It is Saturday morning and I am breathing a sigh of relief that all teachers will recognise, you know, the one that comes when you finally reach the end of the first week of term. There is something about those first five days, whatever age or level you are teaching, that always seems interminable. Time travels in diverse paces with diverse persons as Shakespeare so wisely said, but he could just as well have added and at diverse intervals. The rest of term will now fly by and before we know it we will be looking back and wondering where the days and weeks went and how we could possibly have got through so little.
Anyway, as a result I have read precious little this week, which given the fact that the next seven days include both the first Monday and the second Wednesday of the month and therefore two different book groups meetings can only be seen as something of a disaster. So this is going to be a very brief post indeed simply sharing with you a couple of things you might enjoy.
First, for those living within reach of Birmingham, the programme for the University of Birmingham’s book festival, Book the the Future, has just been announced. It’s taking place between Thursday October 24th and Tuesday October 29th and everyone is welcome. You can find out what’s going on on the official website and most of the events are free.
I’m spitting feathers because I’m in Stratford on both the Saturday and Sunday and so will have to miss great chunks of the celebrations but I’m going to plenty on the other four days, including taking The Bears to hear Tony Robinson (they are great Time Team fans) and then, having packed them off home, going on to hear David Lodge talking about the rise of the campus novel. Given that I worked for many years with the man who was supposed to be the inspiration behind Lodge’s own Philip Sparrow, I am really looking forward to that. However, for this avid fantasy fan, the real highlight for me comes on the last day when Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies is coming to speak. Hobb was a book group discovery way back in the first year we met and all of us were surprised not only at the quality of her writing but also the way in which she celebrated the power of women – not always that common in fantasy.
If you can join us then you really will be very welcome and if you do decide to come then let me know and if I’m free it would be nice to take the opportunity to meet up.
The other ‘share’ is for everyone. It is a stage direction I came across that I thought you might like to let your minds conjure with. The seventeenth century English composer, Henry Purcell adapted Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream for his opera The Fairy Queen. Perhaps I should say that he adapted the play loosely because the last act no longer features Nick Bottom and his friends performing Pyramus and Thisbe but instead removes Theseus’ court to China where the fairies all manifest themselves and Juno appears in a chariot drawn by a peacock. Halfway through the act there is this wonderful stage direction
six monkeys come from between the trees and dance
Suggestions as to how they actually staged this would be most welcome, although I don’t think I’m actually going to try and replicate the feat.