Shakespeare Alive

2. Illustrating Shakespeare, with Mya Gosling

November 24, 2020 Mya Gosling Episode 2
Shakespeare Alive
2. Illustrating Shakespeare, with Mya Gosling
Chapters
Shakespeare Alive
2. Illustrating Shakespeare, with Mya Gosling
Nov 24, 2020 Episode 2
Mya Gosling

Anjna’s joined by stick figure artist and Shakespeare super-fan Mya Gosling, creator of the web comic Good Tickle Brain. Join us as we discuss how Mya breaks down barriers to Shakespeare, making his works feel accessible and, most importantly, fun.

Support the show (https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/podcast-support)

Show Notes Transcript

Anjna’s joined by stick figure artist and Shakespeare super-fan Mya Gosling, creator of the web comic Good Tickle Brain. Join us as we discuss how Mya breaks down barriers to Shakespeare, making his works feel accessible and, most importantly, fun.

Support the show (https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/podcast-support)

Anjna Chouhan
Welcome to Shakespeare Alive: a podcast from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

My name is Anjna Chouhan. This podcast hosts conversations with people from all over the world who work or engage with Shakespeare across all sorts of media and genres. 

In this episode, I am joined by stick figure artist, and Shakespeare super-fan, Mya Gosling. Mya has an international profile, and has risen to great heights with her irreverent, very accessible approach to Shakespeare. Her web comic, Good Tickle Brain, is packed with cartoons ranging from play summaries, to alternative endings and even popular culture mash-ups – all based on her unique and distinctive stick-figure style. As a long-time admirer of Mya’s work, I am delighted to have the honour of introducing Mya Gosling to Shakespeare Alive. So welcome, Mya, it’s a pleasure to have you with us.

Mya Gosling
It's my pleasure. 

Anjna 
Well, it's our pleasure too, to host you. Can you tell us a little bit about what your route to Shakespeare was? So what, what made you interested in Shakespeare? 

Mya
Uh, my route to Shakespeare was definitely through the theatre. Um, We live relatively close to the other Stratford in Ontario, Canada, and my parents every year would take me up there to see some shows. They took me to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I think that was my first exposure to Shakespeare; but my father then, uh, showed me uh, films. Like he showed me all the Lawrence Olivier films, which he'd grown up with. And, uh, Henry V in particular really captured my imagination because I really enjoyed people running around with swords, hitting each other. And, and that was exactly my cup of tea; but subsequently every time we would go up to the Stratford Festival, I started insisting that instead of just seeing one or two Shakespeares, we see all the Shakespeares that they were producing every season.

We've seen the entire cannon, except for Two Noble Kinsmen now. 

Anjna
Oh, that’s good going, Mya, well done!

Mya
I it's it's it's not that it's not a bad run. So that's, that's definitely how my relationship with Shakespeare started - it was through performance with those performances. 

Anjna
And Mya, what age were you when your father started taking you?

Mya
About nine or ten, so it was fairly young and I think, you know, a lot of the language probably went over my head; but you can still follow the plot and enjoy a Shakespeare play even at that age. And then, uh, when I started really getting into it, I was probably in our middle school. So around 12 is when I started really getting into Shakespeare.

I did eventually encounter Shakespeare in school; but as I always say, fortunately, I already liked Shakespeare because it's sometimes hit or miss when you first encounter Shakespeare in the classroom. And I have lots of friends who have been just turned off completely by Shakespeare because they had to read it.

I was fortunate that I had some good teachers, but that I also had an affinity for Shakespeare, by the time I reached it at school. 

Anjna
What, what made your father so excited by Shakespeare? 

Mya
Uh, I think he always, he, his parents were very sort of Anglophillic and theatrical. His father was from England and so it was always just a part of, uh, the family culture.I don't think they, I. I'll have to ask him. I don't think they sat around and read Shakespeare every night, but they went to the theatre and certainly they went to the movies very often. And, uh, my father saw the Lawrence Olivier, Henry the Fifth, in the theatre. Um, and that I think made a really big impact on him.

So that was always just part of, uh, the family cultural legacy, I guess. 

Anjna
I love that you you've kind of continued that family legacy. Because you, you say yourself, you love the history plays like Henry the Fifth; and the title of your website.: Good Tickle Brain is, is from Henry the Fourth,  Part One,  so that's obviously one of your favorites.

Mya
Yeah. I, I really like all the history plays I've always liked even in, in, you know, growing up, I would read fantasy novels and it's all about who gets to sit on the throne and who has the power and battles and political intrigue. And so I've always gravitated towards the history of plays. And when the great Game of Thrones books and TV show came out, I was like, well, this is just the history plays!

So yeah, the history plays, have always been just so captivating to me, both the sort of political intrigue and also the family drama that goes on and how those two are meshed. They ve always really appealed to me. So I m always hesitant to pick favorites. So I don't think I would necessarily claim Henry the Fourth, Part One is my favorite, but it's certainly up there.

Anjna
You've got a childhood love for Shakespeare. Where does the cartoonist in you come from? 

Mya
Well, certainly not from any sort of formal training. Um, it’s another family legacy, actually. It's uh, when we would go on family trips, you'd always - there would always be a lot of waiting. This was before smartphones.

Uh, it'd be a lot of waiting around it, like at the dinner table for dinner to come, and my parents always would have a sketchbook and we would sort of pass it around the table and everybody would just draw something that had happened during the day. So it was both a way to keep as entertained, but also as a way to document fun things that happened on vacation.

And so I never really got the hang of drawing. So I would just draw these little stick figures and try and capture funny moments that had happened during the day. So I just kind of got in the habit of that. And then it seemed at some point a natural jump to sort of take that to Shakespeare because a lot of our trips were up the Stratford Festival and revolved around seeing all these shows all the time. And so I started sort of documenting fun things about those productions with my stick figures and it just kind of grew from there. 

Anjna
That's amazing! So stick figures was kind of like a familial story-time sharing activity. So where did the idea come from to start doing Shakespeare in stick figure, form and stick it on the internet?

Mya
I think the thing from my relationship with Shakespeare is that I just think it's fun. Like, I just think Shakespeare's plays are incredibly fun and that's not necessarily the popular perception of Shakespeare's plays nowadays and stick figures - besides being the only thing I can draw - they're just like a very non-threatening art form.

They're just, completely simple, basic, you know, no frills, no pretensions. And it just seemed like this was a fun way to communicate to people why I thought Shakespeare was fun, and like, you can too!

Anjna
The idea that you re approaching Shakespeare with this sense of fun comes through in all of your work. For our listeners who aren't aware, Mya has condensed every single Shakespeare play into three key moments with some very humourous illustrations.

Where did your idea for that come from?

Mya
I'll tell you the true story, which is I, this was, this was shortly after I started the website and I was posting three times a week and I got kind of overwhelmed by the amount of content that I had to generate for this website. And I wanted something that I could do relatively quickly and it suddenly occurred to me - it's like, well, a really easy thing to do would be to tell, you know, sum up each of the plays in just three panels each. Which is really easy because three panels is easily beginning, middle, and end. It was just kind of a way to do a lot of comics very quickly. But when I actually started sitting down and drawing those and writing them, it was really, really interesting. The challenges that came with each individual play, which ones were easy to summarise, which ones were more difficult to summarise. I'm looking at you, Cymbeline!

So it, it was, it was a fun exercise. And I thought, you know, retrospectively, I'm really glad that I did that early on, uh, in my web-comic career, because it was a way to give everybody an easy entry to all the plays.  So if I make a Cymbeline joke, they can go back and look at the Cymbeline comic and be like, Oh, wow. Okay, that that's the play she's talking about. 

Anjna
The important thing to note about your work,  Mya, is that it's irreverent; but it's an irreverence that comes from a real knowledge and appreciation and understanding of the plays. Not just anybody could come along and summarise every single play in three key moments. I think your only exception to the three panels is Henry the Sixth, Part Three

Mya
Yeah. I've got a, there's actually two exceptions, but Henry the Sixth, Part Three, uh, the clear plot is the way the crown switches back and forth all the time between Henry and Edward and Henry and Edward. So I ended up doing that one in, I think, five panels - just one panel for each switch. Uh, and then the other one was just Titus Andronicus, which I just, had everybody dead in one giant panel because that's, that's, that's your key takeaway from Titus Andronicus. Everybody dies in a variety of horrible manners.

Anjna
Speaking of everbody dies,  you've got the "death clocks" and those are magnificent. And you kind of go in, in a sort of time order of who dies and when, in all the sort of grizzly plays. So Titus, Macbeth, Hamlet...

Mya
Those are great fun. And I think people are very drawn to those sort of infographic type comics that sum up, but in a really fun way, the essentials of a play. So you're not going to get the entire plot of Hamlet by going through the death clock; but you can see, oh, this is, this is where all the exciting stuff happens. 

Anjna
So you're very aware of the ludicrousness of everything that's going on in these plays?

Mya
Yeah, I think that's important - to be able to laugh at Shakespeare, not just, you know, laugh with it. Like you have to actually laugh at his plays because there's a lot in there that you just look at and have to shake your head and say, this is so over the top, this is so implausible ridiculous, contrived; but that doesn't mean it's not also wonderful and enjoyable. You can also laugh at it. And I think that's the thing is, is giving permission to people, to laugh at Shakespeare and be able to say, oh, wow, that was a really stupid plot device. I think that's very freeing and it just lets people say, okay, this isn't this great cultural monolith that I have to bow down before. Somehow this is something that I can engage with and I can mock and I can deconstruct in the way that I want to in a much more fluid and democratic way.

Anjna
I think that's a really good way of describing what you do, Mya. You're giving people permission to mock, to laugh at Shakespeare. And you have a whole series of alternative endings or what should have happened in Hamlet or at the end of Much Ado About Nothing, for instance. So instead of having Hero accept Claudio, I can't quite remember what she does - does she punch him in the face? 

Mya
She just punches him in the face and then says smash the patriarchy or something like that. Yeah, those ones are a lot of fun because you look at a lot of the ending of Shakespeare's plays and especially the problem plays or some of the comedies  and you just look at them and say: how's this funny? And so it's taking those sort of unresolved or unsatisfying endings, like Isabella or like Hero and Kate in Taming of the Shrew. And I'd just be like, okay, if I had to write this ending today and make it satisfying for who I am as a person, what would I do? And then, you know, it's not advocating that all Heros should punch Claudio in all future productions, it's just sort of exploring like, oh, this would be really satisfying to see just once. And that I'm probably not going to see it on stage; but I'm going to see it here in my, in my comic. 

Anjna
You could make that dream come true yourself!

Mya
Yes. 

Anjna
So Mya was invited by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC to deliver a live workshop back in 2016. 

Mya
Yeah. So one of the things I did at the Folger was we did a live uh, three panel comic drawing, uh, in which people gave me a character and a play - a play and a character to draw a three panel comic of that.  And I ended up with Twlefth Night and sir Toby Belch, I think. And then I would just draw live on stage. I think the fun part of that is when people see you draw a comic live, they realise it's not that complex. And it's something that they could also do. And I think it's the accessibility of that. That's really fun to communicate with people then to be able to show people: no, no, no, this is something that you could do. Like you can also engage with Shakespeare in this way. You can explore your own relationship not just with Shakespeare, with anything. You can draw comics about anything. It just sort of gives people a tool to use in communicating and exploring their own enjoyment. 

Anjna
So there is this real emphasis in what you're doing on just empowering people. 

Mya
Yeah. It's, it's, it's about accessibility and just, just making it easier to access and engage with Shakespeare or anything. I hope my work has done that.

Anjna
You use Shakespeare to engage with current affairs. So I remember a few years ago when Julian Fellowes, the producer and director, gave an interview where he was talking about Shakespeare and audiences. And I think it was ahead of the release of his film, Romeo and Juliet. And he'd said that you, you can't possibly understand Shakespeare if you don't have an expensive education. I believe those were his words. And you'd actually come up with a comic in response to that, and that spoke to what he was saying.

Mya
Yeah. I mean, those are exactly the kind of comments that I feel like I'm always working against, because what he's doing is just reinforcing the idea that Shakespeare is somehow for the elite. And it's not! Shakespeare is for the groundlings as much as the aristocrats who buy the box seats at the Globe, you know. You, you go to a Shakespeare play and you've never been before maybe. And you don't understand the words, but if it's done right, you'll understand the meaning. You'll understand what's going on. You'll understand the emotion and the plot, and you'll, you'll be able to connect with it. Even if you don't know what "prithee" means, or why they're saying "re-ven-ue", you know, you, you, you you'll be able to hop over all those little stumbling blocks and get the essence of the play. And I think having an expensive education, just that notion of what you need is to be really smart and privileged to appreciate this... It's just, I've tried to be polite because we're on a podcast here. But it's, it's, it's very, very frustrating and very counterproductive and also insulting to the intelligence of so many people.

Anjna
On an international scale, not just in the US. But you're - you have a great presence in the UK. I know you've come over to Stratford and we were very lucky to welcome you. And we were all geeking out in the office....

Mya
Oh, I was geeking out immensely!

Anjna
It was great, but it happened to be a warm day. And that's why I remember it, becuase we have so few of those!

Mya
It was a charming, sunny beautiful day. It was absolutely lovely. I had so much fun.

Anjna
But circling back to your work. I know I just mentioned that you engage with current affairs and obviously most recently we've been living through the COVID-19 global pandemic, and you've been really prolific throughout that. And one of my favorite things that you've done is to re-tell some of the plays as though the sort of plague or COVID happened to them, and that's great fun. So it's sort of like nobody would have died in Antony and Cleopatra if the war was suddenly off because everyone had to quarantine. 

Mya
Yeah, it was, it was fun because I just started that with, with the notion, like, okay, if we had to self isolate and social distance in each Shakespeare play, what would happen? And it became sort of very evident that in almost all of the tragedies, nothing bad would have happened. Like all the, all the disasters that would have happened would have, would have resolved themselves completely like Romeo and Juliet's a very obvious one. If they never, they couldn't go to a party because they wouldn't be properly social distanced  uh, they would never have met and nothing would have...all the tragedies sort of ... so it was really, it was really fun to sort of go through that one play by play and try and figure out what, how our current self-isolating situation would have impacted the plot of each of them. 

Anjna
But it's great. It's great thinking about, and it's, it's just so humorous. I know that you love musicals as well, because you've done the three panel summary of Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, which. I love. So I was amazed that you'd done that!

Mya
I'm a massive musical geek and, and Sondheim geek and I think for Sondheim, Sondheim I came to later than Shakespeare, because I saw my first, my Sondheim production, Into the Woods when I was probably eight or nine. The thing that appeals to me about Sondheim, it's the same thing that appeals to me about Shakespeare, uh, in some respects is, is the language. And coming to Sondheim at a later age, I was really able to appreciate what he does with his words. The intricacy  of the poetry. So I m a huge Sondheim geek, but also all of musical theatre, any kind of musical theatre, I'm a sucker for. 

Anjna
I'm sure I've heard you talk about operettas before?

Yeah, it's another, one of the things I've inherited from my parents is ...One of our other theatre trips would be going down to the, uh, Ohio Light Opera, which is a company in Western Ohio, which produces, they do Gilbert and Sullivan and some fairly well known - Die Fledermaus - well known operettas. That whole genre of operettas and just sort of the melodrama.... and again, there's a, there's an element of ludicrousness about them. And what I like about the Ohio Light Opera is they often don't shy away from that and they really play up how silly some of the plots are and how silly some of the, uh, over-the-top reactions to everything are, and again, it's, it's that permission to laugh at something.

Anjna
I mean the whole topsy turvy notion is very Shakespearian at its core, and we know Gilbert loved Shakespeare as well. So are you, I bet you've been asked this before. Can you do the Pirates of Penzance, Modern Major General? 

Mya
Oh, gosh. Um, I mean, I probably could, I'm not going to, for sure. Uh, but actually, um, Pirates is actually a big part of how I got into theatre in the first place - I think when I was three years old, my parents sent me to the Stratford Festival for the first time and we saw the Pirates of Penzance there. And then I became a maniac for Pirates; but then my parents would sort of scour local theatre listings to find out who was doing the Pirates of Penzance at any given time. And then we would drive all over our area of the Midwest to go to various productions of Pirates. So that was a formative part of, of my growing up.

Anjna
We're going to take a quick break, now.

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Paul Edmondson
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the charity that promotes the life work and times of William Shakespeare in his hometown of Stratford upon Avon. We look after five houses associated with Shakespeare and his family. We make freely available an internationally important library, archive, and museum collection; we lead new research and we run an award-winning education programme. In light of this podcast, please consider making a donation. You can do this by visiting shakespeare.org.uk and following the, ‘make a donation’ link at the bottom of the home page, your support and goodwill really matter to us and we hope you'll recommend our podcast to your friends.

---

Anjna
You're listening to Shakespeare Alive with me, Anjna. and I'm talking to Mya Gosling. So if our listeners want to find out more about your stuff, where should we send them, Mya?

Mya
The best place to go is my website, which is good.ticklebrain.com. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @goodticklebrain.

Anjna
Your medium through connecting with audiences is very much digital. So it's website it's through social media. Do you think that's the future of Shakespeare engagement? 

Mya
I don't think it's necessarily the future in that it will push other mediums out of existence. I think it's the future in the way that it's just becoming a more and more prevalent way of communicating with people in general.  But I think properly done social media is just a great way to reach a vast number of people who would not have necessarily known you even existed - for a lot of creators, and I think this extends also to theatres and museums and educational organizations. The thing with Shakespeare is, there is a lack of access to it uh, both in schools and in the theatre; and any, any sort of work that can be done to make it more accessible to peopl, is great.

Anjna
Quite literally your work does make Shakespeare accessible. One of my favorite things that you've done is your giant poster on what Shakespeare play to go and see. And it's this incredibly elaborate flow chart about your preferences that lead you to a play that might be best suited to you. I mean, you must have been working on that flow chart for a long time. 

Mya
It, it, it definitely took me a while. I wanted to put that together for, I believe it was the 400th anniversary, um, back in 2016; but it was, it was a lot of fun to think organically about - okay where'd you start, if you wanted to go and see a Shakespeare play, like, do you feel like you want to laugh? Do you feel like you want to cry? And then sort of categorize the plays from there and then continue to sort them out. So that, that was, uh, a lot of fun to put together, although, um, I've had had some people say that I am I'm I'm bad mouthing Henry the Eighth a bit too much by having that one, be the one that you should see if you want to take a nap.

Anjna
It's great. I mean, it's not a great piece of theatre, but it's a lovely piece of writing.

Mya
It drags a lot. Like there's not a lot of action. And if you take out Catherine of Aragon, like there's nothing to keep you there, but...

Anjna
There's Cardinal Wolsey and he's amazing - and the execution of the Duke of Buckingham!

Mya
It's, it's really about Catherine of Aragon.  I'm sorry. I’ve actually seen two live productions now of Henry the Eighth after I did the flowchart. I saw the production last year, I believe, which was actually spectacular, and I genuinely loved it. And so now I'm feeling a little bit bad for slandering it on my poster.

Anjna
Do you have any sense of what your ambitions are for Good Tickle Brain in the future, Mya?

Mya
Something... one aspect of Good Tickle Brain that I definitely want to work on developing more is sort of coming up with more of a toolkit for teachers to use my work in the classroom because I get lots of messages from teachers asking, oh, you know, can I use your comics with my students? And I'm always delighted to say yes. So  I've started work on coming up together... coming up with a sort of package that teachers could possibly use to get their students to draw comics, as a way of engaging with Shakespeare on their own terms. And the idea is that there's no right or wrong way to draw Shakespeare comics. It just purely reflects how you are engaging with Shakespeare. So it's definitely one of the projects I would like to work on more. 

Anjna
That's fantastic. And it's lovely that students use your work. As you know, at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, we pull out your work all the time. I think it's everywhere! It's great as introductory material. I suppose in many ways, it's even better for people who know the plays really well because you get that the sense of the irreverence and the subversion that's going on.

Mya
That's always a tight rope I walk with my comics... it s because when I draw a Shakespeare comic inevitably there ended up being a lot of in jokes or references in it; but I also want it to be accessible to people who might not get those. So it's trying to find that balance, um, is always a challenge, but....

Anjna
Well, it's, it's one that you do meet very, very well there. And I certainly really enjoy it when you walk that tight rope. You have been invited to the Folger, to Stratford upon Avon. I think you did some stuff with the Fudacion  Shakespeare, Argentina as well. So do you have a sense of where - where else do you want to go and conquer in the world, now? 

Mya
I don't like the idea of conquering - but it's a very sort of colonial, taking shakespeare to the four corners of the globe!

Um, I, my, my, my family. My mother's family is from Singapore. And so I spent a lot of time visiting them and then traveling around Southeast Asia and studying several Southeast Asian languages and spending a lot of time out there. But I'm not actually very familiar with the Shakespeare world out there.  It would be very interesting for me to look into that more and get a chance to go out there and maybe see what's happening in Shakespeare in that part of the world. 

Anjna
That would be so cool, Mya. Now I know that you've, you've come to visit us in Stratford. We're asking all of our guests on this series to choose something from our collections that perhaps speaks most vividly to them.  What would you pick? 

Mya
Sort of two things come to mind. Uh, one is, is the window in the Birthplace itself, uh, which has all the scrawlings of people who came by and visited and put their name in there. And I think that just speaks to this sort of desire for people to have a connection with Shakespeare somehow.

And I think, uh, you know, when you want to come and leave your mark at his Birthplace and, and, and just sort of reinforce that physical connection, I... there's something very sort of compelling about that window. The other thing is just, uh, in the exhibition at the Birthplace, they had some of the various translations of Shakespeare that you had in different languages on display and Shakespeare in translation is something that fascinates me, which I haven't looked into nearly as much as I, as I would like to.  But the idea that you can take Shakespeare and translate it into another language. And the whole question of "is it still Shakespeare"? And stuff like that i, I think it is, uh, as someone who basically translates Shakespeareinto vernacular English in my comics, the transformation of Shakespeare from language to language and medium to medium is one that's always fascinating to me.  So I would love to explore more of Shakespeare in translation. And I know you have a lot of translations there, at the Birthplace. 

Anjna
So we have so many and actually a couple of years ago, we found that we have a Gujurati edition of All ' Well, that Ends Well. In fact, we have several editions,  and that's my family's mother tongue.  So it was really exciting. I got to take some of the scans to my grandfather and we sat together, translating them. So it's always really exciting... I know when these things kind of are so much more personal and I think our listeners already know, we've got a Klingon translation of Hamlet, as well.

Mya
I have the Klingon translation of Hamlet, myself - "taH pagh taHbe"... of course we can do...

Anjna
That was beautiful. Do that again. 

Mya
"taH pagh taHbe" My, my accent might be off. It's been a while since I brushed up my Klingon.

Anjna
Maybe the Trekkies amongst our audience can, can write to us and let us know what they thought of your, of your delivery. So can we look forward to a Shakespeare/ Trekkie combos in your work?

Mya
There is one actually, uh, I'd say a few months ago I did the star.... A starship crew made up of, uh, Shakespeare characters. Uh, you know, so they had a captain and a first mate and the doctor and the engineer and everyone, and I cast them from Shakespeare. 

Anjna
That s so wonderful - making these connections to popular culture.

Mya
The reason for that, it's just, it reinforces the fact that Shakespeare is popular culture and we've, we kind of lose sight of the fact, but. he was popular culture for his day and I don't see why he can't be part of popular culture today. 

Anjna
Sure. He's not off limits. More Star Trek/ Shakespeare, thank you very much. 

Mya
I will work on it immediately.

Anjna
That’s a personal request. Thank you. With our collection back in Stratford upon Avon, we're obviously tasked with collecting items: objects, books, documents - that tell the story of Shakespeare in the 21st century and beyond. Is there anything that you would potentially, or hypothetically bequeath to us to continue that narrative?

Mya
Uh, apart from my complete works at some point.?

Anjna
Absolutely. We'll put that in straight away!

Mya
I don't know. I think one of the really important things to collect are, are, are things that people have created in response to Shakespeare, because I think, uh, one of the very interesting about Shakespeare is how generative his work is.  And not just in that you can do the same Shakespeare play in an infinite number of ways and reflect the time and the place and the culture; but also in the way that it generates response, what are people's responses to Shakespeare? And, you know, there's a lot of negative baggage attached to Shakespeare. How are we dealing with that? It s because Shakespeare is traditionally very old and very white and very male. And I think breaking out of that box and really gathering different voices  just gives us a much more complete picture of Shakespeare - its relevance. And I think irrelevance too. It's important to document all aspects of it.  And so seeking out that kind of material, I think would be really important.

Anjna
I like your  point about irrelevance, because it's something that we're not very healthy about acknowledging. 

Mya
Yeah, exactly. And I always tell people. You're completely free not to like Shakespeare. There are many things that I don't like in the world, and it doesn't mean that I'm saying that they're bad or worthless. It's just not my, my, not to my taste. And I think people are completely free to not like Shakespeare and not be considered Philistines or uncultured and sort of keeping that tone in my comics is certainly something uh, that's important to me - not to feel like this is something that you should like, and you should appreciate, but this is something that I like.  Let me show you why, and you can make your own opinions from there. 

Anjna
If you could live -  because I know you've visited or I don't know if you've actually visited all of our properties.

Mya
I missed Mary Arden's and Anne  Hathaway's, sadly.

Anjna
Of the ones that you did visit, if you had to pick one to make yours. So let's say you could move yourself in and potentially your parents in, which one would it be? And why? 

Mya
I mean, I I'd probably go for Hall's Croft, but... I  liked sort of the spaciousness of Hall s Croft and, and the gardens and trees outside. Um, so that was, that would probably be my thing. 

Anjna
Okay. It's a really good choice. It's certainly, I think the most homely at the townhouses.

Mya
Yeah. It's the most, it's the most livable place. I mean, I don't know, New Place might've been wonderful, but it's a little bit flat right now. 

Anjna
It has no walls! Just by way of conclusion. I know that you you've done a lot of work on Shakespeare and  insults; but you've got a t-shirt full of Shakespeare insults!. 

Mya
So yes, yes I do. 

Anjna
Do you have a favorite insult? 

Mya
So my favorite insult is probably "you B anbury cheese". I think what I like about it is it takes something that's presumably fairly innocuous and it just turns it into an insult. Like you can make anything an  insult if you want to. And I think that that, that one is just the perfect illustration of how Shakespeare can make anything an insult. 

Anjna
He certainly can.  Should we make our  farewells to one another in the form of insults, Mya? 

Mya
Oh yes. I'm trying to think of a good one.

Anjna
Adieu, may we be better strangers!

Mya
Let's meet as little as possible!

Anjna
Indeed. Well, on that note, Mya, it's been wonderful to be able to chat with you, and listeners: please do check out Mya's work. It is absolutely marvellous.  We wish you all the very best for your future endeavors with Good Tickle Brain and indeed all your other projects. Mya Gosling, thank you very much, and adieu!

Mya suggested lots of new and exciting voices. So, what would you like to deposit into the collections at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust? Something real or imaginary? We'd love to hear from you via shakespeare.org.uk/future. And while you're there, please consider completing our short survey so we can produce more of the content that you like. 

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Paul
Thank you for listening to this episode of Shakespeare Alive with Anjna. Next week, I'll be talking to Debra Ann Byrd, the entrepreneurial artistic director of the Harlem Shakespeare festival about why she founded her company, what it does, and about her important and inspiring memoir, Becoming Othello: a black girl's journey, a project, which began with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon