Thursday, March 28, 2013

He does it with a better grace, but I do it more natural.

"He does it with a better grace, but I do it more natural."

KPL not only has an impressive collection of works by Billy the Shake (or William Shakespeare as you may know him) but also works that are adaptions of or inspired by the Bard.  Where are all these items, you ask?  Don't worry, I've made a list!

"If music be the fruit of love, play on"

The Crane Wife by indy rock darlings The Decemberists is a stand out album with one particularly standout track: O' Valencia.  This catchy number tells the story of two star crossed lovers meeting in secret because of their powerful feuding families.  Sound familiar?  It ought to.

Loudon Wainwright of the famously musical Wainwright family has spent a little time paying tribute to the playwrite.  His album, T Shirt features a song called Prince Hal's Dirge, referencing Henry the IV.


Exit Music (For a Filmby the U.K's Radiohead is a bit of a strange one to put on this list.  Off of a Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, and their album OK Computer isn't directly about Shakespeare, but it is so tied to Baz Lurhmann's adaptation that it fits on this list.

It is a bit of little known lore, but in Verona the post office is inundated with yearly letters to Juliet Capulet - the famous maiden from Romeo and Juliet.  Well, inspired by this strange phenomenon, Elvis Costello decided to record the Juliet Letters.

"Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent."

Shakespeare's plays were meant to be seen.  Maybe your mind's eye can make out the details when you read one but maybe it can't.  Well we have graphic novels and films that portray or adapt the works of Shakespeare.  I'm going to start with my favorite of the lot:

Y: The Last Man Standing by Brian K. Vaughan is, to be fair, not exactly and adaption or portrayal.  Its more connected to Shakespeare and references him frequently.  The main character, Yorick is named after a minor dead jester in Hamlet.  He has a sister named Hero, named after a character in Much Ado about Nothing also plays a significant role.

The Lion King doesn't really require any description or analysis.  I would just point out a fact that most people gloss over: it is the plot of Hamlet.

Dan Carrol's Stick Figure Hamlet is a graphic novelization of Hamlet.  With stick figures.  With humor and emotion  it is able to capture the play in a very good fashion.  This is an excellent teaching tool as well, as the entire text is set panel to panel in this book.

Last year's Shakespeare in the park feature: The Taming of the Shrew is the basis for the 90s teen rom-com 10 things I Hate about You and the very similar 00s teen rom-com She's the Man is based on 12th Night - this year's Shakespeare in the park feature.

"Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain"

We are a library and so we also have works that are adaptations or inspired by Shakespeare.  My favorite is easily the raunchy and offensive Christopher Moore title Fool.  This 'anything goes' work tells the story of King Lear from the perspective of the black fool.  It is a MUST read for fans of Shakespeare.

King Lear isn't the only play that gets the 'story within the story' treatment.  The play and movie of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead also takes a Shakespeare play and turns it on its ear.  This time its Hamlet from the eyes of the two ill-fated friends of the sorry prince.

As a teen librarian and native of Northern California, I have to mention Confessions of a Tripple shot Betty by Jody Gehrman.  This Much Ado About Nothing remake is written for teens and takes place in Sonoma, CA.

I'll end with two incredibly humorous Shakespeare related works (actually there is already a LOT of humor on this list).

A Midsummer Tights Dream (for fans of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series) has more of a passing relation to Shakespeare then a thorough and well developed one.  Similarly, Jake Wizner's Spanking Shakespeare fits the Bill (that is like a triple pun word score there) for this list but the Shakespeare connections aren't super important.  I listened to Spanking Shakespeare on audiobook and it is really well done, so if you grab it, get it in that form.

Finally, don't forget to check out all the books we have already reviewed that have the Shakespeare tag on them!

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