Category Archives: tragi-comedy/romance

Podcast 143: Pericles — intro, plot synopsis (plus The Hollow Crown)

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This week’s podcast kicks off our discussion of Pericles with an introduction, plot synopsis, and initial thoughts on the play; plus, we take a look at the recent BBC/PBS broadcasts of The Hollow Crown.

Continue reading Podcast 143: Pericles — intro, plot synopsis (plus The Hollow Crown)

Pericles – Act Five: reunited…and it feels so good

Previously on Pericles: In the first act, Pericles leaves Antioch (after figuring out that the princess is having an incestuous relationship with her father), fearing for his life. In Tyre, Pericles worries of the king sending an army to Tyre; his loyal lord Helicanus convinces Pericles to travel. In Tarsus, the governor and his wife, bemoan their drought and failing country, but Pericles saves the day with food. He is welcomed as a hero. The second act begins with Pericles caught in a storm and shipwrecked in Pentapolis. He learns of birthday celebration tournament for the hand of the country’s princess Thaisa, whose hand (and father’s love) our hero wins. Back in Tyre, if Pericles doesn’t return within a year, the lords will name Helicanus king. In the third act, in another storm, Pericles’ daughter is born, but Thaisa dies. The sailors of the ship tell Pericles his wife’s body must be off-shipped. Her body is placed in a chest, and put into the sea. In Ephesus, that chest is discovered by a Lord Cerimon; when they open it, find Thaisa. Cerimon then revives Thaisa. Pericles spends a year in Tarsus with Cleon and Dionyza, decides to return to Tyre, but leaving his daughter Marina in Tarsus. The act ends with Thaisa, believing Pericles is dead, deciding to become a vestal priestess in a remote temple of Diana. In the fourth act, time has passed, and Marina has grown up with the daughter of Cleon and Dionyza, but Marina outshines her companion, and an envious Dionyza decides to have Marina killed. Dionyza brings Marina and the murderer Leonine together. Just as he is about to kill her, three pirates come in and steal Marina away. In Mytilene, a pander and a madam engage in some bawdy humor before the pirates enter with Marina. The pirates sell Marina to the bawds, who think they can bring in new customers and a great deal of cash for this fresh meat. Pericles and Helicanus travel to Tarsus to pick up Marina. He arrives in Tarsus to learn his daughter is dead, and he is devastated. He and his ship leave Tarsus. At the brothel, the bawds are bemoaning their state, with Marina turning their customers into good men. The governor of Mytilene, Lysimachus, arrives, and the bawds bring Marina in. Within 40 lines, he is convinced of her virtue and pays her for her strength. When the bawds return, they prepare to drag her off and rape her (so she’ll no longer be able to cite her virtue and virginity), when she offers them a bargain: let her teach singing, weaving, sewing and dance, and she’ll give them a cut of her educational earnings. They consider the deal.

The fifth and final act of Pericles begins, again, with Gower, Continue reading Pericles – Act Five: reunited…and it feels so good

Pericles – Act Four: betrayal, buccaneers, and bawds (oh my!)

Previously on Pericles: In the first act, Pericles leaves Antioch (after figuring out that the princess is having an incestuous relationship with her father), fearing for his life. The king sends one of his lords to find Pericles and kill him. In Tyre, Pericles worries of the king sending an army to Tyre; his loyal lord Helicanus convinces Pericles to leave and travel. In Tarsus, the governor and his wife, bemoan their drought and failing country, but Pericles saves the day with food. He is welcomed as a hero. The second act begins with Pericles caught in a storm and shipwrecked in Pentapolis. He learns of the birthday celebration tournament for the hand of the country’s princess, Thaisa. Of course, our hero wins, impressing both king and princess. Back in Tyre, the lords of Tyre are tired of waiting for Pericles to return; if Pericles doesn’t return within a year, they will name Helicanus king. In Pentapolis, father and daughter reveal their loves for Pericles, and our Prince of Tyre agrees to marry Thaisa. In the third act, in another storm, Pericles learns of the birth of his daughter but the death of his wife. The sailors of the ship tell Pericles of their superstitions and that Thaisa’s body must be off-shipped. Her body is placed in a chest with spices, jewels and a note from Pericles; the chest is put into the sea. In Ephesus, we are introduced to Lord Cerimon, a kind of philosophical doctor or medicine man. Local sailors arrive with a chest, which they open, finding Thaisa and a note of woe from Pericles. Cerimon then, with his knowledge and tools, revives Thaisa. Pericles spends a year in Tarsus with Cleon and Dionyza, decides to return to Tyre, but leaves Marina (the daughter) in Tarsus. The act ends with Thaisa, believing Pericles is dead, deciding to become a vestal priestess in a remote temple of Diana.

The fourth act of Pericles begins, as all the previous ones have, with a Gower chorus. Continue reading Pericles – Act Four: betrayal, buccaneers, and bawds (oh my!)

Pericles – Act Three: birth, non-death, shipwreck, abandonment

Previously on Pericles: In the first act, we go to Antioch where a princess has had a number of suitors attempt to win her hand. But her father, with whom she is having an incestuous relationship, has come up with a riddle: if you get the riddle right, you get the girl; if not, the king gets your head. Pericles tries this out, and understands the riddle (which is a [thinly] veiled admission of the incest) and is deeply disturbed. He leaves the country, fearing for his life. The king sends one of his lords to find Pericles and kill him. In Tyre, Pericles worries of the king sending an army to Tyre; his loyal lord Helicanus convinces Pericles to leave and travel. In Tarsus, the governor and his wife, bemoan their drought and failing country, but Pericles saves the day with food. He is welcomed as a hero. The second act begins with another chorus from Gower (complete with stage-directed dumbshow), recapping the first act, and saying that Pericles was caught in a storm and shipwrecked. Pericles lands in Pentapolis, and befriended by some fishermen, learns that the next day the good king will celebrate the birthday of his daughter Thaisa with a tournament, then is reunited with his armor, and decides to tourney for her love. Of course, our hero wins, but humble, he does not celebrate at the night’s party. Regardless, he has impressed both king and princess. Back in Tyre, we learn Antiochus and his daughter are dead, killed by lightning. The lords of Tyre are tired of waiting for Pericles to return, and tell Helicanus that if Pericles doesn’t return within a year, they will name Helicanus king. In Pentapolis, the king–already ready for Pericles to become his son-in-law–toys with him until Thaisa arrives, at which point they each reveal their love for Pericles, and our Prince of Tyre agrees to marry Thaisa.

The third act begins with another chorus from Gower. He once again gives us a recap, as well as news that the couple is now married and Thaisa, Pericles’ wife, is now pregnant, then we dive into the story (dive being an apt verb, as you shall see). Continue reading Pericles – Act Three: birth, non-death, shipwreck, abandonment

Pericles – Act Two: a shipwreck, a tournament, and a weird papa

Previously on Pericles: In the first act, we meet the narrative guide and chorus for the play, John Gower. He begins by taking us to Antioch where the king is having an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Her beauty brings on suitors, so he has come up with a riddle: if you get the riddle right, you get the girl; if not, the king gets your head. Many have failed. Pericles, though, is confident of his own success. And he understands the riddle and is deeply disturbed: it’s a (thinly) veiled admission of the incest. Pericles leaves the country, rightfully fearing for his life. When the king Antiochus sees that Pericles is gone, he sends one of his lords to find Pericles and kill him. In Tyre, Pericles is troubled by the thought of Antiochus sending an army to Tyre; his loyal lord Helicanus tells Pericles to travel a while; Pericles agrees. Thaliard, Antiochus’ lord, arrives in Tyre to hear that Pericles has left town. And in Tarsus, the governor and his wife, bemoan their drought and failing country. When word arrives that a naval fleet has arrived, they think the worst, but the ships belong to Pericles, and he has come not for invasion, but rather with food. He is welcomed and treated (as he should) as a hero.

And the second act?

Continue reading Pericles – Act Two: a shipwreck, a tournament, and a weird papa

Pericles – Act One: ancient poets, incest and starvation

Like Romeo and Juliet and Henry V before, Pericles opens with a Chorus. Unlike those, however, this Chorus is not some anonymous storyteller. Pericles’ Chorus comes in the form of poet John Gower, a contemporary and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. And after an introductory handful of mostly non-rhymed iambic tetrameter, Gower dives into exposition.

And what exposition it is…

Continue reading Pericles – Act One: ancient poets, incest and starvation

Live Cinema Broadcast Review: The Winter’s Tale by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company

Earlier this week, I had a chance to catch the cinema broadcast of the London production of The Winter’s Tale, from the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, starring Kenneth Branagh, and directed by Rob Ashford and–you guessed it–Kenneth Branagh. I’m not sure if he took the tickets and showed the live audience to their seats or not.

Continue reading Live Cinema Broadcast Review: The Winter’s Tale by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company

Upcoming: Sweet Tea Shakespeare and The Winter’s Tale

Just want to give a little shout-out to our friends at the Shakespeare Standard, whose Editor-in-Chief, Jeremy Fiebig, is Artistic Director of Sweet Tea Shakespeare in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare will be presenting The Winter’s Tale later this month at the Capitol Encore Academy.

They open this weekend, so… Break a leg!

Podcast 85: Much Ado About Nothing: the Video Productions and Another Review

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This week’s podcast continues our two month-long discussion of Much Ado About Nothing, with reviews of some of the available video productions of the play, plus a live theater review of The Tempest by South Coast Repertory.

Continue reading Podcast 85: Much Ado About Nothing: the Video Productions and Another Review

Theatrical Review: The Tempest by South Coast Repertory

Last Sunday, my wife Lisa and I had the pleasure of catching the South Coast Repertory production of The Tempest in Costa Mesa, CA. Now The Tempest holds a pretty special spot in my heart, as it was the first major Shakespeare I ever saw, a magical production with Anthony Hopkins as Prospero at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles back in 1978; I’ll talk about that show more when we get to that play at the end of this project, but suffice to say it was a seminal moment in my love of Shakespeare.

The Tempest is a tough play to pull off. It deals with magic, and how to convey that on stage? It’s not easy. It often comes off as overly solemn or worse, cheesy. The earlier production began with a piece of stagecraft that set a magical tone (especially to this fifteen year-old) and then used that initial shock to carry the play. This production takes a different tack, however. Prospero is a magician, so why not show magic? Real magic (if that’s not an oxymoron).

Continue reading Theatrical Review: The Tempest by South Coast Repertory

Pericles, Prince of Tyre… at California Lutheran University

it’s great… I was able to catch two Shakespeare plays within a week of one another… that hasn’t happened since our pre-Kyle days up in Ashland… but it will happen again next summer when we–as a family–head up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for a mini-week play-going vacation

OK, a couple of days back, I caught a local college’s production of Pericles.

Now, like Love’s Labor’s Lost nearly a week earlier, Pericles is a play I’ve never seen on stage (that’s the reason why I chose to go, mid-week, on a school night, no less).  It is a play I’ve read (and taught back in my high school days… though that year is now nearly two decades past, and, well, until I read the synopsis in the program I was a little unclear on the plot [I remembered the gap in time and the lost daughter… but hell, with the tragicomedies/romances, that was a pretty safe bet]).  So off we went (yeah, I dragged Lisa along with me) to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks… about 20 miles or so from my neck of the woods.  Cal-Lu is also the home of the Kinsgmen Shakespeare Company (which presented the Macbeth which was the subject of our second-ever podcast back in July).
Continue reading Pericles, Prince of Tyre… at California Lutheran University