All The World's A Stage - the Shakespeare thread

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by JozefK, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Flights have certainly resumed, though infrequently. I own a few of these films as well but the set is simply irresistible. The chances of them being reproduced soon is unlikely.

    Agreed about the BBC Cymbeline. But their Henry VIII, Measure For Measure, Richard II and Comedy of Errors are exceptional, imo.
     
  2. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

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    Healdsburg CA
    Just bought it! Thanks for the push -- it didn't take much ;)
    I know I would have regretted not grabbing it when I had a chance.
     
  3. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    :agree:
    I won't expect it til June. But it was my Birthday (today) gift to me. Ha
     
  4. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
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    Hamlet on Film (BFI)

     
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  5. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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  6. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    long version here: PlayShakespeare.com Forum: notes on Cymbeline (1/1)

    Condensed version, second notes for Cymbeline:

    "Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered."
    Pisanio, IV, iii



    GENERAL NOTES

    Cymbeline's opening scene is a little masterpiece of economy, a conversation between two generic 'Gentlemen' which lays out all the essential pieces of a complex plot, the backstories we need to know going into the play.

    There are three major story lines in Cymbeline – THE WAGER and all the business between Imogen, Posthumous, Giachimo and Cloten.; ROME and the refusal of Cymbeline (under the direction of the queen) to continue to pay tribute money to Rome; and THE PRINCES, kidnapped when very young and raised as country boys in Wales. The latter two plots are mentioned on background, and don't take the stage until Act III . . .



    THE WAGER

    Cloten tries to woo Imogen with music in II, iii, telling the musicians " if you can penetrate her with your/
    fingering, so; we'll try with tongue too"
    Clearly talking about instrumental and vocal music here. At least. , ,

    Giachimo tells Posthumous, "I make my wager rather against your confidence than her reputation." . . .

    The first ten lines of II, ii (the bedroom scene) belong to Imogen and her lady, the remaining 42 lines of the scene are a "whispered" soliloquy by Giachimo, while Imogen sleeps. On stage, some quiet time is always put between Imogen's last line and Giachimo's emergence from the trunk; we should keep that in mind for our reading. Giachimo proves a keen observer in the scene, of both Imogen and her room, some details itemized in the bedroom scene itself and some later, when he gives his 'report' to Posthumous.

    In III, iv, Pisanio shows Imogen the letter from Posthumous ordering him to kill her for having 'played the strumpet in my house.' As Imogen stands stunned in disbelief, Pisanio says,
    "What shall I need to draw my sword? the paper
    Hath cut her throat already.' . . .



    ROME

    Imogen is sent by Pisanio to Milford Haven, so she can join up with the Roman army who will be landing there. Milford Haven is a natural harbor in southwest Wales, currently the fourth largest port in tonnage in the UK. It would have been known by Elizabethan theatergoers primarily as the place where the future Henry VII, Richmond, landed with a force from France before defeating Richard III at Bosworth Field. Henry VII was the first of the Tudor line, Elizabeth I was the last of that line.

    Imogen appears in III, vi as Fidele, reminding the audience she is now in disguise by opening the scene with, "I see a man's life is a tedious one." She is having trouble making her way to Milford Haven, despite the fact that "Two beggars told me/ I could not miss my way." Typical locals – "You can't miss it!"

    THE PRINCES


    . . .

    When Imogen is found by the Roman troops and Lucius asks her name, she replies, "Richard du Champ," which translates in English to 'Richard Field,' the name of Shakespeare's friend from Stratford who became a printer in London and published "Venus and Adonis" and "Lucrece,"

    The improbable story of the old man and his two sons firing up the British troops and defeating the mighty Romans is adapted from Hollingshead's history of Scotland (which Shakespeare had drawn from earlier for Macbeth). Hollingshead's story is of a battle from 976 CE in which an old man named Hay and his two sons repelled a superior Danish force by holding a narrow lane, just as our rustics do in this play. . .



    CODA

    I was stunned to find, in the notes, a reference to a text suggestion by Howard Staunton, and immediately googled the name to see if it was the same Howard Staunton I was familiar with as a chessplayer. And it was! Staunton was an Englishman who was the strongest chessplayer in the world in the 1840s and the namesake and marketer of the type of chess set which is now the standard for tournament play and most widely used, the Staunton Design (created by contemporaries who honored Staunton by naming it for him). It seems that later in life he won the contract to be editor of a new edition of Shakespeare (published 1857-60), highly praised by the experts of the day. By that time, Staunton's health was failing and he kept backing out of chess matches, most notably against Paul Morphy, the unbeatable youngster from New Orleans.
     
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  7. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Well, you've got me rewatching the 1982 BBC TV version with Helen Mirren as Imogen. This cool streamer is preferable to the Almereyda debacle released a few years back. People defending the latter claim that the adaptation is deliberately idiosyncratic and that purists are generally too literal to appreciate its artful allusions. My contention is, like his Hamlet, Almereyda has done another stylish riff on Shakespeare lacking the momentum and spark that distinguished the original plays: Casual Shakespeare. Not my tthing.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
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  8. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    I'm going to wind up with two copies of that Mirren Cymbeline.

    And some of your comments on Almereyda's film describe my feelings toward Prospero's Books -- I'm struggling to get through it, can usually only manage 10-15 minutes at a stretch. He established the magicality of the island, but I have no idea what Greenaway's doing with the rest of it. The references to the actual text seem as casual and incidental to the film as namedropping. And since I've recently scored a copy of Derek Jarman's Tempest, I may just bail on the Greenaway and watch something I'm more likely to enjoy.
     
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  9. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Oh no, I wouldn't ever characterize a Gielgud reading as casual unless it was a deliberate choice. In fact, his vocal approach was sometimes described (Orson Welles) as "teachy" or over-pronounced, which is not exactly true, either. In my opinion, no one handled the spoken text with the effectiveness that Gielgud achieved. He really made you listen. And, as I have said often, the aural component of any Shakespeare performance is crucial. His contemporary audiences went to hear a play, not see it the way we describe a playgoing experience. So perhaps you simply need to take away the visuals and just listen.

    Which brings to mind many of the virtual Shakespeare table readings that can be found now on YouTube due to the pandemic. I have yet to sit through one but may do so soon and simply knock off the (presumably) Zoom visuals for optimal enjoyment. Watching someone in a t-shirt and Mets cap belt "Reason not the need!" is a bit too removed from what Shakespeare may have had in mind. Ha
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
  10. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA

    I have a lot of trouble understanding Gielgud in Prospero's Books, although I'm usually a fan. I know the text. But it's presented with so much extraneous baggage, in such an artificial and contrived setting, that Gielgud's readings of Shakespeare seem an afterthought here. I really wanted to connect with this, and am open to all kinds of radical interpretations; I'll give it another shot or two, but I'm not optimistic.

    As far as guys in t-shirts rendering Lear, since I've been hosting Shakespeare readings for almost fifty years, that hardly bothers me. I know that you can generate an extraordinary amount of energy in a room filled with casually dressed people reading a play. I have to say that the Zoom meeting fell far short of that, although it was better than nothing. Sitting in a room with a dozen other people creates some of the electric vibes of live theater, and that's all but lost over a computer. But the costuming doesn't bother me. Ever once in while we spring for a prop, most recently an arrow-through-the-head for The Knight of The Burning Pestle.
     
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  11. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Absolutely. But you're talking about participating in a reading, not listening at home over a computer or cell phone. Engagement is half the fun! :)

    And, yes, many people cannot abide Peter Greenaway in any formation. It helps to enjoy his style of presentation, which is more pageantry than drama, per se. Love to see him tackle King John, one of the more static of Shakespeare's history plays, imo.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
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  12. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    Bookplate by Fritz Schwarz, 1909

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    [​IMG]
    Edwin Booth as Hamlet
     
  14. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

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    New Hampshire
    Patrick Stewart, Maggie Smith, and James Earl Jones

    [​IMG]
     
  15. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Is this a Guess what they all have in common Shakespeare query of sorts?
     
  16. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    [​IMG]
    The BroadwayHD app is the only place of which I'm aware that had all of the late 70s/early 80s BBC productions of Shakespeare streaming. It's normally about 10 bucks a month but they let you try it free for 7-10 days, depending on the promo. The only other service offering the series in part is kanopy, which requires a library card and three of the biggest US libraries recently ended their association due to costs. BHD also has old, hard-to-find theater productions streaming as well. But their catalog is shallow. For me, a trial may do the trick until my BBC Shakespeare set arrives from abroad.
     
  17. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dixie
    I don't know what point you're trying to make. If you're trying to say they've all played Shakespeare, posting pics of them in costume from various productions would help.
     
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  18. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Indeed. Well, I've seen Patrick Stewart play Prospero in The Tempest on Broadway. I admire Dame Maggie Smith's Desdemona in Olivier's film version of Othello. And James Earl Jones isn't bad as King Lear in a Public Theater production from '72 (I believe) currently up on YouTube. All three are theater legends that have become more famous as a captain of a futuristic space fleet, a grandam wizard instructor and the voice of an evil Jedi master!
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
  19. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    [​IMG]


    First Foilio
     
  20. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    [​IMG]

    Derek Jarman -- The Tempest

    Finally bailed on Prospero's Books to watch this one, and I was blown away. I thought this was a very powerful, funny, brilliantly envisioned interpretation, probably just as quirky as Greenway's film, but adhering much more tightly to the text. Not sure it's for everyone, and I see the critical reviews are somewhat mixed. But I can't think of a Shakespeare film except for the Brooks/ Scofield Lear that I've liked this much on first watching. I'm not going to attempt a coherent summary until I get a chance to watch it again. Surprise appearance below of the late, great Elisabeth Welsh in Prospero's final pageant.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

     
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  21. ando here

    ando here Forum Resident

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    Thanks. Found a streamer (careful of pop ups). Always admired Jarman. (Perhaps it's time to give up on the Greenaway version, Steve. :p)
     
  22. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Nice find!

    I'll give the Greenaway another shot in the future. I've seen a couple of his other films which I always thought were OK, always some sensational moments but nothing that lasted for me. But for this one I had expectations, all unmet, and I have no idea what he was trying to do with the play, it was incoherent to me.

    Came across some fascinating stuff related to Cymbeline, the story of Susanna from the Book of Daniel, part of the Bible for Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, not for Protestants and Jews. The story of the woman wrongly accused. Shakespeare's own daughter, Susanna, won a slander suit along these lines, an irony surely not lost on her father! These kind of law suits were fairly common in Will's time, three-quarters of the cases brought by women, almost all involving allegations of sexual misconduct, spreading venereal disease, etc.
     
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  23. arley

    arley Forum Resident

    That Lear had some exceptional actors in it; in addition to Jones, Raul Julia is Edmund and Rene Aubergenois is Edward, with Paul Sorvino as Gloucester. And if you want a terrific Macbeth, check out Patrick Stewart's version on Great Performances.

    I was fortunate to see James Earl Jones as Othello at the National Theater in DC in 1982 (I think). He was terrific, but Christopher Plummer as Iago stole the show. Sadly, to the best of my knowledge no video of this production exists.
     
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  24. I just started into watching this Shakespeare parody TV series recently



    it's disgraceful, really. And hilarious.
     
  25. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    A couple of members of my reading group are really high on that series. I've watched some, kind of like it but can't get really enthused.

    The series I LOVED was the Canadian show Slings and Arrows.

     

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