All The World's A Stage - the Shakespeare thread

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

  1. MichaelH

    MichaelH Forum Resident

    I can't believe on The Chase tonight noone knew who the merchant was in the merchant of Venice. The chaser said Shylock who at least is in the play, but the other people were guessing Iago or Prospero. Made me smack my forehead in disgust at these people who don't know Shakespeare.
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  2. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    There's an episode about Merchant in the BBC comedy series Upstart Crow, and Will has to keep explaining to everybody that Antonio is the Merchant, and everybody keeps telling him, "Nobody's ever going to get that!"
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  3. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
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  4. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Cheers! [My reading group] is still slated to resume our live readings on Monday, June 27, at 6 pm, Pericles, Prince of Tyre

    The play's Pericles is not the Athenian statesman, general and orator. In almost all other versions of this old story, the hero is named Apollonius. Shakespeare may have taken the name Pericles from Plutarch's Lives, or the name may have been suggested by Pyrocles, one of the heroes of Phillip Sydney's Arcadia, a popular play from the 1580s.

    The principal source of the play is Book 8 of John Gower's Confessio Amantis (1393), and Gower says it comes from a 12th century account by Godfrey of Viterbo. The earliest written version is from the ninth century and the tale itself is said to date back to the 400s. The character of Gower provides the frame for the play, in the way the Chorus does in Henry V. Gower's introductions open the play's five acts (the Acts were F3 divisions, the Q1 text has only scene divisions), and he speaks a second time in Acts IV and V, as well as the play's Epilogue. Gower uses antiquated English words and usually speaks in octosyllabic couplets to emphasize the sense of an old tale being retold, taking it out of the realm of a 'mirror up to nature' into the worlds of fable and romance, ". . . to sing a song that old was sung."

    The Quarto seems so obviously flawed to most that there have been many tinkerings with the text over the centuries, so we are likely to find significant variations in our editions. The Oxford edition is notable for drawing extensively from Wilkins' Painful Adventures of Pericles, Prince of Tyre on the assumption that his novelization of the play contains passages from the play as it was performed. On the other extreme, the Cambridge edition assumes Shakespeare wrote the whole thing and the First Quarto is an authoritative text, so it adheres closely to Q1. The Arden edition assumes Q1 is a bad Quarto, and embraces (and documents) many of the changes suggested by scholars over the centuries to make the text's meaning clearer and its lines more lyrical. It appears that the last time we read this I reprinted sections from the Oxford edition that extended and fleshed out the Marina recognition scene using passages from Wilkin's novel -- I'll reevaluate that this time around.

    Following the Marina recognition and just before the goddess Diana reveals herself, Pericles hears the music of the spheres. Nobody else hears it. Does the director play music there or not?

    The Arden edition notes the recurring theme of fathers and nubile daughters. In the bizarre opening, the powerful King of Antioch, Antiochus, appears on stage surrounded by numerous skulls of past suitors of his daughter. Pericles has come to woo the (unnamed) princess, prepared to risk his life for her, and in order to do so he has to solve the (relatively transparent) riddle posed by the King.

    PERICLES reads: "I am no viper, yet I feed
    On mother's flesh which did me breed.
    I sought a husband, in which labour
    I found that kindness in a father:
    He's father, son, and husband mild;
    I mother, wife, and yet his child.
    How they may be, and yet in two,
    As you will live, resolve it you."

    I, i

    The answer to the riddle is that the king and his daughter are having an incestuous relationship, so it's not clear if the beheaded suitors failed to answer the question or succeeded in doing so. Pericles lets Antiochus know that he knows the answer but will not reveal it publicly, which doesn't stop Antiochus from ordering Pericles killed.

    In the next act we see a healthy father-daughter relationship between the King of Pentapolis, Simonides, and his beautiful daughter, Thaisa. Knights from around the Mediterranean have assembled to compete for her hand, and the (by then impoverished) Pericles enters and wins the competition, and marries Thaisa.

    SIMONIDES: It pleaseth me so well, that I will see you wed;
    And then with what haste you can get you to bed.

    II, v

    And then in Act V, when Pericles first meets Marina, he is struck by how much she resembles his beautiful, long-lost and presumed dead wife, her mother:
    PERICLES: I am great with woe, and shall deliver weeping.
    My dearest wife was like this maid, and such a one
    My daughter might have been: my queen's square brows;
    Her stature to an inch; as wand-like straight;
    As silver-voiced; her eyes as jewel-like
    And cased as richly; in pace another Juno;
    Who starves the ears she feeds, and makes them hungry,
    The more she gives them speech. Where do you live?

    V, i

    The second recognition scene reveals one of the devotees of Diana in her temple in Ephesus to be his wife Thaisa. It is clearly something of an anti-climax, following the pwerful Marina recognition scene, and it is dealt with quickly:

    PERICLES: The voice of dead Thaisa!

    THAISA: That Thaisa am I, supposed dead
    And drown'd.

    PERICLES: Immortal Dian!

    THAISA: Now I know you better.
    When we with tears parted Pentapolis,
    The king my father gave you such a ring.

    [Shows a ring]

    PERICLES: This, this: no more, you gods! your present kindness
    Makes my past miseries sports: you shall do well,
    That on the touching of her lips I may
    Melt and no more be seen. O, come, be buried
    A second time within these arms.

    V, iii

    Call for readers in a month or so. Looking forward to seeing you all again!

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  5. NickySee

    NickySee Forum Resident

    New York, NY
    Joe Papp in Five Acts (2012, Tracie Holder, Karen Thorsen)
    Affiliate PBS stations round the country are streaming it for free. PBSSoCal is currently making it widely available.
    For anyone unaware of Papp, he founded and developed Free Shakespeare in the Park (New York City) which continues to put on 2 professional productions every summer (at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park) to this day.

    The 1978 production of The Taming of the Shrew featuring Meryl Streep and Raul Julia was/is a fine example of the kind of high profile free plays available to the public -

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2022
  6. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Yes, indeed! Stopped in there Thursday on our way back from a mini-vacation in Carmel Valley (my wife's friend's family's summer house).

    Shakespeare Society of America

    Left with a copy of OED editor CT Onion's classic A Shakespeare Glossary; a beautiful oversized Dover paperback with full page illustrations by Rackham, Dulac, Robinsons and other notable illustrators of the Bard; and a striking print of Will and notable contemporaries in the Mermaid Tavern.

    Quite a remarkable collection of all kinds of Shakesperiana, and an extraordinary background story of the organization (they built a 1/2 size Globe replica in SoCal and presented two cycles of the complete canon to a combined audience of 500,000. Terry, the administrator, will tell you all about it and about if you ask. A special place!
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  7. sidewinder572

    sidewinder572 Forum Resident

    Saint Paul, MN
    I watched ‘Slings and Arrows’ recently. Incredible.
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  8. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    My all-time favorite Shakespeare-themed TV show! Loved all three seasons.
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  9. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Our [local group's] reading of Pericles is a mere two weeks away, Monday, June 27, 6 pm, same old place. [Do you plan to join us for our first live reading since December 2019?]

    Marina – like Hamlet – is the object of a murder plot who is rescued by the out-of-the-blue arrival of previously unknown pirates. The Arden edition cites Lezra: "By the time of Hamlet and Pericles pirates are established agents of unexpected intrusion in the plays . . ."

    Although the attraction between Pericles and Thaisa is strong, they exchange few lines with each other. Many productions make up for this by dramatizing their increasing passion during their dance together, which is ended by her father with cries of "Unclasp, unclasp."

    Some of the liveliest lines of the play come from the brothel keepers. Early on they discuss (with gallows humor) the need to get new talent:
    PANDER: Search the market narrowly, Mytilene is full of gallants. We lost too much money this mart by being too wenchless.
    BAWD: We were never so much out of creatures. We have but poor three, and they can do no more than they can do; and they with continual action are even as good as rotten . . .
    PANDER: Thou sayest true . . . The poor Transylvanian is dead that lay with the little baggage.
    BOULT: Ay, she quickly poop’d him, she made him roast-meat for worms. But I’ll go search the market.
    IV, ii

    Later, we find Marina's clients leaving the bawdy house and headed for church after listening to her appeals to their virtue, much to the distress of the Bawd, the Pander, and their man Boult. But when Marina confronts Boult about the unworthiness of his work, he gives as good as he gets:
    What would you have me do? Go to the wars, would you? Where a man may serve seven years for the loss of a leg, and have not money enough in the end to buy him a wooden one?
    IV, vi

    We learn in the opening of II, iv that the incestuous couple from the first scene – Antiochus and his daughter -- have been struck down by the gods in the same way the biblical Antiochus meets his fate in Macabees:

    HELICANUS: . . . Even in the height and pride of all his glory,
    When he was seated in a chariot
    Of an inestimable value, and his daughter with him,
    A fire from heaven came and shrivell’d up
    Their bodies, even to loathing; for they so stunk,
    That all those eyes [that] ador’d them ere their fall
    Scorn now their hand should give them burial.
    Pericles: II, iv

    " . . . the God of Israel, struck him with an incurable and invisible blow. As soon as he stopped speaking, he was seized with a pain in his bowels . . . swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of the stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. Because of his intolerable stench no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven."
    2 Macabees 9

    Antiochus (in the play) would have been the ruler over all locations in the play (Antioch, Tyre, Tarsus, Ephesus and Mytilene) with possible exception of Pentapolis (whose location is debated).

    Following the apparent death of Thaisa, Pericles decides to bring the newborn Marina to Tarsus, thinking that the infant would not survive the longer journey to Tyre: "there [Tarsus] I'll leave it/ At careful nursing . . ." III, i
    As quickly as he can, he needs to get the baby to a wet nurse, commonly employed by the upper classes in a pre-formula world.

    Best wishes to all,

    John Martyn -- Over The Hill (1973)

  10. cgw

    cgw Forum Resident

    Upstate NY
    Shakespeare in the park last night.
    Antony and Cleopatra
    3 hours
    Pretty long when you know how it ends. (and I forgot bug spray)
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  11. Pangurban

    Pangurban Well-Known Member

    United States
    Final presentations for my Shakespeare class on Saturday. I’ll be doing:
    Julius Caesar IV,iii - Brutus in the tent scene with Cassius
    Measure for Measure II,ii - Angelo monologue, after the interview with Isabella
    Conedy of Errors III,ii - A of S monologue wherein he declares his love for Luciana
  12. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    That one's a doozy!
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  13. MichaelH

    MichaelH Forum Resident

    I would love to go to one of those, but I don't think they have them in Bakersfield.
  14. cgw

    cgw Forum Resident

    Upstate NY
    Plays indoors would be better. But I walk there from my house. Have to go.
  15. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    saw it earlier this month. Great film. It was sweet to See that filthy Robert Moses lose against Papp
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  16. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    The Shakespeare reading group I host is doing The Winter's Tale in September, so I'll do my usual four readings (Arden/ Oxford. Folger and No Fear) of the play and lots of supplementary related readings (Hazlett, Bloom, Auden, Garber, etc.) Saw Antony Sher's Leontes yesterday, great interpretation of an almost impossible role. He made the rapidity and intensity of his jealousy more believable by emphasizing his enthusiasm for the jealousy more than the anger at his wife and friend. Wonderful Autolycus in the production!
  17. Pangurban

    Pangurban Well-Known Member

    United States
    A couple of years ago, I worked Leontes in the scene where he commissions Camillo to kill Bohemia. I’ve pieced together a solid monologue from that scene.

    Our reading group finished up Henry IV Part 2 the other night. We read once a month, half a play at a time. Next month is Macbeth. I’ll start with No Fear, go to Arden for some several scenes that I’m particularly interested in reading when we get together, read a Goddard essay, and possibly listen to a podcast. Asimov’s text was recently recommended to me; if I find the time, I’ll take a look at that. Finally, I usually watch a video production. For Macbeth, I’ve got access to Sher, Patrick Stewart, and it looks like Nicol Williamson in the 80s BBC version. I’d also be willing to rent the most recent one by the Coen Brothers. Do you have a recommendation, if I were to watch only one?
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  18. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    I can't pick a single version -- each has its merits. Don't leave out Polanski's, and if you have time the weird version by Orson Welles (in ManTan) is worth watching.

    Last edited: Aug 5, 2022
  19. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    No, the ManTan was his Othello.

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  20. Pangurban

    Pangurban Well-Known Member

    United States
    I remember that one.

    What I really like is Orson Welles’ Othello, probably for the backstory of how it was made more than anything. I really like his commitment to finishing the project.
  21. MichaelH

    MichaelH Forum Resident

    A version of Macbeth I wouldn't recommend is the Michael Fassbinder one from 2015. It had a lot of Shakespeare's dialogue, but the way it was filmed was just not good in my opinion. Way too funky.
  22. MichaelH

    MichaelH Forum Resident

    I'm still hoping that last year's tragedy of Macbeth will be available to rent on DVD soon or will show up free on TV sometime.
  23. MichaelH

    MichaelH Forum Resident

    Saw Chimes at Midnight for the first time on TCM tonight and was mostly impressed by Welles's performance of Falstaff. It was like he was born to play the iconic role. The actor who played Prince Hal was quite good as well, but really it was all about Falstaff. It's a shame the battle scenes weren't anything to write home about, because everything else about the film was really well done, from the speeches to the performances it was all very good if not excellent. For my first viewing I was quite impressed indeed, and I'd definitely recommend it for Shakespeare fans.
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  24. Steve Minkin

    Steve Minkin Senior Member

    Healdsburg CA
    Here was my take on my first viewing of CHIMES, from an older post:


    Orson Welles' "Fallstaff" film, which I had never seen before, understandable since it was unavailable for most of the decades of my life.

    This is a masterpiece, one of the greatest of all the Shakespeare productions on film, and one of Welles' very best. [He said Chimes at Midnight was his favorite film, Citizen Kane notwithstanding. "If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I would offer up. I think it's because it is to me the least flawed; let me put it that way. It is the most successful for what I tried to do. I succeeded more completely in my view with that than with anything else."] It is as quirky as his Macbeth and Othello, but much more fully realized than either of those. I've only seen it once, but it reminds me of nothing less than the Brooks/ Scofield "Lear," my favorite of all Shakespeares on film – stark, visually gorgeous, powerful, idiosyncratic, and brilliantly acted.

    This is retelling of Henry IV parts 1 & 2 (plus tiny bits of Richard II, Merry Wives, and Henry V), with Falstaff in the foreground and the political drama as the landscape. John Gielguld as Prince Hal's father, Henry IV, is magisterial in the role. His gravitas is weighty enough to move the historical plot single-handedly, although it doesn't fall entirely on him. Some of King Henry's key speeches are left more or less intact – 'uneasy lies the head that wears a crown' and his dying to advice to Harry to start a foreign war to take the heat off his domestic problems (even as we do today). Margaret Rutherford and Jeanne Moreau give life to the tavern/ bawdy house, and other accomplished actors fill out the cast. And Welles was born to play Falstaff.

    Considering Welles never had more than 180 extras working for him at any one time, the big scenes are extraordinary illusions as well as masterpieces of film and visual art. The Battle of Shrewsbury (you'll swear there are thousands of soldiers) and the brothel dance scene both sizzle with life and seem immense.

    Hal's rejection of Falstaff (after his coronation) still stings, but there is a wonderful moment in this production where we can see Hal's view of Fallstaff sink before our eyes. Following Hal's killing of Hotspur ("O Harry, thou hadst robbed me of my youth"), Falstaff makes the outrageous claim that Hotspur rose again after the Prince thought he killed him, and it was actually Falstaff who killed the rebel. It's a comic scene, everybody knows Falstaff always lies about these things, but in this production it is also clear that Hal sees it as disrespectful to Percy and to the seriousness of the implications for England, and he looks at Falstaff with obvious contempt.

    I love this film! If you're into Welles or Shakespeare, it's a must see. If you're not, you still might want to check it out.

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  25. KevinP

    KevinP Forum introvert

    I wrote this on Facebook after viewing it:
    So I saw Kurzel's Macbeth tonight...

    In starting this review by citing what I liked about it, I'm reminded of the adage of if the photography is the best thing about a film, then it's not a good movie. While the movie wasn't terrible, the photography was, indeed, the best thing about it.

    Duncan's second son, Donalbain, was cut entirely from the script, not, of course, for the first time ever. But then add the first scene (spoiler alert) of Macbeth and his wife burying their only child (wordlessly, of course, since Shakespeare didn't write this, but it does address a textual bug) and what we have is a triad of father-children relationships (Macbeth, Banquo and Macduff) reminiscent of the three father-son pairings in Hamlet (Hamlet, Polonius and Fortinbras), though providing less tidy contrasts. Children are, indeed, a recurring motif in this movie.

    The treatment of Lady Macbeth is an interesting one. Traditionally, after the first murder, she is kept in the dark of her husband's further deeds yet not totally unaware of them. Here she is shown to witness the slaughter of the Macduffs. What were once Macbeth's asides are now him speaking to her, making her even more aware of what's happening but with no lines to respond with. She is, then, a passive observer, not a role we're used to seeing her as, and it is this that ultimately breaks her.
    Yet those further murders seem less of a paranonia-induced killing spree and more of isolated events.

    The film begins with a battle scene, and it is indeed more of a 'battle scene' rather than some scenes of a battle as in other versions. It's very stylistic (replete with pomo slow-mo), but if it's played up here (it occurs only as recounted dialogue in Shakespeare and only as sound effects in Polanski's version) the final battle is downplayed.

    Part of that is the whole Birnam Wood issue. I realize the moving-wood element was a letdown to many people, as it was to the high school student I once was. Shakespeare tells us this prophecy that we know must somehow come true, and when we see it's just soldiers carrying branches, it's disappointing. Unfortunately, this is the second recent adaptation that tries to redress this and fails. (To this film's credit, the Australian attempt was far worse. I audibly groaned at that one.) I won't reveal how it's handled here, but it has a lot to do with the photography, and in fact the desired visual effect may have driven the rewrite.

    Ultimately, what I dislike most of this film is the delivery of the dialogue. Rarely does anyone shout or speak above normal conversation level. I kept expecting some event to trigger a contrast, like shouting and passionate dialogue following the first murder, but no, it stays monotonous throughout. Lead actors often modulate paranoid anger into world-weariness for the 'Tomorrow and tomorrow' speech: here, it's just a continuation.

    Bottom line: Although nice to see the play back in ancient Scotland, it suffers from that which undoes too many modern adaptations: interpretation at the expense of storytelling.

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