King Lear, Act IV, Scene VI
A quick blog (I spent ages on a long blog and it all got deleted *sob*) after I re-read my notes from the first in James Shapiro‘s TV series: ‘The King and the Playwright: A Jacobean Era’ and found some interesting facts for you. I’m currently (slowly, I have to admit) reading my way through ‘1599’ by Shapiro, and it is so good. I keep finding more and more absorbing information to share with my lovely readers and followers (all two of you!). From the program I discovered that King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s most famous and bleakest tragedies, was not only not primarily by Shakespeare (the plot originated from ‘The True Chronicle History of King Lear’ Anon) but also was at first a comedy. In addition, the death of Cordelia, one of the most dismal parts of the drama, is thought to have come from ‘The Faerie Queene’ Edward Spencer. The fact that the original was a comedy is especially interesting when one considers that George Bernard Shaw wrote: “No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear”
Plays included in ‘1599’ are ‘Henry V’ and ‘Julius Caesar’, as well as others which I haven’t quite got up to yet. Luckily for me, I got to experience my first ever performance at ‘The Globe’ yesterday evening and it was incredible! My family and I saw the former drama, but there were many references within it to Brutus, Caesar, the Romans and Mark Antony which I secretly smiled at, like the English keen bean I am. Putting that aside, it was a great play, especially Henry himself, Jamie Parker, who I have to say I am slightly in love with after the performance. Or maybe with Henry the character. His “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more” speech was electrifying, particularly one of my favourite lines (which I have to admit, I always thought originated from Conan-Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’): “The game’s afoot!” However, the speech about St. Crisipin’s Day had the most memorable message, rather than the words; relating this back to my EPQ, is it more impressive to remember the words themselves or the central message? In which speech has Shakespeare achieved more? One of my favourite scenes was the love scene between King Harry and Princess Katherine and his hasty, rough attempts at wooing which actually seemed more attractive than Romeo’s great love speeches, as they felt more real, more immediate, less rehearsed. I’ve just been listening to Parker talking about rehearsing for the role and one thing he said one of the actors (Giles Cooper, I think) had pointed out to him was the way in which the language is used to imitate what the characters are speaking of. For example, when the tennis balls are sent to Harry to jeer at him, he repeatedly uses the word ‘mock’, which, said correctly, can sound very like a tennis ball bouncing on the strings of a racket or on the court. Yet another thing to use in my project! Ooh, and special mention to the amazing Brendan O’Hea who was *read in a welsh accent* absoutely hilarious as Captain Fluellen.
Going to see ‘Richard III’ with the (apparently awesome) Mark Rylance, later this year, so I’ll report back soon. Hopefully watching the first of ‘The Hollow Crown’ series: ‘Richard II’ tomorrow, but if anyone saw it, please comment and tell me how it was. I’ve heard Ben Wishaw and Rory Kinnear were spectacular (and there go all my superlatives in one blog post). Speak soon.