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.

Jack Cade… the great-great-not-so-great grandson of Jack Falstaff (or is that the other way around?)

When we meet the rebellious Jack Cade for the first time, in Act Four, Scene Two of The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, he is a purely comic figure.  Something completely different from any other character in this play (and quite honestly unlike any character we’ve seen thus far in the Canon… no other character thus far has had Cade’s bizarre combination of charm, bravado, ego, and self-deprecation (the closest we come in the plays we’ve studied thus far are Petruchio [charm, bravado, ego, but no self-deprecation], and possibly Titus (bravado, ego, slight self-deprecation, but certainly no charm).  Cade’s unlike anything to come before, but in him we get a glimpse of the future in another great anti-hero: Sir John Falstaff.
Continue reading Jack Cade… the great-great-not-so-great grandson of Jack Falstaff (or is that the other way around?)

Who, Part Two

Last month, we took a day to discuss who might be the main character of 1HenryVI… and to no success, leaving us pretty unsatisfied by the play as a whole.  So this month, as we lurch toward Thanksgiving, let’s see if we can give thanks for having a protagonist in The Second Part of Henry the Sixth.

We have quite a few characters to choose from, as this play has SIXTY-SEVEN (count’em!) characters, the most of any play in the Canon.

Let’s take the major characters in order of the number of speeches each has…
Continue reading Who, Part Two

A Trip to Bawdy on the Soul Train

Every month, I delve a little deeper into my sophomore boy-mind, and pull out the bawdy stuff from the play of the month, usually focusing on a particular scene or character.

This month, with The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, I’m going to approach it a little differently.  I want to start off with a quick catalog of the “naughty bits” then pull them together for a more generalized statement about the use of bawdiness in the play.
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Pericles, Prince of Tyre… at California Lutheran University

it’s great… I was able to catch two Shakespeare plays within a week of one another… that hasn’t happened since our pre-Kyle days up in Ashland… but it will happen again next summer when we–as a family–head up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for a mini-week play-going vacation

OK, a couple of days back, I caught a local college’s production of Pericles.

Now, like Love’s Labor’s Lost nearly a week earlier, Pericles is a play I’ve never seen on stage (that’s the reason why I chose to go, mid-week, on a school night, no less).  It is a play I’ve read (and taught back in my high school days… though that year is now nearly two decades past, and, well, until I read the synopsis in the program I was a little unclear on the plot [I remembered the gap in time and the lost daughter… but hell, with the tragicomedies/romances, that was a pretty safe bet]).  So off we went (yeah, I dragged Lisa along with me) to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks… about 20 miles or so from my neck of the woods.  Cal-Lu is also the home of the Kinsgmen Shakespeare Company (which presented the Macbeth which was the subject of our second-ever podcast back in July).
Continue reading Pericles, Prince of Tyre… at California Lutheran University

Podcast 20: The Second Part of Henry the Sixth DVD Reviews

This week’s podcast includes a continuation of our discussion of The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, including DVD reviews of two different productions, as well as a stage review of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater touring production of Love’s Labor’s Lost; plus, our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
Continue reading Podcast 20: The Second Part of Henry the Sixth DVD Reviews

Buddy, Can You Spare a Quarto

A couple of days back, while doing my usual scan of Shakespeare news stories for the Facebook page, I came across an item of interest in the Hindustan Times (yeah, from India) about The Shakespeare Quartos Archive project.

The effort, a joint project of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, and the Folger Shakespeare Library, attempts to reproduce and display on the web “at least one copy of every edition of William Shakespeare’s plays printed in quarto before the theatres closed in 1642” (http://quartos.org/info/about.html).  Tied to this is the creation of a brand new interactive interface, which allows users to (among other things): mark and tag text images with user annotations, search full-text, download and print text and images, and compare images side-by-side.

It’s pretty damn cool.
Continue reading Buddy, Can You Spare a Quarto

Sources

As we noted last month, according to most critics, the source material for most of Shakespeare’s histories (including The Second Part of Henry the Sixth) was Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland.  Holinshed was only one of a three main authors of the work (the other two being William Harrison and Richard Stanyhurst), and their work was first printed in 1577, about fifteen years before the composition of 2HenryVI.
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I didn’t know…

In Act One, Scene One of The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, Gloucester describes Suffolk as the one who “rules the roast” (I.i.106).  I had always heard the term “rule the roost,” as in a hen-house, to describe a man who ruled over his household (but not having huge power).  It seems that the latter term is derived from the former which has the meaning “to have full sway or authority; to be master” (Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM [v. 4.0]).  If to rule the roast is to dominate, to sit at the head of the table of, a grand opulent palace, then to rule the roost would be much less.

of no import… just kinda interesting…

Meet the New Salisbury and Warwick

Remember when we were discussing Act One, Scene One of The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, and I commented on Salisbury and Warwick:

Both Salisbury and Warwick (father and son) bemoan the loss of territories won in war (and here Shakespearean history falters again: these two speak as if they were the military Salisbury and Warwick of The First Part… only they are NOT: they are the sons-in-law of their respective title-holders in the first play… remember THAT Salisbury was killed in Act One of the play, and THAT Warwick (in reality) died before the end of the play… THIS Warwick was only 17 years old at the time of Henry and Margaret’s wedding (so in no possible way did he “win them both” [I.i.116] himself).

Let’s explain how all of this went down.
Continue reading Meet the New Salisbury and Warwick

Love’s Labor’s Lost Review (short version)

Saturday night, I took my wife Lisa and our “daughter” (a former student of Lisa’s and current doctoral candidate in English at UCLA [Lisa’s and my alma mater]) up to Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater for a performance of the Shakespeare’s Globe’s touring production of Love’s Labor’s Lost.
Continue reading Love’s Labor’s Lost Review (short version)

Podcast 19: The Second Part of Henry the Sixth (The second part of the plot)

This week’s podcast includes a continuation of our discussion of The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, including a plot synopsis of the second half of the play, and our usual recap of this week’s blog entries.
Continue reading Podcast 19: The Second Part of Henry the Sixth (The second part of the plot)

Women in Henry VI: witches and bitches

A couple of months back, when we were in the midst of The Taming of the Shrew, we discussed the difficulty of the play, especially as it relates to the depiction of women.  The play, especially in recent decades, has been seen as a horrible example of dramatic misogyny.

Two months down the line, however, as we find ourselves deep in the Henry the Sixth histories, I see that women actually had it pretty good at Shakespeare’s hands back in Taming, for what have we seen since?
Continue reading Women in Henry VI: witches and bitches