All posts by Bill Walthall

After graduating from UCLA with a degree in English and a teaching credential, Bill Walthall returned to his hometown in Ventura County, California, to teach English and drama at Oxnard and Hueneme High Schools. Having spent a decade in the classroom, he took a year off to recharge his batteries, but was pulled into the private-sector rat race as a technology consultant.

In the last handful of years, however, he has rekindled his passion for literature and education. He launched his blog, The Bill / Shakespeare Project, where he brings not only a fun, accessible yet still scholarly approach to a play-by-play analysis of Shakespeare’s works, but also the latest and greatest in Willy Shakespeare headlines every week in his “This Week in Shakespeare” podcast.

Update

OK, this has been crazy.

A week ago, I finished my long-term gig at Cam High (I’ll post some very cool stuff on Wednesday). Loved it. 99% sure I want to go back full-time. That night, I boarded a plane to head east to help Kyle move from Wilson, NC, to Ashland, OH, where he has been hired as the Assistant Coach for the Ashland University Swim and Dive program (very proud).

But something (not-so-) funny happened on my way to the Carolinas…

Continue reading Update

Sorry, no news today…

Sorry, folks. Today’s regularly scheduled This Week in Shakespeare news podcast is cancelled.

Yesterday was my last day with the kids from Camarillo High (more on that in the coming days), and last night I took the red-eye from LAX to Raleigh to help my older son move from North Carolina to Ohio (where he has a new full-time assistant coaching job at Ashland University).

Regular podcasts (and hopefully blog posts) will return next week!

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 27th, 2017

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This week’s slim Shakespeare news review podcast includes memorizing Shakespeare, using the Bard to become a better writer, and some Caesar and Twelfth Night reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 27th, 2017

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 20th, 2017

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This week’s slim Shakespeare news review podcast includes some season announcements. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 20th, 2017

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 13th, 2017

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This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes Shakespearean relevancy in the 21st Century, a Bollywood Titus, and a boatload of RSC Twelfth Night reviews . PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 13th, 2017

Friday Film… nah, a report from the classroom

Yes, it’s Friday, the day I usually do a Friday Film Focus. Well, that’s not going to happen today. Instead, I’ve got some video for you to watch. Remember last week, when I discussed my upcoming lesson on physicalizing the imagery in Casca’s first-act freakout speech in Julius Caesar?

Well, it’s upcoming no more, babies.

Continue reading Friday Film… nah, a report from the classroom

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 6th, 2017

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This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes Bin Laden, a pop-up Rose, and Titus Androgynous. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, November 6th, 2017

Friday Film Focus: Forbidden Planet, 1956

OK, it’s Friday, and this is the day of the week that Hollywood loves to open a new flick, but I have something else in mind: one of the many productions of The Tempest that are available on video. This week, I’m taking a look at a not-quite Shakespeare adaptation: 1956’s sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet.

Continue reading Friday Film Focus: Forbidden Planet, 1956

And so it begins…

Sorry for the lack of posts. Been fairly busy. Teaching the students how to write expository paragraphs. When not being simply wiped by the end of the day, from all the moving around class troubleshooting and helping revise sentences, I’m usually now grading papers. And then there’s the lesson planning…

But there’s the rub…

It’s finally the week that we dive into Shakespeare and Julius Caesar with the sophomores (the permanent teacher does Romeo and Juliet with the freshman in the spring…sigh…you all know that’s one of my faves). Today, a physicalization of iambic pentameter, and showing how it can reveal both the important words to note as well as characterization. Tomorrow, a little Roman history, and we dive in.

I’ve got two exercises planned for the coming weeks, neither of which I’ve ever done in the classroom. One is a physicalization of Casca’s freak-out in Act One, Scene Three:

Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,
I have seen tempests when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
Th’ ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam
To be exalted with the threat’ning clouds;
But never till tonight, never till now,
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
Incenses them to send destruction.

A common slave (you know him well by sight)
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
Like twenty torches joined; and yet his hand,
Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.
Besides (I ha’ not since put up my sword),
Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glazed upon me and went surly by
Without annoying me. And there were drawn
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
Transformèd with their fear, who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noonday upon the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
“These are their reasons, they are natural,”
For I believe they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.
  • I.iii.3-13, 15-32

Each student gets a single line (noted by its position in the speech, as well as color-coded for chunks of meaning); for my smaller class, some lines are omitted, for my larger, some are duplicated. Each student (or group, in cases of duplications) works out a physicalization for the important words and ideas in her line. We go around in a big circle and go through the speech. Then they get into their groups (broken down by sentences or major clauses in the speech); they teacher their moves to their group-mates. Then we get back into our circle and our groups perform the multi-line physicalizations they’ve learned. This will help cement the meaning of the speech, which in turn will help them understand why the same Casca–so urbane just a scene earlier–is freaking out.

Later, I’ve got another exercise in store for a section of Antony’s funeral oration…but more on that later.

Right now, I’ve got to get some sleep…

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, October 30th, 2017

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This week’s extra spooky Halloween Shakespeare news review podcast includes festival line-ups, and a Merchant of Venice from Down Undah. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, October 30th, 2017

Friday Film Focus: The Tempest, 2010 film, directed by Julie Taymor

OK, it’s Friday, and this is the day of the week that Hollywood loves to open a new flick, but I have something else in mind: one of the many productions of The Tempest that are available on video. This week, I’m taking a look at the first of our videos that is a purely cinematic version–shot on location, as opposed to on a soundstage or stage set: the 2010 cinematic theatrical release, directed by Julie Taymor and starring Helen Mirren as Prospera.

Continue reading Friday Film Focus: The Tempest, 2010 film, directed by Julie Taymor

The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, October 23rd, 2017

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This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes casting notices and festival line-ups, trigger warnings, and a couple of reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.

Continue reading The Bill / Shakespeare Project presents: This Week in Shakespeare news, for the week ending Monday, October 23rd, 2017