Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg, on MACBETH

Never, ever miss a Cal Shakes Grove Talk. Self has been to a few of these, all delivered by Philippa Kelly, and each is enthralling. Kelly is a superb speaker. She ties in history, puts the play in context, and makes the playgoing experience so rich!

Self learned yesterday that Macbeth was written in 1606.


She was reminded that a boy played Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s time. Imagine lines like “Milk my breast” from the lips of a boy! Plus the high voice! Self thought about this while observing Liz Sklar’s performance as Lady Macbeth — that is a powerful role that demands an actor equally powerful. A boy just doesn’t cut it.

This evening, self is reading Kelly’s essay in the program brochure. The essay’s title is Can We Forgive Ourselves?

  • Actions can be imagined; but “if it (is) done when ’tis done,” an action has consequences — and if we are thinking and feeling beings, consequences can’t be ignored.

After listening to Kelly, self saw the play as a true horror story. Macbeth and his wife see ghosts everywhere. At the start of the play, they are young and beautiful. By its end they’ve both been driven round the bend. And it is TRAGIC.

Self realizes she has never, ever seen young Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. Until yesterday. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but Liz Sklar’s Lady Macbeth is LIT!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SWANN IN LOVE: Knowing . . .

Knowing a thing does not always allow us to prevent it, but at least the things we know, we hold, if not in our hands, at any rate in our minds, where we can arrange them as we like, which gives us the illusion of a sort of power over them.


The heartbreak of Odette! Who in the two years that Swann was in love with her, tried as hard as she could to protect her heart.

The nobility of her doomed effort.

Stay tuned.



Anna Karenina As She Was, P. 68 of ANNA KARENINA

Anna Karenina goes to the Oblonskys to play peacekeeper between Stiva and his wife Dolly. Which, in light of what happens later, is extremely ironic. Her message to Dolly: Forgive him! Because he loves you!

After dinner, when Dolly retires to her bedroom, Anna goes to her brother, “who was lighting a cigar.”

“Stiva . . . go and may God help you.”

When Stepan Arkadyevich (Stiva) left, she returned to the sofa, where she sat surrounded by the children. Whether it was because the children saw that their mother loved this aunt, or because they themselves sensed the special charm in her, the older two, and the younger ones in their wake, as often happens with children, had latched onto their new aunt before dinner and would not be separated from her, and between them something like a game was invented that consisted in sitting as close to their aunt as possible, touching her, holding her little hand, kissing it, and playing with her ring, or at least touching the flounce on her dress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIDE SARGASSO SEA, pp. 112 – 113: The Evil Daniel Cosway

Daniel Cosway, that evil letter-writer. Self hates him with a passion. If it weren’t for him channeling Iago and writing letters about Antoinette to her English (clueless) husband, Antoinette would have had a chance to be happy.

Go away, Daniel Cosway!

Anyhoo, on pp. 112 – 113, Daniel is impatient since the English husband never responded to his letters. He therefore takes it upon himself to pay a house call (Meaning: Tragedy)


The English husband: Why did you want to see me, Daniel?

Daniel: Christophine is a bad woman and she will lie to you worse than your wife. Your own wife she talks sweet talk and she lies.

The response of the English husband: I sat still, numb, staring at him.

(Self: You, sir, are an idiot if you don’t turn this man out on his arse. Oh, you ARE an idiot. But if you weren’t, THERE WOULD BE NO STORY)

Daniel makes insinuations about Antoinette and a man the English husband has never met:

“Sandi is like a white man, but more handsome than any white man, and received by many white people they say. Your wife know Sandi a long time. Ask her and she tell you. But not everything I think.” He laughed. “Oh no, not everything.”

Damn you, Daniel Cosway! Damn you, clueless husband!

A parting shot from M. Cosway: Don’t waste your anger on me, sir. It’s not I fool you, it’s I wish to open your eyes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


SILAS MARNER Quote of the Day

p. 44:

The sense of security more frequently springs from habit than from conviction, and for this reason it often subsists after such a change in the conditions as might have been expected to cause alarm.

Reading ANNA KARENINA: 20 Days In

This book, thus far, has set a record for “longest time self has spent reading one book,” at least in 2013.

The only other book that’s held her attention for more than a week was Bicycle Diaries, David Byrne’s account of biking in far-flung corners of the world (including Manila), which took her two weeks to finish, in January.  But it’s been 20 days now, and self is still a long way from the end of Anna Karenina.  She just can’t get enough of Tolstoy’s characters, and reads and re-reads and parses his sentences and laughs and cries and —  let’s just say, the book still holds her firmly in its thrall.

Here she is on p. 538 (538!  How could Tolstoy come up with such massive tomes?  When he had so many children and was such a pro-active landowner?  Methinks Mrs. Tolstoy must have been a saint!) of the Modern Library edition:

Countess Lydia Ivanovna had long ceased being in love with her husband, but from that time she had never ceased being in love with someone.  She was in love with several people at once, both men and women;  she had been in love with almost everyone who had been particularly distinguished in any way.  She was in love with all the new princes and princesses who married into the Imperial family; she had been in love with a metropolitan, a vicar, and a priest; she had been in love with a journalist, three Slavs, with Komisarov, a minister, a doctor, an English missionary, and Karenin.  All these passions, constantly waning or growing more ardent, did not prevent her from keeping up the most extended and complicated relations with the court high society.  But from the time after Karenin’s trouble she took him under her special protection, from the time she set to work on Karenin’s household looking after his welfare, she felt that all her other attachments were not the real thing, and that she was more generally in love, and with no one but Karenin.  The feeling she now experienced for him seemed to her stronger than any of her former feelings.  Analyzing her feeling, and comparing it with former passions, she distinctly perceived that she would not have been in love with Komisarov if he had not saved the life of the Tsar,* that she would not have been in love with Ristich-Kudzhitsky if there had been no Slav Question, but that she loved Karenin for himself, for his lofty, misunderstood soul, for the —  to her — high-pitched sound of his voice, for his drawling inflections which she thought charming, his weary eyes, his character, and his soft white hands with their swollen veins.  She was not simply overjoyed at meeting him, but she sought in his face signs of the impression she was making on him.  She tried to please him, not only by her words, but in her whole person.

(And the Countess is a minor character.  One of a whole host of minor characters who Tolstoy brings to life in a mere paragraph or two)

*  Komisarov saved Aleksandr II from being shot by knocking the pistol from the hand of a would-be assassin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Episode 4, “Parade’s End”

Self knows that Tuesday is Justified night.  But there’s still an hour to go, so she asked The Man to find her another episode of Parade’s End.

Since she’s already seen Episode 4, he expected self to want to watch Episode 5.

Ixnay!  Episode 5 is the last and concluding episode!  Give her Episode 4 again.  It is just so delightful.  Among other things, in Episode 4, Benedict Cumberbatch gets to flash a wee bit of naked chest.  And a very nice chest it is, indeed!

Second, there is such bloody wicked dialogue, from first to last.  Ah, those British and their stiff upper lips!  So indispensable while under aerial bombardment!

Self particularly loves the shelling of the barracks.  Private Morgan salutes, then falls Read the rest of this entry »

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