Pericles: A decline in direction(s)

I’ve been noticing that as we near the end of the Canon, we’re getting more and more stage direction from ol’ Willy Shakes (or at least from those who wrote this stuff down). I find it interesting that not only are we getting more direct stage direction, we’re also getting less indirect direction. In other words, there seems to be less stage direction embedded in the dialogue. And Pericles seems to maintain that trend.

In Act Two, Scene One, it is only through the words of the second fisherman that we learn that Pericles’ (father’s) armor is “rusty” (II.i.120). And in the last scene of that same act, even without explicit stage direction, we know that Semonides hands Pericles a letter, as the king says, “Peruse this writing else” (II.v.41), and Pericles notes that it is “A letter” (II.v.43).

We get a couple of audio/visual cues during the storm sequence of Act Three, Scene One. Upon hearing of his wife’s death, Pericles must cry tears, as Lychorida implores him to “not assist the storm” (III.i.19). Later in the same scene, Pericles says of his newborn baby, “I would it would be quiet” (III.i.43); from this we know that a baby must be heard–most likely wailing.

In the Act Five, Scene One reunion of father and daughter, the former cries, as the latter asks, “Why do you weep?” (V.i.171).

Two scenes later, “Thaisa / Is recovered” (V.iii.27-8) from her fainting spell without stage direction (though there is one for the fainting itself [V.iii.14]). And in this same closing scene, we have makeup/hair direction: Pericles must “look dismal” (V.iii.74) after 14 years with “no razor touched” (V.iii.75).

And that’s it. And that’s not much.

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