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.

Bodies Stacked Like Cord Wood

first an apology: I’ve been thinking about this concept now for a couple of weeks… but I don’t have time to do the topic justice… the following blog entry begins promisingly, but it turns pretty scattershot pretty quickly… if I get a chance to edit this and make it better, I will.  But for now, it’s all I’ve got…

In Hamlet, we’re told that the flesh is heir to a thousand natural shocks.  But in Titus Andronicus, there are myriad un-natural ones, too.  Rape. Tongue cut out.  Hands cut off.  Men sacrificed.  Children killed then baked into pies and fed to their mother.  Villains buried chest deep and left to die.  It’s an existence filled with pain and distress.  How can man cause such pain to his fellow man? (and here, I’m talking about the characters, not Shakespeare)
Continue reading Bodies Stacked Like Cord Wood

Titus by the numbers

Titus Andronicus:

  • 2522 total lines; shorter than average play, shorter than average tragedy (average play: 2777; average tragedy: 2890)
  • At 498 lines, I.1 is the longest opening scene in the Canon (of course, there’s only scene in the first act)
    • Act One: 498 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average tragedy (average play: 590, average tragedy: 647)
    • Act Two: 524 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average tragedy (average play: 568, average tragedy: 573)
    • Act Three: 385 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average tragedy (average play: 576, average tragedy: 633)
    • Act Four: 545 lines; shorter than average, shorter than average tragedy (average play: 563, average tragedy: 555)
    • Act Five: 570 lines; longer than average, shorter than average tragedy (average play: 480, average tragedy: 465)
  • 35 lines of prose (only 1.39% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 13.31%])
  • 61 rhyming lines (only 2.42% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 20.10%])
  • 14 scenes; fewer than average (average play: 21; average tragedy: 23)
  • 15 Deaths are a result of the play
    • before the play: 21 of Titus’ sons (not sure how many coffins are brought in for this final trip)
    • on-stage: 9 (Mutius, Bassianus, Nurse, Chiron, Demetrius, Lavinia, Tamora, Titus, Saturninus)
    • off-stage: 5 (Alarbus, Quintus, Martius, the midwife [assumed], the Clown
    • after play: 1 Aaron

Podcast 09: Titus in Pop Culture

This week’s podcast includes a review of the BBC Titus Andronicus and Julie Taymor Titus DVDs, plus a discussion of the rock band Titus Andronicus from Glen Rock, NJ.
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Numbers: Midpoint (or, “Woe is me”… and not ironically, either)

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Titus Andronicus.

There are 2522 total lines in the play (using our Pelican Shakespeare text, the ones we are using for the entire series).  The midpoint comes at line 239 of Act Three, Scene One.
Continue reading Numbers: Midpoint (or, “Woe is me”… and not ironically, either)

Podcast 08: Titus and Tragedy

This week’s podcast includes a discussion tragedy and Titus, plus the launch of a new contest.

NOTE: This is a long podcast. In an attempt to lessen the file size, we used a bit sample rate of 22 kHz instead of our usual 48.  While this successfully lowered file size, it also lessened somewhat the audio quality of this podcast.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Errata:
1:20 — Text should be “1580s” instead of “1850s”
Continue reading Podcast 08: Titus and Tragedy

It’s Contest Time Again!

OK, so you’re a director… and you’re about to mount a production of Titus Andronicus (or it could be a movie version)…

who would be your dream cast?

why?

And, why, gentle reader, why should you do this???

a free Bill / Shakespeare Project tee-shirt to the best/most original/most well-reasoned casting director

That’s why!

Enter by commenting to this blog entry.  Contest entries due before 12 Noon (Pacific) on Thursday, August 27.  I’ll announce the winner in the last podcast of the month (Sunday, August 30).

Good luck!

What Makes a Man Start Fires?

Yesterday, we talked a little (or a little more than a little) about how Titus (and Titus Andronicus as a whole) fit into the whole Aristotelian definition of tragedy.  We came to the conclusion that Titus’ hamartia (or error in judgment) was his refusal to spare the life of Tamora’s eldest son, Alarbus, when his own son Lucius calls for a sacrifice to calm the spirits of his dead brothers (Titus’ dead sons).

So that’s the “what”… what about the “why”?  Why does he make this decision?  And why does he make the decisions that further his reversal of fortune?
Continue reading What Makes a Man Start Fires?