lareinenoire: (Elizabeth)
[personal profile] lareinenoire
Because we were travelling yesterday and I did not have time.

Day #16: Your first play you saw - Macbeth

I'm not counting film versions, so the first Shakespeare play I ever saw was in March of 1998 when I visited London for the first time. My father and I had just arrived on the red-eye that morning and happened to be wandering round Shaftesbury Avenue when we saw a billboard for a production of Macbeth at the Queen's Theatre. And that, as they say, was that.

Rufus Sewell (who I had, and still have, quite a thing for) was playing Macbeth, with Sally Dexter as Lady Macbeth. To be honest, there are large chunks of the production that I do not remember, but I recall the banquet scene being brilliant, along with pretty much any scene where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth shared the stage -- their chemistry was positively sizzling, which is odd, considering Lady M. spends most of her time telling her husband off for being unmanly.

Rather to my shame, I did end up falling asleep during the scene where Macduff and Malcolm talk about nothing while watching grass grow, but I have no idea if there is any way to make that scene interesting without cutting about half of it. Also, I can partly blame jetlag since it was our first day in London.

Day #17: Your favourite speech - Romeo and Juliet and 3 Henry VI



Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus' lodging: such a wagoner
As Phaethon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaway's eyes may wink and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalk'd of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:
Hood my unmann'd blood, bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven's back.
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possess'd it, and, though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy'd: so tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them.


First of all, this speech is possibly one of the sexiest in Shakespeare, at least as far as I'm concerned. The imagery is just glorious, and I love all the different facets we see of Juliet here -- how incredibly alive she is and glorying in the prospect of everything she has waiting for her -- and, of course, the horrible irony of the fight the audience has just witnessed that is about to completely shatter her world and her expectations.



What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
Sink in the ground? I thought it would have mounted.
See how my sword weeps for the poor king's death!
O, may such purple tears be alway shed
From those that wish the downfall of our house!
If any spark of life be yet remaining,
Down, down to hell; and say I sent thee thither:

Stabs him again

I, that have neither pity, love, nor fear.
Indeed, 'tis true that Henry told me of;
For I have often heard my mother say
I came into the world with my legs forward:
Had I not reason, think ye, to make haste,
And seek their ruin that usurp'd our right?
The midwife wonder'd and the women cried
'O, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!'
And so I was; which plainly signified
That I should snarl and bite and play the dog.
Then, since the heavens have shaped my body so,
Let hell make crook'd my mind to answer it.
I have no brother, I am like no brother;
And this word 'love,' which graybeards call divine,
Be resident in men like one another
And not in me: I am myself alone.
Clarence, beware; thou keep'st me from the light:
But I will sort a pitchy day for thee;
For I will buz abroad such prophecies
That Edward shall be fearful of his life,
And then, to purge his fear, I'll be thy death.
King Henry and the prince his son are gone:
Clarence, thy turn is next, and then the rest,
Counting myself but bad till I be best.
I'll throw thy body in another room
And triumph, Henry, in thy day of doom.


I came very close to picking the monologue from Act III, Scene II, but I'd already talked about that on Day 3 when I discussed Richard in detail. This soliloquy is in some ways an extension of that, but there is an incredible, corrosive bitterness here that's muted in the earlier speech, or at least channelled into that almost playful anticipation with which Richard plots his coup d'état. Here, he's standing over the bloody corpse of Henry VI (the same corpse that will bleed in his presence in Richard III), having taken the first two steps toward the crown.

It is also entirely possible that my love for this speech comes from Jonathan Slinger's performance in the RSC Histories Cycle. Here's what I said about it after seeing it for the first time:

Henry's death scene was utterly riveting. So many links to Richard II's death, down to the circle of blood when he was dragged offstage. But Richard's monologue after the murder -- wow. Just wow. His bitterness, how trapped he seems to be, it comes out so strongly here, even more so than in the long speech in 3.2. His face and form have become who he is but not by choice. Everyone assumes he is evil because he is deformed. I actually felt genuinely sorry for him, in spite of Henry's body lying there in front of him. There was so much self-loathing in that speech. And then he dragged Henry -- poor, helpless Henry -- offstage, and everyone suddenly remembered he's sort of a homicidal maniac.

What's also worth noting is that Richard is the only person in the entire trilogy who never gets the benefit of the doubt from Henry VI. Everybody else -- York, Suffolk, Margaret, Edward, even Beaufort -- at least gets some moment in which Henry tries to understand them or sympathise with them. Richard never gets that. And, granted, perhaps that is because this is the only scene where they're together for any length of time, and Richard has just killed Henry's son, but Henry is just so mean to him it's almost astonishing. Especially since it's Henry -- sweet, unassuming, adorable, faily Henry.

...wow, that went on longer than I'd expected.


Day #1: Your favourite play - Othello and Richard III
Day #2: Your favourite character - Lady Elizabeth Grey in 3 Henry VI and Richard III
Day #3: Your favourite hero - Othello
Day #4: Your favourite heroine - Juliet from Romeo and Juliet and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing
Day #5: Your favorite villain - Richard of Gloucester
Day #6: Your favourite villainess female villain - Joan la Pucelle
Day #7: Your favourite clown - Feste from Twelfth Night
Day #8: Your favourite comedy - Much Ado About Nothing
Day #9: Your favourite tragedy - King Lear
Day #10: Your favourite history - The Henry VI trilogy
Day #11: Your least favourite play - The Taming of the Shrew
Day #12: Your favourite scene - selections from Richard III, Othello, Much Ado, and 3 Henry VI
Day #13: Your favourite romantic scene - As You Like It, Act IV, Scene I
Day #14: Your favourite fight scene - 1 Henry IV and 3 Henry VI
Day #15: The first play you read - Romeo and Juliet
Day #16: Your first play you saw - Macbeth
Day #17: Your favourite speech - Romeo and Juliet and 3 Henry VI
Day #18: Your favourite dialogue
Day #19: Your favourite movie version of a play
Day #20: Your favourite movie adaptation of a play
Day #21: An overrated play
Day #22: An underrated play
Day #23: A role you've never played but would love to play
Day #24: An actor or actress you would love to see in a particular role
Day #25: Sooner or later, everyone has to choose: Hal or Falstaff?
Day #26: Your favourite couple
Day #27: Your favourite couplet
Day #28: Your favourite joke
Day #29: Your favourite sonnet
Day #30: Your favourite single line
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lareinenoire

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