Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Hamlet Road Trip

Summer is the perfect time for a cross country road trip and many Americans get in their cars and hit the road. Some have destinations and sites along the way planned, others will just wander for a time and let the road tell them what is worth seeing. Then there are those of us who pick out our summer reading and base the rest of the summer on those books. Whether you want a nice Stay-cation with your favorite reads or want to hit the road with your book on an inspired Reader Vacation, you will find some great Reader Vacations right here at Weekly Zen in our Summer Reader Vacation Series. To kick off our series I will offer you two different types of Hamlet inspired Reader Vacations.

Reader Vacation 1: The Hamlet Stay-cation'
What to Read:
Hamlet! There are so many versions of Hamlet out there and more often than not you are likely to find one at your local library. I suggest reading a critical edition of the play. In a critical edition you will have background information on the play, Shakespeare, the culture that surrounds the play and often a few essays breaking down themes and the like in Hamlet. Some of my favorite editions include:

  • Hamlet (Signet Classics) [Kindle Edition]
  • Hamlet (Norton Critical Edition)

In addition to reading the play you will want to also have some of the films on hand. Below is a list of the films and movie adaptations based on Hamlet:

  • Hamlet (Germany, 1920) Svend Gade & Heinz Schall directors
  • Hamlet (UK, 1948) Laurence Olivier director
  • Hamlet, Prinz von Dänemark (West Germany, 1961) Franz Peter Wirth director
  • Hamlet (aka Gamlet) (Russia, 1964) Grigori Kozintsev director
  • Hamlet (aka Richard Burton's Hamlet) (1964), Bill Colleran and John Gielgud directors
  • Hamlet at Elsinore (TV, UK, 1964) Philip Saville director
  • Hamlet (UK, 1969) Tony Richardson director
  • BBC Television Shakespeare Hamlet (TV, UK, 1980) Rodney Bennett director (a videotaped production)
  • Hamlet (USA, 1990) Franco Zeffirelli director
  • The Animated Shakespeare Hamlet (TV, Russia and UK, 1992) Natalia Orlova director
  • Hamlet (UK, 1996) Kenneth Branagh director
  • Hamlet (USA, 2000) Michael Almereyda director (Modern Retelling)
  • The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark (2007) (AUS, 2007) Oscar Redding director

Adaptations: (using Hamlet story elements)
  • The Bad Sleep Well (aka Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru) (Japan, 1960) Akira Kurosawa director
  • Strange Brew (Canada, 1983) Dave Thomas & Rick Moranis directors.
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (USA, 1990) Tom Stoppard director
  • Renaissance Man (USA, 1994) Penny Marshall director
  • The Lion King (USA, 1994) Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff directors.
  • In The Bleak Midwinter (aka "A Midwinter's Tale") (UK, 1996) Kenneth Branagh director
  • Let the Devil Wear Black (USA, 1999) Stacy Title director
  • The Banquet, (China, 2006) Feng Xiaogang, director
  • Sons of Anarchy (television show, USA 2008) Created by Kurt Sutters
  • Karmayogi (2011 film), (India, 2011) V K Prakash, director

Where to Go:
Right in your own living room. For this vacation all you need is a comfy place to sit and read and watch a DVD.

What to See and Do:
This Reader Vacation is all about staying and focusing on the book so you will be seeing the movies you pick from the list above and you will be reading the play. I suggest take one day and read the play with friends or family (reading it out loud with others will be the best way to approach the play). And then take another day and pick 2-4 of the movies on the list and have a movie marathon.

How Much Will it Cost:
If you already own the play or you can find one at your local library then the only cost you will incur from this vacation is the price of movie rentals ($4 x4 movies = $16) and movie snacks (anywhere in the range of $20-50 depending on what you want to eat and drink).

When to Go:
Rainy days, sick days, snow days, or any day that you feel like you feel the need for a little ghost mystery action story in your life.

Reader Vacation 2: The Hamlet Road Trip
What to Read:
Hamlet! Just like the stay-cation you will want to read a good edition of Hamlet. Once again here are a couple of my favorite editions:
  • Hamlet (Signet Classics) [Kindle Edition]
  • Hamlet (Norton Critical Edition)

Where to Go & What to See and Do:
Here is where this vacation gets exciting. Grab the keys and Hamlet and hit the road to any of the numerous Shakespeare Festivals around the United States. Here are some that I recommend that are happening this summer:

How Much Will it Cost:
The price ranges on where you go and how many place you choose to visit on your Hamlet Road Trip. I would plan on spending anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to around $2000.

When to Go:
Summer is the perfect time to head across the United States on a road trip and luckily there are some interesting ways to experience Shakespeare and Hamlet happening all over the US in June- August. So gas up that car and head out!

More Information:
I mentioned just a few notable places to experience Hamlet this summer. There are tons of theatres in the US that perform Hamlet and other Shakespeare plays all over the US. Here is a website dedicated to listing those theaters:


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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games Book #2)

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second book in The Hunger Games series. At the end of the first book Katniss and her fellow tribute from District 12, Peeta, both survived the brutal games and were crowned victors. Life should have been easy for them from that point on but both were to discover that life just became more problematic. Love triangle between Katniss, Gale and Peeta persists and now there are whispers of rebellion in all the districts. While Katniss and Peeta prepare to take their Victory Tour to each district, Katniss is confronted by President Snow and told to calm the district with their tale of love or else she, her family and friends will die. To top it off this year’s Hunger Games will have a cruel twist of fate for many and Katniss once again finds herself fighting for her life.

The Hunger Games was an interesting read and to be honest I almost did not want to continue reading the series… that ending though, that made me pick up the second book. The second book Catching Fire started off slow and boring. The reader was somewhat tortured with Katniss and her teenage angst about the boys she loved, but did not love. The first few chapters almost lost me as a reader. It was not until [SPOILER ALERT] the Quarter Quell announcement came out that the tributes for that year’s games would all be past victors that the book started to get good. It was a great twist to the story and the players in the games in this novel were much more dynamic.

This book was definitely better than the second book. The political strife story was much more dominant and the silliness of teenage love turned a little less silly. Finally in this book our heroine seemed to have her wits about her, even though she was kept in the dark about the plans of the victors, mentors and game makers.

Like the first book, this book had a fantastic ending. Collins has perfected the art of giving you an ending full of emotion and levity while at the same time leaving it wide open so the reader has no other choice than to rush out and read the next book. If you read the first book, seen the movie or simply just want to find out what everyone is talking about read this book.