The complete works festival - 2:

Focus on the Bard's poems and sonnets

DRAMA: The atmosphere is full of excitement as crowds throng the theatres in and around Stratford to view the works of shakespeare as they hit the boards in the cold and chilly evenings.

The visitors overflow down Henley Street to pick their choice of about three to four plays presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company along with the visiting companies from South and North America, Russia, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and across Europe will explore Shakespeare's continuing influences on cultures around the world.

A LOVER’S COMPLAINT: The first illustration of Shakespeare’s 329 line poem.

The Festival opened up what the RSC intended and will be richer dialogue with international theatre companies with future collaborations especially with other ensemble theatre makers.

Not only are the plays make up The Complete Works Festival but a full programme of other events including sonnets set to music, workshops and debates on his poems are in full canon. What's unique is the fact that the poems and sonnets are given equal status as his plays and featured as drama on boards.

Venus and Adonis: An illustration of Shakespeare’s erotic poem

Shakespeare's feasty and erotic poem "Venus and Adonis" is one of his most popular works published in his own time with at least ten editions coming out between its first appearance in 1593 and Shakespeare's death in 1616 and another six published in the following 20 years.

It is one of the few significant works in literature to depict passionate pursuit of a man by a woman. The source of Venus and Adonis is told in Ovid's Metamorphosis but Shakespeare greatly elaborates on the story which alters the drama.

Shakespeare's other significant poem, 'The Rape of Lucrece' is darker than 'Venus and Adonis.' It was entered in the Stationers' Register in May 1594 as the Ravishment of Lucrece and published the same year.

THE RAPE OF LUCRECE: An artist’s recreation of Shakespeare’s narrative poem

It is the next work composed after 'Venus and Adonis' and is linked to 'Titus Andronicus', 'Henry VI', and 'Richard III'.

The story deals with a plot where a group of noblemen who are engaged in the seige of Ardea and among them are Tarquinand Collatine who are discussing the virtues of their views. They resolve to testying their wives by riding back to Rome to see how their wives amused themselves while their husbands were away.

However, Tarquin secretly desires Collatine's wife, Lucrece and lodges at her house where he plans to take her by force and rapes her thereafter.

The poem continues in frustration up to the point where overcome with shame and humiliation, Lucrece commits suicide. A gripping tale that should have been a play instead of a poem which only Shakespeare knew why.

The Sonnets are different and he wrote the 154 sonnets in lyrical verse form of 14 lines. Though various attempts have been made over the centuries, they remain subjects of literary mystery. I would ask who are the Fair Youth, the Dark Lady and Mr. W. H, just the way others asked down the centuries.

However, they have been variously excused and celebrated as examples of homoeroticism. What is generally recognised is that they are outpourings of the Bard's inner self. I attended one of these workshops and almost every person present was of the same view.

Today's pictures are the first to illustrate what is going on at The Complete Works Festival of RSC


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