Wednesday, October 25, 2017


 There are two scenes in Richard the Third for which I can find parallels in modern drama or in other historical situations. I don't mean that these scenes are directly related to Richard the Third; I mean that they illuminate Richard the Third and seem to breathe the same spirit.

 The first scene is a scene between Willem Dafoe and Laura Dern in Wild at Heart. In the scene Willem Dafoe enters Laura Dern's hotel room and begins a bizarre seduction. First he tells her that he has to piss and then he makes a totally vulgar joke about pissing on her head. The joke is brazen and disgusting and completely out of nowhere. Very Richard III. Then, after taunting Laura Dern about her seeming fear of him, Dafoe proceeds to  persuade and cajole Laura Dern into uttering the phrase, "Fuck me." Finally, with Dafoe practically breathing on her neck, Dern finally says exactly what he wants her to say. Dafoe simply laughs and tells her that maybe he will take her up on it sometime but right now he's too busy.

 This scene has the vulgarity and cruelty that makes it possible to understand why Lady Anne is seduced by Richard. Lady and most clearly is something of a nymphomaniac and a masochist. To play the scene in this way gives it psychological depth.

 The second scene that seems to me to apply to Richard  comes from history. In a book called Blood and Splendor, the author recounts a story  involving the Russian dictator Joseph Stalin.  The story tells of a Jewish man who is condemned to death by Stalin at a meeting attended by the other powerful members of Stalin's cabinet. When the man hears Stalin's death sentence, he breaks into tears and begs for his life. Later that night at dinner one of the other members of the cabinet who was there at the time does an imitation of the man begging for his life. This invitation makes Stalin laugh uncontrollably.

 This scene seems to me like something that could be applied when Richard meets James Tyrell to hear about the news of the killing of the children. Richard starts the scene in a state of great worry and trepidation. Then after he hears that the children are dead, he feels great relief. Then in the play He suggests to Terrell that he come to him at after supper to tell him of the deaths. But these lines can be adjusted so that we know Tyrell is telling Richard the story. The camera pulls back so that we only see them talking and as we know that Tyrell is telling Richard the details, Richard begins to laugh uncontrollably in the manner of Stalin.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

King Edward decides who should be Lord Protector after his death

Edward secretly wants Richard to destroy everything. He's glad that Richard is a sadistic killer. The people will finally get what they deserve. Why did anyone ever accept him as king in the first place? He's not half the man his father was and he knows it. What kind of world is this? Any fool with a big enough army can become king. Anyone who's willing to betray enough people can become king. Those idiots won't stand up for any kind of principle except for might makes right. His father was so ambitious. He really believed he should be king. He was able to get people to follow him. He held them in line through his own power and his own charisma. 

But what have I done? Nothing. Just killed. Just fought. No achievements to leave behind me. Just a fractured land that will fall apart. Left in the hands a little child who will never be able to weather the coming storm. Maybe Richard can hold it together. People fear him. People listen to him. But they don't trust him. I don't trust him. But he's a killer. He understands power. He will beat them into submission. And he can't live forever. Also, he'll never have children. He'll give my little prince just enough time to learn something of the world. Time to grow into his power. If he gets the chance. But what chance does he have if someone else becomes lord protector? No. It has to be Richard. Of course it's dangerous. But every choice is dangerous. 

Listen to me. Still trying to hold onto power even though I'm slipping into the grave. God knows what I am. God knows. God knows what I've done. And all for power. Sickening power. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Shakespeare explorations coming soon

Soon, the Shakespeare channel will have a variety of discussions and interviews about how to interpret, perform and enjoy the works of William Shakespeare.

Friday, July 15, 2011


In the 19th Century, the American actor Edwin Booth appeared in various productions of Shakespeare where some of the actors spoke English and some spoke another language. The most famous of these productions was an Othello in Boston where Booth and the rest of the cast spoke English (Booth played Iago) and the Italian actor Tomasso Salvini played Othello in Italian. 

Following the success of this production, Booth wondered if he might play in English with a cast in another language and so he went to Germany where he performed in Hamlet. This production was also a success. 

I have always wondered if this concept wouldn't be very interesting in the modern world. In the Hamlet that I have recently conceived, I have thought about places where foreign languages might be used by some of the actors. Even the actors speaking English might use snippets of other languages.

The main advantage of this approach is that it would create something that people had never seen before. Hearing a foreign language spoken amidst the English would make the work new in some ways.

Such an approach might also make some scenes surprising again and give them freshness. During some auditions for the role of Ophelia that I held a few years ago, I had Hamlet speak English but Ophelias spoke in various languages including English, French, German and Japanese. For me, the results were very interesting and entertaining. 

When I finally get this movie version of Hamlet off the ground, I intend to intersperse several other languages into the English and just let things happen as they may.