In The Winter’s Tale, much like in Pericles (but not SO much like Cymbeline), we have a question of protagonist, hero. Who is this play about? If we’re talking main character here, then Leontes is probably your answer.
[EXPLICIT CONTENT, ADULT LANGUAGE AND SOPHOMORIC SEX HUMOR AHEAD… SKIP IF EASILY OFFENDED.]
Eric Partridge, in his study of and dictionary for the bawdy in the Bard, Shakespeare’s Bawdy, has this to say about our play: “Cymbeline in many ways resembles The Winter’s Tale, which is slightly less bawdy but rather more sexual. They are of much the same quantitative order as All’s Well.” (Shakespeare’s Bawdy, Partridge, Eric. New York: Routledge Classics, 2001; page 58).
Well, All’s Well’s got some dirt, but isn’t that dirty. Cymbeline, pretty much the same…let’s see if Partridge is right.
Now, I don’t know how long it’s been, but as long as I can remember, I’ve thought/been told that the order of the last few plays by Shakespeare, all romances, goes Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest (with the fourth romance, Pericles, preceding Cymbeline’s predecessor, Coriolanus). But now I’m discovering that there are some dissenting views.
So. The last day. No matter how long a conference, three- or five-day, it always feels like a hangover that last morning. Exhaustion and information overload takes its toll. And so it was with day three (Wednesday) of the Wooden O Symposium at the Utah Shakespeare Festival on the campus of Southern Utah University.
It’s August and a Friday, which means a new summer blockbuster is being released… but honestly in all the business of the week, I haven’t a clue as to what’s opening…but that doesn’t matter. I’m here to talk about what does: Independent Shakespeare Company’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, running through September 3 in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park…for FREE.
OK, this may be a short one (at least initially): it’s post midnight, so technically it’s now Wednesday, but I’m still in Tuesday’s wake-cycle. I’m going to try to get some stuff keyed in before: 1) I fall asleep; 2) I forget stuff.
NOTE: This week’s news digest is text-only (no podcast)…
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes Hiddleston and Branagh, Shylock and Othello, aging fairies, and reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.
Here I am in Cedar City, Utah, for the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Wooden O Symposium at Southern Utah University (enough Utahs in there for you?). Check out the promotional poster in my hotel’s window:
In The Winter’s Tale, we get another male lover who fears cuckoldry. Leontes follows a line of others: Ford (Merry Wives, completely comic), Claudio (Much Ado, comic with tragic tinges), Othello (just plain tragic), and Posthumus (Cymbeline, ditto). A couple of months back, I wrote a paper on military homosociality and the fear of cuckoldry in Much Ado and Othello. Tomorrow, I deliver a talk on it at the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Wooden O Symposium (and nervous as hell, to be completely honest with you…but that’s besides the point).
So the timing’s right to take a look at this concept (briefly before I catch my flight)…
The Winter’s Tale has, arguably, the most famous stage direction in history: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” Now, I wasn’t around in Shakespeare’s day, but legend has it that bear-baiting bears were used, or possibly a man in one of the deceased bear-baiting animal skins. Now, in a film, you could actually have him pursued by a bear (though that BBC version opts for the man-in-a-bear-suit route…with one of the most ridiculously fake bear suits I’ve ever seen). But in a theater? With real-life audience members (who you would like not to become late audience members)?
Now, as part of a BBC Radio show, actor David Tennant discussed the problem for “Just a Minute”…pretty entertaining and a great summing up of the issue:
It’s now August and a Friday, which means a new summer blockbuster is being released: The Dark Tower which might be cool (dig Idris Elba, but man, those early reviews have been BRU-tal…anyways…)…but that’s not what we’re talking about today. Today, we take a look at one of the only widely released films of The Winter’s Tale, the BBC Complete Works entry from 1981.
As I’m re-reading The Winter’s Tale (while in my final days in Ashland, watching some really good Shakespeare, and while attempting to write a paper on King Lear with a medical diagnosis of narcissism–the former successfully and happily; the latter…not so much), I’m noticing some words coming up with more frequency than I expected: “fardel” and “bear.”