A Prince amongst men …

Nothing compares to WHO?

 

BH prince

Today marks two year since Prince died.  It’s not that long ago that I confessed that his was one of the very few celebrity deaths that have personally touched me.  Step aside, Princess Diana!  People have got tired of me saying he was the ‘effing Mozart of his age‘, I think.

This weekend is a busy one – or should be.  One of my favourite watering holes, Beerwolf, are hosting a live music tribute on Sunday afternoon, marvellously entitled Prince you’ve been gone.  I suspect this might put a dent in my Sixth Form marking – sorry, people.

Whilst there’s an argument to be made that Shakespeare himself was a multi-faceted genius, you know me by now: I started thinking about who the Shakespearean ‘Prince’ might be.  These were my criteria …

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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 …

bh-hollow-crown-rii-beach.jpg

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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Quote of the Week: 26 March 2018 (#34)

The long road to the civil war begins here …

BH Richard II 86536
Photo by me:  taken at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, 2014

This week’s quotation is from:  Charles R. Forker, ‘Introduction’, in William Shakespeare, Richard II (Arden Third Edition), (Thomson Learning:  London, 2002)

A recent Reddit thread discussed the extent to which the History plays critiqued the monarchy.  To be honest, I didn’t want to get involved, because it looked like a straight request for homework help, and yet, it was hard to resist such a fascinating subject …

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