Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Giving Voice to Kings: Richard III, and the Bible

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church 2014

The St. Andrew’s Shakespeare group read The Tragedy of King Richard III last Saturday night, with John Watson-Williams and me splitting the title role by acts. Laura Biche was kind enough to host our dinner and reading in Redwood City. The next morning in church, I was the Old Testament Lector at St. Andrew’s in Saratoga, reading the lesson from Second Kings 2:1-12. Even though these two texts are extremely different, I enjoy using my voice to bring a story to life – whether the charmingly evil Richard or the story of a great prophet.

The St. Andrew’s Shakespeare group meets every two months, taking turns hosting. (John and I are hosting Comedy of Errors in April.) Sometimes we become the St. Andrew’s Players to act out a lesson for the church congregation.

Richard III, Act I, scene ii

Richard III vies among Shakespeare’s characters with Iago as being the greatest villain who is most satisfied by his evil deeds.  Here is Richard (still the Duke of Gloucester) gloating over his seduction of the Lady Anne Neville:

Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I’ll have her; but I will not keep her long.
What! I, that kill’d her husband and his father,
To take her in her heart’s extremest hate,
With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
The bleeding witness of her hatred by;
Having God, her conscience, and these bars
against me,
And I nothing to back my suit at all,
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!

2 Kings 2:1-12

Kings presents the biblical view of the history of ancient Israel and Judah after the death of King David, for a period of about 400 years, including cycles of stories about various prophets (c. 960 BCE – c. 560 BCE). Elijah was a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Ahab (9th century BCE). Elisha was a disciple of Elijah and lead the prophets after Elijah was taken up into the whirlwind.

… they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Images Copyright 2013-2014 by Katy Dickinson

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Shakespeare group 2014 . St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Shakespeare group 2014

John Plocher - St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Shakespeare group 2014

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Happy 450th Birthday, Shakespeare!

Shakespeare Bust 2014 by Katy Dickinson

Today is the traditional celebration of the birth and death of William Shakespeare – in fact, this is the Bard’s 450th Birthday! I am dedicating this, my 1,500th blog entry since I first wrote posted on 2 June 2005, to my favorite author: William Shakespeare.

I encourage you to spend today with the Bard:

Today is also the birthday of America’s Folger Shakespeare Library, that opened in Washington DC on April 23, 1932 and is home to the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials.  Whether you loathe or adore Shakespeare, today is his big day!

On 3 May 2014, the St. Andrew’s Shakespeare Reading Group celebrated The Bard’s 450th birthday with a cake:
William Shakespeare 450th Birthday Cake

King Lear card by Katy Dickinson 2014
Antique German collectable card showing Shakespeare’s King Lear and his court

Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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After Christmas


Only a few Christmas presents are left to be distributed. We sadly bid farewell to Jessica and Matthew, who have traveled back to their jobs. John and Paul and I are still happily investigating our own presents here at home. For me, this means watching the Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and the four movie set of The Hollow Crown (Shakespeare’s “Richard II”, “Henry IV” i and ii, and “Henry V”). Yesterday, John posted his code and instructions on how to program a Christmas tree, on: http://www.spcoast.com/wiki/index.php/Christmas2013.  Paul is enjoying post-final-exams, pre-quarter-start downtime. John and I went out on a movie date to see “Ender’s Game”, which was a good representation of that disturbing and superb book. It is pleasant to have some quiet days together.






Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Reading Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” Aloud


The St.Andrew’s Shakespeare Reading Group decided to read Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in honor of the season. Above you can see our hostess, Melita Thorpe, with John Watson-Williams dressed for his lead role as Ebenezer Scrooge. It took about 4-1/2 hours to read the entire short novel aloud (with breaks between staves for refreshments and a potluck dinner). We considered using one of the plays but decided that reading Dickens original 1843 text was better – since the plays both add and remove some of Dickens’ excellent prose. We distributed the text among our dozen readers:

  • Taking turns reading narration (about half a page before going to the next reader).
  • Dialogue was spoken as assigned parts.  Some famous parts (including the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) have no spoken lines. We doubled up on small roles.

It was a delightful evening! Several of us plan to follow up by going to the Dickens Christmas Fair (at the Cow Palace) and to the ACT “Christmas Carol” stage play in San Francisco.

Image Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Romeo and Juliet at Folger Shakespeare


Tonight, my daughter Jessica and I saw a delightful production of Romeo and Juliet at the Folger Shakespeare Library here in Washington D.C. I am visiting the nation’s capitol with the TechWomen mentors and 78 emerging leaders from 16 African and Middle Eastern countries. Our formal meetings at the US State Department start tomorrow!

Opened in 1932, the beautiful Folger Shakespeare Library, theater, and garden is located on Capitol Hill. “Home to the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials and to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art, the Folger serves a wide audience of researchers, visitors, teachers, students, families, and theater- and concert-goers.”




Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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TechWomen’s Last Week in Silicon Valley


This is the last week for the 78 TechWomen mentees visiting the Silicon Valley from Africa and the Middle East. Next week, they move to Washington DC for meetings with the US State Department, the TechWomen program sponsors. Some of us 106 mentors will be going with them! Last weekend, Larissa, Imen, and I and our families rode the annual Ghost Train at the Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, CA. We also joined the TechWomen farewell potluck picnic at Huddart Park in Woodside.  Imen joined our Shakespeare Reading Group, celebrating Halloween by reading Macbeth.

Today, Imen is giving her final technical presentation at Mozilla, the company which has generously hosted her this month. After our trip to the capitol, we will be sad to see Imen return home to Algeria.









Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson

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Moby Dick and Shakespeare in Kickstarter


Kickstarter just closed funding for a big successful project on the classic 1851 whaling novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville. “Moby Dick, or the card game” was backed for $102,730 (410% of the amount requested!). The whaling card game is one of ten Moby Dick theme Kickstarter projects listed, five of which were funded (four over-funded) and five of which did not meet their funding target. 50% success is a good since an estimated 75% of startups fail. Overall, Kickstarter has had 100,600 projects, of which 44% were funded (as of 30 May 2013).  In comparison, there have been 128 Kickstarter crowd-funded projects with a William Shakespeare theme, 43 of which were unfunded and three of which are still in process – at least a 66% success rate.  Literature is good business!

The Kickstarter projects with a Moby Dick theme since 2010:

  • Moby Dick, or, The Card Game by King Post
  • Jeff Finlin – “Moby Dick”
  • Emoji Dick by Fred Benenson
  • The Moby-Dick Variations: Theatre of Multiplicity by John Zibell
  • Sea Monster: a 3-D stereoscopic web series exploring new film grammar. by Gray Miller
  • A Beautiful Annotated Edition of Moby-Dick by Chris Routledge (not funded)
  • Project 40/Moby Dick by Benny Lumpkins (not funded)
  • HOLLYWOOD FRINGE FESTIVAL: ISHMAEAL by Benny Lumpkins (not funded)
  • Call Me Ishmael: One song for every chapter of Moby-Dick!!! by Patrick Shea (not funded)
  • Zomby Dick or, The Undead Whale by JD Livingstone (not funded)

When I was studying English at the University of California at Berkeley, seniors could follow one of four teaching paths: Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, or a great author chosen for that year. Melville was the author for my year. I wrote my honors thesis (“Goneril as a Complete and Motivated Character in King Lear”) on Shakespeare under Dr. Hugh Richmond but I was so tempted to study Melville. Of course, I am one of the 2,583 Kickstarter funders for “Moby Dick, or the card game”. I look forward to receiving my game copies, postcards, and the other goodies in a few months.


Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson
Links updated 3 April 2014

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