and New York, with designers like Rick Owens following suit, er…Spandex. They are even somewhat acceptable worn as ‘pants’ for gals, despite the fact we can see right through them to the polka dots on the wearer’s underpants.

Whatever.

Though I understand the popularity of such a comfortable no brainer garment, I can’t say I agree with such practices – especially the above mentioned “pants impostor” faux pas that assaults the eyes far too often.

Hmmmm…I actually do think meggings are pretty cool though.

Google it.

Before we gasp at the daring of Givenchy’s meggings, we should really take a minute to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. Indeed, a few centuries ago was penned a play featuring a hilarious quandary about a certain pair of yellow tights, cross gartered.

When I first read Act II of Twelfth Night, where Maria writes to Malvolio in the guise of Olivia, urging him to don his ‘yellow stockings, cross-gartered’ and woo her, I couldn’t quite picture the look. It sounded delightful, though. A little research at bardbrawl.com, and I quickly discovered that cross gartered yellow tights were de rigeur in court at the time Twelfth Night was written. Yellow was the ‘It’ colour of the season, and the decorative cross garters were an innovation to hold up the stockings before the advent of our dear friends, Lycra and Spandex. Who knew?

Check it out.

Yellow Stockings, Cross-Gartered

Poor Malvolio. It’s kind of tragic.

He was so excited! I mean, he was taking a real fashion risk and expressing himself and then it blows up in his face. I can just imagine him strutting his stuff, thinking this outfit was really gonna seal the deal with Olivia, while she looks at him like he’s gone mental and all the while Maria and co. are snickering at him from behind the bushes.

You know, I really think Malvolio was hanging out with the wrong crowd. They just weren’t ready for his avant-garde fashion sense. Too insecure.

Hello! I thought this play was supposed to be set in Italy. How far is Illyria from Milan, anyway? I guess it’s a little too far from the fashion capital for anything to trickle down. Like showing up at the Calgary Stampede in meggings, it’s just not going to be well received with this crew.

The truth is we just don’t know how to handle stockinged men. There was a whole Mel Brooks movie mocking it – remember Robin Hood Men in Tights? I do. I may or may not be able to quote the whole thing, which is something I probably shouldn’t admit to. “We’re men, we’re men in tights, we roam around the woods looking for fights….”

Okay enough!!

I do think there is a greater lesson to be learned from Malvolio’s mishap. When you step out and make a bold fashion statement, you become an easy target. Crowds are uncomfortable with the audacious confidence required to try out, say, peplums. So should Malvolio be ashamed, hang his head and exit the stage to Charlie Brown music like that Arrested Development episode? Maybe not. I say wear what you love, what makes your imagination run wild, what inspires you, what tells a story. Hold your head high, and remember you have Bill Cunningham on your side!

In the end, I think Malvolio had the last laugh. What started as sabotage turned into a sartorial mainstay.

For real, let me know when everyone has stopped wearing leggings for good. I doubt that day will come anytime soon.


 

'Zounds!, Act I, ii

‘Zounds!, Act I, ii

 

 

Check out the rest of the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Buy Volume II NOW.

 

 

 


Stay in Touch Brawlers!

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BB: Twelfth Night, Act III – (Re)Redux

2 Jan Artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman
Artwork - Leigh MacRae

Artwork – Leigh MacRae

“… he is a devil in private brawl,” – Sir Toby Belch, III, iv.

Welcome back Brawlers and Happy New Year!

Let’s keep the party jumping with act III of Twelfth Night!

What’s in store for this act? Probably a lot of things that we would call bullying today. Although if we were to bully anyone, we could do worse than to pick on Malvolio. Seems to me like someone’s a little light on Elizabethan holiday spirit. What better way to send a message than through public humiliation? I can’t think of any.

Turns out we’ve already reprised this podcast back when we were working on our first issue of ‘Zounds! (Which remains me that you can get your copy of issues 1 and 2 here, and that you can send submission for the upcoming Mad King issue here.)

But I’m sure you’ll forgive us as not only is this a particularly rockin’ and raucous episode but it was also our farewell brawl for Brawlers-for-life power couple  “Second” Jay Ovenden and Zoey Baldwin.

So here’s to all the Brawlers out there, near and far.

And to those who cannot be with us, I’ll shotgun an extra bear just for you.


 

Listen to or download the podcast.


Viola (still in disguise as Cesario, of course) is waiting outside of Olivia’s house at the start of act III. She is waiting to be admitted with yet another suit from Orsino and is engaged in a witty exchange by Feste, the clown. The two exchange a bunch of jokes about husbands being fools, words being whored out through misuse and overuse, with some punning about the young Cesario ‘wanting’ a beard thrown in for good measure: The beard she ‘wants’ is attached to Orsino’s face, get it?

While she waits, Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby arrive and invite Viola in. Before they can enter, however, Olivia meets with them and is left alone with ‘Cesario.’ Olivia is enraptured by ‘Cesario’ and tries to get him to drop his suit on behalf of wooing for himself. She confesses to the ploy with the ring intended to get Cesario back here but Viola doesn’t bite. Viola says ‘Cesario’ won’t return given that it will be impossible to convince Olivia to love Orsino but Olivia ask that Cesario return anyhow, ‘just in case’ he might be able to convince her somehow…

It seems the Aguecheek saw the whole exchange between Cesario and Olivia in the garden and has decided, at the start of scene 2, that he has no chance with Olivia and should probably just leave. Fabian and Sir Toby convince him that what he needs to do is demonstrate his valour by challenging Cesario to a duel. Sir Toby asks him to write a challenge letter which he will deliver to Cesario. Seems like this is another prank and Sir Aguecheek just another fool. Maria arrives and informs that Malvolio’s all dressed up and ready to make a fool of himself.

Antonio catches up to Sebastian on his way to Illyria in scene 3. Despite the danger to himself, Antonio is moved to help Sebastian. We find out that the reason Antonio is a wanted man is because he stole from Orsino and was recognised in fleeing. He hands Sebastian some money and agrees to meet him at an inn called ‘The Elephant.’

Scene 4 is a monster of a scene, with a lot going on.

As the scene starts, Olivia is waiting impatiently for Malvolio. He arrives dressed as the letter suggested, with his bright yellow stocking, cross-gartered. Olivia immediately assumes he’s lost his mind and ask him to go to bed… which of course he takes as an invitation. He starts quoting bits of the letter as he kisses Olivia’s hand. She, of course, has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

When Cesario is announced, Olivia asks Maria and Sir Toby to take care of the maddened Malvolio. Malvolio, though, assumes that this is just a test and that he’s supposed to exercise his ‘new authority’ over Sir Toby. They toy with him a bit and when Malvolio walks off, they decide to ties him up and put him in a dark room. Sir Andrew then arrives with his challenge letter. As it is a letter which would betray that Aguecheek is a moron, Sir Toby decides to deliver the challenge to Cesario himself, in his own words.

Olivia and Cesario are in the garden replaying the same scene: Olivia trying to convince Cesario to love her, Cesario trying to convince Olivia to love Orsino. When they take their leave, Sir Toby approaches Cesario and issues Aguecheek’s challenge. Of course, Viola is ignorant of any offense she might have given Aguecheek so she asks Sir Toby to find out what exactly Aguecheek is accusing her of. She asks Fabian about Aguecheek cheek and he describes him as a dangerous and skillful warrior. Sir Toby gives basically the same description of Cesario. While both of the combatants hope the combat will be avoided, Sir Toby manipulates them into it and they are interrupted by Antonio as they draw their swords. He has clearly confused Viola for Sebastian. (The impossible identical twins, remember?)

Moments later, some officers arrive and arrest Antonio. Thinking that he’s speaking with Sebastian, Antonio asks for his money back to bail him out of this mess. Viola denies having the money but offers half of what she has to help him. Antonio is incensed that ‘Sebastian’ has denied him but he is taken away by the guards. Viola slips away with Andrew Aguecheek and the others giving chase.

Cue Benny Hill theme song.

Who will be Zoey and Jay’s successors? You’ll have to listen to act IV to find out.

Sonnet 42 read by Jack Konorska.

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