OK, so after finishing my first read-through of Pericles, I gotta ask, who wrote this stuff?
As with many of the plays in this Project, it looks as if Shakespeare used more than a single source for the story and style in Pericles.
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?
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…
Happy new year!
I hope yours was wonderful! My vacation was so good, I need a vacation.
But no rest for the wicked…
Continue reading New Year, New Month, New Play: Pericles
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.
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!
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.
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).
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