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All The World's A Stage - the Shakespeare thread

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

  1. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    :D Great reply.

    The Auden and Bloom quotes are apropos.

    As for "seeing vs. not seeing", it's an interesting question, not however, in the purview of a king (at least, at that juncture of the English monarchy). Richard's inability (or, more likely, refusal) to see beyond his nose is not a matter with which he needs to contend. The king must maintain the crown. Richard's ability or inability to do so is where the drama lies, not in his deliberations. Richard (imho) is not Hamlet. He can't be. Too much is on the line. Hamlet has yet to establish his. It's why I think the more active Richard's, like Derek Jacoby's, for instance, fare better dramatically in the end because his blundering appears to be more actively inept vs. the more savvy Bolingbroke and, therefore, more interesting (overall) dramatically. The passive Richards kill it for me.

    If you haven't already check out the '78 BBC Richard II with Jacoby and Jon Gielgud as Gaunt. (Streaming on britbox) I've never seen better (though I'd certainly love to). Here Gielgud comments on Richard's ill-designed actions -

     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
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  2. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    What a great rendering of that speech by Gielgud! I'll have to see that version.
     
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  3. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    You’ll enjoy it! Gone are the days when you could (professionally) play Richard one night and Bolingbroke the next. That must have been instructive in terms of the different approaches to playing two distinctive types of behavior among nobility. Today everyone’s a type.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
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  4. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    [​IMG]

    Though I’m turned off a bit by the early yelling here’s (at least) a well captured filmed stage performance of the RSC’s 2013 production of Richard II. I don’t mean to come off like an ass but, jeez. there are so many ways to deliver a threat. I wish more actors would allow Shakespeare to help them by simply trusting the language to give them what they need as opposed to bellowing and flailing about. Hopefully, this one gets better. Rant over. :)

     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
  5. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Cheers!

    Following our Zoom reading of Errors on March 22, I want to do an e-mail survey of the group regarding Covid vaccinations. Perhaps we can resume real time readings with fully vaccinated readers only, if the group is comfortable with that.

    Error was a fascination of Shakespeare's age, in a variety of forms and meanings, memorably personified in Spenser's Fairie Queene, half-woman, half-serpent, spouting Catholic dogma! This illustration is by Paradin, 1557:

    [​IMG]

    French Emblems: Pictura of Paradin, Claude: Devises heroïques (1551): INEXTRICABILIS ERROR.

    The Comedy of Errors is a comedy of mistaken identities which, curiously, opens with the one character who knows exactly who he is throughout the play, and he's had enough of his life. That's the father of the twins, Egeon, who opens the play with his long tale of woe, losing his wife and both of his sons, fruitlessly wandering the seas in search of them, arriving here in Ephesus and immediately condemned to die at sunset for being from Syracuse. The campy BBC version has the whole town sobbing uncontrollably as they listen to him tell his story.. And, although he disappears in the text until the final scene, the BBC version brings him back in brief, wordless cameos throughout the production, keeping his frame story fresh in the viewers' minds.

    Anitpholus of Syracuse tells us as soon as we meet him that he has lost himself searching for his twin, concluding his drop-of-water speech with:

    So I, to find a mother and a brother,
    In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself.

    As Adriana welcomes him into her house as her husband, and to spend the night, he wonders if he was married to her in a dream, or if he was in a dream as he ponders this. His reality gets increasingly challenged as he walks the streets of Ephesus and finds:

    There's not a man I meet but doth salute me
    As if I were their well-acquainted friend;
    And every one doth call me by my name.
    Some tender money to me; some invite me;
    Some other give me thanks for kindnesses;
    Some offer me commodities to buy:
    Even now a tailor call'd me in his shop
    And show'd me silks that he had bought for me,
    And therewithal took measure of my body.

    IV, 3

    He finds himself in a strange town where everybody acts as if they have known him all his life. He resolves the problem in his mind by deciding that the whole town is bewitched, full of "nimble jugglers . . . dark-working sorcerers . . . soul killing witches . . .," and of course that would explain everything.

    The lone reference to America in Shakespeare is in Errors. Dromio of Syracuse is telling his master of the kitchen maid to Adriana who claims him as her husband:
    Marry, sir, she's the kitchen wench and all grease;
    and I know not what use to put her to but to make a
    lamp of her and run from her by her own light. I
    warrant, her rags and the tallow in them will burn a
    Poland winter: if she lives till doomsday,
    she'll burn a week longer than the whole world. . .
    No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip:
    she is spherical, like a globe; I could find out
    countries in her.

    Antipholus of Syracuse: In what part of her body stands Ireland?

    Dromio of Syracuse: Marry, in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs. . .

    Antipholus of Syracuse: Where Spain?

    Dromio of Syracuse: Faith, I saw it not; but I felt it hot in her breath.

    Antipholus of Syracuse.: Where America, the Indies?

    Dromio of Syracuse: Oh, sir, upon her nose all o'er embellished with
    rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich
    aspect to the hot breath of Spain; who sent whole
    armadoes of caracks to be ballast at her nose.

    Antipholus of Syracuse: Where stood Belgia, the Netherlands?

    Dromio of Syracuse: Oh, sir, I did not look so low

    III, 2


    Antipholus of Ephesus is more enraged than confused at what is happening around him. He grew up in this city, knows everybody, has an established reputation in business, and suddenly everybody around him seems to be lying to him.

    Both Dromios have been beaten regularly by their masters, and both routinely and wittily protest, although they know how far they can go. Dromio of Ephesus is the worse off and verbally gives at least as good as he gets:
    Antipholus of Ephesus: Thou whoreson, senseless villain!

    Dromio of Ephesus: I would I were senseless, sir, that I might not feel
    your blows.

    Antipholus of Ephesus: Thou art sensible in nothing but blows, and so is an
    ass.

    Dromio of Ephesus: I am an ass, indeed; you may prove it by my long
    ears. I have served him from the hour of my
    nativity to this instant, and have nothing at his
    hands for my service but blows. When I am cold, he
    heats me with beating; when I am warm, he cools me
    with beating; I am waked with it when I sleep;
    raised with it when I sit; driven out of doors with
    it when I go from home; welcomed home with it when
    I return; nay, I bear it on my shoulders, as a
    beggar wont her brat; and, I think when he hath
    lamed me, I shall beg with it from door to door.

    IV, 4


    In the primary source for the play, Plautus' Menaechmi, the characters corresponding to the Dromios are freed at the end of the play; in Shakespeare they stay slaves.

    I noted in the last notes the mercantile nature of Ephesus and the wide variety of currencies referenced in the play. Kent Cartwright, in the his introduction to the Arden edition, writes "Errors is saturated with merchants . . ." and notes that the frame story of the threatened execution arises from a trade war between Ephesus and Syracuse, the gold chain and who's got it and who pays for it is central to the plot, and an international trader impatient to get paid and set sail triggers the crisis in the play's action.

    Be well,
    Steve


















     
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  6. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    [​IMG]

    Prime has the BBC version on perpetual stream. People balk at Roger Daltrey's goofball take on the twins but to me it's one of this version's hallmarks.
     
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  7. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Hampshire
  8. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
  9. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    from our group's biology prof emeritus:
    Hi Steve,
    This might be worth sharing with the group, especially given the free
    option: Home - Dream .
    An article on the production in the current NY Times is at:
    ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ Sprinkled With High-Tech Fairy Dust

    My V-day, two weeks after the last dose of vaccine, administered in the
    overflow parking lot for a horse racing track, is the equinox. I hope
    you and Rita have already or will soon celebrate your V-days.
    Best,
    Peter
     
  10. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    Thanks, Steve. This aspect of it looks intriguing:

    Up to 2,000 audience members for each performance can become part of the show, and will be invited to guide Puck through the forest. Onscreen, the chosen spectators will appear as a cloud of tiny fireflies: By using their mouse, trackpad or finger on the screen of a smart device, they will be able to move their firefly around the screen, and Puck will follow their lead through the virtual space.

    “Without the fireflies — the audience — Puck wouldn’t be going anywhere,” said E.M. Williams, who plays the role. “The audience are very much the fuel, the energy, of the show.”

    The RSC site claims that you can book free tickets too, as an audience member only (not a direct participant "firefly"). I'm having problems with that on my desktop, though (could be an ad-block issue).
     
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  11. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    I was unable to make a donation, although I did get a free ticket and watched the show.
    This is much more about technology than Shakespeare. I stayed with it thinking I was watching a technically well-done but only occasionally involving CGI production. But there's a kind of fourth wall moment late in the proceedings that sheds a whole new light on things, and is worth hanging around for.
     
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  12. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    Cool. I'll try booking again with my cell. Thanks again.
     
  13. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Greetings!

    We are finalizing a date for the final and last and at least fourth time, but this one is set in stone pixels
    Monday, April 5, 6 pm, The Comedy of Errors

    This may be our last pandemic reading. I think we can reasonably hope to return to our live readings in midsummer with The Dream.

    We all wish Waights and his wife a safe and smooth transition, and look forward to him rejoining our readings before too long.

    That RSC production of The Dream that Peter alerted us to is much more about technology than Shakespeare. I stayed with it thinking I was watching a technically well-done but only occasionally involving computer graphics production. But there's a kind of fourth wall moment late in the proceedings that sheds a whole new light on things, and is worth hanging around for.


    Kent Cartwright (Arden) makes a couple of intriguing references to The Uncanny in Errors. The Uncanny is not simply the mysterious – it is the strangely familiar, the eerily familiar, the familiar in contexts that are unsettling or taboo.

    What a way for a play to open! – with a world-weary Egeon pleading with the Duke to execute him and end his miseries:
    Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall
    And by the doom of death end woes and all.

    The second word in the play is 'Solinus,' the Duke's name, never repeated.

    The Duke's attitude toward Egeon grows more sympathetic as Egeon begins to “speak my griefs unspeakable,” reflected in how the Duke addresses him:
    “Merchant of Syracuse” line 3
    “old man” line 96
    “Hapless Egeon” line 140

    “pleasing punishment” – Egeon tells of his wife's pregnancy with the twins, and how she was “almost at fainting under/ The pleasing punishment that women bear . . .” The pains of pregnancy and childbirth are ascribed to Eve's punishment for The Fall: “In sorrow shall thou bring forth children.” Genesis

    Throughout the play, the Anitpholuses keep sending the Dromios off on errands, which inevitably wind up increasing the level of confusion and getting a Domio beaten or reprimanded for reasons he doesn't understand.
    II, 2
    Dromio of Syracuse: Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,
    When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme
    nor reason?
    Well, sir, I thank you.
    Antipholus of Syracuse: Thank me, sir, for what?
    Dromio of Syracuse: Marry, sir, for this something that you gave me for nothing.
    Antipholus of Syracuse: I'll make you amends next, to give you nothing for
    something.

    Antipholus of Ephesus does not appear until Act III.

    The fart jokes in III, 1 are usually accompanied by some stage business:
    Antipholus of Ephesus: Go fetch me something: I'll break ope the gate.
    Dromio of Syracuse: [Within] Break any breaking here, and I'll break your
    knave's pate.
    Dromio of Ephesus: A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind,
    Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.
    Dromio of Syracuse: [Within] It seems thou want'st breaking: out upon
    thee, hind!

    After being shut out of his house, Antipholus of Ephesus leads Angelo and Balthazar to the house of the concubine, whom he describes as "pretty and witty, wild and yet, too, gentle." One translation of the primary source play for Errors has the corresponding character say, "I've wined, I've dined, I've concubined." (Plautus, Segal)

    Antipholus of Syracuse: If every one knows us and we know none,
    'Tis time, I think, to trudge, pack and be gone. III, 2

    backfriend = secret enemy
    gossip = godparent
    gossip's feast = celebration of a birth or a christening

    Call for readers a week from Monday!

    Be well,
    Steve


    Victor Borge -- Phonetic Punctuation!
     
  14. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    Well, I can't find a decent thing to watch so it's back to The Bard - via Julie Taymor:

    [​IMG]
    Titus (1999)

    While I love watching Tony Hopkins in Chekhov, Merchant Ivory Films and various period drama productions, his Shakespeare isn't really for me. IMO, his chief strength lies in broad emotional displays and buried malevolence. Shakespeare favors the eloquent deliverer. It's why novices and drama queens fare so poorly with it. Luckily, the fictional Titus Andronicus is a Roman nobleman who distinguishes himself on the battlefield. So Hopkins can have at it with aplomb here, though it's not a great part. I'd love to see his Julius Caesar. Far more colors (imo) in that one. Jessica Lange, from what I remember, gives a credible performance. Alan Cumming is memorable, but overshadowed, as are all by Taymor's Byzantine production. It's the real star of this one. Too bad it's all over the place.
     
  15. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    On this adaption I'm with Slavoj Žižek, who said of many of the Criterion Collection titles, "Often, the extra features are better than the film!" The Making of Titus is far more intriguing - in terms of tackling Shakespeare, acting and general prep for a big film production - than the final product:



    Recommended.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
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  16. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    I'll have to take a look at that making-of film -- I thought Taymor's Titus was successful, which makes for a riveting but very uncomfortable experience. She gave a freer rein to the potential visual ghastliness of the play than I thought was necessary. But it was a powerful presentation, and I was fully engaged.
    I was less thrilled with Taymor's Tempest. I loved Mirren, but much of the production seemed gimmicky and what little plot the play has never seemed to rise about the episodic. Left me unsatisfied.
     
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  17. The Dark Elf

    The Dark Elf Curmudgeonly Wordwraith

    Location:
    Michigan
    Do yourself a favor, see the film Richard III (1995) with Sir Ian McKellen, who plays the lead with such sly malevolence that it is in places terrifying.
     
  18. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    I agree about Titus. Thought it was exactly that, successful but uncomfortable to be sure.
    We like her Tempest more than You. For me, Mirren picks the whole thing up and carries it on her back. The special effects were great for me, nice change of pace. Ben Whitshaw was fine.
    My wife has seen other versions, but she was especially moved by Mirren's speeches, especially at the end.
     
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  19. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Seen it a couple of times, wonderful! Setting it in a counter-factual Nazi England worked incredibly well. A great film.

    McKellan's Richard III

     
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  20. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Same speech by Olivier:

     
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  21. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    The Tempest is my favorite play (five days a week, the other two are for Rosalind), but I'm still waiting for that perfect screen version. I found Peter Greenway's Prospero's Books unwatchable, never have made it all the way through despite trying. I very much like the BBC version, which was modestly produced, more like a stage play, but it's a solid reading of the complete text, well acted, and features some wonderful dancing by the spirits in the pageants. Definitely worth seeing. My favorite is Derek Jarman's film, very quirky, I'm tempted to say funky. Non-Shakespearean actors in key roles, campy, had me from the get-go and kept me for the whole ride! Jarman humanizes a very stylized play, I thought it was brilliant. But without question, not for all tastes!



     
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  22. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    "On Midsummer Day 1964, Shakespeare received his largest British television audience to date when over 3.8 million homes tuned in to the independent channels to see Benny Hill play Bottom in an all-star Associated-Rediffusion production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ITV’s first major in-house production of Shakespeare..." full article


    A Midsummer Night's Dream (1964, Joan Kemp-Welch)
     
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  23. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Farewell Ephesus, Hello Athens

    It's so good to see folks from the reading group, even if it's only on screen!

    We had a total of ten readers for The Comedy of Errors, the number varying slightly throughout the reading. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, begun by checking in with each other, then on to the play's opening as a seeming tragedy, then flirting with farce but speeding through an intricately plotted and cleverly spun old style comedy. The Errors built into the play were compounded by the seemingly large number of lines whose meaning "has never been satisfactorily explained." Adriana is great early character, a spirited forerunner of Rosalind, Portia, Imogene . . .

    We are optimistic that our next reading, late July or August, will mark our return to real life readings with A Midsummer Night's Dream. We'll monitor the situation as the months go by.

    Be well! Hope to see you in the flesh at our next reading!
     
  24. NickySee

    NickySee NickyBoo

    Location:
    College Park, GA
    Steve, are these notes from online readings? If so, could you leave a link? I'm a bit puzzled about the source of these notices. Thanks.

    Nice 13 part series by Ronald Harwood about the history of Theater titled, All The World's A Stage:


    full playlist
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
  25. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Forum Resident

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Yes, these are notes from my reading group, held for decades at my house but on-line over the past year. We may be doing hybrid readings in the future -- our host for the on-line readings has been a professor emeritus of biology from Amherst who's been stranded in Berkeley during the plague, but will soon return to the east coast and wants to continue as an on-line reader. If you'd like to join him as an on-line reader, pm or e-mail me your contact e-mail and I'll add you to our mailing list. Fabulous group! Actors, writers, linguists . . .

    Have you ever seen this, beautifully filmed vignettes:


     
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