Last year a team of us from here at The Octagon were lucky enough to attend the Hay Festival as research for our very own Yeovil Literary Festival. Whilst there myself and my manager were lucky enough to see a fantastic Shakespeare event which I am now delighted to say we are welcoming to the Yeovil Literary Festival this year – the event is so fantastic that it deserves its own blog entry so here goes…
DEAR READER: Even if you’re not a fan of Shakespeare, please keep reading as the event I talk about in this blog post could really be of interest to you.
Before heading to Hay we had all picked what events we wanted to catch and, given my continued study of Shakespeare all through my university degree, I was keen to see celebrated linguist David Crystal in a talk with his son, the renowned classical actor Ben Crystal, as they discussed their latest book, ‘The Shakespeare Dictionary’. I was interested in it mostly because how on earth would you even start to compile such a thing as a dictionary for someone who we can thank for over 1,700 of our commonly used words?
Well it’s safe to say that the talk was 100% worth it! Shakespeare’s language is notorious for making many people recoil or wince at the thought, even evading the brightest of academics at times, but Ben and David have managed to create a book, and in turn a talk, that guides you through some of the best of Shakespeare’s language without you even flinching. Going from A to Z in their dictionary, a test in memory for the pair, this talk promises to inspire both old and new visitors to Shakespeare in a wonderfully funny and dynamic way. The pair’s up beat and energetic rapport, perhaps coming from their familial bond, makes for a lively talk that carries that audience’s attention with them throughout. Those of you who saw David at last year’s festival would know what a great talk he gives and I promise this event is as good as, if not better, than last year.
After seeing the talk and leaving on an amazing high (cheeks sore from so much laughing and smiling) I wished that my friends who have pretty much ruled Shakespeare out had seen it with me. Ben and David’s enthusiasm and passion for their subject is truly infectious and so even if the talk doesn’t change your mind about the Bard it may just mean that you can experience some of his language without that familiar pang of boredom – can you tell that I’m keen for everyone to experience the same excitement I have for Shakespeare?
If you enjoyed the BBC’s recent ‘Upstart Crow’ series starring ‘Peep Show’ legend David Mitchell as Shakespeare himself (if you haven’t seen it head to BBC iPlayer, the last episode is still available) then you’ll also want to catch John Crace and John Sutherland when they come to the Yeovil Literary Festival. They’ll be presenting their work, ‘Incomplete Shakespeare’, which comprises short parodies of some of the Bard’s most famous plays. I love to see how Shakespeare is developed for modern audiences and Crace and Sutherland promise just that by concentrating these plays into just a few thousand words. John Crace is best known as the Guardian’s Parliamentary sketch writer and John Sutherland is an academic, newspaper columnist and author – you couldn’t have two better people developing these fantastic re-tellings.
It seems fitting that in the year marking the 400th Anniversary of the great Bard’s death we have what I firmly consider to be two of the best Shakespeare events coming to Yeovil so I really do hope that you can come along and check them out. If you love Shakespeare like I do then ‘The Shakespeare Dictionary’ is a must-see but I would also encourage anyone who struggles with Shakespeare – whether because of the language or because you really don’t see what all the fuss is about – to come and see the talk too. It will open new doors for you whether you’re the Bard’s number one fan or you really couldn’t care less about him and his weird writing style!
Ben and David will be in The Octagon Auditorium as part of the Yeovil Literary Festival on Saturday 22 October at 6pm and John Crace and John Sutherland will be at The Manor Hotel on Sunday 23 October at 2pm. Tickets are available now via: www.yeovilliteraryfestival.co.uk or from The Octagon Theatre Box Office (01935 422884). I look forward to seeing you there.
Hannah Lury (Marketing Officer)