This Week in Literary History: The Theatre!
June 29 was the 397th anniversary of The Globe Theatre burning down. Quick math: that means it was 1613. The Globe is where Shakespeare premiered a bunch of his most popular plays including Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth. Do we have anything close to a modern equivalent to The Globe? Something that would be just as devastating and culturally relevant as "the house that Shakespeare built" burning to the ground? Maybe the Chinese Theatre in LA where "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D" made its premiere? Or the Apollo Theater in Harlem where The Jackson 5 were launched into stardom? They sure don't make 'em like they used to.
Fast forward 323 years, 1 day: it is now June 30, 1936 and Margaret Mitchell has just published her one and only novel, Gone with the Wind. It sold 1 million copies in its first six months on the shelves and is still to date one of the best selling novels of all time, selling almost 30 million copies since 1936 and having been made into an Oscar-winning film. The film debuted in 1939 in Atlanta at Loew's Grand Theatre, which ironically ended up suffering the same fate as Shakespeare's Globe: it burned down in 1978.
And finally, a happy birthday to Tyrone Guthrie, who would have been 110 on July 2 if he hadn't died nearly 40 years ago. Guthrie was a big fan of all things Shakespeare and wanted to bring the traditional Shakespearean theater here to the States. Thus he created the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, which opened in 1963 with a production of Hamlet and is still putting on Shakespeare's plays today. Maybe we do have a modern day Globe after all.
If you aren't worn out on Shakespeare yet (or even if you are), there are two poems in the Spring 2008 volume of Hotel Amerika by Bill Rector that are certainly worth a gander. Rector titles the poems after two of Shakespeare's greatest hits: Hamlet and Henry V. But while the titles may reference The Bard and his work, that's seemingly where the connection stops. The poems are largely metaphorical interpretations of the works, and it takes a couple read-throughs to understand the connection. When you do, it makes the poems that much better. Take a look at Hotel Amerika online, and then head over to Bill Rector's site to read through some selections from his book, Bill.