Monday, 22 October 2012

Monday, 15 October 2012

'A Tender Thing' at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford upon Avon.

'Is love really tender? I think it’s too rough, too rude, too rowdy, and it pricks like a thorn.' - Romeo (Act 1, Scene 4, P.2)

A Tender Thing is a remodelled version of Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet. Ben Powers interpretation incorporates lines from a number of the plays characters to portray the love between an elderly version of the couple. The extracts used are well suited to the adapted story line and retain the themes of tragedy and love from the original play but with new meaning and scope. The total running time is only an hour and twenty minutes without an interval so the story is fast paced which reflects how quickly years can pass.

The play has only two characters - Romeo and Juliet. This creates an intimate setting which draws the audience into the emotional and dramatic journey of their love. Displayed behind them is a screen frequently showing old photos of the couple against a repetitive wave pattern. Viewing personal images creates a sense of closeness and familiarity to the characters.  The stage itself has patches of sand and the furniture reflects that of a beach house. The inclusion of the ocean reflects the continuous nature of both love and life.

I knew little about how the production had been adapted before watching it and found many of the scenes unbearably sad. I perceived the presentation of death and the end of love as a display of love as futile.  However, after further consideration I began to think more deeply about the writers intentions. The production is about all aspects of live not just falling in love. It's an honest presentation of what happens when an elderly couple are tested by illness then parted by death, something most people have witnessed in their lives. Power presents the audience with a story which is harrowing and scary but beautifully done at the same time.

I'd definitely recommend this production to anyone who wants to see something a little different. It'll certainly make you think.

Directed by : Helena Kaut-Howson
Performed : Swan Theatre, RSC Stratford upon Avon
Starring :  Katheryn Hunt and Richard Mccabe
Run time : 1hr 20min
On until : 20th October 2012

Image copyright of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (
Extract taken from : Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Norton's Anthology. Chicago: Hampton Publishers, 2004. 55-104. Print.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Historical faction?

In 2007 The Tudors was released, a serial dramatisation of the period. Since then, there has been growing public interest in the era and a number of fictional and non fictional pieces have been produced. In many cases, these texts and dramas incorporate both fact and fabrication. Alison Weir, Tudor historian and author wrote that due to this there has been 'a disconcerting blurring in the demarcation line between fact and historical fiction.' (Weir, 2011). It's easy to see how a reader without previous knowledge of the period could get confused -especially as many of the fictional elements are based on popular myth.
The genre is best decribed as being based loosely on facts. The setting and characters are usually real whilst the gaps are filled with the authors own opinions and interpretations. Many texts play on real documentation to give the piece validity.
Confusion about the correct version of events is also linked to the sources available.  Even the dates of  birth and death of some courtiers are not recorded. Anne Boleyn's date of birth is unknown and her father was very important at the time. Pieces written describing personalities and people's actions were often with specific intent and shroud in bias. This considered, it would be extremely difficult to write a book completely dedicated to the truth whilst still being novelistic.

Claire Ridgway, Author of the Anne Boleyn Collection Is also not happy with this misrepresentations of past events and historical figures as its confusing and often done just to make things more dramatic. In her book  she draws attention to the Q & A section of Philippa Gregory's best seller The Other Boleyn Girl. Although this Q & A section intends to separate fiction from fact for the reader, Gregory presents an unproven theory as truth.  When discussing whether she believes the charges of incest bought against Anne Boleyn, she states 'Anne had already committed murder' (Gregory, 2002). This statement lacks evidence but puts forth her own belief that if she was capable of incest she could probably kill too. The murder she refers to Anne having committed is the poisoning of Catherine of Aragon. Of course, there is no definitive proof that her death was linked to Anne and not even solid evidence of the death being due to poisoning. The possibility of poison stems from autopsy notes of Catherine which state that her heart was black. It is not entirely implausible that Anne could have played a part in her death but it is highly unlikely. We must consider how much more advanced medically doctors are now then in the 16th century. A black heart to a Tudor however could easily suggests unnatural doing and would have been a logical explanation. There are numerous reasons as to why Anne would be linked to her death. .Catherine was beloved by the people and Anne was hated. If the rumour was not referring to Anne literally having killed her, people may have thought that her actions caused Catherine to die earlier that she should have . Many would have been pained to know that Catherine died in a much smaller place, stripped of her jewels and title and  far from court. Catholics saw her as the rightful Queen and she died without the respect they thought she deserved.  If Catherine's supporters could turn more people against Anne with slander then of course they would. Another basis for this concept could be linked to Anne's hot tempered nature. It was said that she felt her place as Queen was in danger as long as Catherine lived. This rumour may have started with something she'd said in anger. Modern day historians believe that the discoloration of her heart is more likely to be from cancer or heart disease. To put forward her own opinion on the death of Catherine as a fact is even more confusing to a reader learning about the period for the first time. It also reinforces the negative stereotypes surrounding Anne.

Why would Gregory state such an accusation as fact? 

If you read The Other Boleyn Girl , Anne is an awful character who would betray anyone to further herself. From her descriptions, it is evident that she has a poor opinion of the woman Anne was. The amount of negative reports on Anne is likely to be high as she was unpopular with a great portion of society. As none of us will ever meet these people, their personalities are open to debate.

The problem with historical fiction and misinterpretation of events does not lie solely with the reader. It is easy to get misconstrued when fact and fiction are merged in such a way. Especially as many of the fictitious elements are based on fabrications which are hundreds of years old. If authors chooses not to commit entirely to the truth when explaining their novel's imaginative aspects, then it's easy to see how the genre creates problems. We don't have enough evidence to build up entire character profiles of each courtier. All we have are records of events,death, births and opinions from spectators at court. Scandal and the dramatization of events sell a novel and because it is presented as fiction, it has no duty to tell the truth. However i believe, the author should explain their interpretations properly in their afterword as the most important element of the text is the history itself.


Ridgway,C (2012) The Anne Boleyn CollectionMadeGlobal Publishing : London

Weir, A (2011) : Mary Boleyn: 'The Great and Infamous Whore' Jonathan Cape : London

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

10 things.

I've decided to start my new blog off as if it were the beginning again . I'll soon have my layout back the way it was and hopefully spread the word to former readers about where to find me.
I've also had some thought about the content and have decided to use this page for some of my mini articles to as well as day to day updates and reviews.

As my first proper post, I wanted to reintroduce myself properly incase this is the first time you've found me . So here's a list of the basics:

  •  My name is Rose and I'm 22.
  •  I work for a theatre currently and spend a lot of my time watching shows and drinking tea.
  • I love to write both creatively and article based.
  •  I'm only 4ft 9" - hence my name - Pipsqueak!
  • I'm a history geek and like to wind down with a good documentary or book (Currently working my way through Mary Boleyn : The Infamous Whore)

  • I like fashion and am on a constant mission to find things that fit well and spend a little as possible.
  • I love to sew and try out DIY.
  •  I live in a small town and I've recently graduated from university
  •  I'm a stationary horder
  •  I'm not sure what i want to be just yet, but i hope writing will be a big part of what i do.

I hope to update again soon and get the ball rolling properly. In the mean time please feel free to comment ( I need to find blogs to follow again)

Rose x

Monday, 8 October 2012

Time to start over..

Hello there,

You may or may not know me from the blog which was formally Pipsqueak at Much to my dismay, my blog was involuntary shut down when my former university disabled my google account. I have sent an email asking if there was any chance of saving my blog but no such luck! When i have chance i'll restore this page to what it was before
Rose x