Monday, November 19, 2018

Richard III: Conversation (Act III, Scenes 3 & 4)

I'm opening up comments for this week's RIII assignment: a reflection on something you've struggled with as you've been reading the play.

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In other news: it's a snowy Monday morning in Maine, and the cat is fed up with winter. I'm enjoying it myself, but then again I'm not currently a commuter. When my teaching residencies start up after the new year, I'll be less delighted. So far I've scheduled two long Telling Room gigs in southern Maine, have a teaching project brewing up north for MonsonArts, am leading an MWPA essay workshop in Bangor and a teacher workshop in Augusta . . . plus the two online classes for 24PearlStreet. I need to write poems now while I still have the chance.


Anonymous said...

My struggle is centered around keeping characters straight in the play. I swear, I need a map. So I made a family tree to keep things orderly in my head. That said, I have the same problem just about every time I read a play all by myself; I truly believe that plays, like most poems, are meant to be heard. It's easier to keep the characters straight when each has a distinct voice. I like the dynamic quality of reading a play with others aloud. Sometimes it helps to read aloud to myself, so there's that. This is in no way a criticism of the work we are doing online! I only mean to say that I like the energy that comes from reading a play aloud with other good readers.

Other than that, I am truly enjoying the variety of writing approaches we've engaged with throughout the reading so far. It's really opened up the possibilities inherent in older, canon-based literature, to make the work current and a "living experience" for me, and I hope, for the group as well.

Carlene M Gadapee said...

(oops, that was me...not anonymous...) Computer issues...mea culpa

Ruth said...

The language in Shakespeare is difficult for me and always has been. Reading a play versus watching it performed makes a vast difference for my enjoyment, understanding, and attention. Keeping all the characters straight, especially with titles and names is confusing.

Reading Richard III slowly with differing writing assignments has been wonderful. When we simply discuss without some kind of focus, I am truthfully overwhelmed and feel less capable of adding much that is intelligent or insightful.

Despite these difficulties, I like working on Shakespeare within this group.

Laura said...

What has posed the most difficulty to me is Richard III is a play that I know well.

I have spend many years reading about Richard and Edward and the Woodvilles, about Warwick and his daughters, about Clarence and his betrayals and reunions with his brother, the king; I have studied the battles of the Wars of the Roses, read Thomas More’s History of King Richard III, and watched Laurence Olivier, Ian McKellan, Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, and Benedict Cumberbatch interpret the role. I have read obsessively about the discovery of Richard III’s skeleton in a parking lot in Leicester and have followed forensic analyses of his bones, the construction of his coffin and tomb, and his ancestral history with great interest. I have already formed a lot of opinions about the historical Richard III as well as the Richard III that Shakespeare presents to us.

So it has been difficult to read the play as though I don’t already have favorite lines and speeches, to let go of what I know is coming next and to focus on the moment at hand (or the question at hand). I am informed by what I know when I think of who Elizabeth is, for example, which both gives her historical depth but keeps her elusive, as Shakespeare may not have had in mind the things that I know. How does he WANT me to see her? Should I have more sympathy than I do? I know how long she lives and what role she plays after the end of this story—should that figure in to how I read her? How can it not?

I have enjoyed the creative challenges here—how might a character move? Think? Speak?—but it is hard not to be influenced by interpretations of the roles (does Annette Bening get Elizabeth Woodville right? What about Kevin Spacey as Buckingham (yes!!))?

Every time I read this play, though, I am more and more convinced that it is a play for all times, and it seems especially relevant now.

Dawn Potter said...

My struggle is simple and juvenile: I am having trouble keeping up with the reading. This is not a common problem with me, so I'm puzzled by it. I have read the play several times before, though I don't know it as deeply as Laura does. I don't tend to be slowed down by language or dramatic conventions (issues that Ruth and Carlene note in their comments), so I can't attribute my struggle to that. Basically I'm not able to devour the play in the way that I usually devour what I read. It's quite irritating.