When my Dearest Partner of Greatness (DPG) and I were discussing Trilogy Day at The Globe, THIS is the scene that prompted my suggestion she come along to this first play.Curiosity mixed with mischief as I thought about her reaction to an English representation of the national hero, Owain Glyndŵr …
Dan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, (London: Faber & Faber, 2015)
Dan Jones’ muscular account begins with Catherine de Valois’ marriage to Henry V in 1420, and ends in 1541, with the brutal execution of Margaret Pole (at 67) by Henry VIII; the final remnant of the Plantagenet dynasty to be mopped up by the Tudors.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named (Henry V: IV,iii)
… IF their legs are still working, that is. Shakespeare’s Globe staged three plays last Saturday, and a ‘happy few‘ of us bought groundling tickets for the trilogy. Here’s how I got on. [spoilers ahead]
It’s been a long, hard year, and I need a real treat …
Whilst it’s not all been bad news, Spring Term was dominated by an insidious, invidious, but ultimately innocuous illness that lingered like an unwelcome guest at a party, refusing to take all the hints I could throw at it that it needed to exit stage left. Summer Term replaced that with a series of professional setbacks and niggles that have led to my heavy-hearted decision to leave a school I always thought I would (eventually) retire at, and where I work daily alongside some of my closest friends. ‘You do the math‘, as Shakespeare never said.
I’m currently open to offers inside and outside the profession, by the way …
It’s almost impossible to check in my earlier hostility to Henry Bolinbroke at the door; I take grim satisfaction at the suggestion that he’s ‘shaken’, or ‘wan with care’ as the play opens. [a] He deserves it.
Not that I believe him …
Actually, looking back, I promised to crucify you (Henry) at the end of Richard II … OK, here goes.
Men in great place […] have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self. [a]
… is that the job is, frankly, shit. And that you have to be a shit to do it successfully.
PTS read-through: King John, Act IV.
If you’re not ‘born great’, if you want to achieve greatness, you have to put in the hours, right? Just think of the graft involved: wheeling and dealing; equivocating; making and breaking alliances; sucking up; marrying well (not, alas, for love); adding colours to the chameleon; changing shapes with Proteus; and generally setting the murderous Machiavel to school.
I mentioned the other day that I was coming into King John blind, apart from the Disney film and a vague notion of the Magna Carta. The little I am beginning to accumulate through secondary reading and the play itself is startling.
You probably know my taste for puerile humour by now.
This joke (and there are many versions of it knocking around) has been a favourite since before I got married, a good twenty years ago. You can imagine how well it went down, the first time I used it on my (rather fierce) ex-mother-in-law. I received what we might call an ‘old-fashioned look’, with added chilli. Nowadays, poking fun at someone’s verbosity is also self-referential, because, yes, I unashamedly like to talk! In my defence, it’s because I ‘live’ in 1592.