Shakespeare? I Bardly Recognized You!

by Carolyn Becker

IMG_5885The man may have written these plays hundreds of years ago but somehow he still manages to pop up in our lives everywhere, and sometimes in ways that are not as obvious as a nose on a man’s face. From stolen plot lines, to characters, to themes, to quotes Shakespeare’s plays constantly influence our favorite cultural staples without us even realizing it. But, truth will out!

I won’t leave you with bated breath, so without much ado here are my favorite films that referenced Henry IV without me realizing it!

1)   Monty Python and The Holy Grail- The ultimate edition

In true Monty Python form, in their ultimate edition they have an option where you can watch the film “With Subtitles for people who don’t like the film”. Instead of actual lines from the movie being written, the subtitles are exclusively text from Henry IV Part 2.Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t. The Shakespeare quotes chosen may appear random, but they are chosen specifically to try to tell the story.

2)   The Queen

Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth II quoting Henry IV? This is such stuff as dreams are made on!

3)   The Departed

In Martin Scorsese’s film, he has Jack Nicholson’s character actually misquote the line, but that’s neither here nor there because the meaning and sentiment behind it are the same. Even though the character did not know it, Shakespeare influenced his life!

4) My Own Private Idaho

This film is a modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Henry IV and Henry V plays. And, for goodness sake, it’s starring Keanu Reaves and River Phoenix!

Now, as good luck would have it, I have two more little treats for you. Neither one fell under the category of “surprising reference to Shakespeare” but they are both delightful and Henry IV themed and in my heart of hearts I couldn’t resist.

 Orson Welles Film “Chimes at Midnight”

This movie was completely based off of Henry IV and it’s quite a treat. It is such a well-made film that very few people have seen. But, I won’t go on a rant about it, just check it out. Fun Fact: when Orson Welles played Falstaff, he had to go on a diet to play the notoriously portly man!

30 Rock

In an episode of Tina Fey’s brilliant show, it was revealed that Tracy Jordan once played Prince Hal in Shakespeare in the Park.

Based on this little clip we see of him, it was pretty unsuccessful. This clip will leave youin stitches!

Now I’ve shared my favorites, what are yours? This list certainly isn’t the be all and the end all! Let us know! And remember; to thine own self be true!



Seeking Production Assistants for Free Outdoor Summer Shakespeare


Smith Street Stage is looking to hire student assistants for its annual Shakespeare in Carroll Park. The company produces a free outdoor Shakespeare in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, every summer.

The position will involve working with Artistic Director Beth Ann Hopkins in fundraising and publicizing the show. Assistants will be paid a small stipend. The position is ideal for students who may be interested in seeing what is involved in producing theater in New York, and while it is not an acting opportunity, assistants can sit in on auditions and rehearsals. 

Email to request application instructions and an interview appointment. Interviews will be this Sunday, February 23rd, so please apply ASAP.