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SHAKESPEARE’S RICHARD III Bevington, Welsh and Greenwald, Shakespeare: Script, Stage, Screen. (Chapter 11)

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Presentation on theme: "SHAKESPEARE’S RICHARD III Bevington, Welsh and Greenwald, Shakespeare: Script, Stage, Screen. (Chapter 11)"— Presentation transcript:

1 SHAKESPEARE’S RICHARD III Bevington, Welsh and Greenwald, Shakespeare: Script, Stage, Screen. (Chapter 11)

2 Plot Overview After a long civil war between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster, England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward IV and the victorious Yorks. But Edward’s younger brother, Richard, resents Edward’s power and the happiness of those around him. Malicious, power-hungry, and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throne—and decides to kill anyone he has to in order to become king.

3 Using his intelligence and his skills of deception and political manipulation, Richard begins his campaign for the throne. He manipulates a noblewoman, Lady Anne, into marrying him—even though she knows that he murdered her first husband. He has his own older brother, Clarence, executed, and shifts the burden of guilt onto his sick older brother King Edward in order to accelerate Edward’s illness and death. After King Edward dies, Richard becomes lord protector of England—the figure in charge until the elder of Edward’s two sons grows up. Next Richard kills the court noblemen who are loyal to the princes, most notably Lord Hastings, the lord chamberlain of England. He then has the boys’ relatives on their mother’s side—the powerful kinsmen of Edward’s wife, Queen Elizabeth—arrested and executed. With Elizabeth and the princes now unprotected, Richard has his political allies, particularly his right-hand man, Lord Buckingham, campaign to have Richard crowned king. Richard then imprisons the young princes in the Tower and, in his bloodiest move yet, sends hired murderers to kill both children.

4 By this time, Richard’s reign of terror has caused the common people of England to fear and loathe him, and he has alienated nearly all the noblemen of the court—even the power-hungry Buckingham. When rumors begin to circulate about a challenger to the throne who is gathering forces in France, noblemen defect in droves to join his forces. The challenger is the earl of Richmond, a descendant of a secondary arm of the Lancaster family, and England is ready to welcome him. Richard, in the meantime, tries to consolidate his power. He has his wife, Queen Anne, murdered, so that he can marry young Elizabeth, the daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and the dead King Edward. Though young Elizabeth is his niece, the alliance would secure his claim to the throne. Nevertheless, Richard has begun to lose control of events, and Queen Elizabeth manages to forestall him. Meanwhile, she secretly promises to marry young Elizabeth to Richmond.

5 Conclusion Richmond finally invades England. The night before the battle that will decide everything, Richard has a terrible dream in which the ghosts of all the people he has murdered appear and curse him, telling him that he will die the next day. In the battle on the following morning, Richard is killed, and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII. Promising a new era of peace for England, the new king is betrothed to young Elizabeth in order to unite the warring houses of Lancaster and York.

6 RICHARD III (1592-1594) Although the play is long and confusing, it remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular. It continues the story of HENRY VI about the 15 th century rivalry of the Houses of Lancaster and York -Richard’s rise to power -Richard’s fall at the hands of the Earl of Richmond (Henry VII) at the Battle of Bosworth (1485)


8 The evil in the play is more fascinating than the good Richard (Duke of Gloucester) emerges from the events in the 2 nd and 3 rd parts of Henry VI (1589-1592) I can add colors to the chameleon, Change shapes with Proteus for advantages, And set the murderous Machiavel to school. Can I do this, and cannot get a crown? Tut! Were it farther off, I’ll pluck it down. (Henry VI, Part 3: 3.2.191-195)

9 Richard’s ascendancy At the end of Henry VI, he helps to stab Henry’s son Edward on the battlefield, then murders Henry himself in the Tower of London. Finally, comparing himself to Judas, he kisses his brother’s son, the infant Prince Edward.

10 Characters: Conspirators Richard dominates most of the play. At 1164 lines, his role is second in length only to Hamlet. He grounds his villainy in his physical deformity that prevents him from being a lover—therefore, he has “determined to prove a villain” He is performer as well as audience. Note how he gloats after successfully wooing Lady Anne (1.2.230-232)

11 Other characters THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM who assists Richard’s plots EDWARD IV, who dies in Act 2 GEORGE, DUKE OF CLARENCE, who dies in the tower WILLIAM, LORD HASTINGS LADY ANNE, the daughter of Henry VI who marries Richard  QUEEN MARGARET, a prophetess RICHMOND, Richard’s chief antagonist and nemesis

12 Sources and Inspirations Efforts to rehabilitate Richard’s image (largely by blaming the Tudors for smearing him for their own political gain) have gone largely unheeded His major sources were Hall’s UNIONS and Holinshed’s CHRONICLES Other inspirations may have included THE FOUNDATION OF RHETORIC (1563) a school primer that the Young Shakespeare probably read

13 Sources and Inspirations THE MIRROR FOR MAGISTRATES THE TRAGEDIES OF SENECA The conventions of the stage Machiavel The medieval morality plays (and the personified character of Vice) Marlowe’s JEW OF MALTA (1590) uses soliloquy as Richard does

14 LANGUAGE AND STRUCTURE Richard’s speeches span the stylistic range of Shakespeare and are filled with rhetorical flourishes and antithesis “His hyperbolic speeches, his rants, and his blustering promises are so tonally ambiguous they are as likely to elicit laughter as fear.” A spirit of camp has permeated several notable interpretations of the play, notable the spoof by Neil Simon in THE GOODBYE GIRL and in the Richard Longcraine film with Ian McKellan

15 LANGUAGE AND STRUCTURE Richard is determined to prove a villain, but he cannot entirely control events…Queen Margaret represents the remnants of the defeated Lancasters and forecasts the Tudors future…her curses suggest desperation and divine retribution Other women in the play express the sense of loss, grief and grievance The structure of foreordained events turns in such a way that the very actions Richard takes to insure his power, once he reaches the pinnacle, assure his downfall and the fulfillment of Margaret’s prophecies

16 THEMES AND ISSUES CONSCIENCE AND AMORALITY are key themes in Richard III Buckingham is executed on All Souls Day The executioners of Clarence argue about the rightness of their act Tyrrell’s account of the killing of the princes is filled with “dregs of conscience” Shakespeare clearly contrasts Richard and Richmond…Richard is a hellhound whereas Richmond is calm, princely, and pious Unlike Clarence and Buckingham, Richard faces his death unrepentant And, unlike IAGO, Richard rationalizes his evil as the effect of his physical deformity In Richard’s mind, MIGHT is the only RIGHT

17 REGICIDE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES Richard is a devil figure come to cleanse the kingdom for its earlier crime of deposing and murdering Richard II Richard is an energetic villain THE ART OF THE ACTOR AND THE SEDUCTIVE POWER OF WORDS Richard attracts women not as a lover but as a performer

18 STAGING CHALLENGES Traditionally, the play has been cut and amended, since the time of Colley Cibber, the 18 th century actor-manager Few productions have staged the entire script Passages most often omitted are the formal arguments between Richard and the Queen in 4.4…the long speeches in the middle…omitting characters (often Stanley and Queen Margaret)…In his film, Olivier cut most of Richard’s conscience-afflicted speeches before Bosworth

19 STAGING CHALLENGES The “hump” has been played in various ways by different performers Richard’s nightmare is a major challenge because it is presented to the sleeping rivals Richard and Richmond Stage battles, especially Bosworth Field challenge producers and actors

20 RICHARD III ONSTAGE Richard III is a popular role among the greatest actors drawn by his villainy and melodramatic excesses as with Edmund Kean, Edwin Booth and Henry Irving in the 19 th century and Donald Wolfit, Laurence Olivier and Antony Sher in the 20 th. Actors drawn to the more psychological underpinnings include William Macready (19 th century) and John Barrymore, Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer and Ian McKellan in the 20 th century. Booth, Olivier, Sher (L to R)

21 Elizabethan Age The first productions probably occurred at THE THEATRE. One stage direction in 3.7 suggests that Richard and his bishops appear above in the gallery, an efficient use of the Elizabethan stagehouse

22 18 th and 19 th Centuries SPECTACLE AND MELODRAMA triumph Between 1700 and 1850, the acting version in use was a version devised by Colley Cibber for his production at Drury Lane Even in the Olivier film, some vestiges of the Cibber adaptation persist with its emphasis entirely on Richard’s villainy.

23 David Garrick First played the role in 1741 and is depicted in the famous Hogarth portrait 

24 Edmund Kean William Hazlitt described Kean’s performance as “more refined than Cooke; more bold, varied and original than Kemble…” in a famous review in 1814.

25 William Charles Macready Covent Garden, 1819 Played the Cibber version and two years later, did a version more closely adhering to Shakespeare’s original text.

26 Samuel Phelps and Henry Irving

27 20 th Century Alec Guinness, 1947 Anthony Sher, 1984

28 RSC – War of the Roses The War of the Roses series were three plays adapted from the three Henry VI plays and Richard III. They were generally considered to be the pinnacle of the RSC’s achievments. Directed by Peter Hall, Designed by John Bury and adapted by John Barton.

29 RSC 8 Histories Marathon Visitors to London couls see all eight history plays, more or less uncut, during the 2000-1 season at the Barbican. Michael Boyd directed a “bloody close- in staging” of Richard III and the Henry VI plays.

30 On Television and Film FIRST SILENT FILM was in 1908 directed by J. Stuart Blackton and William V. Ramous. Frank R. Benson appeared as Richard in 1911 

31 Silent Films Frederick Warde, 1912 Final silent film was a German production in 1919.

32 1995 - Olivier

33 1982 – Jane Howell (BBC) This production is widely regarded as one of the most successful of the BBC series. It retains most of the text. Richard’s is the only death shown in the film. He is shown on his knees as he is impaled upon Richmond’s sword.

34 1995 – Richard Loncraine Adapted from Shakespeare starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, John Wood and Dominic West.The film relocates the play's events to a fictionalized version of Britain in the 1930s. The film was based upon a NT production staged by Richard Eyre..

35 1996 – Looking for Richard Al Pacino's deeply-felt rumination on Shakespeare's significance and relevance to the modern world through interviews and an in- depth analysis of "Richard III."

36 Spin-offs The Tower of London (1939) remade in 1962 by Roger Corman. Vincent Price appeared in both films.

37 Kevin Spacey BAM, New York, 2012

38 Peter Sellers and the Beatles

39 Craig Ferguson

40 Ian McKellan on the opening speech Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York,

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