Third years had a great introduction to Shakespeare's abiding presence in Sydney. In the State Library there is an awesome "Shakespeare Room" which was planned to co-incide with Shakespeare's tercentenary. It is a wonderful Elizabethan space with carved wooden panelling and stained glass windows depicting scenes from "As You Like It": All the World's a Stage and We are Merely Players.... Here we listened to an experienced guide (Helen) taking us through the history of Shakespeare's impact in colonial Sydney and got to handle original copies of Shakespearian texts.
Outside the State Library is a life size statue of Shakespeare and some of his most illustrious characters including Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet and Falstaff- that old, fat disreputable character -rather like Toby Belch- who dares to thumb his nose at the highest authorities in the land. Shakespeare always enjoyed being subversive, siding with the underdog, finding ways of exposing the hypocrisy and idiocy of the values that run the world. In Falstaff's most famous speech on "honour" for example, Falstaff challenges the entrenched idea that it is worth dying for your country, that it is worth spending your life energy pursuing greatness and honour in the world's eyes. In seeing a dead heroic soldier on the battlefield, Falstaff wryly observes: Can honour put back your leg, your arm, that has been severed in battle? Can it bring back your life? So I'll have none of it! he declares- you can keep your honour! Here is the statue of Falstaff- underneath his creator
Shakespeare was very popular in Sydney during the 19th Century- and has remained so into the 21st Century. Think of John Bell's Shakespeare company and the continuing interest in Shakespeare...http://www.bellshakespeare.com.au/
I think Shakespeare really does appeal to that subversive, anti-authoritarian streak in the Australian soul. What do you think?
Here is part of the third year group (and yours truly) perched under the statue.... which, incidentally, was completed in 1916 as part of the tercentenary celebrations:
It is also worth sharing with your- all literature students- but especially those studying the 19th Century, this wonderful quote that we found on the wall just inside the front door of the Mitchell Library. It is by the 19th Century historian/philsopher Thomas Carlyle (to whom Dickens dedicated his Hard Times). Here is the awesome quote:
I hope you all have a great Easter- I will be reporting back here after I have been to Canberra to see the Turner to Monet Exhibition at the National Gallery- hope some of you can make it there too: http://www.nga.gov.au/AboutUs/press/Turner.cfm
I hope you all have a great Easter- drive safely!