Monkeys are smart. Though they haven't created cars or trains or weapon, they are educated through simplicity. They flourish on what they have, and if something doesn't work, they don't give up, but they evolve to overcome it. Like monkeys, Shakespeare had no thesaurus, no dictionary, no laptop and no editor. But when he came to a spot where he was at loss for words, he made up his own words. Through practice, perseverance and certainly trial and error, he created works that will last forever.

I am a 13 year old kid who is trying to read and attend live performances of all 37 Shakespeare plays (plus 3 possible collaborations) in 2 years. This is a record of my experiences.

I am now a 19 year old college freshmen at Northwestern University, pursuing a degree in Theatre. The spark of love for Shakespeare that began this blog has grown into a roaring fire. That fire burns a little bit brighter each day. This is where it all began.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Henry VIII, Shakespeare's Globe, London, 31 July 2010


Henry VIII is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays. This doesn’t make it a bad play. He has to work around the fact that Henry is Elizabeth I’s father, and a relative to the current king, James I. This means Shakespeare has to tell the truth without making it look like he was anything other than a righteous king. But there are a couple places where the great playwright himself skirts the line. This makes the play much more interesting. The dialogue is almost like a comedy, because that is how he chooses to mask the true ways of the true Henry VIII. Tragedy occurs to people who cross him, even in seemingly reasonable charges, though the underlying reason is not always what it seems. Often, Shakespeare slyly shows that certain player’s causes were just even though it was made clear that they were evil. It was also interesting because there was a little bit of ad-libing. It was funny, and it helped the plot along. I thought this was a perfect example of how different our times are.

Henry VIII is not easy. In fact, none of the histories are. But this one especially because the director must lay it out in a way that people can understand this play without knowing the plot in advance. Paraphrasing helped greatly with that. But acting must also be effective. Katharine was a perfect example. Despite the fact that she spoke with a Russian-sounding accent, she was in every way a proper Spanish lady. Also, she narrated because we could hear what she was saying to her serving women (obviously!). This was narrating the story without directly speaking to the audience. Wolsey and Buckingham also narrated, but stepped out of character. Wolsey did it in speeches, seemingly scheming, to take away from the kings subtly obvious faults. Buckingham spoke to the crowd urgently, but with a manner of ease. His final lines were delivered like a moral, rather than a desperate last resort. Together they were a perfect narrative crew.

Henry played the role to the way Henry probably was, not the way that Shakespeare clearly wrote him to be. This is allowed in our time, so it was very interesting to see him. He was real. He had human emotions, rebuking his daughter at first. Shakespeare would have originally had him be silently happy when he got the news that his daughter had been born. Anne was a devilish woman. She was clearly laughing inside at Katharine’s pain. It was a very unorthodox interpretation. The play was much more exciting than its reputation. Instead of being a history, it was like a comedy. It’s interesting to see what the rules were in his time.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was grand to see all the pomp and ceremony, as well as the regal politics, of Henry VIII, enacted on the Globe stage. They did a great job of conveying the idea of palatial elegance and royal power with very few actors.