In Richard II, after his father, John of Gaunt, has told him to think positive about his banishment, Bolingbroke pours out his despair. How is it possible for imagination to turn bad into good, winter into summer?
O, who can hold a fire in his hand
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow
By thinking on fantastic summer’s heat?
O, no! the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse:
Fell sorrow’s tooth doth never rankle more
Than when he bites, but lanceth not the sore.
As most of Europe is putting up with the “Beast from the East”, roaring at us with temperatures many of us haven’t seen for decades, it may just help to think about enjoying the sunny days of summer in beautiful surroundings, involved in something worthwhile. For several years now Shakespeare-lovers have been encouraged to spend two weeks in glorious Italy at the Shakespeare In Italy International Summer School. In 2018 the course, looking at Antony and Cleopatra, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale, will be in Calabria at the toe of Italy – separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. “The warm climate, the beautiful colours of the sea, rocky coasts that alternate with sandy beaches, a landscape that is wild and mysterious, the strong and genuine flavours of local food and the vestiges of its ancient origins give Calabria its unique charm.”
As has become usual, the school gives participants a unique opportunity to bring the plays alive with top level Shakespearean actors and directors, who have a wealth of experience with companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, and on both television and film. Those taking part will be actors Janet Suzman and Michael Pennington and drama teacher/actor Jane Wymark. The school will be managed, as before, by Julian Curry and Mary Chater.
There is a lot more information, including photographs of this beautiful area, on the website. The summer school will take place from 19 May to 2 June 2018.