Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

More thoughts on a face from out of the past.

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I’ve found myself looking at screencaps of the reconstruction of RIII’s face yet again tonight. I’m drawn to it, as I am to the whole archaeological project known as “The King under the car park.”

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Richard III Society member Philippa Langley, originator of the search, said on a Channel 4 documentary earlier: “It doesn’t look like the face of a tyrant. I’m sorry but it doesn’t.

“He’s very handsome. It’s like you could just talk to him, have a conversation with him right now.”  A quote from the BBC website

I have to agree with Philippa. Looks can be deceiving, of course, but even in the portraits of the day, which might or might not have been accurate, I never got the sense of the pantomime villain presented to us so often.  History, it is said, is written by the victors; the losers often get the very short end of the stick.

I’ve always loved history. To see it come to life in the way it has with these recent developments, to hear all the details of these bones, to imagine in my mind those bones transforming into the flesh and blood man, an anointed king, a valiant warrior, brutally killed and then disrespected in death . . . I felt a sense of awe mingled with sadness.

We cannot change the past and the ignominious way Richard Plantagenet was treated in death.

But something can be done to rectify the image molded by Shakespeare and other writers of Richard III as an ugly hunchback with a withered arm and a dark, poisonous heart, a villainous murderer with no redeeming qualities.

Richard Plantagenet was a human being and certainly not perfect, but many signs point to him being a much more sympathetic (and far better-looking) individual and a better king than history and literature have painted him.

That’s why I am so psyched at the notion of Richard III’s story being told on screen. Even if Richard Armitage is unable for whatever reason to play a part in its coming to fruition, I dearly hope it happens.

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Richard III Society member and RIII screenwriter Philippa Langley at the site of the excavation. Courtesy of examiner.com.

I have a lot of admiration for Philippa Langley and her dogged determination to find the King and to see his tale told properly. I appreciate all those who supported and participated in this dig and the dedicated researchers whose efforts established beyond a reasonable doubt the identity of the bones.  What an amazing odyssey!

Here’s a link to the live Q&A held earlier today by Channel 4 with Philippa and Professor Lin Foxhall of the University of Leicester. There’s some interesting queries and responses if you haven’t seen it yet:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/richard-iii-the-king-in-the-car-park/articles/live-qa-with-philippa-langley-and-lin-foxhall

And just for fun, this bit of art that’s been making the rounds on the Net:

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And a glimpse of Guy, looking rather Richard III-like:

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I saw RA on American TV again.

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OK, it was actually in Shakespeare Uncovered, a six-part miniseries that originated on the BBC that combines “history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis and the personal passions of its celebrated subject” (so says the PBS website). I watched the first two eps in the wee hours of the morning, with Ethan Hawke focusing on Macbeth and Joely Richardson (with able assistance from her mother, Vanessa Redgrave) hosting an hour devoted to some of Shakespeare’s comedies. I very much enjoyed both–lots of food for thought and wonderful to see so many of my favorite actors emoting the Bard’s timeless words– and have them DVRed so I can revisit when I like.

My fellow Americans should check your local PBS listings if you want to join in on viewing this impressive series.

The first ep with Hawke featured snippets of various filmed and televised performances from over the years, including the Antony Sher production for the RSC with Richard playing the role of Angus. The blog post I recently did on RA with a compilation of his clips is linked below (“RA in the Scottish Play“) if you happened to miss it.

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I admit I squeed with delight when I saw that handsome bearded young man in military costume seated at the table and had to share the moment whilst chatting on Twitter at 1:30 a.m. Yep, should have been asleep. Downton Abbey sort of put a kibosh on that (as mentioned in previous post, not a cheery ep).

He’s gone from the background to the forefront, and I am so very, very proud of him. More handsome, more confident, more charismatic than ever and such an amazing talent that goes from strength to strength.  It’s wonderful to look back and to ponder what may lie ahead for my favorite actor.

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Phrases from the Bard: Forest Boy, the “Green-Eyed Monster”

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In Othello, the villainous Iago plants seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind about the faithfulness of his wife, while advising him, “Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster that doth mock the meat it feeds on.” Othello, Act 3, Scene 3.

I found it interesting that Robin would constantly push Marian, whom he purportedly loved, to work her womanly wiles on Sir Guy, and then have frequent hissy fits when she did spend time in Guy’s presence.

Doesn’t love involve trust? And if you love someone, don’t you want to protect them from evil influences and keep them out of harm’s way? (Uhm, kind of like Guy did for Marian?) Robin considered Guy to be a monster, and yet he was always shoving Marian in the “monster’s” direction. Mixed signals there, I’d say.

Robin proved to be the green-eyed monster literally and figuratively.

And the whole “Peeping Blobbin” thing got really old. Every time you turned around, he was turning up like the proverbial bad penny. He started coming across as some sort of medieval pervert.

I like to think if Blobbin and the squire had stayed out of the picture, this scene might have played out very differently. *sigh* A girl can dream . . .

Of course, dearest Guy had his moments of jealousy, too. Particularly when a certain charming count showed up in Nottingham. In spite of all his protestations that he didn’t care about Marian anymore, we all knew he did.

Our blue-eyed boy was seeing green when Count Frederich showed up and showered Marian with his attentions.

It is thought that Shakespeare may have been evoking the image of cats here–often green-eyed and fond of toying with their prey before killing it, thus a cat will “mock the meat it doth feed on.”

American actor John Edward McCullough (1837-18...

American actor John Edward McCullough (1837-1885) as Othello? Colour lithograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Othello and Desdemona in Venice, 1850, oil on ...