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​Brady's Shakespeare ListPhoto of staff member Brady

Meet Brady

Brady Peneton is a former teacher and current Library Assistant for Phoenix Public Library at Yucca Library. He enjoys reading literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction of all kinds, especially philosophy and religion. Brady, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts in English Literature from Eastern Washington University, for which he wrote a thesis on alchemy in some of the works of W. B. Yeats, available online. Having studied literature in school for so long, he has grown to appreciate the literary greats, especially Shakespeare, and enjoys sharing his passion for reading with others. (During his short time as a teacher after college, he made his students read at least one Shakespeare play per year!)

Meet his list

Though we don't know his precise birthdate, Shakespeare was born around April 23 in 1565, and died on the same day 52 years later. Shakespeare has been appropriately called the "inventor of the human" by Harold Bloom, critic and professor at Yale; Shakespeare reached into his experiences with people and, most importantly, deep into his own imagination to create some of the most complex characters ever penned. His legacy will remain firmly in the Western imagination for a long time - forever, I hope. Here's a list of some of my favorite Shakespeare-related works - plays, poetry, biography, and film.


Hamlet          
 
With beautiful imagery and outstanding direction, Kenneth Branagh's production of the Bard's most famous play exceeds any other. In the first scene, one of my favorites, Claudius addresses his people in the hall, and then the shot pans to Hamlet, dressed in black, alone behind the scene. Branagh's deep, complex portrayal of Hamlet's many moods and emotions is the best I've seen, and the whole cast helps bring this play to the screen excellently. If you like Shakespeare on any level and have not seen this production, watch it; it's a must-see.
Shakespeare in love          
 
 

Will Shakespeare has writer's block and cannot find inspiration to finish his next play (a comedy with the working title Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter). While the characters are real, the plot is almost entirely imagined, though in my opinion very believable. Notably beating Saving Private Ryan for Academy Award Best Picture in 1999, Shakespeare in Love is an enjoyable film whether you're familiar with Shakespeare's plays or not.

Goodnight Desdemona (good morning Juliet)          
 
 

Constance Ledbelly theorizes that Shakespeare's tragedies had a comedic source, based on her study of an old alchemical treatise. This play narrates Constance's mission to find the identity and whereabouts of the "Wise Fool" character missing from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and Othello. Its brevity, wit, and sense of mystery helped me finish this one in one sitting!

William Shakespeare's star wars trilogy         
 
 

This intelligent, comedic re-imagination of George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy is a treat to read. Imitating Elizabethan English in blank verse, Doescher uses most of the films' original scripts to turn the trilogy into a Shakespeare play. R2D2 even beeps in blank verse and has a few fascinating (and hilarious) soliloquies.

 
 
 

As rare as they are well-produced, these condensed adaptations of the Bard's plays for kids, each about 30 minutes, feature voices by various British actors such as Hugh Grant, Tom Wilkinson, and Tilda Swinton.  Made using stop-motion puppetry, cel animation, and various forms of painting, these short episodes, though heavily abridged and adapted for kids, will prepare children to read the full versions of some of the greatest works in the English language.

Shakespeare's Sonnets          
 
 

Actor Simon Callow brings Will's sonnets to audiobook. Running just over two hours, his reading of the sonnets is the best I've heard to date.

Much ado about nothing          
 
 

Keanu Reeves as the spiteful, scheming Don John is just bad enough to work in this play, one of Shakespeare's greatest comedies, where you are in fact supposed to laugh at the stupidity of the villain and his scheme. Branagh and an excellent cast bring another play to the screen, a production which is unmatched by any live performance I've attended.

The comedy of errors          
 
 

Written with unity of place and time, one of the earliest and silliest of the comedies, this play is a favorite of mine due to the slapstick comedy and symbolic, hilarious conclusion.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead          
 
 
 

Sometimes dense, sometimes ridiculous, Stoppard's play-turned-movie follows the misadventure of two forgettable characters from Hamlet - even when they are not on stage - and raises themes such as chaos theory, chance, language, technology, and life and death.

Shakespeare          
 
 

This amply illustrated book is found in the children's nonfiction section, but people of all ages can learn much about Elizabethan culture, stagecraft, religious conflict and other facets of early modern England via detailed photographs and historical illustrations. I love the historical images found throughout, and I especially am interested in celebrations such as dancing around the maypole decked with flowers and ribbons and various other festivals.  

Shakespeare : the world as stage          
 
 

Penned in 2007 by Bill Bryson - an impressively versatile author - Shakespeare: The World as Stage is part history and part investigative journalism. Bryson concocts an entertaining amalgam of humor, inquisitiveness, and information to author, in my opinion, the most readable popular biography of Shakespeare ever written.

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