segunda-feira, outubro 19, 2015

Richard Through Several Doppelgängers: "Richard III" by William Shakespeare, Tónan Quito

















This Richard III brought together 6 "words" that keep on forming an important nexus in my life: Shakespeare, English, German, SF, larger than life acting, and cinema. The most compelling aspect of this Richard III was Romeu Runa's performance - a bravura turn that almost seemed aimed, in its intimate moments, for the first-person mode. With me there's always an element of snobbism, an Anglophilia that draws me to the British actors who come out of a theatrical tradition. British actors, even when they appear in Hollywood films, are an alternate reality, a glimpse into the worlds of Shakespeare and theatrical tradition, which is, I think, far more worthwhile, far more compelling than mere movies.

Some Shakespeare plays have little to do with Shakespeare. That the medieval painting gave way to easel painting in oil that does not make paintings and oil paintings identical. On the contrary, the qualities that make a painting a particular medium can more easily be isolated when it's differentiated from, rather that collapsed with oil painting, watercolours, etc. "Everylike is not the same", as Brutus would have said.

Shakespeare in a language other than English, necessarily avoids the principal challenge a theatre director faces in adapting Shakespeare to the stage: how to give life to the verse and prose out of which "Shakespeare" as text and as cultural object is fundamentally constituted. As a result, this Richard "inhabits" another stage space.

I've always firmly believed Shakespeare in translation shifts an audience’s attention from the words to the action. I had just finished re-reading the play in English before going to see the play. While I was sitting in the theatre, the unfamiliar language and theatre conventions had a Brechtian distancing effect on me, as if I was watching very familiar stuff through fresh eyes, as well as getting to experience an unfamiliar form of theatre via a story I already knew.

"Mastering" Shakespeare is synonym with the mastery of the English language, i.e., the power and beauty of his expression in Shakespeare's English.  I don't really care about the plots (Shakespeare was not particularly good at writing plots). For me they are always secondary to his gift with words. Shakespeare in translation, however thorough, substitutes a parallel or similarity which is no longer the work of the author and which changes it. A translation might have a different value from the original but that's not to say it has no value. I feel I only really discovered "King Lear" when I saw Kurosawa's film, "Ran", so if one loves the plays, I find it interesting to see them reimagined in new forms, like the one I just watched. Some choices are debatable. Yes, they are. But who cares? What I really care about is whether the vision is consistent from beginning to end, and Tónan's Verfremdung is exactly that. Something different to ponder about.

On with the play:


NB: At the end of the play, when Richard III/Romeu Runa was doing his horsey ballet, an English woman in the audience hollered "Take me out of here. This is, this is..." There's no accounting for taste...

NB2: SF = Speculative Fiction.

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