Friday, January 18, 2019

Richard III: Conversation (Act IV, Scenes 1 & 2)

RIII readers: the time has come to post your imaginative description of what it felt like to be Shakespeare creating one of the characters in the play. I look forward to your ideas.

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The city is waiting for snow, though none will arrive till Saturday night. This will be our first major snowfall of the season--a foot or more--and already silly people are cramming into the grocery stores like there's a bread-and-milk crisis. You'd think we were living in Georgia or something.

For some reason I woke up this morning full of stiffness and ache, though I didn't do anything particularly unusual yesterday. I suppose it's just aging, so I will be patient and take my feet and my shoulders to yoga, and do my best with what I've got to work with.

My essay class continues to go well, I think, though the working hours are strange: blog-tending all day long so that I can quickly respond to bursts of comment and conversation. And now I've got batches of new editing to address, and only a week left to myself before the big teaching residency begins. I hope I can juggle it all.

But I've found time for Dante, so that's been a good thing.


David (n of 49) said...

Buckingham. I neither love nor hate him, but know him. Him the semi-sycophant, manipulator in the king’s service, his own gain firmly in mind. Not a man of or for power, but one a willing servant thereof, for his own ends. (And what do I but this self-same with these plays concocting versions of a crown to suit my ends: the currying of favour with the queen?) In that way he will use the king, but the king will also use him, and the king will out in the end. For so power goeth, and within the hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of this king, Death most certainly keeps his court. And such Buckingham will recognize too late. The king would that he kill children, and will say so. What then for Buckingham? Oblige? Object strongly? And if so, openly? No: object, but in silence. He must find and be surprised at this little line drawn, stumbled on within, allowing no passage beyond. The king wanteth what? And yet still needs ponder his course. To arrive at a decision not to act. Or rather, in acting, act in his own interests, without confronting, silent in the face of this evil. Whether from fear or pursuit of his own gain, or both, that I leave the watchers to decide. And Buckingham will fail, to be true to all natural justice must fail: this Gloucester my creation knows the measure of his Buckingham, knows him as the familiar lost of those who arraign themselves thus around the throne of power, for reasons all their own, and yet so common. Heavy may be the head that wears the crown, yet heavier still the heads can be of those obliging it. They are biddable, and Gloucester knows the bidding he can and will ask, and receive. Buckingham is a common coin, found in the small change that is so many men everywhere. God’s pity on him, and us.

Carlene M. Gadapee said...

O, David...that last two sentences.
So true. So always true.

Ruth said...

Shakespeare reflects on his assassin Tyrrel

Created have I one, Richard by name, with the power to dispatch his enemies and those who would thwart his plans. But, I have need of the one who would, for gold, do those nefarious deeds which my kingly villain has not the courage to do himself.

Know'st thou not any whom corrupting gold
Will until a close exploit of death?
I know a discontented gentleman
Whose humble means match not his haughty spirit.
Gold were as good as twenty orators, 40
And will, no doubt, tempt him to anything.
What is his name?
PAGE His name, my lord, is Tyrrel

Ah Tyrrel, a man of so few scruples, yet so very valuable to those with gold and blackened hearts and devious, plotting ways. How I do love a scoundrel in my plays, who rates the cheers and jeers from the crowds. Tyrrel is the perfect rogue with nary a qualm or conscience to kill. He will satisfy the blood lust of my audiences.

Dar’st thou resolve to kill a friend of mine?
Please you. But I had rather kill two enemies.
Why then, thou hast it. Two deep enemies,
Foes to my rest, and my sweet sleep's disturbers,
Are they that I would have thee deal upon.
Tyrrell I mean those bastards in the Tower.

Would that I would never met a man myself so bold and unflinchingly evil, who would without a thought slay young children. But good drama requires blood and deeds of disgust. He scares me some this creature I have created and though his part be few in lines, his deed must be done. Thankful I am that I can write of the baseness of this man and I bless the actor who can play this role so convincingly so as to cause sane men to cry out against the foulness of this act.

I will dispatch it straight.

Ruth said...

sorry that the fonts changes and indentations did not paste as written originally

Carlene M Gadapee said...

The newly-crowned King Richard is compelling, in the way we slow down for nasty accidents is compelling. I don’t like the character, per se, but I think writing a character like this would be an interesting challenge: one must balance the public vs. the private personas, and when the two begin to blur together, the stark ambition and the paranoia become apparent (as seen in 4.2 when Buckingham is trying to pin him down about getting his promised properties). The fine balance between the driven politician persona and the spiteful, arrogant man makes for an interesting study. I’d hazard that if one were to stage this play today, it would look an awful lot like watching the news. Absolute, corrupt, willful, manipulative, vain, and suspicious: all elements of a powerful man whom others, sycophantic and self-serving (like Buckingham) have propped up. The monster they helped create will eat its fellows (Buckingham understands this all too well at the end of 4.2). I think Shakespeare was fascinated with this sort of evil in power-hungry men, and through such characters he could explore the workings of the mind and the results of untempered, unfettered lust. My goodness, Richard wants to marry his niece, not even blinking at the foulness of this idea! The laws of consanguinity be damned, eh? Performing the role would be interesting; I think that the danger, perhaps, might lie in associating with that behavior too deeply (like method acting). Most of us shudder at the thought of being so corrupt and manipulative; it is not only socially reprehensible, but it is also contrary to most of our nature (let alone our nurture). That said, what a challenge, to walk in the shoes of such a person! We might be better able to understand the inner workings of a mind grown poisoned by greed, lust, etc. But it would also be emotionally exhausting, I think.

Dawn Potter said...

Wow, I love all of these so much! Thank you for sharing them. Each, in its own way, details so effectively the way in which an artist invents a character by revealing an existing one. And the sense of creator's power: all of you have addressed that as well. Carlene, I loved how you moved into the ambiguities of enactment, and, Ruth, the weaving in of the actual lines is brilliant, and, David, I feel as if you've written a Shakespearean soliloquy worthy of performance. These are amazing to me.