Shakespeare… and the Merry Wives

I’m just going into the third week of the on-line course, Shakespeare and his World, from Warwick University, and it has been fascinating! I have learned so much! I first read a Shakespeare play as a precocious child before I went to secondary school. I was inspired by one of the ‘Just William ‘ stories by Richmal Crompton about the naughty boy William Brown and his gang, The Outlaws. William puts on a play, Hamlet, written according to William by Bacon, and has a page called Eggs, and lots of silly adventures which enable him to make a fool of a school bully. So, aged about eight or nine, I read hamlet by Shakespeare, but I can’t remember what I thought of it or made of it at all. The first play I studied at school was ‘A Midsummer Night’s dream’ which is a popular choice for an introduction. This is the next play we shall be studying on my course, so I will be very interested in what I learn as I have seen it so often, and even acted in it, as one of the Mechanicals!

A friend is also studying the course, and we have been conversing about it, and this is what I wrote to her when she asked how I was getting on:

“I did struggle with the Merry Wives… I think my Shakespeare reading is out of practice! I taught Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth at the last place I was working, so I know them very well, but the plays which are new to me are a real battle… so this course is very timely to get me back into the swing of it. I was fascinated in the week which dealt with Shakespeare as a writer… was that the first week? I’m losing track now! I had never appreciated how play-writing worked in those days, and what a close parallel can be drawn to TV and film writing today with teams of people working and contributing. Although I had done a lot of study of Shakespeare’s life and the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre before, research has allowed us to see and understand much more clearly and in more depth how ‘the theatre’ worked – I bet you were interested, like me about the computer programmes which could identify which parts of a play were written alone by Shakespeare, which parts he collaborated on and which parts others wrote… fascinating!

“I admit I had trouble getting through ‘The Merry Wives’ and I didn’t have time to watch the YouTube play of it, but I will do, definitely, especially now we have finished doing it and I have lots of understanding of the different aspects of the play. I was particularly interested by the idea that Windsor was really Stratford, and the other glimpses into what must have been Shakespeare’s references to his own life, background, and the town where he grew up.”

I’m really enjoying the course, as you can tell! I’ll keep you up to date with my progress! By the way, my featured picture is nothing to do with Shakespeare, except his plays were performed in the round! They reflect life, and educate, inspire and are enjoyed, just like the big wheel!)

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