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Charles Lamb vs. Bob Dylan: Rereading and Retelling Shakespeare

By Brian Hoey. Feb 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Drama

Controversial Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan admitted to being flabbergasted when he learned of the honor that’s lately been bestowed on him—but at least he managed to compare himself to Shakespeare in the process. The comparison, though, was an interesting one, and one that takes up the question of how we should approach the Bard’s writing. Dylan’s assertion was that he has never thought about whether his songs are ‘literature’ and that Shakespeare probably would have been in the same boat regarding his plays. Dylan says, imagining Shakespeare’s thoughts leading up to the original production of Hamlet (1599), ““Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?””

     
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Sam Shepard's Wildly Varied Literary Career

By Audrey Golden. Feb 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Drama

Just two years ago, Sam Shepard’s now-famous play True West (1980) was revived on the London stage at the tricycle theatre. About fifteen years ago now, the seminal work was revived for the first time in New York City on a stage starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly. For many theatregoers and movie viewers today, we know Sam Shepard best for his own performances as an actor, in films such as Days of Heaven (1978), The Right Stuff (1983), and All the Pretty Horses (2000). Yet Shepard has a long and interesting literary career that began years before he ever appeared in cinematic features. Between 1966 and 1968, Shepard won six Obie Awards for his playwriting, and he ultimately went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1979 play Buried Child. He has published more than 40 plays to date, along with nine collections of plays and short stories.

     
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George Bernard Shaw: The Art of Quotation

By Matt Reimann. Jul 26, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Good booze, beautiful scenery, and wit are the very things Ireland is perhaps known best for. The country’s long history of strife and oppression has given its people a talent for insight and humor. An analysis of the sharpest wits in the English language reveal a lopsided representation of Ireland, with a stacked roster represented by the likes of Swift, Sterne, Wilde, and Behan. And strong as they may be, such a list would be incomplete without the inclusion of playwright and Nobel Prize-winner George Bernard Shaw.

     
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Luigi Pirandello's Four Nobel Prizes

By Brian Hoey. Jun 28, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

While the Nobel Prize in Literature does not explicitly aim to single out the most influential writers of a given generation (per Alfred Nobel, its purpose is to reward “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”), that it should do so seems inevitable. The most outstanding work, after all, frequently proves to be the most read and most imitated. And indeed, that the Nobel sometimes helps to define the chain of literary influence from one era to the next can be one of the most gratifying things about the list. It is by this metric that Luigi Pirandello, the masterful Italian playwright, can be considered one of the most intriguing Nobel laureates, with his writing directly and obviously influencing at least three other future Nobel winners: Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, and Harold Pinter.    

     
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Did Shakespeare Really Write His Plays?

By Matt Reimann. Jun 24, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, History, Drama

The life of Shakespeare is shaped by two major qualities: excellence and obscurity. For this reason, his biography has been subject to much scrutiny and speculation. The central question that plagues the legacy of Shakespeare is a famous one, and gets down to the reality of the figure himself. Did Shakespeare, the great poet and dramatist, really exist as we know him?

     
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Why It's Time to Appreciate Lillian Hellman Again

By Matt Reimann. Jun 20, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Drama

In 1939, Lillian Hellman was riding in a taxi with the star of one of her plays. The atmosphere in the car was tense. The actress, Tallulah Bankhead, wanted to put on a performance for the benefit of Finland, which had been invaded by the USSR earlier in the year. Hellman refused to allow her play to be performed for the cause, citing her lack of esteem for what she believed was a pro-Nazi republic. Bankhead, frustrated by Hellman’s stubbornness, told the playwright she would never act in one of her plays again. Hellman then responded by striking the actress across the jaw with her purse.

     
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John Patrick: Workaholic of the Stage and Screen

By Matt Reimann. May 17, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature, Drama

One evening, John Patrick revved his chainsaw on the president of a power company’s lawn. The playwright wanted to run an extra power line to his new farm in New York state. Having received nothing but a string of empty promises, Patrick decided to take matters into his own hands. So he threatened to cut down the executive’s elm tree unless his concerns were properly addressed. The playwright knew a little about getting what he wanted—he had a Pulitzer Prize, after all.

     
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When Rivalry Begets Tragedy: The Astor Place Riot

By Brian Hoey. May 10, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Drama

In the 21st century, it’s difficult to imagine a theatrical performance sparking a riot. Even the early twentieth century riots surrounding Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (1913) seem far-fetched to modern sensibilities. And the rowdiest of modern entertainments (like concerts or football matches) are only likely to produce mosh pits or individual exchanges of fisticuffs at worst. Perhaps that’s why the Shakespearean kerfuffle that sparked the Astor Place Riot stands out so noticeably in the historical record.

     
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Thomas Middleton and British Playwrights

By Andrea Diamond. Apr 18, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: History, Drama

“Let me feel how thy pulses beat.” ―Thomas Middleon, The Changeling

Entertainment is a word that can carry many different meanings. Before the days of Hollywood movies, Broadway musicals, and Netflix accounts, the world was enamored with the stage. Theatres in 16th century England brought tragedy, comedy, and romance to lifecultivated in the minds of brilliant writers, and brought into fruition by passionate actors.

     
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Books Tell You Why Acquires Shakespeare-Signed First Folio

By Matt Reimann. Apr 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama

There is probably no English language book more significant than Shakespeare’s Complete Works. It's impossible to imagine our artistic heritage without this remarkable volume, printed in the first half of the seventeenth century. To this day, Shakespeare remains the most written-about author, and the hardest influence for today's writers to avoid. That is why it is with immense excitement that Books Tell You Why announces its own acquisition of an incredible Shakespeare-signed First Folio.

     
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