Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Shakespeare Scribbles Away in A Room Myth - addition to chapter four

Shakespeare Scribbles Away in A Room Myth

In the Shakespeare Guide to Italy, I came upon the details of the character of Shylock the Jew. Richard Paul Roe makes it clear that whoever wrote this play in which Shylock appears, knew a great deal of information about Jewish customs, far more I believe than could be got by experience of travelling to Italy. But I know of no candidate as the author of the Shakespeare's plays that would fit them having a Jewish background, including Shakespeare himself. Moreover the details relating to Shylock seem to be very specific about his Jewishness.
This leaves us with a problem. For while one could accept that Edward De Vere did travel in Italy, picking up enough knowledge to write the plays, he would have great difficult in being accurate about what it would be like to be Jewish person and a specific person of that race precisely. Like any none Jewish person he would slip up in his writing. Though it might be possible these days for a writer to hang around a Jewish person and get the details correct about them, it would seem unlikely for an Elizabethan Earl to do that!
My personal theory is that the person who played Shylock was a Jewish man from Italy. This would not surprise me, since I have said that Shakespeare wrote the plays around the people he had to work with. As I have covered earlier in this chapter, I know for certain he used two actress'. One was older than the other. I even know their names! One of them was even 14 in the Play Romeo and Juliet, as Juliet was 14 at the time. And yes she was of Italian descent. Then there is the black actor used in various plays.
Shakespeare doesn't cast the actors. There is no auditions like in Shakespeare in Love. He writes the parts with the starting point of a black actor in mind, for example.
Actors audition for parts in modern times

I don't think Shakespeare was sat in some back room scribbling texts, quill pen in hand writing on bits of parchment. I think that idea is a myth. Instead it was more interactive than that. Shakespeare
De Vere in the Film Anonymous even perpetuates the myth  
Shakespeare in a fancy study the Victorian view of the myth
had the ideas and then the actors said lines they way they did, making suggestions too. Shakespeare then copied it all down. They bounced ideas around each other too! If you think about it that would make more sense to have loads of different views and experience. So if one of the actors had studied law, his experience would come into it. And so on with all the professions in the Shakespearean plays which William couldn't have been involved with or have much knowledge of. I think it was highly likely the whole company were involved with the writing process. They might have even sat around a table or in a circle discussing they idea that William had come up with for the play, with each member saying something with a free hand to speak. Some of them might have contributed more than others, due to their cleverness or egos! But it was probably more of a co-operative effort than anything else. If you think about it this actually helps the company to be more successful, since the entire enterprise requires plays to come out on a regular basis. This way the members ensure that they are not reliant on one man to write a play. However we know that they do give somebody the credit for the plays. But this to me points to the person who had the original idea for the play being given the credit, it was as simple as that.
It seems to me also that most of the other writers who followed Shakespeare's way of writing used the same technique. Which is why people think they can see other hands in the works. But if Shakespeare was simply writing down the words as spoken by one of his fellows, then even though it was somebody else doing it, it was still written by Shakespeare.
I did come upon the background to the play Othello, or if you like the original idea for it. It was the result of the line in one of the Sonnets were Elizabeth talks about angels and the black one killing the good one. This is Elizabeth showing the two sides of herself. In the Sonnets she says "the worser spirit" and Shakespeare uses this as the lead character in Othello, which he makes black - another reference back to the Sonnets. Desdemona is of course the good spirit. And by getting Othello to kill her, it thus fulfills the prophecy of Sonnet 144, that the bad angel would fire the good one out. In order to make this happen Shakespeare employs a Devil's advocate in the form of Iago. Which I think was played by Shakespeare himself! For who better to play it.
I think that over the years and how the theatre world has developed, that we have become entangled with how things are done and how things were done. So now we see it as somebody going into a room and writes down the words for the actors to speak and emerges later with a fully worked up play. Then the actors are cast! Though it's like that today, it doesn't mean it has always been done like that!
As I have shown with the above, none of the modern ways ever applied to a Shakespeare play. Shakespeare would be like a duck out of water in the modern system. I actually believe the modern way was around at the time of Shakespeare, but it was considered boring, being about tales of how London Bridge was made etc.
With the Civil War and the closing of the theatres the Shakespeare technique was eventually lost, only the modern form of a single person writing the parts on their own has survived. Leaving us confused of how William Shakespeare fitted that role! Which of course he didn't. 

Copy of how it was performed

I have recently found a bit more to back up the fact a single person didn't write the plays, but they were done in a the way I describe above. Thanks to Ben Crystal. He is an actor and he discovered that the disjointed rhyme in certain sections of the play is meant to be like that, simply because it is meant to convey things like arguments, between the characters, including raised voices. Plus in Hamlet one of the characters is ignoring what the others are saying and just making his point over the other actors.
Ben found out that if the lines were presented in the normal way, that is letting each character finish speaking before the next one speaks, it doesn't mean anything. But allowing the actors to jump in before the other one has finished, the combined effort not only makes sense but rhymes too!
Ben did a video of it here:

Now I think that shows that the text was either copied down direct from watching the play. Or more likely the text was written as the play was being performed. Thus proving that one man did not write a Shakespeare play. It also rules out the lords and nearly all the rival candidates as they would need to be present when the play was being worked up. Highly unlikely that Oxford and the other Earls would mix with the scum of the earth actors on a play like that.    

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

When Records Were Released In The UK

Dating 45 rpm Records

One of the big problems I have in sorting out the old Real Charts is knowing when a 45 record or single or EP, or for that matter a 78, was released in the UK. Often you can track them down to the month, but tracking them down to the week is another question.
Of course it's very easy to track down when a record made the official charts. As each chart is dated. But that doesn't mean that a record was released the week before the chart was published. In fact records might have been around for months or longer before they finally get a chart entry. So how do we find out what week a record was released?
Well there are two main ways. The first is the promotional record. These were sent out to Radio Stations and other places that could help sell the records when released. They were not for sale to the general public! Many of the carried a date or a sticker with the date on. CBS were very good at this. as this example shows. Note the different design to the normal single the public would buy.
The large "A" wasn't indicating the A side, but stands for "Advanced". This was common to all labels. But not all of these promo copies carried a date as this example shows:
And even if it does carry a date, it doesn't mean that the record company stuck to it. The release could be delayed by many weeks. Even sometimes being cancelled completely if feedback was negative or the record wasn't being played by Radio Stations or Club DJ's.  
The second method of dating records are new release sheets sent out to record stores. Again these are not always accurate as dates were changed again. An example from 1965 is shown below. The Trade Magazine's such as Music Week or it's former life as Record Retailer also carried new release information. But there is no On-Line source for these. And back issues are rare and expensive. You can view them, but only in the difficult to get to and "rule" restrictions of the British Library in London. I once asked them for the weekly Music Week new release pages for just 1976 and if they could be copied and sent to me. The quote back from them was several hundred pounds! 

The only other method is generally restricted to Label Catalogues issued on a commercial basis. However I have not seen any that date the release to the week, only to the month. They are not to dissimilar to the Record Labels of The 70's website - the link of which can be found on this blog. That also dates them to the month.   
One of the best on-line sites is the excellent 45 Cat. Many of their members have included the weekly dates of records, from the above methods. The one problem is that the information is not always easy to get. For you have to select the filter option, then select the date records were issued. So you need to which days records were issued on. Then select the UK from a long list of Countries. You can then press search. And it will come up with the results. Providing less than 100 records were released on that date, you should get the known release date for the day in question. However not all records are given the weekly dates on the site. So you might have to go for just the month, leaving the day blank. This will almost certainly give you more than the 100 records allowed, as it doesn't filter out the "dated" records. There is a way around this using the site options for display, earliest and latest options, but there is a lot of fiddling about to do it. Even when you have the results the format of the display isn't good for copying the text off the website, as names are links to the artists themselves. You have to click the record itself, to get to something you can extract text from. 
So what I've decided to do is extract the new release information from the 45 Cat website for you, and myself, with each week listed and the month ones also. The text is in the same format of what I do the charts with, with artist names then the title in italic. Also included is level of ownership by 45 Cat members, which is a good indication of how well a record might have sold! 
The first of the new release files is for 1970 and others will follow soon. However I should point there will be some records missing from this list. Mostly any records that only carry the year of release and no month or week. Due to the 100 limit it would be impossible to extract these. Also because a record was issued with a date of 1970 on it doesn't mean it was issued that year. Indeed many records were continuing to be released nearly halfway into the year of 1971 with that year on. And many records dated 1969 were issued in 1970 likewise. Also missing are records that were not issued or known to be withdrawn from sale early on and anything that wouldn't have made the charts anyway. Only A sides are listed with no record labels or numbers.
The second to be done is 1965 following on from the requests by users of 45 Cat as to which ones to do next. Featured are the Beatles singles, plus John Lennon's father!!! Plus of course John Barry's Thunderbirds Theme! 
I now have completed the releases for 1966. Since I started doing this 45 Cat have introduced an extra category(s) under the search procedure. One of which is the most "owned". On the 1966 list I was able thus to this on the weekly sections (but not the monthly one) so they are listed with most owns fist. As 45 Cat also states if the record entered the "Official" Top 50, I was able to make a note of all the owns to the top 50 positions. This information doesn't actually feature in the PDF file below, but it is interesting. For example records making number 50 varied between 11 and 21 owns. However one of the records that made 49 had 45 owns on it! Further up the chart the number 10 hits had between 46 to 90 owns on them. Ownership levels over 100 don't start till number 6, where one record had 112 owns, however another 6 hit had just 36 owns on it. Number 2 hits varied from 55 to 141.
Number one records clocked in at 68 to 151. The highest figure for a record for 1966 owns on 45 Cat. Belonging of course to the Beatles Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby.
Interestingly enough no records made the positions 35, 30 and 29 in the top 50 that year! 
There are again some real gems in the 1966 file, such as the weird group the Master Singers. Who perform odd things sung in the style of a church choir! They record the Highway Code first, then tried the Telephone Directory! But that record had to withdrawn when the Post Office objected to it for copyright reasons!! They didn't give up and sang the Weather Forecast instead!
The 1974 one also features the Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown calling himself Errol Flynn! And the big band Mud who released Tiger Feet, later in the year issuing a record calling themselves "Dum"!!!  The best thing about the 1974 one is that the "monthly list" is massively reduced and in some cases the month list has nearly all the records dated in some way. 
The latest to be added is 1967. The year of Flower Power and when Radio One started.     
If you know of any additions or correct dates for the above records, please comment below.

Early Record Dates
During sometime in the early 1960's new singles began to be issued on a weekly basis. The day set for this was a Friday, though it was not set in stone! I haven't been able to pin an precise date for when this happened, but it seems the new release sheets started being issued weekly around 1962. 
Prior to this it seems ALL records were issued in the first week (in some cases the second week) of each month for the entire month. 
This might cause a problem extracting the records from the 45 Cat website, with the 100 results limit.
I have asked by the way for the 100 limit to be increased. It was introduced to prevent website issues. But though it might have been fine when the site was small, but it has grown that much that it is a serious limit on the accessibility of the site now. I would say for certain that more than 100 records were released each month by 1959 if not earlier. So there would be little chance of getting an accurate list of any records from about 1955 to 1962 due to the 100 limit.
It seems that the closer to the present day release information days become harder to get hold of. I have done a test of the 1981 data. It's very confusing. For one thing the Friday date is joined by the new Monday release date. It seems both were operating at the same time! And the new release booklets seem less common, giving more "monthly" dates!   

Nevertheless these concerns aside I'm certain readers will be fascinated to see what could have made the charts and did or didn't!