Bard Talk: The Shakespeare Thread:

Total posts: [126]
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Though with Cinna the poet (Pannic is an idiot and got it confused with Casca) it was a One-Scene Wonder who appeared in that one scene solely to get lynched by the mob. Bit of black comedy there.

Also, can't forget Falstaff. He's mentioned in Henry V has having died, so he died somewhere in the space between Henry IV and Henry V.

edited 7th Oct '12 7:07:44 PM by Pannic

Cleric of Banjo
Depending on how much the performance plays out their comic aspects, Rodrigo in Othello and Polonius in Hamlet are fairly comical characters, and their getting killed off is what underscores that the work in which they appear is a tragedy.
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103 kalel948th Apr 2013 11:49:28 AM from Dragonstone
Rascal King
[up] Same goes for Mercutio in R and J.
The last hurrah? Nah, I'd do it again.
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I've often heard that Romeo and Juliet are horny morons who get punished for their own stupidity, and it's an interpretation I really, really dislike. (As a sidenote; I've heard that the poem by Arthur Brooke, which Shakespeare used for inspiration, really was meant as a cautionary tale against the dangers of pre-marital love, but that Shakespeare in his adaptation decided to side with the lovers instead and make them much more sympathetic.)

Despite their recklessness and shallowness when it comes to romance, Romeo and Juliet are actually among the saner members of the cast. The entire city of Verona is occupied in this pointless feud that's been going on for so long that no one even knows what it's about anymore. Romeo and Juliet are among the few characters who learn to see the other family as something else than simply an object irrational hatred, and the two of them breaking away from this mindset is what finally ends the conflict and exposes just how ridiculous it all is. People point out that they only knew each other for a couple of days, but that is because of the feud keeping them separated from each other before the masquerade and then leading to their deaths after the masquerade. People complain that they choose to die because of their romance but seem to forget how absurd it is that they even had to face such a decision. People say they are reckless due to how they risk getting caught, but doesn't seem to care about why they have to worry about getting caught simply talking to each other in the first place. As people so often point out, they simply had a shallow teenage crush, in any sane world this would not have to be such a big secret. It's true that their deaths are a punishment for foolishness, but not for their own foolishenss, but rather for the foolishness of their parents (this is explicitly stated in the very last scene of the play). While I agree that they are very reckless and foolish, the truth is that if they didn't live in a world even more insane than they are, their tragic fates would likely have been avoided.

TL;DR: I think that Romeo and Juliet makes more sense as a story about the pointlessness of hate rather than a story about the Power of Love (although The Power of Love still plays an important part in exposing said pointlessness).
105 lancesolous133rd May 2014 04:47:12 PM from California , Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
[up]That's the same way most of us felt when my school put on Romeo and Juliet. I really have never seen it as a Love Story at its basics; but a story that is meant to show how BOTH Love and Hate can lead to a destructive outcome. Funny enough, the actors who played R+J didn't feel the same and saw it as a love story.

Also, I see it as a Love Triangle between Juliet/Romeo/Mercutio and I think the text really agrees with it at a number of points. "A PLAGUE ON BOTH OF YOUR HOUSES!" and what stops the letter to Romeo from reaching him? A plague. Additionally, Mercutio's dialogue is peppered with innuendo of all kinds; I think its such a waste to not add a new level to them by adding some truth to his words.

edited 3rd May '14 4:47:41 PM by lancesolous13

I'm a critical person but I'm a nice guy when you get to know me. Now, I should be writing.
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I don't even like Romeo and Juliet that much, I just get annoyed when people try to turn the play's victims into its villains.
Cleric of Banjo
[up] and [up][up][up][awesome]

Thank-you. I think that idea has become popular as sort of an anti-Twilight kind of thing directed against teen romances, but as you indicate, a big part of the play is the idea that these are people that could/should have met and fallen in love under better circumstances, but things went wrong because of the stupid feud between their families. Seriously, the play itself makes that clear, especially because (as you noted) Shakespeare's source does blame the tragedy on disobeying one's parents, whereas Shakespeare's work doesn't (Juliet's parents actually come off in a fairly unsympathetic light).

Also, glad to see posts in this thread. I recently attended a reading/production of Alls Well That Ends Well and found it very enjoyable.

edited 6th May '14 11:25:14 AM by Hodor

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If anyone's interested, Kyle Kallgren of That Guy with the Glasses has recently completed his Shakespeare Month, in which he's reviewed seven different Shakespeare movies, including that 1996 Romeo + Juliet movie that is set in the Nineties, the 1995 Richard III movie that turns the title character into the British Hitler, a porno named A Midsummer Night's Cream and more. He concludes it all with an Anti-Stratfordian movie by Roland Emmerich, treating it just as you hope he will. If this sounds interesting to you, just follow the link I posted and watch everything from "Shakespeare Month: Intro" to "Anonymous".

edited 28th May '14 1:39:35 PM by Druplesnubb

109 TheHandle28th Jan 2015 05:31:28 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
United Earth
So I've been watching The Tempest. So many quotables in just one scene:

"The rounder legs." "Swear by this bottle." "I'm the man in the moon."

If it should be a modern setting, then the drink should be replaced by reefer pot. The two are dudes, they're stoners through and through.

In Los Angeles, Shakespeare in the Park tries to do a production of a Shakespeare play in a more or less modern setting every summer

So that's what Tony Stark had joked about.

edited 28th Jan '15 5:40:38 AM by TheHandle

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
110 HisInfernalMajesty7th Feb 2015 04:09:30 PM , Relationship Status: I won't say I'm in love
[up] I was fortunate enough to play Caliban in a high school production of The Tempest. It's my favorite shakespearean role, and I had some really cool makeup and such. The dialogue for everyone was fairly updated except for the "supernatural" characters such as Caliban and Ariel, who spoke in the original verse.

Unfortunately, my castmates sort of ruined the experience for me by just finding the whole thing boring, which I guess I can't blame them for. Tempest is much more focused on themes than the story or characters, but even so, it's one of my favorites.
"Kings have no friends, only subjects and enemies."
111 TheHandle8th Feb 2015 02:32:24 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
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I loved when they tried to off the king, only for him to wake up.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Something these last posts made me think of (in conjunction with this Shakespeare Uncovered series on PBS)- It's interesting how various productions choose the costume/"setting" of the plays. Like besides the histories, it seems like Taming of the Shrew and The Merry Wives of Windsor are the plays that are most commonly staged in Renaissance attire (probably due to the kind of bawdy "Renaissance-faire aspect"). I guess Romeo and Juliet too- probably because it has often been depicted in art and is thus identifiable with that time period.

I've also heard of productions of Shrewand Two Gentleman of Verona which have the setting of those parts of Northern Italy in the 1950s- with the feel of La Dolce Vita. I think that might have to do with an interesting thing wherein the setting Shakespeare gave to the play means something to a modern audience. Like similarly, Scandinavians are stereotypically moody and introspective, which matches perfectly with the character of Hamlet.

Not sure why but Shrew also has a lot of Western stagings. Not sure if that is true of any other Shakespeare play.

RE the question of using Elizabethan dress, I'd expect that this is done the least with Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra- Not as familiar with stagings of the latter, but my guess is that both have actors in togas with relative frequency. I saw one production in either the late 1990s or early 2000s that had everyone dressed like then-current political figures in Washington. I've also seen advertised a more recent production which borrowed from House of Cards.
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113 HisInfernalMajesty12th Feb 2015 11:15:43 PM , Relationship Status: I won't say I'm in love
[up] I did a production of Romeo and Juliet that was set we set in "Verona, Mississippi," in the 1950s that worked surprisingly well. The Shakesperean language actually sounds natural in the southern accents we used (and the fact that it's one of the easier plays to understand for a common audience helped). We almost casted it so that it was a biracial relationship that caused the whole conflict, but we ended up with the Montagues being classless greasers and the Capulets being snobbish southern aristocrats. The only really weird standout was the Apothecary who was portrayed as like...a voodoo priestess, but even that was kinda cool. The year before that we did Midsummer set in the psychedelic 60s, appropriately enough.

So I think the themes play a big part in when modern productions set things, and updating things to something more recognizable makes everything a lot more accessible and fun as an actor - because you have a historical context to apply to your character in addition to whatever context the play alone gives you.
"Kings have no friends, only subjects and enemies."
114 Sisi12th Mar 2015 02:29:22 PM from Toronto , Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
t stern-set Shrews...I know of at least a couple of those. I gather the rough-and-tumble setting is a good fit for the verbal fighting we get out of Petruchio and Kate.

Personally, my favourite production of Shrew was set in the 1950s and had a gaudy rich Italians feels to it. Kate and Petruchio were depicted as being very much in love (the sun-moon and old man-young girl bits were done as Kate and a Petruchio mocking society and getting a laugh at people's reactions)and really played up the comedy (Tranio and the servants were hysterical). Bianca was really funny too, basically Marilyn Monroe meets Norma Cassidy. Ditzy but manipulative.

Oh, and they had Hortensio disguise himself as a beatnik. It was awesome.

Another Taming that was memorable was an outdoor production I saw that was modern dress, but very trashy modern dress. Lucientio was recast as Lucentia, there was a Britney/Madonna joke, Tranio was the Gay BFF (His actor alternated between that and a very impressive Macduff), and a very interesting ending where Kate snaps in the middle of her speech and walks away, even after Petruchio tares up the checks.

In terms WT Fery, said Shakespeare in the Park put on a very weird Titus last summer. It was Japanese themes, with lost of black leather and wooden swords...except for Lavinia who was wearing a poofy dress and go-go boots(?). The acting wasn't that unusual, except that Marcus was changed Marcas - yes she was a she - but played by the strongest actor of the bunch, except for Aaron(he was AMAZING), and all the blood was replaced with red ribbons. Then out of seemingly nowhere, Lavinia and Titus turn into Nine Inch Nails wannabes and there some electric guitar stuff onstage during that final party/dinner scene.

there's some press photos for anyone interested:
"If I reach for the stars, you can't hold me back"
115 TheHandle11th Apr 2015 06:49:56 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
United Earth
I just finished watching the movie adaptation of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart.

My heart.

This was a grim show, to be sure. Ne'er before have I felt so creeped and disturbed by a piece of classic literature. The whole tale is made of hopelessness, and the setting so underscres it as to make the bravest fear, and the hardest weep. In the grim darkness of WWII bunkers there is only war, and the laughter of wyrd sisters.

edited 11th Apr '15 7:12:49 AM by TheHandle

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
116 FuzzyBoots13th May 2015 07:13:33 PM from Pittsburgh, PA , Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
Wanderer (not lost)
If you guys don't mind me pimping the outdoor Shakespeare group I frequently do shows for (sadly, my schedule didn't work out for it this year), they have an [Indie Go Go campaign. All of our shows are performed on an outside stage in Monroeville, PA and are free to the public. We're even starting to pay the actors a stipend in hopes of avoiding losing people to paying jobs. They're good folk.

edited 13th May '15 7:13:53 PM by FuzzyBoots

117 Sisi21st May 2015 09:42:26 AM from Toronto , Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Since we're pimping...yaaaaay Stratford Festival XD. So yeah, I'm stoked for their Taming of the Shrew this year. Kate and Petruchio are being played by an actual married couple, so the chemistry should be off the walls between them.
"If I reach for the stars, you can't hold me back"
118 FuzzyBoots21st May 2015 11:24:43 AM from Pittsburgh, PA , Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
Wanderer (not lost)
That is always more fun. We similarly had a married couple for our last Taming of the Shrew production. In addition, they're both certified fight choreographers, so we got some lovely slapstick as they brawled not only with words, but by literally tripping each other up.
119 Sisi21st May 2015 03:02:35 PM from Toronto , Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Ooooh. That sounds like it was fun (reminds me of the production with Marc Singer that was done Commedia de l'Arte style.) But yeah I really excited. The two of them did an amazing Beatrice and Benadick a few years back.

I was looking at some of the sketches for the costume design and realized that they have the actress playing Kate in drag during the Induction as the pageboy, I think while Petruchio is doubling as Sly, which is petty common

Anyway, they've put up video and photos for Hamlet. The production looks really good. Super strong cast.

edited 21st May '15 3:04:54 PM by Sisi

"If I reach for the stars, you can't hold me back"
Recently saw a production of Cymbeline by a group called the Chicago Shakespeare project- they don't wear costumes and it's more like a theatrical reading.

It was quite enjoyable. Not one of their best performances, but that may have more to do with the play than the actors.

In what seems to be a trend, they doubled every role except Imogen and they play a lot of things for laughs- Cymbeline really doesn't work as a play if presented seriously.

edited 6th Mar '16 3:07:49 PM by Hodor2

Supporting the right to arm bears
Raven Wilder
So, in King Lear, I know we're supposed to see Cordelia as the good one of Lear's daughters because, instead of plying Lear with hyperbolic flattery to get a better share of the kingdom, she answers honestly when asked how much she loves him. However, what she says about her feelings for her father is really quite cold. She says that she loves him, but only because she's his daughter and so is obligated to love and honor him, nothing more than that.

I know this probably would have played differently in Shakespeare's day, since they placed a much higher priority on the concept of duty in familial relationships. But to my eyes, while the whole concept of the "who loves me most?" contest is obviously nuts, I can kinda understand Lear's reaction, hearing that his favorite child sees their relationship as nothing more than a duty she has to perform, and that while she loves her father, she doesn't really love him.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
It's been forever since I read the play so I looked it up. Leading up to that, Cordelia thinks to herself in an aside that basically she doesn't know how to put into words her feelings, especially in a way that sounds genuine given the expressive/over-the-top speeches by her sisters.

I see your point with her response, but I think it's somewhat more complex than just saying "I love you according to my duty":

Good my lord,/ You have begot me, bred me, loved me: I/ Return those duties back as are right fit,/ Obey you, love you, and most honour you./ Why have my sisters husbands, if they say/ They love you all? Haply, when I shall wed,/ That lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry/ Half my love with him, half my care and duty:/ Sure, I shall never marry like my sisters,/ To love my father all./

The ending part is somewhat sarcastic in terms of calling attention to her sister's insincerity, but it's kind of like a meditation of filial/familial love in the context of different social roles, and I think the idea is that they don't allow one to express the depths of affection. Because the first line is basically saying that "you were a loving father to me in all that entails and so I'm a loving daughter to you in all that entails".

It also does strike me that the fairy tale derivation, which has a happy ending, involves the Cordelia equivalent saying that she loves the father "like meat loves salt" (or something to that effect) and later illustrating it by serving unsalted meat to him. So, I think in both the fairy tale and the play, there's an underlying understanding that because the contest is a stupid idea, Cordelia/her equivalent gives a sincere but seemingly flippant/sarcastic response.

edited 12th Oct '17 10:44:29 AM by Hodor2

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123 TheHandle11th Nov 2017 12:49:43 PM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
United Earth
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
I've been thinking a lot about Shakespeare recently, unfortunately not in particularly positive ways, and I'd like to discuss my feelings with people who love the man's work. I've been thinking about "Bardolatry" and the way Shakespeare's fans tend to elevate him above all other works of prose fiction, giving him this special unique status above any other artist. And... how much I don't really agree with it anymore.

Bear in mind, this is not at all a matter of me not liking Shakespeare, far from it... I greatly enjoy his work and I'm completely ready to acknowledge him as one of history's greatest writers. But that's just it — I'm willing to acknowledge him as one of the world's greatest writers but not as some divinely perfect writer who's head and shoulders over every other classic author ever. The idea that he is... well, I'm sorry to say it, but I think it reeks of smug English, and more broadly Anglophone, nationalism.

It was Kyle Kallgren's annual video series on Shakespeare films and the views expressed in them that got me thinking about these things and particularly his discussion on the evolution of "bardolatry", but I was even more struck by his video on the Klingon version of Hamlet, and the idea that a foreign culture would be so awestruck by Shakespeare that they'd want to claim him as their own. I mean... that's a really fucking smug idea. Particularly since the Klingons are supposedly meant to represent the Soviet Union. Are we implying that Russia has no literary achievements equal to or even close to Shakespeare? What about Pushkin, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? Do none of them measure up? Why would a culture feel the need to steal Shakespeare?

It's stuff like this that makes me smell English nationalism — this idea that in the face of English culture other cultures can just gape in amazement regardless of their own achievements. And I'd question that this idea would even be remotely sustainable if English didn't happen to be the world's current lingua franca thanks to two centuries of first British and then American military dominance and the pervasiveness of the American film industry.
125 TheHandle20th Jan 2018 09:09:28 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
United Earth
Duh-doy. Shakespeare is a national mascot in the same way that Molière and Cervantes are. Of course he's overrated, and of couse it's formulated nationalistically.

Speaking of aliens shaking spears...

How would Macbeth be in Klingon? Does Klingon Promotion not apply if it's a sneaky murder rather than an open challenge?

edited 20th Jan '18 9:10:20 AM by TheHandle

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Total posts: 126
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