The Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe Henry IV

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0559  Tuesday, 10 December 2013


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Subject:    The Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe Henry IV


I thoroughly enjoyed myself during Thursday’s through Saturday’s performances of The Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe Henry IV.


In you are interested my immensely talented son-in-law William Ralph is currently, since Baltimore City schools are closed today because of the snow storm, mounting the photos he took at the Saturday night performance on his Facebook page:




Rebecca’s friend, Kayla Bondi, took pictures on the Friday performance and they can be seen here:




Rebecca used her computer to stream the three nights’ performances to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/BMCSPT


The camera is, therefore, stationary and you can only get a feel of what the performances were really like. If you have WAY TOO MUCH TIME on your hands and want to look, let me suggest the Saturday performance, which I think was the best of the three.


The YouTube site is The Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe site where you can also view steamed versions of last month’s Julius Caesar.


Here are a few of Bill’s photos.


Hal and Falstaff


King Henry IV



Coriolanus, Reduced

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0558  Tuesday, 10 December 2013


From:        John Crowley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 9, 2013 at 4:52:12 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Coriolanus Query


You could just use the text from the Ralph Fiennes film.  If you cut out all the shooting and action sequences, the remainder would be a good 60-90 minutes.

Raymond Scott’s Death Ruled Suicide

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0556  Tuesday, 10 December 2013


From:       Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Subject:    Raymond Scott’s Death Ruled Suicide


On March 14, 2013, Raymond Scott, who tried to sell the stolen Durham University copy of the First Folio to the Folger Shakespeare Library, was found dead in his prison cell in March. Yesterday, the death was ruled a suicide.

The Guardian covered the discovery online on Wednesday, March 14:


Raymond Scott, who was jailed in 2010 for handling stolen book, found unconscious in Northumberland prison

Martin Wainwright

Wednesday 14 March 2012
The Guardian


An eccentric antiques dealer who kept a rare, stolen First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays in his home for a decade has been found dead in prison two years into an eight-year sentence.

Raymond Scott, 55, was found unconscious in his cell at Northumberland prison on Wednesday.

Scott ensured extra headlines for an already notorious crime, the theft of the 17th-century work from Durham University library, when he attended court dressed as Che Guevara, sprayed journalists with champagne and revelled in his ownership of a yellow Ferrari. He was cleared of stealing the book but found guilty of handling stolen property and taking it abroad.

He concocted a defence so exotic – involving the supposed discovery of the folio in Cuba through a friend of his fiancee, a nightclub dancer in Havana – that the judge put him down as a fantasist with a personality disorder.

But the jury heard after his conviction that he had been a capable and long-time criminal, with 23 convictions, three aliases and £90,000 of debt on credit cards.

Scott was a well-known antiques dealer in the north east when a thief took advantage of lax security at the library in 1998 to take the 1623 folio from a special exhibition without being detected. After 10 years of failure to recover the folio, one of the most important printed works in English, scholars were close to accepting its permanent loss, when Scott broke cover.

He made a foolhardy attempt to profit from the theft by walking into the Folger Shakespeare library in Washington DC, one of the world's leading research centres, with his Cuban story. Staff recognised the folio as Durham's and played for time to double-check markings unique to the stolen work. There are fewer than 250 copies in the world of the collection of plays, which was printed seven years after Shakespeare's death.

Scott left the folio with the Washington library and returned to the UK, where he was arrested shortly afterwards at the modest house in Tyne and Wear's Washington where he lived with his mother and the Ferrari.

Passing sentence at Newcastle-upon-Tyne crown court in 2010, Judge Richard Lowden told him that, in spite of his fantasies and past alcoholism, he was not suffering from a mental disorder. Scott was visibly shaken by the sentence after two weeks of bravado.

A spokeswoman for the prison service said: “HMP Northumberland prisoner Raymond Scott was pronounced dead at approximately 8.40am on Wednesday 14 March after being found unconscious in his cell. As with all deaths in custody, the independent prisons and probation ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”

[ . . . ]

Scott’s dead was ruled a suicide yesterday. The corner’s findings were covered in a number of publications.

Here is some of the coverage in the BBC online.


Shakespeare folio dealer Raymond Scott killed himself,
9 December 2013,  Last updated at 10:42 ET
An antiques dealer jailed for handling a stolen edition of Shakespeare’s first folio took his own life in prison, a coroner has ruled.

Raymond Scott, 55, from County Durham, was found dead with neck wounds at HMP Northumberland in March last year.

He was serving eight years after being convicted of handling the folio.

An inquest in Berwick heard he had left a note saying he intended to kill himself and had razor blades in his hand.

Lost appeal

Scott, who pretended he was wealthy and arrived at his trial at Newcastle Crown Court in a limousine, was cleared of stealing the treasure.

But he was found guilty of handling stolen goods.

[ . . . ]

From The Guardian:



Jailed book dealer who handled stolen Shakespeare folio found dead in prison
Jury told book dealer Raymond Scott had grown withdrawn and stressed following his failed appeal

A flamboyant book dealer jailed for handling a stolen edition of Shakespeare’s first folio took his own life in prison, an inquest heard. Raymond Scott, from Wingate, County Durham, was serving an eight-year sentence when he was found dead in his cell by prison officers. The inquest at Berwick magistrates’ court heard that he had severe wounds to his neck and was discovered with razorblades in his hand.

Scott, who prior to his conviction passed himself off as a wealthy playboy, had mentioned having suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.
A letter from him was also found in his cell at HMP Northumberland saying he intended to kill himself.

[ . . . ]

RSC Live

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0557  Tuesday, 10 December 2013


From:        Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 9, 2013 at 4:58:05 PM EST

Subject:    RSC Live


Saw David Tennant’s Richard II as part of the new RSC Live program.  He tapped unsuspected veins of comedy in the role, and was altogether hilarious.  He was even funnier than Fiona Shaw!


--Charles Weinstein


Mandela and Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0555  Tuesday, 10 December 2013


From:        Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 10, 2013 at 2:00:35 AM EST

Subject:    Mandela and Shakespeare


The following is from CNN online.


The smuggled Shakespeare that inspired Nelson Mandela

By Sheena McKenzie

CNN, Fri December 6, 2013





Nelson Mandela spent almost three decades in jail, but he wasn't alone -- he had two Indian goddesses and a 17th century playwright for company.

Locked in solitary confinement on Robben Island, newspapers were banned and letters from loved ones a rare treat.


Where did he find the inspiration to continue his long struggle for freedom?

As the twittersphere explodes with quotes from the legendary leader, it's perhaps easy to forget there was a time when Mandela was in need of a few words of wisdom himself.


He found them in the musings of another great thinker—one born centuries before and on the other side of the world.


A tattered book covered in luminous Hindu deities might have seemed like a strange choice for the South African political activist languishing in his cell.


But the beatifically smiling women on the cover knew something the prison wardens didn’t.


The Robben Island “Complete Works of Shakespeare” was disguised in Diwali cards.



Inside was the “Complete Works of Shakespeare,” and the historic text became a source of strength for Mandela and his fellow inmates during their darkest days.


A bible by any other name


It became known as the “Robben Island Bible,” and today is one of the most remarkable artifacts from Mandela’s 27 years in jail.


“What resonance does a white guy from England 400 years ago have to a group of South African political prisoners in the latter half of the 20th century?” said Matthew Hahn, who wrote a play based on the “Robben Island Bible,” and interviewed many of the inmates who read it.


“There’s this universality to Shakespeare—including many lessons on good and bad leadership—and I think Mandela found resonance in his words. He once said that ‘To be taken seriously as a politician, one must always quote from Shakespeare,’ and a lot of his speeches when he was president did just that.”


The valiant


The book was smuggled into the jail by political prisoner Sonny Venkatrathnam, who disguised it in colorful Diwali cards celebrating the Hindu festival of lights, convincing the warden it was his bible.


Between 1975 and 1978, the volume was passed between 33 of Venkatrathnam’s fellow prisoners—including Mandela.


Many of the inmates signed and dated their names beside particularly poignant passages—words of hardship, political unrest, or injustice.





Mandela chose a passage from Julius Caesar—just before the Roman statesman leaves for the senate on the Ides of March—and his sweeping handwriting on the now-yellowing page is a haunting reminder of the activist’s dedication to his cause.


It includes the lines: “Cowards die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once.”


“I believe when Nelson Mandela signed this passage, he recognized this book would get out and be circulated in the liberation movement—his would be the quote people looked to,” said Hahn.


It was an incredibly powerful quote—he lived his entire life according to these two lines


Playwright William Hahn, on the Shakespeare passage which inspired Nelson Mandela


“It was an incredibly powerful quote—he lived his entire life according to these two lines.”


Lasting impression


The quote is all the more poignant considering Mandela’s speech during the 1960s Rivonia Trial, where he said: “If need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”


Mandela signed the passage December 16, 1977. He never could have imagined that December 16 would later be known as “Reconciliation Day” in South Africa—a public holiday which only came into effect after the fall of apartheid.


While Hahn believes the “Robben Island Bible” began as an attempt by Venkatrathnam to gain the autographs of the most famous political activists at the time, it has now become a powerful memento of their many years—and sources of inspiration—behind bars.


“It was amazing to see visitors from all over the world drawn to this book like a magnet,” said Jonathan Bate, Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, who helped curate the British Museum’s Shakespeare exhibition last year.


“It was a coming together of one of the greatest writers of humanity, and one of the greatest humans of the 20th century. With Mandela’s death comes a particular poignancy in a passage referring to the death of the valiant.”


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