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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 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Excellent series. It's a program for actors, though. While Barton and members of the RSC examine the text with extreme scrutiny the emphasis is on performance. Casual or curious Shakespeare fans will, undoubtedly, want to see a full production.
     
  2. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC
    I remember watching that production on TV (mostly because Emma Peel was in it). It was quite good. And at the time, I doubt I knew any of the other actors. Ian Holm’s name would have rung a bell, as I was (and am) a big Pinter fan.

    But at roughly the same time, I saw Peter Brook’s stage version, which was magical.
     
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  3. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Harold Bloom says that Peter Hall version is the ONLY good version on film. Ridiculous.

    Some goodies from William Blake, a heads up from the introduction to the Arden edition of The Dream


    [​IMG]


    Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing

    [​IMG]
    Oberon and Titania on a lily

    [​IMG]

    Richard III battling ghosts

    [​IMG]

    Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 7, lines 21-23: "pity, like a naked new-born babe, / Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubins, horsed / Upon the sightless couriers of the air"
     
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  4. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC
    Alas, there is no film version of the Brook production. There are some photos and snippets on the Net, which don’t do it justice. And apparently someone has a pirated DVD of a filming done during a performance in Japan.

    In 2016 the British Library had an exhibit of the 10 most consequential productions of Shakespeare in history. They included (IIRC) the first production to feature a woman in the cast (Desdemona), one of the Olivier films (Henry V, I think), and Brook’s production. Also included was Mark Rylance’s Twelfth Night.

    I tried to find a complete list but came up empty. I may not have used the magic search term though.
     
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  5. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Be a challenge to substantiate objectively. And then there’s the quick question of qualification. Must Shakespeare’s text be included? Can it apply to any media? These lists are almost always highly subjective and decidedly so.
     
  6. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Mendelssohn was 17 when he wrote the Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream, and 16 years later wrote the Incidental Music to The Dream, including the famous wedding march.

     
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
  7. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
  8. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Steve Hackett was lead guitarist for Genesis, went solo, and did an album of The Dream backed by The Royal Philharmonic

     
  9. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    In 1915, Jean Cocteau planned a Dream at the Cirque Medrano, using their famous clowns as the Rude Mechanicals. Never happened, but Eris Satie's Cinq Grimaces pour "Le songe d'une nuit d'ete" written for the show survive:

     
  10. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Greetings!
    So let's say late July/ early August for a real life, fully vaccinated reading of The Dream at our house, specifics TBA.


    The editor of the Arden edition of The Dream, Bengali writer Sukanta Chaudhuri, is the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore. The Dream virtually disappeared from production at the beginning of the Restoration for about 150 years, although fragments and transmogrifications of the play were staged. Pepys called it 'the most insipid ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life."

    Chaudhuri provides a remarkable survey of productions of The Dream internationally. Every country seems to have staged unique versions of the play, often drawing on local traditions, legends, and theatrics, weaving them into the fabric of the show.

    Of Peter Brook's Dream from Stratford 1970: " . . . the biggest innovation was Sally Jacob's set: an undefined white wall space with ladders, trapezes and catwalks that reflected colour and freed actors' movements. Titania's bower was a huge suspended coloured feather. The set virtually called for acrobatics . . . and rehearsals began with gymnastics and circus tricks."

    The four couples of The Dream remind us of the four couples in the final wedding scene of As You Like It, although the wedding characters in the later play are much more realized and unique. Rosalind and Touchstone have agency (and brilliance), while the Athenians are either old and rigid or young and at the mercy of the forest spirits. Chaudhuri writes that the young lovers "go through a kind of non-coital orgy, turn and turn about."

    There is a kind of triumph of patriarchy in the end, with Oberon getting his changeling boy and Theseus taming his Amazon bride. And the young women – Hermia and Helena – speak not a word in Act V.


    LJ Potts writes that the Bottom-Titania relationship is at the heart of all comedy: "It is a profound revelation of human nature: of the paradox by which the extreme fastidious refinement exists in us side by side with the vulgarest fleshly processes and propensities."

    Rimbaud wrote a poem called Bottom (originally named Metamorphosis), and this is a translation of it:
    BOTTOM
    "Reality being too thorny for my great personality, I found myself nonetheless at my lady's, a big blue-grey bird soaring toward the moldings of the ceiling and dragging my wing through the shadows of the evening.
    At the foot of the counterpane holding her adored jewels and physical masterpieces, I was a big bear with purple gums and fur hoary with sorrow, eyes on the crystal and silver of the sideboards.
    All became shadow and fiery aquarium. In the morning - belligerent June sunrise - I ran through the fields, an ass, braying and brandishing my grief, until the Sabines of the suburbs came to throw themselves upon my withers."

    I love that the Rude Mechanicals all think that stagecraft is so magical that they have to explain to the audience that the lion is not really a lion and nobody actually dies!

    If anybody's planning a vacation for late July or early August and you want to read with us, please let me know the dates involved.

    I've now had TWO dances, infinitely more than I had the entire preceding year. Things are looking up!

    Steve
     
  11. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC
    According to the New York Times, Shakespeare’s Globe will be live-streaming The Dream on June 5. Tickets are GBP10 plus a requested contribution. The only link to the box office I found for this event was through the Times app, but I’m sure it’s somewhere on the Globe site.
     
  12. changeling69

    changeling69 WorldCitizen

    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    Well, of course Willy :) is considered JUSTLY to be the father of English literature and he is to Britain like Dante is to Europe, BUT in high school, I used to fall asleep when our English teacher talked to us about Macbeth, Hamlet........there are only three plays I love by Shakespeare:
    OTHELLO
    JULIUS CAESAR
    ROMEO & JULIETTE.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
  13. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member

    Location:
    NYC
    I love the donkey sounds in the Overture. The rustics theme starts at about 3:00.
     
  14. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    The classroom is probably the worst place to be introduced to Shakespeare. Can you imagine if he tried to become a writer this way? Well, attempting to experience his plays through a book is equally absurd. If you want to instill children with an appreciation for Shakespeare, for goodness sake, take them to a live performance first! Then you can talk unto eternity about it afterward.
     
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  15. changeling69

    changeling69 WorldCitizen

    Location:
    Sydney Australia
    I absolutely agree 100%. I teach ESL English in the E.U. and I always try to take the C2 level kids to plays at the theatre whenever I can :)
     
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  16. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    :tiphat::)
     
  17. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    [​IMG]

    A fine performance of Mendelssohn's Dream interspersed with readings and songs by Kenneth Branagh, Angelika Kirchschlag and Sylvia McNair.
     
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  18. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    YouTubeMusic Edition. (I've had it on shuffle. Tracks from Dream flows quite well with Symphony No. 4.) Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2021
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  19. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    A live Othello on now. Stradford Festival Production -

     
  20. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Wednesday, August 11th is coming into focus based on readers' travels and the expectation that my clubs will reanimate and take their usual spots, leaving me with only Wednesdays. So please pencil in August 11th, or let me know your problem with the date.

    Going to revisit the Michael Hoffman Dream tonight. I guess I didn't much like it the last time I watched, having written this review. Will see if this viewing changes my opinion.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999) – Directed by Michael Hoffman, with Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci, Calista Flockhart. The comedy is set in late 19th century Tuscany, bicycles abound, and the film starts off with great promise by showing, in turn, the three worlds of the play in arrestingly imaginative visuals – the court (a nice mix of stateliness and bluntness), the rude mechanicals (operatic street scenes), and the fairy kingdom (eye-grabbing effects, great first impression).

    Regrettably, it's all downhill after that, notwithstanding some built-in highlights ("Reason and love keep little company nowadays.") Kevin Kline plays a ham and hams it up, and that's how to play Bottom, and he gives the most notable performance in the film even though I wasn't all that taken with it. Anna Friel as Hermia and Dominic West as Lysander give the best performances in the film – and if your standout actors in The Dream are two of the lovers, you're in trouble. With the exception of Friel and West, the actors generally lacked chemistry with each other, the visual effects grow tired, and the production is plagued with several awkward spots where a scene seems to come to a dazed stop.

    There is some unique stuff here, and it's worth seeing at least once; but it's too flawed to be a memorable film.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
  21. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Our return to normalcy is still set for Wednesday, August 11. "Return to normalcy" was the campaign slogan for Warren G Harding in 1920, but we expect to do better than he did.

    This is George Balanchine's Dream for the NYC Ballet company, quite wonderful!

     
  22. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Julie Taymor's Dream is a filmed stage performance. As you might expect, the staging is filled with unexpected wonders, visually startling and propelled by lots of physical action. But – marvelous as all that is -- for me the main reason to see this version is the brilliantly unique Puck rendered by the diminutive actress/ acrobat/ contortionist Kathryn Hunter, who delivers an unforgettable performance in clown whiteface. Not to be missed! Ms. Hunter was the first woman to play Lear, and has also played Richard III.
    Here's a promo for the Taymor Dream:

     
  23. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Here is an RSC page with photos from the Brook white box production:
    https://www.rsc.org.uk/a-midsummer-nights-dream/past-productions/peter-brook-1970-production

    My second viewing of the 1999 Dream (Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer) found me liking it a bit more than the first time, perhaps because I expected the failures in pacing and chemistry. In the film's behalf, it is beautifully filmed (in Tuscany) and the music is well-chosen -- Mendelssohn's Overture and Wedding March, plus songs from Italian operatic composers (Verdi's drinking song from La Traviata is sung on multiple occasions, plus bits of arias from Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini). Having seen a bunch of film Bottoms recently, I think Kline's is one of the weakest, and the not infrequent high praise for his performance to be found in reviews beggars belief.

    Here's a more interesting, lesser known film from 1996, directed by Adrian Noble and based on his Stratford production from 1994:


    The opening scene is nothing special, but the sets are imaginative and arresting after that. The young boy is an invisible witness to the play, perhaps it is his dream, and he tumbles through space from one scene to another. This device started with a Galacian production from 1992, with Alice In Wonderland appearing first as the dreamer of the action and eventually a participant. The same idea was used later the same year in a Japanese production. This production doubles more cast members than I've ever seen for any play, all the fairies seem to be somebody else as well as the major characters. A charming and entertaining production!

    Near the very closing lines of the play, Oberon casts a spell for the three wedding couples ensuring that their offspring bear none of nature's blemishes. The irony is that the myth of Theseus and Hippolyta (most notably recorded in Euripides' tragedy 'Hippolytus') includes the tragedy of their son, Hippolytus. Their son loved hunting and was disgusted by sex and marriage, and so he worshiped Artemis, virgin huntress, and neglected Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Angered by this, Aphrodite causes his stepmother, Phaedra (Theseus' second wife), to fall in love with him. When her love was not reciprocated, Phaedra committed suicide, leaving a note for Theseus that Hippolytus had raped her. This enraged Theseus, who used a wish from his father, Poseidon, to kill his son. Hardly the sunny ending suggested by Oberon, although all he actually promised in the spell is freedom from physical blemishes.

    The Arden edition suggests we use the term 'artisans' instead of 'rude mechanicals' since 'mechanicals' no longer means what it once did and the term only appears once in the text, as a disparaging comment from Robin.

    Reporting from across the pond brings the shocking news that Shakespeare is dead!
    >>The death of William “Bill” Shakespeare from Warwickshire was reported across the world as he held the distinction of being the second person in England to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. His unique name had also added to the interest around him, causing him to trend on social media platforms.

    The unfortunate mixup, according to The Guardian, occurred on May 27 when Noelia Novillo, a newsreader on Canal 26 mourned the death of the “great man” during the 8 pm -10 pm slot. Sharing the news, she said, “We've got the news that has stunned all of us given the greatness of this man. We're talking about William Shakespeare and his death. We'll let you know how and why it happened. As we all know, he's one of the most important writers in the English language — for me, the master. Here he is. He was the first man to get the coronavirus vaccine. He died in England at the age of 81.”<<

    Bright moments,
    Steve
     
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  24. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York, NY
    [​IMG]
    Upstart Crow (2016-2020)
    Satirical Blackadderesque sitcom about how friends, family, historical circumstances, and his arch-rival Robert Greene, who first coined the derogatory term "upstart crow", influenced William Shakespeare to write his famous plays.
    Fun though the canned laughter nearly ruins it. Watching series on Britbox (free 7 Day trial).
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2021
  25. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Location:
    Healdsburg CA
    Pretty good, I thought, although some of my friends are more enthusiastic about the series than I am.

    My favorite is still the old Canadian series Slings and Arrows:

     
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