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First, a shortish report on last night, when I joined [livejournal.com profile] cisic and [livejournal.com profile] sadcypress for a production of The Comedy of Errors at Baltimore Shakespeare Festival.

It's one of the plays that I just don't know very well at all, and may not even have read in full. All I knew about it going in was that there were two sets of identical twins whose parents quite idiotically gave them the same name. As in, one set of twins named Antipholus, and another set named Dromio.

This, naturally, led me to spend most of the evening wondering what sort of failure of logic led to that state of affairs. Also, why the twin who knew he had a twin and was in fact searching for said twin, would not immediately realise, when he wandered into a town and everybody seemed to think they knew who he was, that, oh, maybe, just maybe, they were referring to his identical twin. But apparently Shakespeare was riffing on Plautus and you're just supposed to go with it.

The performance itself was quite entertaining in spite of 50% humidity (everything around us was soaked with condensation by the end) and the fact that all the actors were speaking extremely slowly. I do understand that outdoor Shakespeare is a tricky beast and you have to be careful of enunciation (having been in what was meant to be an outdoor production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, I do know how difficult it is). However, this was paired with over-emphasis on each and every single joke -- as if every line was supposed to be a punchline. Adriana was a particular problem in this regard, and we couldn't help but think that, shrill as the performance was, we couldn't necessarily blame anyone for trying to avoid her. That being said, everybody seemed to tone it down in the second half and that helped a lot.

It was a perfectly enjoyable production all round, even if the René Magritte references were a bit unnecessary. Yes, we get that being mistaken for your twin brother is unsettling and surreal, but we don't need a giant comb onstage to illustrate that (I'd much rather have seen Antipholus of Ephesus use the giant comb to try to batter down the door to his house, for instance). The final scene, where the cast of nine used Magritte-inspired cardboard cutouts of other characters (faces obscured by random things, i.e. apples) to recreate a stage full of people was fairly clever.


And today's Shakespeare meme response.

Day #7: Your favourite clown

Hmm. Clowns are hard. No, seriously, they are. In my case, the primary problem is that it is very hard for me personally to grasp them on the page. Some people can -- and I'm envious of them. So I almost need to restrict myself to plays I've either seen or performed.

Falstaff is tempting, but I really don't think he's a clown as such. I'm not sure why this is the case -- and please feel free to argue it if you'd like! -- but in my head, he's something else altogether.

I may need to ultimately go with Feste. He was the first clown I legitimately liked after seeing the Trevor Nunn film where he was played by Ben Kingsley. As I grew to know the play better, especially after being in a production in undergrad, I realised how callous and cruel a clown Feste actually was, but that does in a way seem to be the purpose of a clown. To stand aside from the rest of the characters and turn them into laughingstocks for the audience's pleasure. [livejournal.com profile] angevin2's choice of Bottom overturns this quite a bit, making himself the butt (ha) of the joke more often than not. And I do like Touchstone in As You Like It as well, but there's just something about Feste's comic distance that I find oddly fascinating and even a little bit sad; that all his wit and verve is almost too sharp to be comfortable.


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
Day #9: Your favourite tragedy
Day #10: Your favourite history
Day #11: Your least favourite play
Day #12: Your favourite scene
Day #13: Your favourite romantic scene
Day #14: Your favourite fight scene
Day #15: The first play you read
Day #16: Your first play you saw
Day #17: Your favourite speech
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

Date: 2010-07-26 04:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-t-rain.livejournal.com
This, naturally, led me to spend most of the evening wondering what sort of failure of logic led to that state of affairs.

I had a vague impression that Aegeon re-named the twins whom he brought up to memorialize the ones who were lost at sea, but I couldn't find this stated explicitly in the text, so maybe I'm mixing it up with Plautus.

I think I've mentioned that there are twins named "Quintara" and "Quinterra" enrolled in my remedial comp class for next semester, so apparently this sort of logic!fail is still alive and well. (Also, I have a "Chasiti" and a "Chasity" in the same class, but luckily they do not seem to be twins, or siblings of any sort. It's going to be an interesting semester...)

Date: 2010-07-26 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lareinenoire.livejournal.com
I had a vague impression that Aegeon re-named the twins whom he brought up to memorialize the ones who were lost at sea, but I couldn't find this stated explicitly in the text, so maybe I'm mixing it up with Plautus.

Ah, that does make more sense. But it still doesn't answer the question of why Antipholus of Syracuse was so utterly baffled by what happened to him in Ephesus when he came to Ephesus to look for his brother. Possibly it is just that Antipholus is not the brightest bulb in the box.

And that is epic logic!fail. I will grant, my sister and I have names that rhyme, but we are six years apart and that was partly my fault because I had some input in picking out her name. ;)

Date: 2010-07-27 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angevin2.livejournal.com
Antipholus is clearly not as smart as Viola. She gets it (although it helps that Antonio actually calls her Sebastian, I suppose). ;)

Date: 2010-07-26 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tiggerbone.livejournal.com
I'm skipping the hero/heroine, villain/female villain categories for the moment because that will take some thought and I am at work.

I think you are right in that Falstaff is not a clown. I tend to link him with Mercutio. They were necessary in the beginnings of both of their stories, but they both had to die in order for things to progress. Could Prince Hal have become King Henry if Falstaff had lived?

As for Feste, ah! dear Feste. How I love that cruel maniac. But my favorite clown remains the merry wanderer of the night, Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck.

I once played him in a little production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in New Mexico. In the scene where he is first introduced, I got to seduce (a quite lovely) fairy. Good times. :)

Date: 2010-07-26 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lareinenoire.livejournal.com
Oooh, fun! I didn't know you did Midsummer in New Mexico; I bet you were a great Puck.

I think you are right in that Falstaff is not a clown. I tend to link him with Mercutio. They were necessary in the beginnings of both of their stories, but they both had to die in order for things to progress. Could Prince Hal have become King Henry if Falstaff had lived?

See, I would argue that Hal was already well on his way regardless of Falstaff, and that although Falstaff was a distraction, Hal was well aware that he'd be abandoning him sooner or later. But my reading of Hal is not a very sympathetic one, so I can see where minds may differ.

That being said, comparing him with Mercutio is really interesting. They're both complete pragmatists -- Falstaff's attitude towards honour in many ways mirrors Mercutio's toward romantic love. Now I must go and chew on this some more. ;)

Date: 2010-07-26 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tiggerbone.livejournal.com
That being said, comparing him with Mercutio is really interesting. They're both complete pragmatists -- Falstaff's attitude towards honour in many ways mirrors Mercutio's toward romantic love. Now I must go and chew on this some more. ;)

Please do! I have been tempted to do an analysis and comparison of their characters and their relationships to their main characters for quite some time, but sadly I am out of practice in my scholarly pursuits when they do not pertain to my work.

And thank you. I enjoyed being Puck very much. I would love another chance to play him someday.

somerromi

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