he 21st annual Shakespeare Monologue Competition at Greenfield-Central High School, at 7 p.m. Jan. 29, is open to the public and offers those who attend an opportunity to taste, hear and experience the Elizabethan Age, when Elizabeth I was queen of England and Shakespeare was king of the stage.
If you’re looking to dazzle friends and strangers while noshing on apple pie and ginger ale, try out some of these little-known facts about Shakespeare and his times as conversation starters:
Shakespeare’s wife was older and lived apart from him
History.com reports that Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, was eight years older than him and three months pregnant at the time of the wedding. Other than that, little is known about their relationship. They lived apart much of the time, and Shakespeare bequeathed to her his “second-best bed” in his will. Thanks to Sarah Knapton, science editor at the Telegraph, further research reveals that his best bed would have stayed with his home, inherited by his daughter Susanna.
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Shakespeare used language not previously found in record
Shakespeare is believed to have coined more than 500 words or phrases not previously found in history’s written record. These terms include: lackluster, found in “As You Like It,” in a pickle (“The Tempest”), wild goose chase (“Romeo and Juliet”) and one fell swoop (“Macbeth”).
Works by Shakespeare are fodder for trivia buffs
Not to suggest that academic scholars have too much time on their hands, but did you know that the only play to mention the word rhinoceros is “Macbeth?” This, of course, begs the question “In what context?” The following line is delivered by Macbeth to a ghost that visits him: “Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, the armed rhinoceros, or th’ Hyrcan tiger; Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves shall never tremble.” In other trivia, the word ‘love’ appears 2,191 times.
According to one paper, the Globe Theater stank…literally
The British newspaper the Telegraph reports that Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, today the mecca for thousands of theatre-lovers, alternated between a theatrical venue and a venue for bear-baiting. Bears, dogs and cattle were kept behind the facility, along with raw meat and offal fed to the creatures — thus causing the stench.
A Shakespeare fan is to blame for releasing starlings in the U.S.
All those starlings that Indianapolis and numerous other cities occasionally try to drive out of urban areas? They’re Shakespeare’s fault. The starling, a bird native to Europe and Western Asia, finds mention in the bard’s play, “Henry IV, part I.” In 1890, Shakespearean superfan Eugene Schiffelin decided to import every bird mentioned in every Shakespearean play to the United States in tribute to the bard’s works. As part of this effort, he released 120 starlings in New York’s Central Park. The rest is history and a messy windshield.
153 years after it was written, a woman finally played Cleopatra
It is known that during Elizabethan times, most female parts were played by men. Paul A. Jones, for mentalfloss.com, reports that it wasn’t until David Garrick’s 1759 production of “Antony and Cleopatra,” that Cleopatra was finally played by a female actress, Mary Ann Yates. Her performance must not have impressed critics. The show closed after six performances.
Shakespeare can be found in 75 languages, including Klingon
According to britishcouncil.org, Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into more than 75 languages including Klingon, a language used by a fictional race of aliens in the “Star Trek” science fiction series. You can read “Much Ado About Nothing” in Klingon, and you can purchase a Klingon copy of “Hamlet” on amazon.com. However, it is not known if it has ever been performed in Klingon.