Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’


Different perceptions of Richard III

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Liverpool stages an annual Shakespeare Festival.  This year (25 August to 10 September) the Lodestar Theatre Company is presenting Romeo and Juliet at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.  This play was chosen to show the “tragic consequences of a city’s troubles and divisions” and is set in 19th century Liverpool.  Considering the recent events in various UK cities, including Liverpool, Shakespeare’s play is even more apt than the organisers could have imagined when they decided on its production.

On the last night of the festival, 11 September, there will be a special performance:  25 theatre companies from around the country will each prepare a randomly selected scene from Richard III in the style of their choice.  These scenes are then brought together in one performance.  According to the official announcement there will be “100 terrified performers.  3 evil judges.  Not a single rehearsal.” No wonder that the organisers call it “Shakespeare with no holds Bard.”

Each of the participating companies will be bringing a different style and technique to the play with the aim to “celebrate the diversity of approach both here and nationally.”

The variety of different perceptions of Shakespeare’s play Richard III is appropriate also when we regard the variety of perceptions of the historical man, from saint to absolute villain and anything in between.


Official page of the Liverpool Shakespeare Festival 2011:!richard-iii Date accessed:  2 September 2011

Tina Miles, ‘Merseyside theatregoers set to raise money for ECHO charity Liverpool Unites’, Liverpool Echo (31 August 2011).  URL: Date accessed:  1 September 2011

‘Liverpool Shakespeare Festival’, My Echo – Liverpool Unites.  URL: Date accessed:  2 September 2011

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Richard III comes to Sydney in December

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

There has been much anticipation for a  new production of Richard III at the Old Vic in London with Kevin Spacey in the title role.  It is set to open on 29 June and I know that some of our Ricardian friends in the UK have got tickets to go and see it.  Kevin Spacey has been the artistic director of the Old Vic Theatre Company since 2003.

The production will be directed by Sam Mendes, both Mendes and Spacey worked together on the 1999 movie American Beauty, for which they both won Oscars.  It will be part of the Bridge Project, which has been a three-year US-British collaboration.

After the initial season in London, the production will tour the world – and will also come to Sydney, the only Australian city to be included.  This will be the first production of the Old Vic Theatre Company to be staged in Australia since 1948, when Laurence Olivier brought also Richard III.
From 1 December there will be 11 performances at the Lyric Theatre.  Tickets go on sale on 25 July.

Of course Shakespeare’s Richard III is a marvellous stage villain, but as my prof at Bonn uni all those years ago said “he does not seem to bear much resemblance to the real person”.

For more info on the stage production read the announcements in the Daily Telegraph, from Nine News as well as an older article from the Guardian.  For more info on the relationship between play and reality have a look here.

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A few items discovered in my never-ending task of trying to relieve my bookcases of excess material (96% of those selected to be discarded always return home).

In a copy of No Turn Unstoned * by Diana Rigg (a wonderful actor mainly remembered for her leather-clad Emma Peel in television’s “The Avengers”) she compiled a collection of awful theatrical reviews and among them:

Ian Holm in The Wars of the Roses.  Shakespeare’s Richard III, Stratford- on -Avon, July 1963.   Reviewed by The Times.

Mr Holm still presents Gloucester as a likeable juvenile, open-faced and friendly in spite of his hump and surgical boot. Mr Holm’s reading  …fails totally to develop in Satantic magnitude.  Instead of the boar, the bottled spider or the bunchbacked toad, Mr Holm remains a high-spirited minor;  he exhausts his lung power in the later scenes, but finishes up on Bosworth Field loaded down with an armour of medieval weapons crooning to himself like a baby inside his visor. Read the rest of this entry »



NIDA Season of Shakespeare

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley    in News

In June, second year students of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) will be performing The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare at the Parade Courtyard.  The Parade Theatres are part of the NIDA complex at 215 Anzac Parade, Kensington NSW 2033.

NIDA Season of Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
directed by Tony Knight | Featuring Second Year Actors
18, 20 – 23 June 2011, 8.15pm
Parade Courtyard
Tickets on sale through Ticketek from 16 May. Click here to register your interest.



Richard III – the movie

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

The classic film starring Laurence Olivier in the title role of Shakespeare’s Richard III will be shown on the ABC1 next Monday at 1.20 am.  If we look past the fact that Shakespeare’s Richard has nothing to do with the real Richard, this is must see television, if for the outstanding acting alone.  To find out more about the relationship between the play and reality, click here.  And for Monday morning, set your recorders!

The above illustration showing the murder of the princes in the Shakespearean tradition  is a work by Finnish artist Riikka Nikko and is reproduced here with the permission of the artist.



George Bernard Shaw on Shakespeare’s Richard III

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Quotes

During a cleanup the other day I was debating whether to throw out theatre programmes and found this.  It is from the Bell Shakespeare production of Richard III in 2002.

The world being yet little better than a mischievous schoolboy, I am afraid it cannot be denied that Punch and Judy holds the field in the most popular of dramatic entertainments.  And of all its versions, except those which are quite above the head of the man in the street, Shakespeare’s “Richard III” is the best.  It has abundant devilry, humour and character, presented with luxuriant energy of diction in the simplest form of blank verse.  Shakespeare revels in it with just the sort of artistic unconscionableness that fits the theme.  Richard is the prince of Punches, he delights Man by provoking God, and dies unrepentant and game to the last.  His incongruous conventional appendages, such as the Punch hump, the conscience, the fear of ghosts, all impart a spice of outrageousness which leaves nothing lacking in the fun of the entertainment, except the solemnity of those spectators who feel bound to take the affair as a profound and subtle historic study.

George Bernard Shaw in December 1896, after a performance at London’s Lyceum Theatre of Shakespeare’s play.



Rebels with a Cause

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

My daily Google alert recently included an item about a theatre scandal in 1885.

In that year at least 59 students of the Ohio Wesleyan University in the US were suspended for skipping mandatory chapel and attending a performance of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” at the Delaware Opera House instead.

At that time church leaders regarded the theatre as being “detrimental … to the morals” and students of the University were not allowed to attend any performances.  However, the pull of the celebrated Shakespearean actor Fredrick Warde was stronger than the ban on theatre visits and the students went to see him perform in “Richard III”.  When the University administration found out, 59 students were suspended.  They were allowed to continue their studies only if they re-signed their matriculation cards as well as a confession of their wrong doing and promised not to break the rules again.

This attitude changed though not long after and Shakespeare has a strong tradition in the University’s drama department and one of his plays was performed in nearly every year in the 20th century.  This year this event will be dramatized and included in their 2010 Heritage Day under the title “Stand and Be Counted: Risking It All for the Stage.”

It seems Richard III has for a long time inspired an independent way of thinking.  I just hope that they also approached the historical Richard with the same challenging spirit to accepted orthodoxy.

You can read the news release from Ohio Wesleyan University here.

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Thoughts on “Katherine the Queen”

   Posted by: Lynne Foley    in Bookworm

Lynne recently read Katherine the Queen and shares her thoughts as they concern Richard  about this book with us here.

Linda Porter, Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr. Macmillan, London/GB, 2010  ISBN 978-0-230-74955-9 (hardback).

The connection  through service to Edward IV and Richard as Duke of Gloucester king, and the ancestors of Henry VIII’s sixth wife are well documented in this book.

In discussing Richard as a builder or renovator, Porter states on pp. 316-17 about Sudeley Castle:  “much of its current appearance and appointments in the mid-sixteenth century, it owed to improvements made by Richard when he became king.  He added the banqueting hall and the state rooms and might have spent much more time there if he had reigned longer.”

Disappointingly, she thinks that Richard was out to gain the throne for himself and that was why his ‘lieutenant’ in the north, Sir William Parr, left court and returned to Kendal Castle when Richard became King; however his wife Elizabeth was close to Anne Neville and made a lady-in-waiting.  William’s younger brother Thomas died fighting with Richard at Barnet and is one of the six gentlemen mentioned by Richard when arranging for prayers to be said for their souls and for “all lovers of the House of York.”  So often we encounter his – Richard’s concern for the ordinary person.

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Meeting Old Friends

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Last week my husband attended a conference in Hobart in Tasmania.  So I went along for some sightseeing.  Visiting St David’s Cathedral I admired the beautiful stained glass windows.  One of them showed St Alban, which after my recent work on St Albans in Hertfordshire was like meeting an old friend.

Saint Alban was the first martyr of Britain (executed in c. 304). His story has often been told, among others by the Venerable Bede.[1]  According to this, Alban was a Romano-British citizen of Verulanium, who gave shelter to a Christian priest, called Amphibalus, during a persecution of Christians.  He was so impressed by what this man had to say that Alban converted to Christianity.  When Roman soldiers came to search his house for the priest, he pretended to be him and was arrested.  During the trial he stood firm to his new faith and was beheaded.[2]  However, en route to his execution he performed several miracles like stopping the water of the river to flow and causing a spring of water on the hill, where he was beheaded (hence the street name ‘Holywell Hill’).  His original executioner converted to Christianity on the spot and the man who eventually did the deed was punished by blindness.  Unfortunately all this did not help Amphibalus, who along with some others was a few days later stoned to death.[3]

At the time we were there, the Australian Shakespeare Festival was taking place in Hobart.  Unfortunately we did not have time to visit any of the vents, but William was looking down on us from a great height all over the city, which was like running into another old friend.


1.    “St Alban”, Catholic Encyclopedia – New Advent.  (accessed 23 May 2010)
2.    “The Story of St Alban”, The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban.  (accessed 24 May 2010)
3.    “St Alban”, New Advent

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That Play

   Posted by: Gillian Laughton    in NSW Branch News

In March 2010 the Canberra Richardians gathered to attend a small local company (Everyman) production of the Shakespearean play Richard III.  This was performed in a small ‘workshop’ space in the Courtyard Theatre.  There were tiered stands for seating with a red carpet between the two stands.  The actors worked on this carpet.

One member of the group was aware that the stands were labelled with red and white roses.  We had to be careful to make sure we were sitting on the correct side!  The actors at times directly worked or appealed to their side.  The actors were costumed very simply in white, adding accessories to indicate the character they were playing.  The actor playing Richard (Duncan Ley) became more and more covered in ‘blood’ as the play developed.

To see the play performed at such close range magnifies the already powerful drama.  The aim of this production was to highlight the role of the women.  From my perspective this was achieved.

The four of us were really pleased that we had picked up on this production and been able to attend together.  I think we all came away with a better understanding of why the play has coloured people’s perception of Richard III so successfully.

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