You are invited to An Evening with Mr. Shakespeare at St Patrick’s Church in the city centre on Friday, November 26th. It will be an evening of song and the spoken word and, knowing of the passion for words and music of the participants, it should prove a special evening of Elizabethan Delights.

To many the work of Shakespeare requires little introduction but allow me this brief intro to his enduring genius: William Shakespeare, in terms of his life and his body of work, is the most written-about author in the history of Western civilization. His canon includes 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and 2 epic narrative poems. The First Folio (cover shown at left) was published posthumously in 1623 by two of Shakespeare’s acting companions, John Heminges and Henry Condell. Ever since then, the works of Shakespeare have been studied, analyzed, and enjoyed as some of the finest masterpieces of the English language.

In his time, Shakespeare was the most popular playwright of London. As centuries have passed, his genius eclipses all others of his age; Jonson, Marlowe, Kyd, Greene, Dekker, Heywood—none approach the craft or the humanity of character that marks the Bard’s work. He took the art of dramatic verse and honed it to perfection. He created the most vivid characters of the Elizabethan stage. His usage of language, both lofty and low, shows a remarkable wit and subtlety. Most importantly, his themes are so universal that they transcend generations to stir the imaginations of audiences everywhere to this day. This Evening with Mr. Shakespeare should give us a flavour of his power to enthral and entertain. Indeed to charm us with his music too.

Shakespeare Songs- Play On!

Not surprisingly, Shakespeare alludes to or includes the text of well over one hundred songs in his works. Music was an integral part of Elizabethan life, as it is today. London publishers were constantly producing broadside ballads, madrigals, and consort pieces, and most educated people could read music and play a tune on a recorder, lute, or viola da gamba.

Shakespeare’s characters are a reflection of his times and they too depend on music for moments of comedy and poignancy, whether it be a drunken sing-along at a crowded table, or a gloomy rhyme borne out of love’s disillusionment. Lorenzo summarizes the importance of music and song in The Merchant of Venice:

“The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

The motions of his spirit are dull as night

And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.” (5.1.91-7)

There Now, I couldn’t have put it better myself! So treat yourself to an Evening of Rhythm and Rime with Mr Shakespeare in song and the spoken word. A host of local voices will bring us these lyrical delights including that gorgeous choir, Voci, conducted by Ann Barry plus a soloist who will brings us Desdemona’s Willow Song from Othello. Adding further to the atmospheric Elizabethan feel of the evening there will be period pieces on keyboard and recorder – some enchanted evening indeed. The evening is coordinated by Edward Denniston, teacher and poet. Tickets will be available at door on the night €12 (€8 concession), but put it in your diary now for 8pm, Friday November 26th. Exit, Stage Left!