You may remember that after Hamlet spoke with his father’s ghost in Act I, Scene 5, he talked with Horatio and Marcellus. Much affected by what he had learned from the ghost, Hamlet spoke with them about his suspicions of villainy in Denmark. Part of their conversation follows –
Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
Hamlet. I’m sorry they offend you, heartily;
Yes, ‘faith heartily.
Horatio. There’s no offence, my lord.
Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
And much offence too.
So, it seems that Shakespeare was familiar with Saint Patrick, and some believe it was because he knew of a cave in Ireland that had become known as St. Patrick’s Purgatory, one of the most important European sites of pilgrimage in Shakespeare’s time. You will remember the words the ghost spoke to Hamlet:
I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.
So, though Shakespeare may not have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, we know he was familiar with St. Patrick’s theology! SLÁINTE!
This Wednesday Elements is traveling to Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, Massachusetts, to spend a day in study and preparation for our August production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Of special focus on this retreat day will be Characterization and Language. Our teachers for the day include Jessica Webb and Michael Hammond, and we expect to pursue a day of rigorous exploration and re-discovery of a play with lessons that are as relevant to today’s political environment as they were when Shakespeare wrote it in the 16th century!
Elements Theatre Company of Orleans, MA presents an original work, Labyrinth: A Legacy of Language, exploring Shakespeare’s influence on playwrights through the past four and a half centuries, from Sheridan to Ibsen to Stoppard. Following the performance will be a discussion in the ARTS IN CONVERSATION panel series, on How Shakespeare Humanizes Our Culture: The Transforming Power of His Work.
Honoring the Bard’s 450th birth anniversary year, this timely panel will explore how his work challenges our modern concepts of reconciliation and forgiveness.