Last night, my wife Lisa and I saw part of the final weekend (yes, Wednesday is now a part of the weekend in Griffith Park, Los Angeles) of Independent Shakespeare Company’s FREE production of Richard III. If I say it was worth the price that would sound snarky, but the truth of the matter is that in the run-up to their two-production summer season, I had donated a fairly large chunk of change, and then at the end of the show last night, dropped another $20 into their donation “bucket for ducats” for good measure.
And yes, the show was that good.
With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways (in an abbreviated Top Five listing, as I’ve got some Macbeth-related fish to fry later in this post):
check your local listings… I’ve always wanted to say that
Tonight on the Smithsonian Channel, there is “The King’s Skeleton: Richard III Revealed.” This is a 90-minute special that goes over the discovery of the purported remains of the bunchback toad, the use of DNA evidence and skeletal analysis and to verify the identity of the bones and the possible cause of death… I’ve got the show DVR’ed and I’m hoping to follow up with a review or some remarks later next week.
And if your TV viewing time will monopolized by the NBA Finals or the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup (go, Kings go!), or you just need something to listen to, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC has released a podcast on the same matter, entitled, “I, That am Rudely Stamped: In Search of the Real Richard III.” I’m hoping to listen to that on the treadmill tomorrow, and–again–I’ll try to get some remarks to you next week.
It is only with the beginning of Act Three of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth that we finally meet our titular king. He enters in his nightgown, sending off a page to get Surrey and Warwick. This is not what we expect the king to be: he’s a dying man. But he cannot sleep:
O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
It’s February 1, and technically, the month ended yesterday and with it, our discussion of Richard the Third. But like everything else in the oversized legend of the ol’ Crookback, the month’s not even big enough to contain him. While we should be moving on to Love’s Labor’s Lost today, I want to say good-bye to “misshapen Dick” (3HVI, V.v.35). Continue reading OK, So…. The Dog is Dead…→
This week’s podcast is a conclusion of our month-long discussion of Richard the Third, including some non-DVD reviews (including a discussion of the You-Tube’d presentation of the English Shakespeare Company production of 1990, as well as two books by actors who’ve performed the role, and one book of note for Richard fans), a production concept, and possible casts. We’ll have some final opinions on the play, and we’ll do our usual recap of this week’s blog entries. Continue reading Podcast 30: Richard the Third Wrap-Up→
3601 total lines; second longest play in the Canon (only Hamlet is longer); longer than average play, longer than average history (average play: 2777; average history: 3009)
At 14 lines, Act Three Scene Sixth is the shortest of its kind
At 247 and 352 lines, Act Three Scene Seven and Act Five Scene Three are the longest of their kind in the Canon
Act One: 1063 lines; longest first act in the Canon (second longest is King Lear 576); longer than average, longer than average history (average play: 590, average history: 612)
Act Two: 415 lines; shorter than average (average play: 568, average history: 621)
Act Three: 826 lines; longer than average (average play: 576, average history: 632)
Act Four: 838 lines; longer than average (average play: 563, average history: 651)
Act Five: 459 lines; shorter than average (average play: 480, average history: 493)
only 104 lines of prose (2.89% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 13.31%, Titus Andronicus: 1.39%, The Taming of the Shrew: 20.82%, 1HenryVI: 0.37%, 2HenryVI: 16.64%, and 3HenryVI: 0.14%])
272 rhyming lines (7.55% of total lines [as opposed to The Comedy of Errors: 20.10%, Titus Andronicus: 2.42%, The Taming of the Shrew: 3.93%, 1HenryVI: 9.79%, 2HenryVI: 3.16%, and 3HenryVI: 5.37%])
25 scenes; more than average (average play: 21; average history: 24)
63 characters (second highest total in the Canon, behind only 2HenryVI; more than average (average play: 36, average history: 48)
There are 3601 lines in this very long play, which puts the midpoint at line 1801, which is at the end of Act Three, Scene Two, the scene at Lord Hastings’ home (just before the execution of Rivers, Grey and Vaughan). Continue reading Numbers: Midpoint→
Back near the beginning of the month, when we were just starting our discussion of Richard the Third, I asked a pretty straightforward question: What to Cut? Citing the length of the play, and the fact that it’s rarely done uncut, I said we would need to cut. Continue reading What to Cut, Part Two→
In Act Five, Scene Three of Richard the Third, Shakespeare presents us with parallel views of two men going in opposite directions: the ascending Richmond, and the falling King Richard III. Both appear on stage, raise their respective tents, and sleep, only to be visited by the ghosts of Richard’s victims. Continue reading What to Do about Ghosts, and I and I?→
As we’ve noted before, Richard is never the same after Richard Duke of York mocks him in Act Three, Scene One of Richard the Third. At the time, we looked at how his speeches change and move away from soliloquies (and thus, us as an audience). But it’s not just his speech that changes; his mental faculties atrophy as well.
A couple of weeks back, when we discussed the Lady Anne wooing scene in Act One, Scene Two of Richard the Third, we called him the Answer Man for his ability to both “answer” Anne’s arguments as well as wear her down with both rhetoric and pronouns.
This week’s podcast includes a continuation of our month-long discussion of Richard the Third, including DVD reviews of the BBC Collected Works and An Age of Kings productions, as well as both the Olivier and McKellen film versions. Also discussed is the Pacino documentary, Looking for Richard, plus a recap of this week’s blog entries. Continue reading Podcast 29: Richard the Third DVD Reviews→
In Richard the Third, Hastings rashly says, “I’ll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders // Before I’ll see the crown so foul misplaced” (III.ii.43-44) on Richard’s head. Two Scenes later, he gets his wish in a glowing example of the BCWYWFYJMGI Principle (Be Careful What You Wish For… You Just Might Get It). Continue reading Be Careful What You Wish For…→