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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: November ::
Re: Ian McKellen's *R3*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0932. Thursday, 30 November 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Laura Blanchard <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 1995 18:47:05 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0926 Ian McKellen's *R3*
 
(2)     From:   Bill Day <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Nov 1995 22:48:47 -0500
        Subj:   Ian McKellen and Richard III
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laura Blanchard <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 1995 18:47:05 -0500
Subject: 6.0926 Ian McKellen's *R3*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0926 Ian McKellen's *R3*
 
Many thanks to all who responded. Much of this I have already, but I hope to
have more comprehensive materials for our Web site before I link the section to
our homepage.
 
Those of you who would be interested in previewing the section are welcome to
do so at
http://www.webcom.com/blanchrd/mckellen/index.html
 
The usual "under construction" caveats apply, of course -- especially to the
Shakespeare links, which I have been gathering over the past week but have not
yet included. Thanks again.
 
Regards,
Laura Blanchard
Richard III Society
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Day <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Nov 1995 22:48:47 -0500
Subject:        Ian McKellen and Richard III
 
I haven't heard anything about plans to film the production, but I'm surprised
he'd bother.  I saw it at the Kennedy Center in Washington and thought it was a
disaster for reasons that, as I recall, others aired on the list when the play
was in performance.
 
McKellen's choice to portray Richard as a kind of proto-Hitler, Nazi uniforms
and all, both obscured the nature of Richard's personal malevolence and
ambition and undermined the credibility of the performance. Far from exercising
the kind of hypnotic control over the masses that Hitler displayed over the
crowds at Nuremberg, R3's rise to power is largely a matter of the manipulation
of personal alliances and the elimination of people who stand before him in the
succession.  Despite his allegation of the princes' bastardy, Richard does not
really achieve the throne by perpetration of the Big Lie, as Hitler did.
Although there may be some superficial similarity between Hitler's seizure of
power and Richard's, Hitler exercised much greater popular control than Richard
does in the play (witness Buckingham's appeal to the citizen's of London.)
Richard is a tragedy that turns on one man's ambition far more than on an
entire nation's corruption.  I think it is a vulgar error, in the worst sense
of the word, to conflate the Nazi regime with every coup d'etat and dictatorial
regime that springs up.  Cavalier allusion undermines, rather than aiding, the
cause of "relevance."
 
Unfortunately, the effect at the Kennedy Center when I saw R3 was repeated,
though muted, laughter in the audience every time McKellen delivered one of R's
more vicious lines.  Dressing Richard in robes too big for him did neither the
production nor McKellen a service.
 
Sincerely,
Bill Day

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