Podcast 108: Troilus and Cressida: Cast, Concept, Wrap-up


This week’s podcast concludes our two month-long discussion of Troilus and Cressida with a concept and cast, and a wrap-up of the play.

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Troilus and Cressida: The Wrap-up

When trying to write this wrap-up piece on Troilus and Cressida, I kept thinking it needed a subtitle. But what to use? I came up with two almost immediately:

How do you solve a problem like Cressida? (with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)
Troilus and Cressida: How I learned to stop worrying and love (OK, like) the play

Do I focus on the misogyny that I found in the play (thus, the first subtitle)? Or do I go with the undercut heroic and romantic expectations in the play that lead to my revelation a few weeks ago that the play is a tragedy with Pandarus as our tragic hero?

It’s such a strange play.

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Troilus and Cressida: Cut the cast… cut the script…

A couple of days back, I floated the idea of cutting the cast for a hypothetical production of Troilus and Cressida. Today, let’s take a look at the text and where it can be cut.

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I know.

In last week’s podcast–the He-Man Woman-Haters Club edition–I said that the next podcast, the last Troilus and Cressida podcast, you know, THIS podcast would be released today.

Sorry, but you’ll just have to wait until next Sunday.

My older son Kyle is back from college for just a week, so….

Troilus and Cressida: How many is too many, how few too few?

As longtime listeners to the podcast probably know, every play, I put together a concept and a cast for a hypothetical production. Troilus and Cressida, of course, is no different. Directorial concepts can be all over the map, stemming from what I’ve discovered is (for me at least) the overarching theme or motif for the play as text; for example, setting Much Ado About Nothing in the North following the Civil War, or Midsummer as a Nawlins Mardi Gras fever dream.

The casting, on the other hand, is usually pretty straightforward: Such-and-such an actor plays such-and-such a role for such-and-such a reason, and so on. The notable exception to this rule has been Twelfth Night with its “drag queen cabaret” concept.

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Troilus and Cressida: Ending, what ending?

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy gets (laid and) the girl. Boy loses girl when she gets exchanged for a soldier. Another boy (let’s call him boy 2) meets the girl. Girl betrays boy with boy 2. Boy vows revenge. Have I got the broad strokes of the Troilus and Cressida plot of Troilus and Cressida? Yes, I know: technically, the meeting (as well as the falling in love) happens before our choric Prologue, but you get the idea.

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Troilus and Cressida: Genre?

Toward the beginning of this adventure back to Troy, we discussed the early editions/publications of Troilus and Cressida.

Quarto versions had the word “Historie” in the title, while the Folio version had the word “Tragedie” there. Of course, the Folio’s table of contents were of no use in breaking the tie: Troilus and Cressida didn’t even appear in the TOC; instead it just kind of magically appeared between the two sections, after the “last” history, The Life of King Henry the Eighth, and before the “first” tragedy, The Tragedy of Coriolanus. With no page numbers.

At the end of that blog entry, I asked the simple question:

So what is it? History? Tragedy?

Now, you know me. I love me a good discussion over genre, especially when it isn’t clear.

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Troilus and Cressida: Who’s the protagonist?

Troilus and Cressida.

Cressida and Troilus.

Who’s the protagonist of this play?

Well, I guess that depends on your definition of protagonist…

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