Archive | August, 2010

Ad: Room Wanted!

31 Aug

In a previous post I have already mentioned that I’m currently in the middle of the flathunting phase and that my new favourite free time activity is browsing websites for cool flatshares. Yesterday I had the glorious idea of posting an ad myself in the “room wanted” section of two websites and I was really surprised at how quickly the “lovely German girl” (which is how I described myself ūüėČ ) received some offers.

Up to now, my ad has lead to about 15 different offers but unfortunately the majority of them¬†doesn’t live up to my expectations.¬† While sorting out, it hit me that the¬†decision I will be¬† reaching has huge effects on my lifestyle. The offers I received are so diverse and come from so many different people that it really made me wonder which kind of life I want to lead in London. For example, there is one room in a house in a more suburban area, which I’d be sharing with a married couple. The cool thing about this is that it is a very cheap room in a¬†house, which¬†looks¬†really clean and¬†polished, and the man coincidentally works at my future university which could be beneficial when finding out about the organization of the library or things like that.

A very different offer reached me from Northern London where a singer/songwriter sent me the link to his ad. The room on offer is in a 3-bedroom flatshare and what is most seductive about this flatshare is that the singer/songwriter also organizes events and so the whole flatshare seems to go clubbing every weekend (the ad mentioned free VIP entrance and free drinks).

The third most interesting ad sounded perfect at first: the room would fit my budget and is located exactly where I wanted it to be. Then last night I also received some photos of the flat and well… the bathroom looks like a 5-star-hotel bathroom (with a hairdryer fixed on the wall)¬†and the bedroom could also pass for the queen’s bedchamber: a huge bed with brocade blanket, a gigantic goldframed mirror and a whimsical chest of drawers. I highly doubt that this offer is meant seriously and that such a room exists in the middle of London…

Well, next Monday I will fly to London and have a look at some rooms, for example at the one in suburban house. The cool party-flatshare is unfortunately not within the budget… or do you think that the free drinks would make up for that? ūüôā


My Shakespearean Fare-thee-well-Party

29 Aug

Last evening, I took full advantage of the fact that my parents own a restaurant and invited my whole family and

quotes written on pink glittery slips of paper

all my colleagues and friends to a little farewell party. And as already mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted my family to spend some time and thoughts on Shakespeare because he and his plays will take up a rather big part of my life in London and therefore asked them to prepare a quote. I was pleasantly surprised at how creative and carefully chosen most of the quotes were. Here are my favourites!

Gangsta Shakespeare: My Mistrezz Eyze are nuttin’ like tha sun, but she got¬†a killer rack (provided by my good friend Sh to da Izzl, inspired by ShakespeareGeek)

Royal Shakespeare: London. A Street. The trumpets sound. “Welcome, sweet prince(ss), to London to your chamber.”¬† This quote came with a little present:¬†a pink self-made papercrown which I was proudly wearing for the rest of the evening. (Thanks again, Honeybunny!)

The probably most appropriate quote came from my Mum:  Jedes Glas zuviel ist verflucht, und sein Inhalt ist ein Teufel.

¬†And kudos to my sister who memorized 9 lines from my favourite play, Richard III. Here’s the summary: England war lang im Wahnsinn, schlug sich selbst; / Der Bruder, blind, vergo√ü des Bruders Blut; / Der Vater w√ľrgte rasch den eignen Sohn; / Der Sohn gedrungen, ward des Vaters Schl√§chter. (my addition to this quote: but now Katja is coming to England, and everything will be¬†fine ūüôā )

What else is there to say about my party? I hope everyone enjoyed it and thanks again for the presents (Benefit Makeup, yeah! And a “Schult√ľte” filled with sweets).¬†

You're never too old for that!

I really¬†realized how much I’m going to miss everybody in London. My family and friends are really great! I mean, which other party¬†starts with Shakespeare quotes, includes a pink sparkly paper crown¬†and ends with a dirrrty dance-off to Jay-Z (and yes, I¬†DO have video evidence and will eventually use it for blackmailing purposes some time). ¬†I’m already looking forward to my¬†Welcome-Back-Party! ūüôā


Oh! And by the way: Whoever sneaked the Goethe quote in… I’ll find you! ūüėČ

Forget Juliet and Ophelia! Here comes Margaret!

27 Aug

Every Friday¬†on facebook, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust¬†¬†asks¬†the question: “Which is your favourite female character in a Shakespeare play?” The answers are not really surprising most of the time with Juliet and Ophelia coming up again and again.¬†I do understand this and can¬†see why Ophelia, whose destiny as Hamlet’s rejected lover, is so alluring to young women. Ophelia’s fate is very universal and many women¬†can identify with her at¬†some stage of life.¬†And in the case of Juliet, her story has become the archetypal image of endless, unconditional (and tragic)¬†love not least through the countless reproductions in pop culture. Sometimes someone also mentions Much Ado’s Beatrice or Cleopatra but there are so many less famous Shakespearean women¬†and I want to use this post to introduce my personal favourite: Queen Margaret.

[Spoiler Alert: This post includes spoilers concerning the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III.]


Margaret of Anjou, about 1445

Who’s Margaret?

The question is simple, the answer not so much and this is exactly what makes Margaret so interesting to me. The first important fact about Margaret is that she appears not in one play (as Juliet or Ophelia for instance¬†ūüėČ ) but in all four plays of Shakespeare’s York tetralogy, namely the three parts of Henry VI and Richard III. She is introduced as young French princess in 1 Henry VI, ends up as old woman in Richard III and in between her first and last scene she assumes a wide range of different roles.

Appearing in Shakespeare’s history plays, his Margaret is based on a historic model: Margaret of Anjou (*1429,¬†‚Ć 1482). I have to admit that I am not very well informed in terms of history and hence decided simply to refer you to the wikipedia article¬†(so you can blame them¬†in case of¬†mistakes! ūüėČ ).¬†Nevertheless, I can tell you something about¬†Shakespeare’s Margaret.


The Many Lives of Margaret

Margaret’s first appearance on stage depicts her as a prisoner to the Earl of Suffolk who is very¬†impressed by her beauty. When questioned about her identity, Margaret replies:

Margaret, my name, and daughter to a king,

The King of Naples, whosoe’er thou art. (1 Henry VI, 5.5.7 f.)

Suffolk then falls in love with her and decides to woo her… well, but not for himself but rather for the King of England, Henry VI, in order to establish peace between England and France and also to have Margaret close to him.

In the second part of Henry VI Margaret is the wife of Henry VI and therefore Queen of England. And believe me,¬†she takes her role seriously! Considering the influence of the Duke of Gloucester on the king¬†as dangerous, Margaret and some courtiers plot against him.¬†And now you may guess who¬†is one of her¬†supporters: Suffolk! Margaret and Suffolk end up having an affair but of course the king is not amused and orders Suffolk’s banishment (and death) which leaves Margaret devastated.


To France, sweet Suffolk. Let me hear from thee.

For wheresoe’er thou art in this world’s Globe

I’ll have an Iris that shall find thee out.


I go.


And take my heart with thee. (2 Henry VI, 3.2.409-413)


Up to now we have seen Margaret as cunning queen and devoted lover but there are still more roles to play for her. In 3 Henry VI she appears as loving mother who fights for her son’s rights when her husband (a Lancastrian)¬†wants to disinherit his son by transfering the right to the throne to the opposing House of York during the Wars of the Roses after his death. Margaret becomes a ruthless warrior queen then and personally kills the Duke of York… but only after having given him a handkerchief soaked with the blood of his murdered son to dry his tears.

But Shakespeare would not be Shakespeare if Margaret weren’t punished for her cruel behaviour. The three sons of the Duke of York take revenge and kill both Margaret’s husband, King Henry VI, and her son.

O Ned, sweet Ned, speak to thy mother, boy.

Canst thou not speak? O traitors, murderers!

They that stabbed Caesar shed no blood at all […]

How sweet a plant have you untimely cropped! (3 Henry VI, 5.5.51-53, 62)

So, now the Yorkist are in charge of England and Margaret is sent to exile in France, where the historic Queen Margaret died. BUT, not in Shakespeare! Shakespeare decides to give Margaret one last role to play and to rewrite the chronicles by bringing her back to the English court in Richard III. Here, Margaret acts as wise prophetess. She is “neither mother, wife, nor England’s queen” (Richard III, 1.3.208) and has nothing to lose anymore. Her¬†curses¬†in Richard III are powerful and her prophesies are accurate and only after having taught the rather powerless and weak women in the play how to curse, she can leave the stage for good.

So much diversity and complexity in her transformation from the romantic French princess to the ruthless queen and mother and finally to cursing crone makes Margaret my favourite Shakespearean character!

Pre-Flight Activities

27 Aug

London Calling! I’ve got less than three weeks left now and there are still so many things to do and to organize.

The most important and simultaneously most exciting¬†one is probably finding a flat. Last weekend I found the perfect flatshare online: extremely good location (Aldgate, which is zone 1; close to Brick Lane and Liverpool Street Station; busride to my university would only take about 15 – 20 minutes), sharing with two students who actually go to my future university. The only disadvantage was the prize which¬†was slightly over budget. I dropped the flatshare a line immediately and also had a viewing of the flat via Skype (yes! That’s flathunting 2.0!).

Unfortunately, they didn’t get back to me although they wanted to tell me their decision by Thursday… which is yesterday… So, I guess I didn’t get the room. But I’ll keep on looking for the perfect flat. On 6. September I’ll fly to London for a few days to really start my search and to have a look at a few flatshares.

Apart from this, there is another problem that troubles me a bit right now. My German university introduced the bachelor system in 2007 (which is exactly when I started university) and somehow they couldn’t manage to decide on a layout for the official certificates which leads to major delays. As a consequence, I won’t be able to provide a certificate at enrolment in London. I have already¬†contacted several different people at the UK university but up to now nobody could tell me what to do or what to provide instead. Well, we’ll see!

But right now, I’m actually concentrating on something more¬†entertaining: my farewell party! It’s¬†going to take place tomorrow evening and I expect it to be one final big party with¬†family and¬†friends.¬†The clue at the party will be that everyone will have to recite a Shakespeare quote in order to get in. I’m really excited which quotes are chosen and who learned the quote by heart or who reads it from¬†a slip of paper. I’m also curious at how many quotes I will recognize and be able to attribute to the right play.

Here’s a question for all my readers who won’t come to my party: Which quote would you choose? Do you have a favourite Shakespeare quotation?

Theatre Challenge

19 Aug

London has many things to offer: pubs, sights, museums and.. theatres!

For a few days now, I am constantly bragging about how many theatre performances I want to watch when I am in London and today an interesting thought came to my mind: Would it be possible to watch a performance of every single Shakespeare play (38, not including plays like Double Falsehood which are problematic in terms of authorship) in London in one year?

From late November to early February the Royal Shakespeare Company will be performing 9 Shakespeare plays in London’s Roundhouse Theatre and I would be able to watch 3 plays of this year’s Globe Theatre season in September and early October. This would add up to 12 plays…

I am not sure whether this challenge is possible because I am aware of the problem that some plays are not performed very frequently compared to others. It would probably more likely be possible to watch 15 different Hamlets. Nevertheless, I decided that I am going to try it! I will try to get tickets to each of the 9 RSC performances (which will be difficult anyway) and I will watch the 3 Globe performances. And of course I will keep you updated about my progress in this challenge! Keep your fingers crossed!

P.S.: Whoever comes to London to visit me, is likely to be forced to¬†accompany me to a¬†performance… or alternatively you can wait in the next pub and already pre-order a glass of whiskey for me! Cheers

Plays Seen:

1. The Merry Wives of Windsor – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – 7.9.2010

Who’s afraid of Anonymous?

15 Aug

Forget the freemasons! Forget the Illuminati and forget the whole Jesus-and-Mary-Magdalene-had-a-baby-thing. The new hip conspiracy¬†theory¬†circles around¬†the greatest poet of all times: William Shakespeare.¬†Well…¬†to be more precise¬† it deals with this guy from Stratford-upon-Avon called William Shakespeare who pretended to be¬†the playwright when actually Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, wrote all the plays.¬†


But first things first

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford

¬†Those of you who have read Jasper Fforde’s Thursday-Next-Novels are already familiar with the Oxfordian theory and I guess most of the others will also already have heard of it. The theory claims that William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon is not the author of the plays and poems but merely acted as a dummy in order to protect the royal¬†Edward de Vere, the¬†actual playwright.

The so-called Anti-Stratfordians claim that there is no actually significant evidence that Stratford-Will is the author and they strengthen their assumptions by pointing out flaws in the mainstream view. They claim that Stratford-Will was not educated enough to have written all those highly complex plays, that he did not travel and could not have known all those places he wrote about or also that none of the six surviving signatures of Stratford-Will actually spells out “Shakespeare” (instead they are spelled Shaksp, Shakspe, Shakspe, Shakspere, Shakspere and Shakspeare). Furthermore, they often hint at supposed parallels concerning the life of de Vere and events in the plays and the sonnets. Among the Anti-Stratfordians (but not necessarily Oxfordians… there are more theories) were many famous people including Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens or Walt Whitman.

“All the rest of [Shakespeare’s] vast history, as furnished by the biographers, is built up, course upon course, of guesses, inferences, theories, conjectures ‚ÄĒ an Eiffel Tower of artificialities rising sky-high from a very flat and very thin foundation of inconsequential facts” by Mark Twain

But as is the case with every good conspiracy theory, this one also has a crucial flaw: Edward de Vere died in 1604.

Shakespeare's sonnets, published 1609

This is 5 years before Shakespeare’s sonnets were published and it is also before the supposed publication of plays like The Tempest or Macbeth. The Oxfordians’ counter-argument is that date of publication does not equal date of composition and that the actual composition predates 1604.

Why am I bringing this up?

The reason why I wrote this post is the upcoming Roland Emmerich movie entitled “Anonymous” (2011) starring Rhys Ifans (Hugh Grant’s freakish flatmate from Notting Hill) as the Earl of Oxford¬†along famous Shakespearean actors including Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance who consider themselves Oxfordians. This movie has provoked¬†a lot of outrage in the Shakespeare community and¬†some scholars¬†seem to be¬†a bit intimidated¬†by the threat¬†this film might pose to their academic work.

Still, maybe we should be more aggressive in fighting our corner. Even though we are unlikely to change minds that are already made up we might be able to convince the waverers and defeat the proselytizers. I feel a campaign coming on. Wait for it! [by Stanley Wells. Source: ]

The main threat, however, is not seen in the movie itself. When a film plays with conspiracy theories, this does not automatically imply that the audience takes everything for granted. An entertainment film like Anonymous might actually also animate more people to read Shakespeare. What is considered the main problem about Anonymous is that Рunlike The DaVinci Code or Illuminati Рit comes with a full-length documentary.

Personally, I am curious how this is going to develop and how much Shakespeare will suddenly pop up in newspapers, magazines and on television after the release of Anonymous. Also, I am curious about how seriously they will handle the problem in the documentary which is accompanying the movie. Will they take care to show both sides of the medal? Will they try to advertise their movie by radically strengthening their claim? And how many people will actually watch the documentary?

London Calling!

13 Aug

In order to make my blog a bit more lively, I would like to share some photos of my new hometown with you. So, first click play on the video and then enjoy!

Piccadilly Circus


Inside the British Museum


Millenium Bridge and Saint Paul's Cathedral


My Favourite Place: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre


Inside the Globe Theatre


Yes, and sometimes the sun is shining! (At least a little bit)


I hope you like my future home as much as I do. Who of you has already been to London? What are your favourite places? Where should I go? Any advice concerning night life or museums? Hit the comments!