PTS 11/066: Alas, poor Richard …

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground, and tell sad stories of the death of kings …

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PTS read-through:  Richard II, act III (part ONE)

Witnessing the utter disintegration of a human being – even a fictional one – is, I’d suggest, an uneasy, distressing experience.  And yet … 

Voyeuristic shame accompanies the compulsion to keep spectating what is usually such a private affair.  My first experience of this type of slow-mo car-crash literature was Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, when I was about 12.  It scarred me – I’ve never quite been able to revisit Michael Henchard’s self-induced immolation; it also, I think, gave me my first seductive bittersweet taste of tragedy.  Like that initial stolen underage drink, whilst I wasn’t quite sure I liked it, I wanted another – just to be certain.

Richard’s collapse is the most devastatingly beautiful in Shakespeare, perhaps in the wider canon: it begins here, spanning three poignant acts. 
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PTS 11/065: Stop being such a Dick, Richard!

‘On Brexit, and Ignoring the Advice of Uncles’, as Montaigne might have written …

 

King Richard II

PTS read-through:  Richard II, act II

Richard II plays against the backdrop of an enormous cosmic clockface.  Our poetic but ineffective, spiteful monarch ends act I cynically hoping to arrive too late; he begins act II suffering the consequences of being early, getting an earful from his uncle.

What Richard does miss, though, is Uncle Gaunt’s remarkable crie de couer on the state of the nation.  It’s an interesting, beautiful swansong, the breathless anaphora creating a crescendo of patriotic fervour – but I have three issues with it.

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Quote of the Week: 09 April 2018 (#36)

We all have something we can’t part with when we go abroad, surely?

BH suitcase-full-of-books

Kent Cartwright, ‘Introduction’ to William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (Arden Third Edition), (Bloomsbury Publishing:  London, 2017)

Her:  [hefting my Arden Third copy of Richard II in her hand] ‘Don’t you think it’s a bit heavy to take on holiday?’

Me:  [defensively] ‘It’s as heavy as it needs to be.  That’s why you pay more for the Ardens.  And anyway, that’s the text I’m writing about at the moment.’

Her:  ‘But we’re going away.  You can access the play online.’  [statement, not a question]

Me:  That’s not the same!

Her:  [giving a silent ‘look’ and the merest suggestion of a shrug with one shoulder]

You probably know that look …

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Quote of the Week: 02 April 2018 (#35)

Bogdanov (and Shakespeare) on the corrosive effects of real life on the soul …

BH bogdanov directors cut coverMichael Bogdanov, ‘Richard II: The skipping King’, in Shakespeare : The Director’s Cut (Capercaillie Books:  Edinburgh, 2005)

I picked this startling book up from Waterstones in Gower Street, London on Saturday – remaindered at a measly £5-99.  Scuffed but basically sound, it seemed destined for the upper slopes of my ever-growing Mount Tsundoku – about which I’m bound to post at some stage, recently becoming familiar with the term.

Either way, as I often do with new Shakespeare-related books, I ambled through the Introduction.  Not properly knowing who Bogdanov was in truth, I wanted a sense of who I’d invited to share my bookshelves.  I’m at my parents’, and despite the TV blaring at a volume only a practically-deaf father can justify, I became completely immersed.

Bogdanov died almost a year ago, at 78 (a little older than my father is).  If we’d been contemporaries, and moved in similar circles, I reckon we would have been drinking buddies …

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PTS 011/064: I wasted time, and now?

All’s far from well for Richard, and a facility with words isn’t helping …

BH jeremy irons richard ii b
image:  RSC

PTS read-through:  Richard II, Act I

The lengthy gap since I finished posting about A Midsummer Night’s Dream has everything to do with volume of work, and absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to confess you now.  But we ought to get it out of the way, or it will cloud all my posts about Richard II

On today’s journey to the late 1590s, let’s take a detour via 1987 …

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PTS 10/063: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Soundtrack

The Dream seemed an easy hit for songs from several genres and decades …

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As ever, Shakespeare’s Jukebox provides a quick chance to cut loose and be a little mischievous between read-through plays.

Also, to embarrass myself, not least with my dodgy 80s credentials …

Finally to ask the time-honoured question:

What’s missing?

Let me know below!

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PTS 10/062: Wakey, Wakey …

I took you for granted for so long: I’m sorry …

 

BH MND11 76090
image:  Abel Guerrero

Being a Production Photographer has its moments – this is my favourite image from The Dream in Cambridge, 2012.

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V.

One of the things about a project like this read-through it that it gives you a certain discipline.  In this case, although my timetable may be only notionally followed, it has forced me to read or re-read plays that I might not have, otherwise.  Occasionally (Love’s Labour’s Lost, I’m looking at YOU), my reservations have been fully justified. On other occasions, this new-found steel in my soul has been intensely rewarding.  I might not otherwise have read the Henry VI plays, for example.  Or, indeed, re-read The Dream in any hurry (believing I knew it ‘well enough’), and that would have been a shame …

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