The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1406 Friday, 26 August 2005
Date: Thursday, 25 Aug 2005 14:45:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 16.1392 Making King John a Play Worth Watching
Comment: Re: SHK 16.1392 Making King John a Play Worth Watching
Jack Heller wrote:
>"I don't quite understand people's reluctance about
>King John. The production about five years ago at the
>Alabama Festival could be added to those attesting to
>its stage merits."
I think King John is a wonderful play and I cannot help wonder if its
unpopularity is due to its multi-faceted nature. It challenges its
audiences to interpret then reinterpret then reinterpret again the
characters but keeps the grounds for judgment unstable. As we see in
another thread, many are more comfortable with the idea of Shakespeare
sending us one clear message per play.
However, in King John nothing is clear and no motive is unmixed. I have
seen one production in which Constance was a cold villain, and another
in which she is a victim. Both interpretations were faithful to the play
as written, but both were reductive and flattened out the richness of
this work in which public and personal motivations conflict and in which
characters ricochet between the noble and the craven.
I am waiting for a production that captures the unique nature of this work.
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