October 2009

Annette and I went to see a performance of Richard II yesterday by the Rude Mechanicals, a theatre group in Ann Arbor that casts mostly students as actors. There was a bit of excitement at the performance which I shall now relate.

The power went off a few minutes before the play was scheduled to start, it would have been amusing if this was the Power Center, but alas it was the Video Studio. Since they had to cancel the show and we had about 25 minutes before they had to clear the building out due to regulations, the cast decided to do as much of the play as they could as quickly as they could! That was a lot of fun with the actors perfectly enunciating the lines at double the speed. John of Gaunt assured the audience that the upcoming duel between Mowbray and Bolingbroke would unfortunately have to be stopped by King Richard as it was too dangerous to do it in double time without adequate electric lighting. I was maliciously hoping that some people who did not know the play well enough would protest at this roughshod deviation from Shakespeare’s immortal work, after all doesn’t every history play have a decent swordfight or two? I am sure the madcap Duke and King from Huckleberry Finn would have been proud of this performance!

Fifteen minutes into this, someone came in and announced that they had found an alternate venue with power (surprisingly not the Power Center) and we all went to the other venue, some people helping to carry the props. Ultimately, we got treated to almost a street theatre performance of Richard II with the ensemble in their everyday clothes. A very fashionable lot I might add, which made me look at the regular fit jeans I had on with a little bit of chagrin.

The cast used a couple of chairs and came up with stage management ideas as they went along but the performance was very effective as the power of the words came to the fore. In changing the venue, they had also lost the University of Michigan musicians (violins, cello, piano) who were going to accompany the play with tastefully done music. Instead we had Henry IV and the Duke of York improvising a hodge-podge of jazz, show-tunes and classical music parts on a piano that happened to be on stage. If you were close enough to stage right near the piano, you might have heard mutterings about how being a versatile piano player fluent in many genres was more in line with who he really was than a  usurper of thrones.

After the performance, we stumbled our way back to our cars using the light from a few solitary stars and the VA hospital.

Disclaimer: Most excellent Theophilus, the above is a faithful recording of what happened with the occasional stretcher. I’m not telling what’s true and what’s not and neither is my friend Falstaff.


Thanks to everyone who showed up to read Love’s Labour’s Lost yesterday afternoon.

I thought the reading went very well with lots of laughter all around for the more accessible witticisms. Also some beautiful poetry sitting right alongside the sonnets composed by the lovers. After participating in the Oberon group meeting on the Sonnets, I wonder if Shakespeare had sonnets on the brain and he went and wrote 150 of them, inspired quite like Don Armado was 🙂

Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme,
for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit;
write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.

As far as I know, theses are the people at the reading who will be in Ann Arbor next weekend watching the Globe Theater Production, starting from my left: Rosey, Tom, Andrea, Pat, Erik and me.

We also voted for the play to be read at our next meeting (November 15) and Julius Caesar narrowly beat out Coriolanus.

Also, finally, here is an opportunity to take in an inexpensive performance of Richard II on the weekend in Ann Arbor at the Duderstadt Center on North Campus. We read the play last December and you will remember some of the beautiful poetry in the play. John Gielgud made some of these speeches the centerpiece of his one-man performance of Shakespeare called The Ages of Man. Annette and I will be at the Friday performance and we will see you there if you decide to come!

Richard II
October 23 & 24
Friday at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday at 3:00 & 7:00 p.m.
Video Studio

The Rude Mechanicals present William Shakespeare‘s Richard II, directed by James Manganello and produced by Rebecca Penn Noble. The Rude Mechanicals are a theater troupe dedicated to bringing staged theater to the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor community and to providing the opportunity for any member of the student body to be involved, be it in performing or behind-the-scenes work. Tickets available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or at the door; $3 for students and $6 for adults.

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

This is a reminder that we will be meeting to read Love’s Labour’s Lost on Sunday, October 18, 12:45 pm at the Plymouth Library.

The timing for this reading worked out really well since at least five or six of the readers are going to be seeing the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre performance of the play at the Power Center in Ann Arbor the following weekend.

Most of the following is based on Goddard’s description of the play.

It was held earlier that Love’s Labours’s Lost was one of the very earliest plays because of its verbal extravagances, its pun and conceits and its profuse use of rhyme. However, today many people hold the opinion that the play was written in the mid 1590’s. Shakespeare satirizes the excesses of language for one of the last few times before he moves on to taking language to its limits of expression in his tragedies.

The play is packed with many topical allusions, many of which would be incomprehensible without a good annotated edition, so please be prepared for this at the reading. I suppose sitcoms and stand-up comedians represent our age’s brand of wit and wise-cracking and reading the play is a good exercise in imagining how the wise-cracking of our age will sound 400 years from now!

Here is a little example of Shakespeare poking fun at the excesses of language. Berowne is swearing to henceforth woo in plain and simple language, but he cannot help piling on one verbal extravagance after another in doing so. Rosaline sees this and with a simple response makes him aware of this.

O, never will I trust to speeches penn’d,
Nor to the motion of a schoolboy’s tongue,
Nor never come in vizard to my friend,
Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper’s song!
Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-piled hyperboles, spruce affectation,
Figures pedantical; these summer-flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation:
I do forswear them; and I here protest,
By this white glove;–how white the hand, God knows!–
Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express’d
In russet yeas and honest kersey noes:
And, to begin, wench,–so God help me, la!–
My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.

Sans sans, I pray you.

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)

It was a little bit of a challenge but here are the roles for Books 4-6 that I e-mailed earlier but now divided to be done from anywhere from 4 to 8 readers. This involved dividing Dido’s earlier solo role in Book 4 to two parts, Dido-A and Dido-B.

Also thanks to Andrea for pointing out that Jupiter speaks lines 303-324 in Book 1 and not King Iarbas. The roles below correct this and also assign a few extra lines to Aeneas’s role in Book 6 as suggested by Andrea.

Please don’t worry if this seems confusing, as far as readers are concerned, you will get instructions on exactly what lines you have to read. I always have my book marked up so that I can steer things along in case of confusion.

Book 4: The Passion of the Queen
1 Virgil-A (1-265, not 12-40, not 43-75, not 131-148, not 163-177) ** *****
2 Virgil-B (266-458, not 280-296, not 303-324, not 417-454) *** ****
3 Virgil-C (500-722, not 503-538, not 577-604, not 661-689) ****** *******
4 Virgil-D (723-978, not 740-768, not 796-803, not 818-875, not 881-890, not 904-919, not 933-948) *
5* Dido-A (12-40, 417-454, 503-538, 577-604, 661-689)
6** Dido-B (740-768, 818-875, 881-890, 904-919)
7*** Anna (43-75, 933-948)
8**** Juno (131-148, 163-177)
9***** King Iarbas (280-296)
10****** Jupiter (303-324)
11******* Aeneas (459-499, 796-803)

Book 5: Games and a Conflagration
1 Virgil-A (1-282, not 60-94, not 105-110) *****
2 Virgil-B (283-585, not 389-402) ** ***
3 Virgil-C (586-857) * ****
4 Virgil-D (858-1141, not 890-899, not 940-962, not 1018-1042, not 1045-1066)
5* Aeneas (60-94, 105-110, 389-402, 890-899)
6** Nautes (919-933)
7*** Anchises’s shade (940-962)
8**** Venus (1018-1042)
9***** Neptune (1045-1066)

Book 6: The World Below
1 Virgil-A (1-330, not 92-119, not 128-147, not 156-181, not 185-225) ****
2 Virgil-B (331-574, not 502-512, not 537-548) *** *
3 Virgil-C (575-852, not 613-628, not 671-682, not 684-716, not 757-838)
4 Virgil-D (853-1222, not 970-1008, not 1014-1154, not 1157-1165, not 1171-1176, not 1179-1202) **
5* Aeneas (92-119, 156-181, 613-628, 671-682, 1171-1176)
6** Sibyl (128-147, 185-225, 502-512, 537-548, 757-838)
7*** Deiphobus (684-716)
8**** Anchises (970-1008, 1014-1154, 1157-1165, 1179-1202)

Prashant Andrade (fea_123@yahoo.com)