Monday, May 10, 2010

A Winter's Tale, Act 4, Scene 4, Lines 324-594

As we read this section, Paul and I were both struck by the re-ascendancy of Camillo, who, once again, finds himself forced to deal with the impossible expectations of an unreasonable king. It seems to me that this would be an interesting and rather difficult role to act (though what do I know? I've never acted on stage since I played the Ghost of Christmas Past in fifth grade). Camillo is both honest and underhanded, both loyal and disloyal. He is, as Florizel says, "the medicine of our house." I think that's a remarkable description of the character and yet another example of the precision of Shakespeare's language--a phrase that conjures up complexity and solidity . . . rather like Camillo himself.

Anyway, those are my thoughts about the section. What are yours?


Lucy Barber said...
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Lucy Barber said...

I will, I promise, comment with my own peculiar views today, but I do think you are right that these good conniving characters in Shakespeare plays are hard to act. I don't know from trying to act them, but trying to direct them back when I was in high school. To be willing to be "bad to be good" is something most of us do, but to figure out how to perform it naturally rather than switch too "dramatically" is very difficult. Once again, though I think this play needed some revision to make Camillo a bit more subtle "medicine." I think he might have bad side effects.

Dawn Potter said...

"Bad side effects"? I need to know more, Lucy. Explain, explain.

Lucy Barber said...

I was being too coy in the morning, what I meant is that I think even the best actor would be hard-pressed to deal with Camilo's chaneable nature and that would end up making parts of this play no fun to watch (or even to act in). In other words, he may be medicinal for the imaginary community of the play, he would be some bitter tasting tonic for the groups of players (and indeed at least this reader) of the Winter's Tale. But I still haven't read my portion or drunk my potion, so I should get back to the work I'm paid for. thanks for the little break.

Lucy Barber said...

Okay, I have finally read my portion, and was able to see Camilo with all his cunning operating. Moving people from place to place. Putting them in disguise. Conspiring to have Leontes search for his daughter in Sicilia. And meanwhile Camilo confesses that he hopes this will mean that he can also go home to Sicilia,

"I shall re-view Sicilia, for whose sight
I have a woman's longing."

The easy read is that Shakespeare is saying only women miss home; the second read is that Shakespeare appreciates that feeling may appear to have "gender" but both men and women have them; the third reading is that it is a double-entendre and what Camilo longs for his wife/woman, Paulina, in Sicilia. Maybe it is all three at once.

[Note I feel obliged to read this play through to to the end, but I do think much of this Act 4 could have been cut down, and skimming Act 5 suggest we should do it in double time. We've got to get to the walking sculpture part.]