Category Archives: Tragedy

April 9, Tutorial Follow-up

(Facetime Badge) April 9, 2015

Today’s tutorial left me with lots of new considerations regarding Shakespeare’s interpretation of beauty and sin, particularly through his ability to create the exterior attractiveness and intoxication of sin.  The imagery of virtue removed and falseness revealed reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe’s, Imp of the Perverse- the urge to sin just for the sole purpose of doing so.  Placing one’s carnal desires and actions on another is a very common element in Shakespeare’s sonnets (often towards women) but ultimately because the sonnet is a more personal slice of writing, the ownership of lust ultimately reflects back onto the speaker. It unites and blends the lines of gender as we are all ultimately vulnerable to jealously, deceit, longing and loneliness.  Many consider beauty and sin to be opposing forces, however each contains identical emotions and reactions, as Shakespeare brilliantly demonstrates, they truly are one of the same.

Open Links to Performances (Performance Badge)

As You Like It – 1936 film version

Helpful version as it contains subtitles for retention and comprehension of material not covered in class. A great comedy to pair with Twelfth Night, and resourceful for unpacking themes within the pastoral mode.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFChichBoPl

To Kill Myself – Rape of Lucrece 

Wonderfully artistic visioning from The Royal Shakespeare Company.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd2ddYAUIY

Act 3, Scene 2 – The Winter’s Tale 

Perhaps for me the standout example of a well spoken, educated, strong woman in all the texts covered this semester. A great reminder of our lectures covering the power and importance of words.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm7beWekpa8

Romeo and Juliet – Onscreen footage

Everyone’s classic introduction to Shakespeare. I was reminded heavily of the play when reading The genres of Shakespeare’s plays, by Susan Snyder as she talks in depth about the reflection of youth in Shakespeare’s works. Characters become representations of the time period and a refection of society. This is set up immediately  in Romeo and Juliet’s prologue, “Two households, both alike in dignity|In fair Verona, where we lay our scene|From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,|where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (1.Pro.1-3).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHoaPLO6zd8

Act 5, Scene 3 – King Lear 

Continuing the consideration of genre, King Lear is a great example of ego and pride leading to a tragic end (which cannot be evaded). This is a very emotionally powerful clip displaying the effects of time within a tragedy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MpGb0nJ3eM

 

 

Visual Art: Troilus, the Brave

This visual art is symbolic of how Troilus finds himself to be torn in act one; he is expected to maintain his strong and stable composure as a soldier, but on the inside, his desperate love for Cressida tears him apart.
This visual art is symbolic of how Troilus finds himself to be torn in act one; he is expected to maintain his strong and stable composure as a soldier, but on the inside, his desperate love for Cressida tears him apart.

The image of Troilus on the left is symbolic of the archetypical soldier that he is expected to be. The armour symbolizes strength, order, conformity, and illusion. The image of Troilus on the right, dressed in darker clothing to symbolize his woe, depicts the way he really feels while he is forced to wage war instead of profess his love to Cressida. His lack of armour represents the vulnerability that is a natural product of such intense emotions.

Visual Art: Cressida Fair

This visual art represents the idealistic way that Troilus thinks of Cressida before he learns of her infidelity. He worships her fair complexion, her cheeks, her lips, her face... He dreams only of her, and sees not her flaws.
This visual art represents the idealistic way that Troilus thinks of Cressida before he learns of her infidelity. He worships her fair complexion, her cheeks, her lips, her face… He dreams only of her, and sees not her flaws.

I chose to draw Cressida in a cloud to represent the way that she falls short of Troilus’ daydreams in real life. She is only so fair and pure to him since love is clouding his vision.

Movie Poster: Troilus and Cressida

My theatrical poster for Troilus and Cressida, in keeping with both the play's tragic genre and the two main plots (the romance and the war).
My theatrical poster for Troilus and Cressida, in keeping with both the play’s tragic genre and the two main plots (the romance and the war).

The rose is symbolic of the (failed) love between Troilus and Cressida, and the sword is symbolic of the Trojan War in which the story takes place. I chose red and black as accent colours: red for the rage, the blood, and the passionate love, and black for the death and suffering that occurs.

Sonnet #2: A Daughter’s Loss

Thieved prior to his hour, by false friends
These gods lacked mercy, as they heard my cries
I hold his still young hand before his ends
He who begot me, strong, pious and wise

From whose secure arms will I be given?
When the wedding bells come for me
To steal my blessings tis not forgiven
As every glance will yearn for thee

The universe had no solicitude
To spare me this much anguish and despair
The enemies hidden in solitude
Yet I bequeath my father in their care

With my patriarch burns my piety
As the perished man is my deity

Sonnet #1: Lustful Eyes

I knew at my first unfortunate glace
He was blazing within his own desires
Fierce and scorching, giving pity no chance
And I too frail to extinguish such a fire

Black shadows of dishonour and disgrace
Did overcast the pure light in my name
The darkness painted colours on my face
Staining me black with his immoral aim

Foul intentions often dim the eyes
And inevitable darkness follows,
Where all things true and pure begin demise
Hence the strength of such profanity grows

I stand untouched, yet adulterated
As the lecherous eyes leave me tainted

King Lear: Theater Performance vs. Movie Adaptation

Last weekend, I finally got to see my first live play ever – King Lear at Max Bell Theater.

I found it thoroughly enjoyable (also it was more fun than the movie, for me at least). Here is a response on my experience with the play as opposed to the movie.

My first dilemma with the play was, well, on what I should be wearing. It was my first live play ever, and Shakespearean too – I wanted to be sophisticated (silly little whims, I know). On the other hand, with the movie, the first dilemma was: I have read the play, how long can I delay watching the movie until it is absolutely necessary?

Jokes aside (yes, those were jokes. Ha ha, very funny, Jayesha, please proceed), it was certainly not what I had expected. There were lighting directions and sound effects. It did aid in where the director had wanted to focus the scene on. However, everything else that was not directly under the spotlight was till open to interpretation and analyzing.  With the movie, the camera would zoom into a specific part of the act and force you to focus on that.

Furthermore, I felt that the actors that played the characters were more close to my own imagination when I first read the play. The costuming, however, were very similar in the movie and the play. King Lear is initially dressed in red: madness, passion, rage. The two sisters are dressed in darker colors: evil, cunning, deceitful, jealous. And  Cordelia is in lighter colors: pure, innocent, untarnished.

Moreover, I did notice the play was easier to follow along with, when compared to the movie. The lines were still powerfully delivered, but they were clear and carried more raw emotion. Perhaps, it was because the actors knew that this was now or never, as opposed to in a movie, when you have the liberty of redoing a scene if there is a light mishap.

I also found the play more captivating than the movie. The movie seemed to lag on and on, although they were the same lengths.

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The Ticket 😀

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I know this is something I would like to make a part of my hobbies – live plays and reviews on them.

 

The Stratford Festival – King Lear

King Lear stands as one of Shakespeare’s most captivatingly tragic plays and watching the Stratford Festival’s performance of it last Saturday, March 7 was a real treat. I definitely enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would. Although the 2008 TV film was also well done, I found myself much more enthusiastic and staying with the storyline when I had audience queues to work off of and when the actors were more interactive with the audience. The atmosphere also played a major role in holding my attention – the dim lights, quiet, lack of distractions (like my phone!) and reactions of the audience to jokes and action made the experience more fulfilling and authentic than staring at my computer screen at home.

Prior to the film starting, a nice introduction played, showing the backstage area, actors, and other plays and behind-the-scenes glances into how the Stratford Festival put on their Shakespearean and other plays. Especially intriguing was the amount and quality of the costumes. Even the Queen was impressed with their rendition of her crown. The authenticity of their costumes and props is very impressive. What also probed my interest was the little questionnaire that was displayed. Did you know that King Lear introduced many new words to the English language? Dislocate, half-blooded and unaccommodated were all used first by Shakespeare in this play.

The play itself began cinematically. A feisty storm with flashy bolts of lightning started the introductory credits. I was worried it would not be true to the style of Shakespeare where props and effects were limited, but the actual play began with a dark stage and only some sound-effects. Once the actors began speaking their lines, I was assured that it would be a well-rounded performance.

I particularly appreciated the interpretation of characters. They differed significantly from the way some actors interpreted their characters in the 2008 TV film (although both interpretations could be deemed accurate portrayals and were well acted). In the 2008 film, I found Regan’s character to be quite discrete and timid, especially during the first scene; in Stratford’s version, her character spoke loudly and confidently. I also found Gonneril’s characterization to be more snooty and stuck-up, which complimented Regan’s character really well, and provided a great contrast near the end when they fight over Edmund. As well, Cordelia’s character was more sassy and rebellious in the 2008 version (at least at first), deliberately going against him to prove her true character and be legitimate. She was more emotional and trying to induce rationality into her father, though clearly outraged at her sisters’ false gushing over their father. Stratford’s Cordelia dealt with a more painful separation from her father than the 2008 character. Kent was also more involved – he speaks and plays a greater role. Edmund’s characterization was, if possible, even more slimy – I found I disliked him even more in this version due to the ability of the actor to portray that sickly suck-up attitude. I wasn’t disappointed with the acting of King Lear – Ian McKellan’s performance had a lot to live up to in my mind. Nevertheless, the actor was dramatic, humorous and had good timing. I was especially impressed during the scene with “Poor Tom” and Gloucester where he has his flower crown on and is sinking into madness – it brought out a mixture of sympathy and hilarity. Overall, all the actors spoke their lines as though they understood exactly what they were saying and were having actual conversations, with either other characters or were announcing to the audience themselves.

I would definitely recommend seeing King Lear (or any Shakespeare play) performed on a stage, either live or filmed from the audience as in the Stratford Festival’s performance. It is a great addition to the required watching of it as a movie done cinematically. I personally will plan on seeing the King Lear showing on April 7th!

-Emily George

The Winter’s Tale Movie

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The Winter’s Tale (1609-1611) is a story of loss and redemption. In a fit of wild and untrue jealousy, Leontes, the King of Sicily, convinces himself that his pregnant wife is carrying his best friend’s love child. Leontes’s jealousy turns to tyranny as the king proceeds to destroy his entire family and a lifelong friendship. Sixteen long years pass, and we witness one of the most astonishing endings in English literature.

The play is famous for its two-part structure, which makes The Winter’s Tale seem like two entirely different plays that are joined together at the end. The first three acts enact a mini-tragedy and occur in wintery Sicily, while the second half of the play occurs in Bohemia during the summer months and features the kind of restorative ending typical of Shakespeare’s “comedies.