The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1207 Monday, 18 July 2005
Date: Sunday, 17 Jul 2005 14:51:55 -0700
Subject: Saddam as Dick the Bad
Richard III recast as Saddam Hussein
By Chris Hastings and Chine Mbubaegbu
Telegraph, July 17, 2005
*He has been depicted as a demented hunchbank and even a Nazi dictator,
but supporters of King Richard III say that a new production of the
Shakespeare play that portrays him as Saddam Hussein is the ultimate insult.
The Richard III Society, which campaigns to restore the reputation of
the demonised monarch, claims that the latest interpretation is too much
even for Shakespeare's villainous incarnation of the medieval king.
Dr Philip Stone, of the Richard III Society, said: "We have our work cut
out for us as it is without going to this extreme.
"Although we do not agree with Shakespeare's portrayal of the king, we
do try to give each individual production the benefit of the doubt.
"The problem with this idea is that Saddam Hussein is very much alive
and people have very definite ideas about him. I don't think even
Shakespeare is going that far.
"Shakespeare's Richard was a nasty piece of work but he was also a lot
of fun. A lot of women fall for him in the play. I don't think there are
many people who have fallen head over heels in love with Saddam."
Shakespeare's Richard III, which is most commonly dated to 1591 or 1592,
charts Richard's bloody rise to power after the civil war between the
royal houses of York and Lancaster. The character is portrayed as a
deformed monster who is willing to murder members of his own family to
get his hands on the throne of England. Much of what happens in the play
is either complete fabrication or the subject of historical speculation.
The play is being produced for a new RSC festival next year that will
include performances of all 37 of the Bard's plays. The new production,
featuring a pan-Arab cast, will be directed by Sulayman al-Bassam, the
Mr al-Bassam is convinced that the play is an ideal vehicle for an
exploration of Saddam's brutal reign of terror. He is, however,
considering a drastic reworking of the plot.
"The RSC have given me a significant amount of freedom about how I might
approach the play," he said.
# Additional reporting by Eloise Stonborough
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