A Writer’s Bored game / Writers’ Board Game for Christmas

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*Screenshot attribution below

Writers – looking forward to Christmas Day? Do you think you’d make a better job of writing Her Majesty’s speech, if only they would ask you (and pay you)? Will you be itching to get back to your characters, your setting and your plot, but obliged to spend quality time with the family on activities that all ages can enjoy? Well, sigh no more!

The Writer’s Bored Game is the green, cheap, fun answer to Christmas Day family entertainment you’ve been looking for. If you’re a Good Housekeeper you can prepare this in advance, but it only takes a few minutes on the day and the rules are easier to understand than most board games. You can delegate children to run the preparation if you’re smart.

You will need:

A large piece of cardboard – packaging from expensive new electricals will do.

Black, red and blue felt pens (or any two colours plus a dark one)

About 30 bits of red and blue card, or white card marked with red or blue. Or paper. Or post it notes. But they must indicate two different colours. On one side draw a line to divide them in half (below right). On the other side draw a happy face / remark (e.g., “whoopee!“) on the red ones and sad face / remark (e.g., “oh no!“) on the blue ones*(below left). That is the hardest thing you have to do – I said it was easy.

 

Pens or pencils

A dice and things to use as counters.

Instructions

  1. Draw a track on the card with numbers 1 – 40 ish (not more than 50 or everyone really will get bored). Write “The Writer’s Bored Game” in large letters on it and draw one red and one blue rectangle. Make bridges between numbers if you wish for lucky or unlucky people to land on (see picture top right). Or don’t bother.
  2. Invite children to ring some of the numbers in blue, others in red. More red than blue, though, or they might cry.
  3. Give out the red cards, maybe four to each person.Each person must write above the line on the card WITHOUT SHOWING ANYONE ELSE, a GOOD thing that could happen to a writer. (A brilliant plot occurs to you! Current affairs suddenly mirror your idea! You get published! The BBC buys the rights! JK Rowling writes you a 5* review! etc). Then under the line write a good thing that can happen in a game: Go forward 4, have another go, kiss the person on your right, hand round the chocolates, invite your favourite person to join you on your space etc). When all are done shuffle them and place them face down on the red rectangle.
  4. Give out the blue cards, maybe three to each person. Each person must write above the line on the card WITHOUT SHOWING ANYONE ELSE, a BAD thing that could happen to a writer. (You lose all your computer files. Youll never understand apostrophe’s. Someone else publishes the same idea, better. Your partner says it’s crap, etc). Then under the line write a bad thing that can happen in a game: Go back 6, lose a turn, everyone can overtake you, eat those cold sprouts up now, etc). When all are done shuffle them and place them face down on the blue rectangle.
  5. The board should now look like the one below. Play the game. Take a blue card if you land on a blue number, a red one on a red number. See, it’s easy? First one to the end wins. The rule in our house has always been: the winner has to tidy away the game.

This is considerably less boring than it sounds. For example my son once wrote above the line on a red card: You are a fish. You cannot read let alone write. And below the line: Stop playing and drink wine. Teenagers are especially good at anarchic input. However, sometimes it does turn out boring. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles (when I resort to clichés you know it’s nearly the end of the post).

Variations: Actually you can choose any subject you like; it doesn’t have to be about writing. Everyone could jot down a subject and you pick  from a hat. A cousin once chose golf – horror! But it was ok. (You are a fish. You cannot play golf. Go to the end and drink wine.)

When the game is over, simply throw it away. In the recycling box, obvs.

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This amazing idea is my intellectual property. I used to do it (on fairy story themes or topic based ideas) with groups of children when I was a school teacher. If any designers would like to try and market it more attractively, do get in touch. Otherwise, just enjoy. Remember, you can always be a fish. Or whatever you want.

I drew the Christmas Eve straw for the Britfic.com blog post, so for another amazing idea from me, please head over there from 24th December. Why not – it’s better than peeling spuds.

Happy Christmas and see you for a more serious discussion in the New Year.

*Screenshot from dianaurban.com, a very useful site for writers from an industry insider

**Come to think of it, happy/sad faces and “whoopee” etc aren’t strictly necessary. You can skip that bit, or keep children quiet for ages making them do it.

©Jessica Norrie 2016

 

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Books for the bloggers in my life

It’s time I said thank you to all the wonderful book bloggers who’ve helped me since The Infinity Pool was published. I’d like to give them a book each, from those I’ve enjoyed this year. They may not be recently published, but ones I only just got around to that many others discovered before me. And they’re only virtual, but hey, it’s the thought that counts! Bloggers, if you don’t like what I’ve chosen for you, why not swap it with one of your colleagues?

I didn’t have my own blog to acknowledge you all on until April of this year, so I’ve gone right back to the start. Seumas Gallacher was the first blogger ever to feature me, back in September 2015, so I’m giving him Paradise by AL Kennedy, because it takes place in Scotland and Ireland among other places, and it’s bitter, black and very funny. It’s also very dark, but I think he can cope with that. Chris Graham, the very generous Story Reading Ape, was also good enough to feature me early on but I think he’d like something lighter. I hope he’ll be entertained by Dress your family in corduroy and denim by David Sedaris. Don’t we all need a wry, incisive, amusing look at American life right now. The Writers Newsletter hasn’t been going long but promoted me early on, and I wish them festive cheer. I think they need to relax after all the hard work so I’ll give them The Davis Sedaris too.

Rachel Gilbey was kind enough to feature me even though as she said, my book wasn’t really in the genre she prefers. So for her I’ve found an earlier novel by Helen Fielding. Before Bridget Jones there was Cause Celeb. It’s a fast paced novel about charity work in Africa, with lessons for us all made easier to digest by Fielding’s light style. Thank you too to Fiona McVie and Elle Field for interviews. I think they may also enjoy Cause CelebPortobello Book Blog gave me space to recount my experience of making an audio book and reviewed it! She (for she it is)  likes to sit in a deckchair with a good love story, and also likes contemporary fiction. I hope she won’t find Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet series too long or too dated? The love stories in it span the phoney war period up to the late 1950s, light easy reads with sudden shafts of cutting wit and truth.

But these are very English books (and yes, Portobello, I know you’re up in Scotland). I’ll need to travel further to thank Trip Fiction for the support they’ve continued to give me, tweeting and commenting. How about Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam? This is set in an unnamed British city and also in Pakistan, and examines the life of ethnic minorities in Britain in a poetic, angry, beautiful story. Pam Lecky  and Mary Yarde like historical fiction, so I’ve delved into the past for The Chateau by William Maxwell. It’s a gentle, sad story of an affluent American couple visiting rural France and Paris just after the war and it’s beautifully written about misunderstandings between old and newer cultures. Not much story, but so stylish.

Kristina Stanley over in Canada likes skiing, so that’s easy: I’ll give her Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, already referenced in my last blog post but one. And in Israel there’s Miriam Drori, who let me write for her Letters from Elsewhere series, although I’m afraid the exact link has gone elsewhere too. I think she would appreciate The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain, with a child’s view of a Jewish family in Switzerland after the war. I think Terry Tyler, who gave me a lovely review in October, would also appreciate this.

In April I was interviewed for a Guardian Masterclasses blogpost. They have all the books they need, surely, but the staff may be too young to have read Michael Frayn’s classic set in Fleet Street in the days when the newspapers were still published there. It’s called Towards the End of the Morning.

Christina Philippou hosts the BritFic website which I’ve written for occasionally. I think we all need a good dose of contemporary non fiction to inform our stories, so I’m giving her The Good Immigrant (referenced in more detail in my last post). I think Anne Cater who runs the wonderful Book Connectors Facebook group would also appreciate this, as I know she has a fierce social conscience.

Another impressively energetic blogger is Rosie Amber. For her I have Helen Dunmore’s Exposure, because it’s so beautifully written that even if she’s read it already it will be a many layered pleasure to return to. Barbara Copperthwaite put me under interrogation on her crime blog, so I think she should be rewarded with An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, about the Dreyfus case in late 19th century France. That deals clearly and excitingly with a crime perpetrated by most of the establishment, and like Dunmore’s, is a model of fast paced, well researched writing.

Sue Shepherd invited me to her online Christmas party where I met lots of other authors, much as I have twice now at the Book Connectors real life parties (hallo as well to Anne Williams, Linda Hill, Anne-John Ligali and Steven Smith). We drank so much champagne chez Sue Shepherd and had such fun that I think she’d like an Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (see also my post on Virago last month). The only reason I don’t name other helpful Book Connectors is because I haven’t yet met you personally, but I hope that will be rectified in 2017.

It’s not only bloggers but also Facebook groups who have been helpful, so thanks and your pick of the books above also go to Joanne Finney at Good Housekeeping Book Room, Laurence O’Bryan at BooksGoSocial, and Lynne Cobine at Marketing for Creatives, and Yasmin Selena Butt at The Bookshop Cafe.. And others who deserve a mention include Taylor Hartshorn, Julie Proudfoot (all the way from Australia) Anne Hamilton in Scotland, and Emma Mitchell.

Finally, my sincere thanks and good wishes to Sally Cronin at Smorgasbord. She collects posts from all over the world and reblogs them every week, and it has generously opened up a new world of friends (Hi Tina Frisco! Hi Letscutthecrap! Hi Christopher Fischer! Hi to many others especially those who comment and tweet.) Sally, you may have a gift wrapped set of everything!

I really hope I haven’t left any of you out. If I have, do comment below and I’ll wrap something up and post it first class (in a virtual sort of way, of course. I’m getting quite into these mess free blog parties and wrapping free gifting). Otherwise I hope to see you next week for a last minute pre Christmas post (what could it be?) and then I’m taking a week off for New Year.

©Jessica Norrie 2016

How well do you know your characters?

An author of fiction must inhabit the world of their characters convincingly. But how far may they travel from their own experience to do so?

Clearly, authors of fantasy and science fiction have the most leeway. Nobody can know what it’s really like to be an imaginary creature, an alien or someone/something from the future. Authors of historical novels must make an imaginative leap fuelled by as much accurate research as possible. But how about those of us writing contemporary fiction? Can men write as women, gay people as heterosexuals, white people as Asians or Africans, the British as Poles or able bodied writers as those with a disability? Can Ian McKewan write as an unborn child? (Of course that is an experience we’ve all had, and it seems from the reviews  that he can.)

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A fellow author recently posted in an online forum that she had been taken to task in an Amazon review thus: “You are unbelievable as an adolescent black girl from the South“. It’s one of only 2 poor reviews out of 66 excellent ones for a prize winning book that involved many years of research, but it concerned her. It’s clear from her Amazon page and other reviews that she had thought deeply about her right to tell the story, but the reviewer’s complaint worried me too, as I’m currently writing my second novel set in East London (UK). It would hardly reflect the location if I didn’t include many different ethnicities, so I have to speak in their voices. Previously, in The Infinity Pool, I didn’t find the voice of a young girl from a rural Mediterranean community a problem and no one (yet) has suggested I’ve got it wrong. But are a Punjabi grandmother who grew up in India, a Hong Kong Chinese father and a Somali single mother who came to the UK as a toddler steps too far for this middle class, solvent white woman? Having taught in multicultural schools for 33 years, I thought I knew their user groups well, but now I’m stepping inside their homes and their heads, and there is a scary amount of scope for accidentally giving offence, misrepresenting or simply promulgating stereotypes. At times I think I’ll give up, but I have my story, and my teaching experience, and I don’t want to waste either of them.

In one area I looked at, I found at least two YA authors who’d overcome my reservations. Here’s a 51ch1bjotslmale author in the voice of a Somali girl who is about to be cut, and a white female author in the voice of one who manages to avoid it. Do they sound authentic? It would take a Somali woman to tell you, but the stories were vivid, compelling and exciting. Cutting is not a major theme in my novel, but in the course of checking assumptions about my own Somali character, I did background research and found UNICEF reports showing the almost universal prevalence of FGM in Somalia has only dropped by 2% in recent years despite all the efforts to oppose it. (In other countries campaigns have been more successful, as they have among Somali families in the UK.) I asked one such campaigner whether white western authors should attempt to speak in the voice of somebody whose experience is so far removed from their own. Her reply was that given the lack of success on the ground her colleagues now look to writing and journalism to change hearts and minds. Fiction may put the case where other means have failed. But of course, the fiction must be well written, well researched (and available, but that’s another story).51mrzlcrrml-_sy346_

So why have doubts? Let’s consider these scenarios: men writing as women and vice versa; parents writing as childless adults and the other way round; adults writing as or for children; social drinkers writing as alcoholics, healthy people as invalids; vegetarians writing as meat eaters; humans (well obviously) writing as animals? Some of these sound ridiculous: of course writers should tackle such challenges. If we only write about ourselves, there would be even more navel gazing white dinner party novels than the indigestible number there already are. But may I, a solvent, educated white middle class woman write in the voice of a refugee on an overloaded boat somewhere off the coast of Greece? May I write in the voice of a prisoner despite a parking ticket being my biggest ever brush with authority, or in the voice of a doctor even though I failed chemistry O level? I think I’ve decided yes, if I write convincingly, do my research, avoid stereotypes and above all if those people are necessary to my story. (Although they could also be bystanders, mentioned just to acknowledge they exist, so the default model for fictional characters isn’t white, middle class, able bodied, hetero…) There, problem solved. I’ll get on with it.

But then I read The Good Immigrant, a collection of essays by BAME writers in the UK, recently featured on BBC Radio 4. This is timely, entertaining, angry and should be compulsory reading for…everyone. Do you get stopped at airports? Searched when waiting at a bus stop? Have you had a headscarf ripped from your head as you go to buy a sandwich? Won all the school prizes, graduated with first class honours, and still not been shortlisted for a job unless you change your name? Do you never see yourself reflected on a screen or in a book, or if you are, only as a stereotype (minicab driver, terrorist, arranged bride)? You probably know actors no longer “black up” to play Othello nowadays, but did you know “yellowface” is still in common use? These writers are angry with reason. They want to be portrayed in all kinds of media, but they don’t want to be portrayed as stereotypes (I must take very good care) or with tokenism (I mustn’t use “namaste” as a shortcut to showing how well I understand people of Indian ethnic origin). Above all they want to be portrayed as everyday characters whose ethnicity is incidental and who do not have to win Olympic gold medals or have their skins lit like Beyoncé’s to be an acceptable part of UK society.

61twx2rf9vlI saw what they meant about stereotypes and authenticity when I looked at the time scale for my novel. A digression will illustrate the point. I do not follow any religion (an idea the children I taught almost unanimously found appalling). But my family celebrate Christmas, in that we eat special food and drink a lot, buy presents, spend £35+ on a pot plant that we throw away two weeks later, and give more money to charity than at other times of year. Now imagine a novel with my family in it, set in December, that didn’t mention Christmas. Or imagine one that does, but gets fundamentals slightly wrong: Midnight Mass on Boxing Day, for example, or Father Christmas driving a sleigh pulled by ponies. These are the pitfalls I face if I write about “other” cultures – which I have been conditioned to think of as “other” even when I mean third, fourth generation “immigrants” who speak English better than I do. Mistakes that wouldn’t be noticed by some readers could well be offensive to others, and add to the pile of examples of “host country” ignorance. For that reason I’ve moved my six week long story to a year when it doesn’t fall during either the important Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha or the important Hindu festival of Diwali (and yes, I do know Eid moves around the year). That way it makes sense that I barely mention them AND I avoid the pitfalls of getting details wrong. Of course, much other daily background detail remains and must be researched and referred to, both in the sense that it’s the same as for the majority community and for where it differs. But what do I mean, majority community? The parents of over 90% of children I taught in East London ticked a box other than White UK on their entry forms, and among that 90% around 25 different languages were spoken. There was no clear majority.

What if I get something as fundamental as names wrong? Somali women do not take their husband’s surnames (although now, in the UK, some do). Bhangra is not the only music Sikhs enjoy (and maybe some Sikhs don’t). Hong Kong has rural areas as well as the twinkling skyscrapers we all associate with it. Is Gulab Jamun a Bengali sweet or a Gujarati one? (Perhaps it’s both.) And the grandmother – what will her grandchildren call her?

Will every moment of every day be informed for my characters by their ethnicity? Here’s Bim Adewunmi In The Good Immigrant: “Here’s what black people do: we breathe air, we drink water and we fart noxious gasses, just like other people. Our hopes and dreams are similar, and alongside the various hardships we may suffer because of the way we look or where we come from, we largely do the same things – and that includes all the frivolous things too.” On the other hand will it not be? Himesh Patel writes: “In discovering so much about how my family arrived here in the UK, I discovered how rich their story is with the culture and traditions of their homeland, but at its core it’s a universal story about love and life.” In the shoes of my characters, would I be in fear of racism, or hate and despise it, or fight back against it, or not actually experience it much? globe-1There is one way I can respond. It’s true I’ve never experienced racism, but, having lived and travelled abroad, I have come across xenophobia – not so serious, but it may give an inkling. And there’s a better parallel. I am female, so I do know what it’s like to walk into a public social place and not see anyone else like me there (less so nowadays but that used to be true of all pubs and bars, and it was very intimidating). I do know how it feels to walk down a dark street and hear footsteps behind and think they may be those of an attacker. I have been on the receiving end of hatred and aggression, derision and disgust, purely because of the body I was born with.

And so I’m going to take the plunge, and write my Somali single mum, my Punjabi grandmother and my father born in Hong Kong. They will, after all, only be characters in fiction. They will not represent the entirety of their culture, any more than I represent the entirety of mine. The story is about family relationships and relationships with the school the children go to, before it’s about ethnicity. It’s just that – hooray! – I can’t write a London based story nowadays, with an all white cast, or even with a white majority. (I wonder what Dickens would have made of it?) I’ll give Himesh Patel the last word: “My heritage, while inherently linked to my ethnicity, only makes up part of the role I play in society – day to day I’m just another face in the multicultural population of twenty-first century Britain.”

©Jessica Norrie 2016

My kind of Shakespeare

Every so often a new Shakespeare Companion comes along. If you’re like me you’ll have had times in your life when Shakespeare’s appeared on your stage a lot, and times when you’re Shakespeare-lite – very young children put an end to theatre going for a while, for example, but as they grew up it seemed as important to tell them about Shakespeare as it was to go swimming and encourage playing a musical instrument. 61o9iu2bugfl-_sx394_bo1204203200_The Shakespeare companion my parents gave me was Twenty Tales from Shakespeare which amazingly is still available from secondhand booksellers. It had Richard Burton in moody black and white on the front cover, and gave succinct plot summaries with well chosen quotes from the most popular plays. For my children I bought Marcia William‘s beautiful comic strip versions, and found it did me no harm before seeing a play to sneak a quick plot update or remind myself of a juicy scene or speech to look out for.

Apart from luxuriating in the beauty and appositeness  of the language, we all use Shakespeare for our own ends. He helped me defend school children earlier this year, against the reductive iniquity of SATs testing. (I may call him out soon on the Remain side.) He provides quotes for politicians (of all types, unfortunately), and backs up war leaders (think how Churchill used Henry V for propaganda in World War II). He gives a voice to women’s equality: currently London has Harriet Walter as Prospero and Glenda Jackson as King Lear. He could keep A level English publishers going single handed; most of us have old annotated copies on our shelves. (Hoping I don’t sound too nerdy, it’s worth the effort deciphering Shakespeare and fast becomes an enjoyment in itself.) He’s even there for culturally philistine profiteers, among the highest selling tea towel/fridge magnet/iphone covers in the UK tourist industry. (Unverified data, btw.)

Last week I was reading the newest companion to join the group, Beth Miller’s For the Love of Shakespeare. There’s the usual content: simplified plots, nutshell summaries, the words and phrases Shakespeare gave to English, the debate about sources and authorship, different interpretations people have given down the ages  from all cultures and in all languages and media. What I liked best were the interviews with people who work with Shakespeare, and so with her permission I’ve taken her questions and interviewed myself. I hope it inspires you to interview YOURselves too.

What was your switch-on moment?

Aged about nine, I had a beautiful book called Shakespeare’s Flowers which is still in print (an excellent Christmas gift). It contained part of the fairy’s speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a detailed illustration of a cowslip. At the risk of stereotyping little girls, it had everything one could want: gold, jewels, flowers, fairies, dewdrops…

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Cowslip page from “Shakespeare’s Flowers”
 …I do wander everywhere
 Swifter than the moon’s sphere.
 And I serve the fairy queen
 To dew her orbs upon the green.
 The cowslips tall her pensioners be.
 In their gold coats spots you see.
 Those be rubies, fairy favors.
 In those freckles live their savors.
 I must go seek some dewdrops here
 And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear…
I learnt it by heart!

Which is your favourite of Shakespeare’s plays?

The Merchant of Venice. I grew up in North London. All my school friends were Jewish; most had lost their grandparents in the Holocaust. When I was 11, my parents took me to see an elderly Laurence Olivier as Shylock and took care to explain the play need not be seen as anti semitic if you listen to Shylock’s great speech: I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.

Here’s a long aside: my father kept a file of notes on every play he ever saw in his life, and clearly didn’t think as highly of the performance as I did. But then he’d seen Olivier as a young screen idol at the height of his powers.

MERCHANT OF VENICE,THE, by William Shakespeare,Old Vic,SE1,6.1.53(1st night), cast including Claire Bloom,Douglas Campbell. Hugh Hunt directed.I almost knew it by heart from having done it at school. Came over well.

MERCHANT OF VENICE,THE  Stratford,SMT,28.8.53,Peggy Ashcroft,Donald  Pleasance,Michael Redgrave, Robert Shaw, Denis Carey(d) “Impeccable production. No director’s quirks.  Dame Peggy enchanting.”

468px-shakespeareMERCHANT OF VENICE,THE. Old Vic(NT)SE1,1.5.70.Anna Carteret, Derek Jacobi,Jane Lapotaire,Laurence Olivier,Joan Plowright . Jonathan Miller (d) “Rather tiresome because it was set in Victorian times which added nothing at all.Olivier did a version of his famous Oedipus roar at the end.”

MERCHANT OF VENICE,THE, Stratford(SMT).4.71.,Judi Dench,Derek Godfrey,Terry Hands(d) “Don’t remember it but it must have impressed at the time because, back at the hotel, we talked about  it until the early morning.”

MERCHANT OF VENICE,THE  Old Vic,SE1,13.11.80.,Maureen O’Brien, Timothy West,   Michael Meacham(d) “Run of the mill”

MERCHANT OF VENICE,THE Olivier,SE1,8.3.00.,David Bamber,Derbhle Crotty,Henry Goodman,Alexander Hanson,Richard Henders, Trevor Nunn(d) “Splendidly done at a good pace. It was like discovering it for the first time.” This comment is so telling. After seeing his first performance aged 26, and four more with the best actors of their time, Shakespeare’s Merchant still had something to offer my father at a sixth visit when he was 73.

Tell us about the most memorable performance you’ve seen.

Comedy: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Oddsocks Theatre Co in Valentine’s Park, Ilford – my children’s first Shakespeare outing too, I think. Sirens blasted past on the main road as the lost couples were chasing each other through the “woods” (actually the municipal shrubbery) and quick as a flash, one actor quipped: “See – even the police have come out to search!”

Tragedy: I was mesmerised by a television film of a production of Hamlet with David Tennant. I hadn’t realised what good actor he was until then – I think it was Boxing Day and despite being stuffed and sleepy I stayed with it to the (bitter) end.51srkjph8sl-_sx326_bo1204203200_

Which Shakespeare character would you most like to meet?

Poor Desdemona, the original domestic violence victim. For selfish reasons: I’d get her to sing to me, her Willow Song aria from the Verdi opera Otello.To hear her sing this as she waits for the death she knows is coming is one of the most poignant marriages of theatre and music anywhere.

How would you persuade somebody to give Shakespeare a chance?

I used to teach English as a Second Language in a Sheffield secondary school. At the time, many pupils had just arrived from Pakistan and Bangladesh speaking no English. I showed them films, stopping from time to time for discussion. Roman Polanski’s bloody, haunting Macbeth went down a treat! There are so many brilliant film versions, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, Derek Jarman’s Tempest, the Kenneth Branagh Much Ado and Henry 5th… Or try a live production by Oddsocks – see above. Fringe or theatre-in-education companies are often the best at making Shakespeare accessible.

I’ve allowed myself much longer answers than the ones in Beth Miller’s book. But do look at it; much of it is new and interesting. Note the Globe staff member responsible for helping disabled audiences members access Shakespeare, for example, or Richard Burton complaining about Churchill in the front row when he was playing Hamlet. Churchill rumbled the lines along with him. “I could not shake him off, I tried going fast, I tried going slow…”

“Our revels now are ended.”  An ending pinched from Shakespeare, via Beth Miller. I hope this post has reminded you of your own best Shakespeare moments, and tempted you to book seats for some more.

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“For the Love of Shakespeare”, a quality small hardback with integrated bookmark.

© Jessica Norrie 2016