Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Here at The Oakridge School, first period English class had a rich discussion on the concept of moral integrity thanks to the post by Ashley Grey from The Hockaday School. Our discussion focused on two statements from her piece, namely that “[Anne] ruins her moral integrity by accepting [Richard’s] ring” and that “[Elizabeth] slightly compromises her moral integrity in her verbal spar with Richard and Margaret.” We discussed these ideas at length yesterday (thank you Ashley Grey!!), and here’s some ideas we came up with:
Tierney: I believe that Anne may indeed be a very moral woman that was just confused by Richard's words in a time when it’s hard to think clearly. Richard, being the mastermind that he is, tried to “woo” her during a time of mourning. This is also what causes her unwillingness to kill Richard in scene 2. Although killing Richard could’ve been a very helpful deed to all characters in the play, her mourning state of mind actually makes possible her higher moral stance to choose not to act out violently.
|Richard gives Anne the choice to take his life|
Caleb: The fact that Anne chose not to kill Richard, at first glance, shows that she is indeed moral. Not killing someone when you know that they murdered your father-in-law and husband shows restraint and moral integrity. Or does it? Anne could have been aware of the fact that she was out of power, and if she married Richard, she'd be back in the loop. This would mean that Anne was indeed lacking in morality. Little does Anne know that no matter what the cause of her actions, she still fell into the palm of Richard's hand. She doesn't seem aware that Richard plans on killing her. If she had killed Richard when he had given her the chance, she would've prevented a lot of grief and trouble for everyone, but her mind was either too focused on getting back into power or too fixed – impractically speaking – on being morally righteous as a nonviolent Christian.
The point made by Kourtnei got us thinking about the moral position of Margaret in Act 1, and we immediately made note (as many critics have) that she functions much like a “moral chorus” does in Greek tragedies. Her position remains steadfast and consistent expressing constant disapproval of the feuding factions of post-Lancastrian England. And then Elizabeth (a student from 1st period)reminded us of the irony of our reading:
|Richard conflicts with Queen Margaret|
We were fascinated by this question of moral integrity, and we thank Ashley Grey of The Hockaday School for directing our conversation this way. As we reflected on the conversation, we noticed that we were most motivated to find evidence for defending the integrity of Anne, but some of us remain staunch defenders of Ms. Grey’s assessment that such integrity gets ruined when she takes the ring…
|Thank you Hockaday School!|
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Stage Direction #1 (Starting at line 107) [Richard is trying to persuade and seduce Anne; physically, being closer to her makes more sense for properly executing this task. Richard should come off as an oily, slimy character who slinks his way throughout the play - this is just another more subdued way of doing so. Each step signifies him getting closer and closer to his ultimate goal which is, even if for a short while, Anne.]
Anne: Oh, he was gentle mild and virtuous.
[With every sentence, Richard takes a small step towards Anne who is kneeling on the ground with her dead husband.]
Richard: The better for the king of heaven that hath him.
Anne: He is in heaven where thou shalt never come.
Richard: Let him thank me, that holp him to send thither,/ for he was fitter for that place than earth.
Anne: And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Richard: Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
Anne: Some dungeon.
Richard: (In a low voice, seemingly seductively yet unnatural) Your bedchamber.
Stage Direction #2 (Starting at line 126) (Note: in this scene, Richard’s character should overact in an attempt to beguile Anne. However, this should not be confused with the actor overdoing the part of Richard, but rather Richard should overdo the emotions he is pretending to feel. Throughout the scene, Richard should try to maintain a sickening sense of unctuousness in everything he does. In contrast, Anne, being cruelly duped, must show a scale of emotion so that her entrance is completely different in tone than her exit.)
Richard: Your beauty was the cause of that effect:
Suddenly, Richard kneels and is eye-level with Anne. He grabs her hand gently and tries to kiss it; she violently pushes him away. Her face is wild with anger, but there is fear in her eyes. Richard’s charade is unaffected. His actions seem methodical, almost rehearsed in smoothness and control.
Richard: (a sly smile) Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep….
Stage Direction #3 (Richard’s soliloquy from 156-175)
Richard, realizing that his original plan is not working effectively, begins to cry softly as he delivers this soliloquy. His head is hung low and he speaks in a dramatically shaky voice, occasionally peeking up to see Anne’s reaction. Like a child in a temper tantrum, Richard’s actions are driven almost entirely according to the reaction he receives.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
So yesterday at Greenhill, we approached Richard III with an eye toward actually staging the drama rather than merely studying it, actually figuring out what was essential for an actor and an audience rather than merely taking the text as handed down.
The assignment for the day was to cut fifty lines from Act 1, Scene 3. Why those lines? Entire lines? Half-lines? Would any characters not survive the cuts? Here are a couple of the cuts we made, and what we understand as the consequences—good and bad—of making such tough but necessary choices.
First, many of us at Greenhill wanted to cut more quickly to the Richard and Margaret conflict, so we whittled down the opening forty lines to a quicker explication of Elizabeth's anxiety. We cut from lines 17 through lines 32 [Cambridge School edition throughout].
Rivers: Is it concluded he [Richard] shall be Protector [of the princes in the event of Edward's death]?
Elizabeth: It is determined, not concluded yet, / But so it must be if the king miscarry. [Enter Buckingham and Derby]
What likelihood of
his his majesty's amendment, lords?
With that cut, Elizabeth's concern over the king's health focuses our understanding of her character. Of course, we lose the palace intrigue of slander, which would mean further adjustments later. We made another cut about sixty lines later.
We noticed that Margaret had many many asides, all directed toward the same kind of effect, so we talked about paring down some of them. Cut 106-111, 113-118, and 124-140.
Elizabeth: My lord of Gloucester [Richard, obvs], I have too long borne / Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs. / By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty / Of those gross taunts that oft I have endured.
Richard: What? Threat you me with telling of the king? / Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband king, / I was a pack-horse in his great affairs, / A weeder-out of his proud adversaries, / A liberal rewarder of his friends. / To royalise his blood I spent mine own.
Margaret: [Aside] Hie theee to hell for shame, and leave this world, / Thou cacodemon. There thy kindgom is.
Now this cut demands more of a defense and explanation than the first. Again, we as
a class an audience rigorous adapters of the script wanted to preserve the power of Margaret's asides without, y'know, banging the same key on the dramatic piano over and over again. So this cut does away with a couple of her asides. By means of this cut, Margaret's aside is political--in order to royalise Edward's blood, Richard sheds Margaret's husband's blood.
Remember, Margaret's husband has made an appearance in Richard III: The usurped Henry VI's still-bleeding corpse is carried onstage in Act 1, Scene 2. Keep in mind that in the previous history play, 3 Henry VI, after her son (another Edward) is killed, Margaret exclaims "Oh, kill me too!" to which Richard responds, "Marry, and shall!" When his brother the now-king Edward IV holds him back, Richard complains, "Why should she live, to fill the world with words?" (link). Instead of killing Margaret, Richard exits the stage and, in the next scene (3H6, Act 5, Scene 6), kills Henry VI. We thought that Margaret's go-to-hell aside was similar in tone, focus, and imagery to the ones we cut, we thought it was consistent with the enmity between the two characters, and thus, we thought it worked well as a response to Richard's line about royalising the Plantagenet line.
During class yesterday, we even played with a mid-sentence edit: Look at Richard at line 112, "What? Threat you [Elizabeth] me with telling of the king?" Now consider it in our pared-down version.
Richard: What? Threat you [pause] me?
with telling of the king ?
What do you think of these cuts?
Are there others that we missed that you would suggest?
Please let us know!
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Thanks to Dr. Moreland of The Hockaday School for providing the following web videos - each of which presents a clip of an actor working through Richard's opening soliloquy. The first is from Laurence Olivier's famous 1955 version:
The next clip is a more modern adaptation - both in terms of its release (1995) and its narrative setting - and it stars Ian McKellen:
Lastly, we have Al Pacino working with the scene in the documentary, Looking for Richard (1996) - take a look:
I encourage students to watch these clips after reading the opening soliloquy by the Duke of Gloucester. Feel free to discuss and react to the different versions via the comment mechanism below this post.
Perhaps think about the following: What do the actors bring to each clip? How do they engage audience? Consider the role of the camera in the staging of the scene. Most importantly, enjoy them!