There now. Done with Antony and Cleopatra for this time. Except for seeing the play in June. The text now posted here on the blog will win no prizes for originality (it’s mostly taken from other scholars) but it helped clarify a few things in my mind, and hopefully will do the same for you. Otherwise the week was highlighted by finally seeing Rickard III at Dramaten in Stockholm. A short report is included below. We’ll be starting to read the next play, Pericles, this week but first, this Monday report.
From Davis and Frankforter’s The Shakespeare Name Dictionary.
We’ve been reading about the Henrys for a week now so here are just a few bits of interest on these kings:
- Henry IV – Bolingbroke (1367-1413). A successful military king but never comfortable with having usurped the crown from Richard II. Because of ill health he tried to retire but his troublesome son Prince Hal kept him busy to the end.
- Henry V (1387 – 1422). Got his act together upon becoming king and ended up a superhero after defeating the French against impossible odds. It didn’t do him much good, though, because he died young, leaving a baby to inherit the throne.
- Henry VI (1421-1471). Fifty years on the throne (sort of). More a pious scholar than a king, his reign was filled with the strife known as the War of the Roses. He didn’t want the throne but everyone else did. He was mentally ill at times and he was finally murdered. His greatest accomplishment was the founding of Eton and King’s College at Cambridge.
- Henry VII (1457-1509). Defeated Richard III to become the first Tudor king and Elizabeth I’s granddad. Not terribly colourful, he was a good administrator and was instrumental in getting England settled for the expansion of trade and colonialism to come.
- Henry VIII ((1491-1547). Well, he was colourful. Especially in all the TV series and films made about him. Mainly he was interested in making England powerful enough to play with the big boys but it took his daughter to accomplish that.
- In the book Thames – Sacred River by Peter Ackroyd, the author refers to Shakespeare by using the song “Hey ho, the wind and the rain” as a chapter title and Ophelia singing about the willows as she drowns.
- Friend and colleague EÖ gave me the review in Svenska Dagbladet of Rickard III in which it is described as “restrained”, “low-key”, “relevant” and “interesting.”
- Dagens Nyheter listed the top five cultural happenings of the week and Rickard III was at the top of the list as a must see: “Do you want to hate power? Go see RIII. Don’t worry about keeping all the lords and earls straight...Jonas Karlsson is unequalled as a deadly psychopath king, seductive and completely loathsome...Outstanding!”
- In a DN crossword the clue was “Hamlet” and the word was “role”.
- In the last three Harry Potter books the rock group The Weird Sisters continues to show up at funerals and weddings and on posters in Gunny’s bedroom and besides the bass player has gotten married.
Further since last time:
- Saw: Rickard III at Dramaten. I can only agree with the critics. I was deeply impressed. I always like minimalistic scenography. This was minimalistic in the extreme. Everyone dressed in simple black and white, semi-modern clothes, sitting on a row of chairs on a slowly rotating stage, stepping off to play various parts. When someone died, a video screen descended from the ceiling with a photo of the victim with blood running down their face. Some of the cast were in fact rather dull and didn’t add much to the performance. They read their lines. Others were better. But Jonas Karlsson proved once again to be a genius and carried the whole play with his quirky grins and asides, his really comical mannerisms and his fatal emptiness as he realizes that he is doomed. His almost whispered, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” is said in such bewilderment that one actually feels sorry for him. And then it’s over. We are so lucky to have a Shakespearean of this stature in Sweden. A more extreme difference than the one between Karlsson’s Caliban and his Rickard III is hard to imagine. He is incredibly good at both. It’s worth a trip to Stockholm to see it. Don’t worry if you don’t understand Swedish...
- Friend IAb sent a message about the Simpsons doing Macbeth. She was watching Kulturnyheterna at the time. I’ve tried to find it on Svt Play but I don’t think it’s there yet. But it was done in 2012 so maybe someone else out there has seen it?
- Finished writing text for: Antony and Cleopatra
Posted this week:
- This Monday report.
- “Does Anybody Like Antony and Cleopatra?”