Challenge Week 2020: Mind The Bard

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I thought it was a bit mad at the time, but it turns out doing Mind The Musicals 2.0 back in January was the best plan I could’ve had… Just like last year, I’m following up musicals week with another Shakespeare fest (as if you haven’t been getting enough of that recently!), as I go straight into 2 Bard 2 Spurious. No!! Enough with that already… Let’s just stick with Mind The Bard for now.

Spanning two #ShowMustGoOnline productions, from Wednesday 12th until Wednesday 19th August (inclusive), I’ll be making my way around the Internet to bring you the best of this summer’s Shakespearean offerings.

So it wasn’t too similar to last time, I’d initially intended on having this week a little later in the year – either taking in the end of the Globe summer season or the beginning of its winter programme, with the added wealth of an RSC Barbican transfer to boost things a tad. Alas, that was not to be. With TSMGO going strong, and the occasional other online Shakespeare popping up, I thought it best just to make the most of it and do something new – let’s face it, there’s always room for change in these challenge weeks!

I haven’t done a sweep of th’Internet yet to see if there are other live (or at least new) Shakespeare productions for me to catch on Thursday-Tuesday, but there are more than enough RSC recording available on various streaming platforms for me to be getting on with. Plus I haven’t got round to watching CtrlAltRepeat’s As You Like It yet, and I’m getting the urge to raid the Globe Player (and possibly even watch the Playing Shakespeare 2020 Macbeth if it’s still available). Bard from the Barn may also feature.

Please let me know if there are any livestreams, etc. I can dot throughout the week – for variety’s sake, if nothing else.


To be honest, in terms of posts I’ve had far too many ideas; I’m going to (finally) be away from London for much of this challenge week, so I do need to remember to make the most of that and not just the far superior Internet speed… But I’m hoping that some more TSMGO people will answer some questions for me at one or two points in the week, plus I’ll do a daily diary and my usual TSMGO write-ups (just a few days earlier than the ‘normal’ this time). Character studies are always fun, and maybe some other reviews will sneak in there. You’ll have to wait and see!

Social media-wise, I’m going to attempt one of my patented tweetalongs during The Show Must Go Online’s Hamlet right at the start of the week; with National Theatre At Home coming to an end I’m not able to do one this month, so a couple of weeks into August it is. The usual poorly thought-through hashtags will likely make an appearance too, predictable as I am.

Also, so as not to continue to render the ‘challenge’ part of ‘challenge week’ redundant, I’ve decided to challenge myself to write a sonnet each day. Shakespeare’s sonnets have been a constant throughout this period of shutdown (whether you’re Sir Patrick Stewart or the Jermyn Street Theatre), so I obviously have to jump on that bandwagon in my own haphazard way. I won’t be performing them (listen to my own voice? No, thank you!) but I will not be issuing a cease & desist to anyone who might get the urge to. What they’ll be about… We’ll have to see. During the week it will hopefully be a mix of plays I’ve seen, current affairs, and maybe even audience choice (eep!). All I know for certain is that they’ll be bad, but in a weirdly good way.

I may be beaten to it by TSMGO (but at this point it would take the burden of creativity off me so I don’t mind!), but I’m working on related snacks & drinks to consume on my Wednesday evenings – it simply wouldn’t be a Zoom Shakespeare without refreshments. I will admit freely that most of the “brilliant” ideas (I’m quoting myself here) I kept having at 1am recently were food- or alcohol-based, and Hamlet or Twelfth Night appropriate. Take from that what you will.

I think that’s probably all you need to know for now! I hope I don’t lose my surge of motivation by 12th August, but until then I’ll be inhaling Shakespeare’s Words by David Crystal & Ben Crystal in a bid to bring you some meaningful insights as well as an octet of silly sonnets. Wish me luck…


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