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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Royal Blood
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2306  Monday, 8 October 2001

[1]     From:   Jim Slager <
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        Date:   Sunday, 7 Oct 2001 18:10:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: Royal Blood

[2]     From:   Jim Slager <
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        Date:   Sunday, 7 Oct 2001 18:10:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: Royal Blood


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jim Slager <
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Date:           Sunday, 7 Oct 2001 18:02:58 -0700
Subject:        Re: Royal Blood

Hi Folks,

Well, I drove down to Carmel yesterday and saw Edward III in the
morning, Thomas of Woodstock in the afternoon, and Richard II in the
evening.

I sat down for Edward about 15 minutes early and the guy next to me
asked if I was attending the conference.  I said "huh?" and he told me
that 80% of the audience was with the Shakespeare Oxford Society which
was having its annual convention in Carmel.  I found this somewhat
distressing since I had read through Dave Kathman's postings on "The
Shakespeare Authorship Page"
(http://www.clark.net/pub/tross/ws/will.html) about two weeks earlier.
(Let me point out here that I find DK totally convincing on this
subject.)

So I asked the guy, who was a nice young man, if he believes the Earl of
Oxford wrote Shakespeare.  Of course, he said yes and so I asked him if
he felt uncomfortable with the fact that Oxford died in 1604 and
Shakespeare's plays were still appearing until at least 1611.  He said
that no one can be sure of the exact chronology of the plays so,
therefore, he is not troubled by Oxford's early death.  Then I asked
about the reference to the Bermoothes in The Tempest which certainly
seem to be inspired by the 1609 voyage which shipwrecked on Bermuda and
the likelihood that the entire play was inspired by this voyage.  He
said that he didn't think that the island in the play was Bermuda so he
didn't worry about it.  At that point I stopped asking.

As DK pointed out here: http://ws.bowiestate.edu/archives/2001/2171.html
, "The people in charge of Pacific Repertory Theater are Oxfordians."
I'll say.  Steven Moorer who is Founder and Artistic Director as well as
the Director of all three of yesterday's plays wore the conference name
tag throughout and instructed the Oxfordians on various things like
where the next meal was being served.  The lobby of the theater had a
large table for selling Oxford books and Newsletters.  Apparently the
annual conference is held in Carmel about every fourth year.  The
Playbill uses "Shake-speare" almost everywhere (see
http://shakespeareauthorship.com/name1.html) and provided 3.5 pages of
"Shakespeare or Shake-speare?" by Al Austin which ends with this
paragraph: "The contest - the mystery - comes down to this: Those who
believe de Vere was Shake-speare must accept an improbable hoax as part
of it, a conspiracy of silence involving, among others, Queen Elizabeth
herself.  Those who side with the Stratford man must believe in
miracles."

In any case, beyond the Oxford thing I did not see evidence of Mike
Jensen's impression (http://ws.bowiestate.edu/archives/2001/2162.html)
that "they have a screw lose."  In general I found the operation to be
professional and well run at least to the extent that you can expect
from a small, regional Shakespeare festival.

In my next post I'll give my impressions of the plays.

Jim Slager

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jim Slager <
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Date:           Sunday, 7 Oct 2001 18:10:09 -0700
Subject:        Re: Royal Blood

Regarding Edward III, Thomas of Woodstock, and Richard II which I
attended yesterday at the Carmel Shake-speare (sic) Festival:

Each of the three plays were in different theaters.

Edward III was in the Circle Theatre which is entirely in the round with
a total of about 90 seats.  This is a wonderful theater.  I sat in the
front row and actors were frequently just a few feet away.  I knew
nothing about this play going in.  Normally I study a play before seeing
it but I couldn't come up with a text for this play or ToW.  My
expectation was low due to a number of postings on this site.

Edward began with an introductory scene, with music and choreography,
which I later figured out was the assassination of Edward II.  Since
there were no lines I assume this scene was not part of the play and was
inserted by the production.  The first half of the play deals mostly
with Edward's attempt to seduce the Countess of Salisbury.  The second
half concentrates on the campaign in France and the heroism of the Black
Prince.  I was impressed by Julie Hughett as the Countess and David
Mendelsohn as the Black Prince, neither of which are union members.  In
fact there are only about 4 union members across the 3 plays.

This production was heavy on well chosen recorded music and well
choreographed dancing and battle scenes.  In the tight, intimate theater
this worked very well for me.  In general I thought the acting was
good.  In about the middle of the first half I started enjoying the play
quite a lot.  Of course, I don't know who wrote this play but it "felt"
to me (a strict amateur) like a Shakespeare play.  It reminded me very
much of Henry V.  Of course they both deal with English victories in
France but there are other examples: the rhythm by which drama and
comedy alternate, the bawdy word-play (chaste and chased), references to
"joints," and concentration on ransoms.  Overall, the language felt like
Shakespeare also.  It would be very hard for me to imagine how anyone
else could have written this play.

The audience gave tremendous applause at the end and everyone seemed
delighted by the performance, including me.

Next came Thomas of Woodstock in the Golden Bough Theater which is a
more traditional theater with rows of seats and a non-thrusting stage.
After Edward III I now had high expectations.  These expectations were
not met by this play.   If Shakespeare wrote ToW then I would imagine
that it was a rush job like Merry Wives is reported to be.  Even though
the actors are the same as in Edward it seemed as though they were
suddenly not as good.  Also, Brian Herndon as Richard II and Michael
Sandels as Thomas seemed to me to be badly miscast.  (They amount to
half the Equity members in the entire rep.)

Al Magary (http://ws.bowiestate.edu/archives/2001/2162.html) wondered
"how they're going to end Thomas of Woodstock as it's incomplete."  Here
is what I remember of the ending: After the murder of Thomas and the
murder of the murders, a full-scale war broke out between Richard with
his favorites and the forces of the surviving Dukes.  The Dukes had the
best of it and Richard's favorites were captured.  Then Richard entered
and made a defiant speech and the play ended.  It did seem incomplete
since there was no resolution of the defiance in defeat problem as well
as the obvious gap in chronology to the beginning of Richard II.  Since
I've never seen a script of ToW I assume that they decided to just
follow the script and live with the strange ending.

So I don't rate the production or the play very highly although I am
glad that I saw it just for the experience since I'm hooked on
Histories.

Finally came Richard II in the outdoor Forest Theatre.  I had very high
expectations for this play since it is one of my favorites and I did
have some confidence in the organization since I liked Edward III.  I
was greatly disappointed.  First of all I hate that theater. Along with
all the distractions of cars and airplanes, for some strange reasons
they choose to provide open fires at both front corners of the seating
so the audience is treated to smoke and ash throughout the performance.
The performance itself seemed very uninspired.  Again Brian Herndon
played Richard and he just wasn't up to the job in my humble opinion.
Also, the audience was constantly laughing at the wrong times.  Or
sometimes at the right times due to ineptitude, e.g., Herndon stuck his
sword into the stage floor for Bollingbrooke and Mowbry to swear upon
but then had trouble pulling it out of the floor afterward.  Also, there
was a problem with the recorded music which started playing once at the
wrong time.

I have a feeling that the rep put most of its time into Edward and just
didn't have as much time to work on ToW or RII.  Also, the cast may have
been worn out by three performances in one day.  Finally the theaters
likely had a considerable influence on my impressions of the plays.

In summary, Edward III was very good and I'd recommend it to anyone
interested.  As for the other two, don't bother unless you're a History
nut like me.  By the way, next year they are doing 1HIV, 2HIV, and HV
and I will be there.

Jim Slager

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