Shakespeare — Stage and Television


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Sometimes immersion just works. Many of us VDPers have admitted to watching entire seasons of “House of Cards,” both Yank and Brit versions, on Netflix at one sitting. For me, it worked with Shakespeare in June. Our respectable, and often rather brilliant, Shakespeare Festival at Tulane happens in June/July annually. It traditionally features one main-stage feature and two shorts. The main stage this year was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and depending upon how you feel about time-shifting when presenting Shakespeare, and projections for sets (think “Sunday in the Park with George” on a smaller scale), it was a grand production. I understood almost all the words spoken, which makes it successful for me. The shorts were comedic or creative or both, and showed some clever thinking and allowance for experimentation, which is required if any young people are to stay Shakespeare-connected.Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.49.50 AM

However, the “blow my mind” hour came from a DVD. PBS Great Performances is presenting a series titled “The Hollow Crown,” focusing on the Kings plays — “Richard II,” “Henry IV, Part 1,” “Henry IV, Part 2,” and “Henry V.” I ordered “Richard II” because I had not seen it on stage, thinking I would likely rather dislike experiencing the Bard on a small screen. What a miscalculation! Ben Whishaw (“Skyfall”) is strikingly creepy and relentlessly self-indulgent as Richard. Other played-large performances are given by Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek”), James Purefoy (“The Following”) and David Morrissey (“The Walking Dead”). I dare anyone to leave the room during the final dialogue, which rather pushes the viewer up against the wall with its intensity and darkness. Sam Mendes produced this series, which explains its quality. Watch for “Richard III,” which is in the planning stages.

Barbara Motley


One Response to “Shakespeare — Stage and Television”

  1. This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This other Eden, demi-paradise,
    This fortress built by Nature for herself
    Against infection and the hand of war,
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands,
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

    I had no idea this came from Richard II until I saw the tv production, which I thought was extraordinary, and which made me hen read the play. Highly recommend you all see it.

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