Get a Lesson in Shakespeare From Young Ian McKellen

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s best known and most widely taught works, but that doesn’t mean we all fully understand it (apologies to my 11th grade English teacher). If you could use a refresher, take a peek at the above video, in which Ian McKellen discusses the play's famous “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” soliloquy.

The speech, in McKellen’s words: “… is a description of total blackness, total despair, that life is finite," and is delivered by Macbeth in response to (spoiler alert) the news of Lady Macbeth’s death. It isn’t very long, but as you might expect, packs a lot in its lines. McKellen reveals the meaning behind the words, and how, when considered together, the last word of each line can tell you a lot about the subject matter.

At the end of his talk McKellen also reveals that such close reading might in fact be most valuable for the actor.

“I must have all that in my mind as I’m going through it. Not so that you the audience can understand those complexities, because i’m not giving a lecture. I think the poetry, and the rhythm and all those devices that Shakespeare uses are not for the audience’s benefit, they are for the actor’s. So that having absorbed them into his heart and his mind, he can then express them with all the other things at his command.”

The "in-studio master class" was aired on British television around 1979, when the actor would have been around 40 years old, and you can see him deliver the address in a 1978 production (which also starred Judi Dench) that became a 1979 TV movie.

[h/t Dana Stevens]

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10 Alternatives to Columbus Day Celebrated Around the Country
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Columbus Day has a complicated history, and many cities have recently voted to rename the annual holiday that falls the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, honoring the native cultures that existed in North America long before Columbus arrived in 1492 and who were decimated by European colonization. In lieu of heading to a Columbus Day parade, consider these 10 alternative celebrations taking place across the country.

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How Screen Directions Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes
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It's hardly a secret that Hollywood has a sexism problem onscreen. But issues of bias and stereotyping might be just as prevalent behind the scenes, according to The Pudding’s new analysis of nearly 2000 film scripts.

Data scientist Julia Silge and her colleagues pulled screenplays for 1966 movies, most of which were less than 30 years old. They processed the text to scrape out just the screen directions, then narrowed it down further to two-word terms like “she runs” or “he sits.” Finally, the team calculated the odds that any given verb would be paired with a male or female pronoun. 

Unfortunately, the results were bleak. Female characters were overwhelmingly instructed to behave like damsels in distress, while men took (often violent) action. 

Gif showing the association between gender and certain verbs.

They also used information about the screenwriters themselves to investigate the relationship between writers’ genders and their characters’ behavior. Their results suggested that both male and female writers were likely to rely on gender stereotypes

“Relative to men,” the analysts note, “women gasp, hurry, smile, hesitate, and stir (mostly while cooking), regardless of whether the writer is a man or a woman. Men are consistently more likely to smash things, draw their weapons, grin, wink, point, talk, and speak.”

But it’s not as though the sample sizes were the same, or even close. Male screenwriters were responsible for 85 percent of all the scripts in the study.

“Should Hollywood reach gender parity,” Silge wrote, “we’d expect fewer women characters to respond, kiss, and cry. The increase in female writers would also mean women would be more likely to spy, find things, and, perhaps most remarkably, write onscreen.”

[h/t The Pudding]


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