The Old Globe’s Richard III


The real Richard III was likely very different
from the character created by William Shakespeare in the 1590s. But on stage and in a series
of memorable films the last king from the House of York has been immortalized as an
artist in evil who both fascinates and repels. JAY WHITAKER: Now is the winter of our discontent… LINDSAY POSNER: Evil when presented on stage
is charismatic. I think if you actually look at portraits of tyrants through the ages from
Stalin onwards, they were very charismatic figures because they had, if you like, a guru
quality, even though the politics were distasteful. Lindsay Posner’s production of Richard III
for the Old Globe Theater’s Festival stage makes the 400 year old play resonate for contemporary
audiences by tying it into modern politics. LINDSAY POSNER: We’ve been through various
historical moments recently with Kadafy and Hussein, which in terms of the oppression
in their societies and the tyrants who governed them, follows pretty directly with the psychological
and in one sense the storyline of Richard III. Obviously not in its historical context
but in every other way. LINDSAY POSNER: In terms of the design and
the concept we’ve tried o make it feel very modern and that the battle scenes and very
exciting, and generally we’ve given it a modern, very accessible slant rather than setting
it in a court in the 16th century, which immediately has a kind of museum distance and heritage
distance, which doesn’t always work but sometimes it’s nice to look at. I hope that this way
it immediately will speak to people in terms of what it’s about. Actor Jay Whitaker took on the role of Richard
13 years ago and finds new pleasure in taking on Shakespeare’s complex villain. JAY WHITAKER: I think the joy of the part
and of watching it is seeing him woo the audience and charm them and then turn. RICHARD: Upon my life she finds although I
cannot myself to be a marvelous proper man. LINDSAY POSNER: It begins with wonderful speeches
where he engages the audience and gets the audience to go on his ride. JAY WHITAKER: He definitely gets joy from
it and gets joy in bewildering the audience as much as he does the characters and making
them laugh at moments when it might not be completely appropriate to laugh. RICHARD: I’ll be at charges for a looking
glass and entertain a score or two of tailors to study fashions to adorn my body. LINDSAY POSNER: There’s certainly a sense
that he almost stands outside his actions in order to relish them and take the audience
along with him. RICHARD: Sign out fair sun I might have bought
a glass that I may see my shadow as I pass JAY WHITAKER: He’s moving the chess pieces
constantly and yet at the same time playing this character that everyone thinks he’s not
smart enough to be moving all the pieces. RICHARD: Cousin, why are thou wont to be so
dull, shall I be plain, I wish the bastards dead and I would have it suddenly performed.
What sayest thou now speak suddenly, be brief. BUCKINGHAM: Your grace may do your pleasure.
RICHARD: Tut, thou art all ice, thy kindness freezes, say, have I they consent that this
shall be done. JAY WHITAKER: It always seems like he’s pushing
people, everyone that he’s around, he’s pushing them beyond their comfort zone. RICHARD: Day yield me not thy light nor night
thy rest be opposite all planets of good luck to my proceeding if with dear heart’s love,
immaculate devotion, holy thoughts, I tender not thy beauteous princely daughter, in her
consists my happiness. JAY WHITAKER: And everybody’s being manipulated,
all the time. There’s not a single person free from his manipulation. LINDSAY POSNER: There’s a sense that he knows
what he wants from each character in each scene and exerts his will to achieve that,
till I think he’s crowned then things start to slip from his grasp and distrust grows
and insecurity grows. JAY WHITAKER: He’s not enjoying himself any
more, when he’s enjoying himself he wants the audience to be a part of it and then when
he’s not they become almost an enemy. Richard’s trajectory as a character proves
fascinating from start to finish, and has enough vigor to still engage contemporary
audiences. JAY WHITAKER: I think the way Shakespeare
frames a sentence and uses language allows for… it opens up a channel for passion and
emotion that is so much deeper and stronger than you can find often in contemporary plays,
especially words, the words he chooses. LINDSAY POSNER: I’d say with all Shakespeare
if it’s done well and it’s told with clarity, the story and the plots are the most engaging
plotlines in any dramas you will find. RICHARD: It cannot be avoided but by this.
It will not be avoided but by this.

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