I figure that if I just keep typing, something profound will eventually come out of all this -

Monday, September 26, 2011

Enter Bear Stage Left

    As promised, a few significant things I noticed about the staging and direction of The 
Winter’s Tale.For the sake of brevity, I’ll be focusing on what I thought was more 
significant or different from what I imagined.
Act I Scene 2, Palace of Leontes
 [Enter Leontes, Polixenes, Herminoe, Mamillius, Camillo, and Attendants]
    What I found most interesting about the staging of this direction, was Mamillius’s 
entrance. He ran onto stage, put his toy down, and then ran off again. This put a strong 
emphasis on his presence. I hadn’t ever really considered Mamillius to be that significant 
of a character, but playing up his appearance on stage helped the audience connect more
strongly with this precocious child, making his death that much more tragic. It felt like a
real loss when Mamillius died, because his entrances were so strong.
 [Hermione giving her hand to Polixenes]
    There was no hesitation in this staging. Hermione and Polixenes were flirting. Yes,
Leontes was removed and withdrawn, but those two characters were content to let him 
stay by himself. This staging made Leontes suspicions less outrageous.

 Act II, Scene 3 A room in Leonte’s palace
[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants]
      Throughout this entire scene, Leontes is reclining on his chair, with his clothes mussed, 
and a strong drink in his hand. The reason I felt this was significant is because it plays up 
Leontes regret. It portrayed a man who truly regretted what he felt he had to do. Leontes
is a man in love, truly distraught by his wife’s apparent infidelity. This allows the audience to 
accept the sudden swings in emotion later when Leontes learns of his wife’s fidelity. We see 
him truly hurting in this scene because of how the director portrayed it. In my mind, I saw
Leontes pacing the room, infuriated with his wife, not quietly mourning, trying to lose himself
in drink.
Act V, Scene 3 A chapel in Paulina’s house
[HERMIONE comes down]
    Finally, we get to the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the statue coming to life. First, 
the staging of the statue I thought was important. Hermione is standing next to a pedestal, her
right arm on the pedestal, making a half-fist, with her forehead against her knuckles. He left 
arm was across her body resting on the pedestal as well. When she initially moves, her left arm 
drops down, Leontes takes that hand, her right palm opens and she buries her face in it, and
then she embraces Leontes. Following that she silently makes way to her daughter to put her
hands upon her.
    I found this particularly interesting, because the scene felt much more supernatural than I 
expected. It truly seemed that a statue was coming to life with one member at a time gaining 
mobility. Before, I expected her to leap off a pedestal and immediately embrace her husband.
Instead, her own overwhelming emotion is show by her burying her face in her hand before 
hugging Leontes. Also, the slow somewhat stilted movements did make it seem as though she 
wasn’t used to moving, that she truly was a statue come to life. This interpretation increased 
both the reverence and the mysticism.
    Anyway, there’s some staging for your thoughts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Exit Bear Stage Right

            In an attempt to prepare for the big stage this Saturday, I figured I would pull up all the stage directions in a Winter’s Tale and list them out (Thanks to I’m going to print these out and take them with me on Saturday and use it as a means to analyze the play. Since the directions leave room for interpretation, I’m curious how the director will portray these directions. So I’ll record the actors come out (i.e. do the characters storm on stage? Is Hermione’s pregnancy played up?)  and try to figure out what the director was trying to imply, how he framed the play. Hopefully, I’ll pick up something.
Act I Scene 1
Location: Palace of Leontes
Characters: Camillo and Archidamus
Directions: Enter Cam and Arch, Exeunt
Act I Scene 2
Location: Palace of Leontes
Characters: Leontes, Polixenes, Herminoe, Mamillius, Camillo, and Attendants
Directions: Enter; Hermione giving her hand to Polixenes; Exeunt Polixenes, Hermione, Attendants; Exit Leontes; Enter Polixenes; Exeunt
Act II Scene 1
Location: Palace of Leontes
Characters: Herminoe, Mamillius, and Ladies
Directions: Enter; Enter Leontes, Antigonus, Lords, and Others; Exeunt Hermione, guards, and ladies; Exuent
Act I Scene 1
Location: Palace of Leontes
Characters: Camillo and Archidamus
Directions: Enter Cam and Arch, Exeunt
[Enter HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, and Ladies]
[Enter LEONTES, with ANTIGONUS, Lords and others]
[Exit HERMIONE, guarded; with Ladies]
Act II, Scene 2 A prison.
[Enter PAULINA, a Gentleman, and Attendants]
[Exeunt Gentleman and Attendants]

Act II, Scene 3A room in LEONTES’ palace.
[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants]
[Enter PAULINA, with a child]
[Laying down the child]
[Exit with the child]
[Enter a Servant]

Act III, Scene 1 A sea-port in Sicilia.

Act III, Scene 2 A court of Justice.
[Enter LEONTES, Lords, and Officers]
[Enter HERMIONE guarded; PAULINA and Ladies attending]
[Exeunt certain Officers]
[Re-enter Officers, with CLEOMENES and DION]
[Enter Servant]
[Exeunt PAULINA and Ladies, with HERMIONE]
[Re-enter PAULINA]

Act III, Scene 3 Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.
[Enter ANTIGONUS with a Child, and a Mariner]
[Exit Mariner]
[Exit, pursued by a bear]
[Enter a Shepherd]
[Enter Clown]

Act IV, Scene 1Chorus as Time speaks.
[Enter Time, the Chorus]

Act IV, Scene 2 Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.

Act IV, Scene 3 A road near the Shepherd’s cottage.
[Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing]
[Enter Clown]
[Grovelling on the ground]
[Picking his pocket]
[Exit Clown]

Act IV, Scene 4 The Shepherd’s cottage.
[Enter Shepherd, Clown, MOPSA, DORCAS, and others, with POLIXENES and  CAMILLO disguised]
[Music. Here a dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses]
[Enter Servant]
[Exit Servant]
[Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing]
[Exit with DORCAS and MOPSA]
[Exit Autolycus]
[Re-enter Servant]
[Exit Servant]
[Here a dance of twelve Satyrs]
[Exit Polixenes]
[Exit Old Sheperd]
[They, Cam Pet Flor talk aside]
[Re-enter AUTOLYCUS]
[CAMILLO, FLORIZEL, and PERDITA come forward]
[FLORIZEL and AUTOLYCUS exchange garments]
[Giving it to PERDITA]
[Re-enter Clown and Shepherd].
[Exeunt Shepherd and Clown]

Act V, Scene 1A room in LEONTES’ palace.
[Enter a Gentleman]
[Re-enter CLEOMENES and others, with FLORIZEL and PERDITA]
[Enter a Lord]

Act V, Scene 2 Before LEONTES’ palace.
[Enter AUTOLYCUS and a Gentleman]
[Enter another Gentleman]
[Enter a third Gentleman]
[Exeunt Gentlemen]
[Enter Shepherd and Clown]

Act V, Scene 3 A chapel in PAULINA’S house.
[HERMIONE comes down] 3415

Friday, September 16, 2011

Casting Call: Winter's Tale Meets Harry Potter

    So, in my defense, I had been considering doing a casting call (choosing out actors to play certain characters in the plays we read) before Professor Burton recommended it. The reason is because frequently my wife and I will read a story and then look online for casting calls to see if other peoples imaginations match up with ours. (Favorite so far is a Wheel of Time casting call -
    So who would I cast for Winters Tale? Daniel Radcliff for Polixenes, Rupert Grint for Leontes, and Emma Watson for Hermione...I was thinking of the Evil Romanticized Ideal and where we see it in pop-culture and our lives, and suddenly I remembered Harry Potter Part 1. Ron freaks out at Hermione and Harry because he thinks that Hermione would rather be with Harry.
    Please view exhibit A
    A similar scene could easily be portrayed in Winter's Tale. Polixenes is the golden boy who everyone loves. He rules over Bohemia which is tens times more fun than Sicilia. Hermione could easily be forgiven for choosing him over Leontes, who is not nearly as amazing as Polixenes, but is a redhead to boot. Throw a an evil, soul-stealing horcrux into the mix and who wouldn't suspect your friends of betraying you.
    I guess what I'm getting at is that these story lines and elements that Shakespeare used 400 years ago are still cropping up today. The reason is he's understanding of the human psyche. He knows how people act, think, and feel. (He frequently condemns people for refusing the acknowledge their flaws and weaknesses. He doesn't condemn their weakness, just how they act and their refusal to admit that they're weak, but I don't want to steal Kara's future thunder/epiphany, so I'll stop there)
    I guess what I'm saying is that Shakespeare is still around because he got it right. In fact, he got it right over and over again, which is why we still study him even after 400 years. I wonder if we'll still study him during the millennium...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Change in Design

Changed the design to see if those of you who were having trouble posting can now post...Give it a try and see if it works now

Monday, September 12, 2011

Acting Out: Will the real Hamlet please stand up

One important theme in Hamlet is acting. Who is acting, who isn't, and what characters are presenting a fake face or are being real with those around them. Hamlet, is especially difficult to read because at times it doesn't even seem as though he knows whether he's acting or not. However, we are given an effective means of deriving when Hamlet is or isn't acting.
    While instructing the actors on how to do their job, Hamlet states:
    "Be not too tame neither; but let your own discretion be your
tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with
this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of
nature: for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing..."
    By telling the actors to be neither tame, nor to overact, Hamlet creates a means for us to tell when he is acting and when he isn't. In moments of intense emotion, whether it be anger or depression, Hamlet drops his facade. During his first soliloquy, we get a feeling of intense depression, a sign that he's not acting, because he seems to be rather 'too tame.' Likewise, when he's confronting his mother, intense emotion destroys the careful caricature that he's been creating. We hear his earnest pleas and see him for who he really is. Again, we know he's not acting because he becomes so intense that he drops discretion.
    So, I'd argue that by using Hamlet's own description of acting, we can get an accurate view of when he is and isn't acting throughout the play, which could then be used to analyze his more 'insane' moments to determine if he really is crazy or just acting.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hamlet Group Discussion #1

Christ posted a question on my blog earlier, so I figured I'd respond to it in this post.
Do you think Hamlet is any better than Claudius given Hamlet's murder of Polonius and Claudius's murder of the king? Are their stories of ambition and passionate retribution different?
    Hamlet might have racked up a greater body count than Claudius but Claudius definitely performed the greater crime. Claudius actions were pre-meditated murder, followed by adultery whereas Hamlet always acted in the moment, driven by his passions which were ignited by Claudius. In a sense Claudius is partially responsible for Hamlet murdering Polonius. He killed his father. He married his mother. He turned his best friends into spies and conspired with Polonius to have Ophelia turn against Hamlet. After all this, he has the audacity to act as surrogate father towards Hamlet. Had none of these events occurred, Hamlet would never have been driven to the lengths he went.
    Also, I’d argue that Claudius was driven more by ambition than passion. Otherwise, his passion would have overturned his desire to be king when racked by guilt. Had he really been sincere about his guilt over killing his brother, he would have divorced his Gertrude, given up the kingdom, and submitted himself to justice. Throughout the play, Claudius is driven by his ambition, whereas Hamlet gives up so much to avenge his father. He sets aside his ambition to follow his passions.
    So I’d say their motivations are significantly different, especially since Hamlet kills both Laertes and Claudius in self-defense. Yes, killing Polonius was grievous, but not pre-meditated, as opposed to Claudius murdering Hamlet Sr. Hamlet is driven by passion. Claudius is drive by ambition

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shakespeare: Man, Woman, or Anonymous?

Despite all my experiences with Shakespeare in high school, few memories stand out strongly. I can’t remember any of the characters from the Tempest, I can only recall “Et tu Brute” from Julius Caesar, and I still get slight hung up on the age difference between Romeo and Juliet (which is never really addressed in any film adaptations I’ve seen).
So, it’s because I have so few memories of Shakespeare’s works, that I find it slightly humorous that I can still remember with great clarity a conversation with Elena. Elena and I had been friends since second grade and at that time, she was the director of a One Act that I was playing in, meaning we had plenty of time to talk. One such conversation led to the topic of Shakespeare in which I made some reference to “His works” to which she promptly responded, “You mean, her works.”
                Now unless I’m mistaken, Shakespeare was a man, I mean, we have paintings of the guy and he has facial hair. Now I do understand that some woman have facial hair, but a full goatee? With this fool proof argument in hand, I told Elena that he was definitely a man.
                “Well, yes, Shakespeare was a man,” Elena explained in tones suitable for addressing a third-grader. “But the actual author of all of ‘Shakespeare’s works’ [complete with air quotes on her part] was a woman.”
                I then learned that Shakespeare corresponded with some Duchess who was more educated and capable of him, but that she needed to have him produce the works to get real credibility. Hence, some of the sonnets were written to men, Shakespeare’s lack of education, and her general incredulity that a man could produce something as timeless as what Shakespeare did (She did have a tendency to lean feminist).
                Now, this is by no means my earliest memory of Shakespeare, but it is one that has been on my mind since seeing the trailer for the new movie Anonymous. From what I can see, this film takes a similar stance by saying Shakespeare did not write his most famous works either, although in this instance it was a man who did write it. Seeing this and thinking back to my conversation with Elena has prompted me to wonder, “Does it matter who wrote all these works.”
                No, not really
                Whether a man or a woman held the pen doesn’t matter, what does matter are the words. Yes, we can derive context and meaning by understanding the author, but ultimately, the works speak for themselves. We don’t need to know exactly who Shakespeare was to appreciate the depth of her characters and the flow of his prose. Yes, I am going to go see Anonymous, and I’m sure it will be tense and action packed, but will it change my perspective on Hamlet – maybe, but that’s a conversation for another time. In the end, the words are the same regardless of who penned them. We can still have a great time reading them.