Brindiamo insieme al compleanno di Scrittura a Tutto Tondo!!!

Rullino i tamburi… squillino le trombe… e soprattutto fruscino le pagine dei LIBRI, ora e sempre!!!

Ebbene sì, la sottoscritta lascia per un fine settimana le terre del Nord per tornare nella città che le diede i natali (e anche pasque, pasquette e ferragosti).

Come potevo rifiutare l’invito della miticherrima Rituzza mia (al secolo Rita Charbonnier, scrittrice e sceneggiatrice da culto, mio paziente mentore, ma soprattutto amica senza pari)? No eh!!! Nun se fà!

Accorrete numerosi. Per festeggiare il primo compleanno di Scrittura a Tutto Tondo, certamente. Ma soprattutto per stare insieme, e, ultimo ma non meno importante, per mangiare LA TORTA!!! Continua a leggere “Brindiamo insieme al compleanno di Scrittura a Tutto Tondo!!!”

Annunci

Re Lear, da Le Storie di William Shakespeare di Leon Garfield, Parte 1 – traduzione di Germana Maciocci

Tanto, tanto tempo fa, prima che fosse fondata la prima Chiesa, regnava in Britannia un re, il cui nome era Lear. Egli aveva tre figlie; e quando fu ormai vecchio e stanco di portare il peso del regno sulle sue spalle, desiderò godere unicamente dei privilegi legati al fatto di essere re, e decise di dividere il suo regno tra le sue amate figlie, e di tenere per se solo la corona. Le chiamò quindi a palazzo, e qui, nella imponente camera di consiglio, di fronte a tutti i duchi e ai signori e ai cavalieri che potevano entrare in quella sala, chiese alle sue figlie quanto grande fosse l’amore che esse provavano per lui; a tale misura avrebbe corrisposto infatti il loro compenso.

La più grande parlò per prima: Gonerilla, duchessa di Albany, una gran signora la quale bellezza marmorea si disciolse in tenerezza, mentre ella raccontava a tutti quanto amasse il suo caro padre. Disse infatti di amarlo più di ogni altra cosa nell’Universo.

“Egli mi è più caro”, dichiarò ella, “della mia stessa vista, dello spazio, della libertà!” E subito dopo accorse, con un gran frusciar di ampie gonne, a salire la scala che portava verso il trono, come una nube scura che si solleva nell’aria, per baciare la mano di suo padre.

Il vecchio re,  nel suo abito dorato simile al Tempo fissato e rigido, abbassò lo sguardo verso la mano che la figlia aveva baciato. Nessun altro padre era dotato di una figlia così affettuosa come Gonerilla! Pieno di orgoglio fece passare lo sguardo tra la moltitudine di teste coronate che lo circondavano, e annuivano ripetutamente in profonda ammirazione, come un mare mosso al tramonto da una lieve brezza. Tutti i volti erano illuminati dalla gioia… tutti tranne uno! Il conte di Kent era infatti accigliato; e il suo volto serio risaltava come una macchia in quel tessuto di sorrisi.

Subito dopo, fu il turno di Regana, duchessa di Cornovaglia, seconda per nascita ma non per bellezza. Le sue guance sembravano rose e il suo meraviglioso abito era impreziosito da perle. Quanto amava dunque ella il re, suo padre?

“Sono fatta dello stesso metallo di mia sorella”, dichiarò decisa. “Ella ha infatti espresso il mio stesso amore, anche se troppo brevemente…” Quindi anche Regana salì verso il trono e baciò il padre, non sulla mano ma sulla guancia rugosa.

Re Lear annuì, e si accarezzò la guancia, come per paura che il bacio appena ricevuto potesse volare via; e la rete di rughe intorno ai suoi occhi si illuminò, quasi si fosse sparsa di rugiada. Quale altro padre infatti aveva una figlia tanto preziosa quanto Regana! Ancora una volta la marea dorata di nobili si mosse per l’ammirazione; mentre il conte di Kent appariva ancora più rabbuiato. Ma alla fine, anche sul suo volto apparve un sorriso. Ora avrebbe dovuto infatti parlare Cordelia, la più giovane delle figlie del re.

In un semplice abito bianco, con l’unico ornamento dei suoi capelli dorati, e nessun gioiello tranne i suoi limpidi occhi, si pose davanti al padre come le sorelle prima di lei avevano fatto, per offrirgli il suo amore in cambio di un terzo del suo regno. Il suo volto era serio e compunto; e ancora la fanciulla non parlava.

“Cosa puoi dire in più, per ricevere da me una terza parte ancora più ricca rispetto a quella destinata alle tue sorelle?” la spinse a parlare con affetto il padre, perché Cordelia era la figlia a lui più cara; e nessun altro padre possedeva una figlia più sincera di Cordelia! “Parla quindi.”

” Non ho nulla da dire, mio signore”, disse ella.

“Nulla?”

“Nulla.”

Quindi rimasero lì a fissarsi, il padre reso folle dalla rabbia, la figlia, impassibile, ma con il cuore in tumulto. Sapeva che tutti la stavano osservando, e sentiva su di se gli sguardi pungenti e inquisitori delle sorelle. Sapeva quali erano state le aspettative nei suoi confronti, ma ella non si sarebbe sottomessa a tale prova, non le era proprio possibile. Amava suo padre quanto una figlia doveva amare il proprio genitore, sinceramente e senza secondi fini. Non poteva giurare, come avevano fatto le sue sorelle, che lo adorava al pari di un dio.

Re Lear si alzò in piedi, e la marea dorata si aprì mormorando di fronte a lui. I sorrisi erano ormai tirati; le sorelle più grandi distolsero lo sguardo, mentre la più giovane fissava dritto davanti a se. Il re si posò una mano sulla fronte, in un punto dove sentiva bruciare sempre più forte, come se il cervello stesse per andargli a fuoco. Era il punto dove Cordelia avrebbe potuto baciarlo. Vide i suoi cortigiani, ormai a disagio, allontanarsi da lui spaventati, come un gregge che fugga dalla minaccia di un temporale.

Uno però rimase fermo al suo posto, come a non temere affatto l’ira del re: il conte di Kent. Anche il suo volto appariva però  preoccupato; sapeva infatti che, qualora la tempesta fosse scoppiata, ne avrebbero fatto le spese tutti, padre, figlia, re e regno assieme. Quando un semplice essere umano agisce in preda alla rabbia, è solo la sua casa a tremare; l’ira di un re è in grado di fare a pezzi il mondo intero.

Gli occhi del re si accesero, e la sua voce si fece di tuono. La tempesta era iniziata e il regno iniziò a tremare sotto la sua violenza. Il conte di Kent fu cacciato via, mandato lontano dal regno, bandito all’istante, per aver osato mettersi tra il re e l’oggetto della sua ira. La stessa Cordelia, che non sapeva più se essere sveglia o preda del più terribile degli incubi, vacillò sotto ai fulmini che le venivano lanciati dal trono. La sua eredità, la sua dote, perfino l’amore di suo padre le furono sottratti all’improvviso, lasciandola tremante e priva di qualsiasi cosa appartenesse di diritto a una figlia di re. Quindi fu cacciata dal regno. Due uomini le avevano fatto la corte: il duca di Borgogna e il re di Francia. Con disprezzo il re la offrì a questi due pretendenti, insieme a quel nulla che il padre credeva lei gli avesse riservato. Borgogna scrollò le spalle e si allontanò; mentre il re di Francia vedeva le cose in altro modo. La prese in sposa con piacere, per lui il suo cuore sincero e la sua anima pura costituivano una dote già più che sufficiente.

Respirando a fondo, il re si girò verso Gonerilla e Regana, le figlie che lui reputava rispettose, e divise l’eredità di Cordelia tra le due. Così era stato deciso. Egli aveva rinunciato al suo potere. Non tenne nulla per lui solo, tranne la corona e un seguito di soli cento uomini. Lasciò perfino il suo palazzo; perché con due così care figliole, cosa ne avrebbe fatto un padre di una casa tutta per lui? A partire da quel momento, e fino al termine della sua vita, avrebbe infatti diviso il tempo che gli rimaneva in modo equo, a casa delle due due che aveva così generosamente compensate.

“Amate degnamente nostro padre”, raccomandò Cordelia, mentre si allontanava dalle sue sorelle.

“Non sei tu a doverci dire qual è il nostro dovere”, fu la loro fredda risposta.

 

A Preface to Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield, translated by the very me

Among the authors who to adaptations of William Shakespeare’s works, so that even the youngest children could appreciate both their languages ​​and content, the one I prefer is Leon Garfield.

Assuming of course that so far I had not the opportunity to read and analyze all of these authors, more for lack of time than desire, he is my favorite for different reasons. For example, for his ability of syntax, which at the same time does not neglect the narrative and lexical details  of the original verses, so that reading becomes smooth and “musical”. And for the fact he does not change plots, as sometimes adapters do, choosing example  for a happy ending for the Bard’s most famous tragedies, with a consequent loss in meaning, as well as in content.9780395861400

After purchasing the two volumes of Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories in English language, used copies and on the Internet, I started to read some chapters to my children, Daniele, age 6, and Francesca, age 4. I have always been trying, part seriously, part as a game, to involve them as much as possible in my passion for Shakespeare’s works and in the study of English language. I use then to read a few lines in English first, then to translate them into Italian. In order to simplify the narration, and to facilitate my this process, so to speak, I decided one day to start to translate the stories before reading them, to have a kind of canvas to help me lessen my “embarrassment” with my two little Masters.

Hence my desire to share with my Italian mother-tongue readers some translations of Garfield’s stories, destined not only to children but also to those who want to get closer to Shakespeare, for example before enjoying the most worthy original. Translations which I share with you in all humility: a tiny drop in the world of Shakespeare, designed for those who wish to be part of this ocean.

I will start then with the story of King Lear, with a dedication to my son Daniele, who, one day, when I asked him “How much do you love me?” He replied: “I love you as much as a son should love his mom.”

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit with this Shakespearean education….

Note: considered as works which will be shared online, my translations can be copied, printed, read aloud, spread “as you like it”. All that I ask is, please contact me in advance before using my texts publicly. Thank you!

Prefazione alle Storie di William Shakespeare, tradotte da me medesima

Tra  gli autori che si sono prodigati al fine di adattare le opere di William Shakespeare affinché anche i più giovani potessero apprezzarne linguaggi e contenuti, quello che a oggi preferisco è Leon Garfield.9780395861400

Premettendo che naturalmente non ho avuto la possibilità di leggerli e analizzarli tutti, per mancanza più di tempo che di voglia, è il mio favorito per vari motivi. Tra questi, la capacità di sintassi dell’autore, che non trascura però i particolari narrativi e lessicali dei versi originali, rendendo la lettura scorrevole e “musicale”. E il fatto che le trame non vengono modificate, come invece in altri adattatori, i quali hanno scelto ad esempio di dotare di lieto fine le tragedie più famose del Bardo, con conseguente perdita di significato, oltre che di contenuto.

Dopo avere acquistato i due volumi delle Shakespeare Stories in lingua originale, usati su Internet, ho iniziato a leggerne alcuni brani ai miei bambini, Daniele, 6 anni, e Francesca, 4 anni. Cerco da sempre, un po’ per gioco un po’ seriamente, di coinvolgerli il più possibile nella mia passione per le opere di Shakespeare e nello studio della lingua inglese. Di solito leggo quindi loro prima qualche riga in inglese, poi le traduco in italiano. Per rendere più scorrevole la narrazione, e per facilitarmi il lavoro, per così dire, ho iniziato quindi a tradurre le storie prima di leggerle, per crearmi una specie di canovaccio per trarmi di impaccio, per fare la rima, di fronte ai miei due piccoli Maestri.

Da qui il desiderio di condividere con i lettori di lingua italiana le mie traduzioni dei racconti di Garfield, destinate non solo ai più piccoli, ma anche a chi per esempio desideri avvicinarsi a Shakespeare, prima di apprezzare il più degno originale. Traduzioni che vi presento in tutta umiltà: una goccia nel mondo shakespeariano, destinata a tutti coloro che desiderino fare parte di questo oceano.

Inizio con raccontarvi quindi Re Lear, con dedica a mio figlio Daniele, il quale, un giorno, alla mia domanda “Quanto mi vuoi bene?” mi ha risposto: “Ti voglio bene quanto un figlio deve amare la sua mamma”.

Ok, forse questa Educazione Shakespeariana mi sta sfuggendo un po’ di mano….

Nota: in quanto opere condivise online, le mie traduzioni possono essere copiate, stampate, lette ad alta voce, diffuse come meglio vi piaccia. Vi chiedo solo la cortesia di contattarmi preventivamente qualora desideraste di utilizzare i miei testi pubblicamente. Grazie!

Shakespeare Memories from the Past: MAAN at Wyndham’s, London, Summer 2011, Post #11

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Post #11 
15th July 2011

Dear Readers,

After more than five months of studying, training and dreaming, my “MAAN Day” arrived and now it’s gone. It took me some days to allow my impressions about the performance to settle rationally, and some more to deal with all the emotions which overwhelmed me during my trip to London, mainly provoked by my “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” with the whole cast at the stage door of the Wyndham’s Theatre — sparing you the embarrassing report of my dumb scene when I met David Tennant, with my lovely English mate Lora as an extemporized interpreter. In fact, he must have thought I could not speak a word of English. I hope for my dignity he will never discover how talkative I am in this language…

Also, I kept on procrastinating this last post of my MAAN blog for many other different reasons. For one, I feel proud I was able to start, maintain and end a project which for me was rather ambitious – a quite autobiographic, partly scholarly, partly funny blog about a Shakespeare play written in English, and I was not sure how to end it. And I felt quite sad too, because the last post means that it is going to be over… And last but not least, I was welcomed by my 4-year-old son’s chickenpox as soon as I was back from London.

I chose then at last to share with you my impressions… interviewing myself! I will answer to the questions I sent to my friends before watching the play, trying to be the most objective and accurate as possible. Enjoy!

Beware: SPOILERS!!!!!!
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Would you like to introduce yourselves to the readers of The Shakespeare Standard?

My name is Germana, 35, Italian, mother of two, a BA in English Language and Literature at “La Sapienza” University of Rome. Export Manager Assistant, Translator, Associate Social Editor for The Shakespeare Standard, amateur photographer, compulsive reader and book reviewer, Sci-Fi geek, rock music addict and massive David Tennant fan.

Did you already know this Shakespearean comedy? Have you already seen other performances of that same play? Other representations of the same text?

I’ve known this comedy since I was in high school. I had this fantastic teacher of English who took our class to watch the Kenneth Branagh movie as soon as it was out, and before and after we read and discussed it in class. I also watched the BBC Classic version of the play and the Shakespeare Retold one, which I enjoyed very much.

How did you learn about this production? What were the main reasons which convinced you to see it in person?

I needed not to be convinced. I was on holiday on Piedmont’s mountains with my family at the very beginning of the year, and I received this frenzy SMS from my friend Silvio from Trieste, something like “David Tennant and Catherine Tate are going to perform next Summer Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in a London theatre!!!! Squeeeee!!!” On the 9th of January I had already booked the tickets online. And the rest is history.

What is your general opinion about the representation?

As I pointed out here and there in my previous posts, long before being a DT and CT fan I was a Shakespeare lover and, seriously speaking, a scholar, and quite a traditional one. Of course it’s not that I think his plays should be always acted in Elizabethan dress and stages, but I don’t like avant-garde theatre when applied to Shakespeare. I admit I was then quite perplexed after the first performances of the play at Wyndham’s and news came out about  its Gibraltar set during the 80s and Hero’s Lady D wedding dress, followed by the usual outburst of “love it or hate it” journalists’ commentaries.

I was quite sure anyway that Josie Rourke, while “refreshing” it, would have never “spoiled” or misrepresented a Shakespearean play. Therefore, I was happy to test first-hand how fine a performance they all were able to create with this production: both a serious and lighthearted version of the play, perfectly balanced, performed by an amazing cast, from Leonato to the Boy, on an essential and awesome set, and, which to me is the most important thing, where Shakespeare’s “words” were not twisted and were allowed without restraints to create the fantastic world of Much Ado, relieving the most pedant side of my “Take Anything But My Bard’s Words” character.

I also enjoyed the choice to represent it at Wyndham’s Theatre, with its huge stage and the “right” amount and positioning of seats which permit the audience to have a good sight of the actors on scene from nearly any place, giving anyone the opportunity to share the performance event in a comfortable and intimate way.

What is the thing you liked the most, and what did you dislike about the show?

I must repeat myself, as I really fancied the high quality of the whole cast. The fact that the audience was not subject to watch, as someone maliciously pointed out when the show was announced on January, “The Doctor and Donna” or “David Tennant inevitably stealing the scene from other actors”, and that every character has his space and his chance to express himself without any “prima donna” on stage is something that can make an already convinced fan prouder and prouder of his or her favorites. I cannot help thinking that some supposed theatre columnist should put a post-it on his/her desk with this note: “Before starting to criticize, remember that the 18th Century is over and 21st Century theatre is something completely different”. Some of them just seem to ignore that Garrick, bless him, died a long time ago.

I think Sarah MacRae is a perfect Hero, a delicate and clever girl with a strong character, and Tom Bateman the Claudio: naïve, passionate and a soldier faithful to his Prince. Adam James’s Don Pedro is the most suitable leader, very supportive with his troop, and a little bit too self-confident not considering the teasing nature of his brother Don John, a superb Elliot Levey, whose comrade Borachio was convincingly performed by Alex Beckett, while smart Conrade was the awesome Lee Knight. Kathryn Hunt’s Ursula and Anna Farnworth’ Innogen, Angelo’s (Derek Howard) and Leonato’s (Jonathan Coy) wives, were the perfect match to their husbands and a really well-chosen couple of actresses which makes the stage’s action even more lively and colorful.

I would like to dedicate some lines to John Ramm, performing Dogberry. As my faithful readers may already know, he is the character of the play I dislike the most. I admitted previously I just could not find a sense to his puns and clowning in the plot of the whole play. I am sorry to Mr. Michael Keaton, but I didn’t enjoy his performance in Kenneth Branagh’s movie, either. I completely changed my opinion when I saw Mr. Ramm in action: his Rambo-with-a golden-heart attitude and his deeply rooted good faith in the defensive role he must accomplish at Leonato’s completely conquered me, and not only made me laugh out loud but opened my mind to understand one aspect of this play I was completely missing, and I will be always grateful to this actor for that.

Mike Grady as Verges, Nicholas Lumley as George Seacoal and Clive Hayward as Friar Francis/Hugh Oatcake, together with the rest of the cast, perfectly completed the harmony of a seamless representation.

I think that it was good for people born in the 60s or 70s but maybe some younger spectator could not understand all the references, e.g., the Rubik’s Cube and the Falkland’s – and now I admit I feel rather old and odd after this consideration. I cannot discuss this choice anyway, acknowledging the respect of this production for the Bard’s script I mentioned above – I know, I am getting pedant now, I swear it’s the last time I mention that issue– well, maybe…I cannot promise anything…

It must be said that the reconstruction of that period is really awesome and precise, from music (the answer to the next question) to dresses, to any wee detail. I can recall for example the plastic spiral straw – one of the best gadgets of my childhood – which Benedick uses to drink from a can in the scene where Don Pedro, Leonato and Claudio friendly deceive him to make him fall in love with Beatrice, or the title of the book the Boy carries with him in the same scene – Dune by Frank Herbert, which David Lynch adapted for the big screen right in 1984.

How much does music contribute to the fascination of this particular production?

This was another thing I was quite scared of: the fact that they announced at first that they would use music from the 80s to be performed during the play. Of course there are a lot of good hits from these years, but I was just worried at the idea of a Disco Shakespeare.

Michael Bruce cleverly used the lyrics of the songs which are included in Much Ado, together with some from other Shakespeare’s plays, and made them sound like “classics” from the 80s, creating an interesting and not at all invasive soundtrack which accompanies the most poignant scenes, e.g., the fancy-dress party or the really dark and dramatic scene showing Claudio alone at Hero’s tomb.

Do you think that DT and CT fit their roles?

Yes, absolutely. I do not agree with some critics who judged Catherine Tate’s Beatrice to be way too similar to her comic characters or to Donna Noble. I wonder which play they went to see. She is rude, funny, moving or mocking exactly when Shakespeare’s Beatrice is supposed to be, and, in faith, considering that English is not my mother tongue, I think that she is able to finely express words which are five centuries old rather fluently and clearly.

She epically acts with brilliant plausibility and masterly skill in, for example, the scene in which Beatrice refuses Don Pedro’s wedding proposal, exploding in a loud laugh, ignoring at first that he is really meaning it, and when she gets serious and mortified after she understands that he was really declaring himself, one can really feel embarrassed for her. Not to mention how well she can handle the skirmishes during Beatrice and Benedick’s “war of wits” bits, and how touching is she when Hero is refused by a deceived Claudio, spectators can witness how much she is involved in her character’s pain from the tears she graciously sheds during the whole scene.

Catherine Tate’s Beatrice is both strong and delicate. She pretends to be absorbed only by her problems, to be careless of others, but she renounces this promptly to enjoy the sudden happiness of love and take care of her wronged cousin, asking Benedick to kill his best friend and seriously risking to lose him – again. It’s a mature Beatrice she is acting, with clear ideas about what is right and what is wrong, expressing herself in a way which is neither straining nor rough. She seems to feel alone at Leonato’s chaotic house, where everyone is busy doing or plotting something, while she just wants to be free to make the right choices for herself. She gives the impressions that Beatrice subjects herself to Benedick’s love because she had already been in love with him for a very long time – as Shakespeare would have intended in the lines when she refers to the “double heart for a single one” which gave the title to this blog. For this and many other reasons then, I completely agree with David Tennant’s choice to have her as his Beatrice.

And after Tennant’s deserved success in RSC’s Hamlet two years ago, I think that thanks to Catherine’s company in such a merry play as Much Ado he is now spending an enjoyable summer – not only for the fact that I think he’s the first to prefer to end a show dancing rather than dying on the stage, every night, for months.

When we first meet his Benedick, we are dealing with a soldier who comes back from war simply wishing to attend parties, to drink, and court ladies without starting any proper relationship. He feels confident at Leonato’s as if he had already attended his house many times before, but somehow the fact that he is defending bachelorhood so strenuously makes one feels that he is trying to convince first himself, then people surrounding him, about the rightness of his theories.

His “conversion” to love as soon as he listens to his mates’ chats, while he is hidden behind some columns, is so fast and so sincere, that his character seems quite relieved by the news that such a fair lady as Beatrice can love him – you can easily imagine the audience curling up with laughter at his double question: “Love me? Why?”, when he is wearing a Superman T-Shirt and he is covered with paint from head to toe. As far as it was for Beatrice, it could be true that only silly pride was preventing him from declaring her his love before their friends’ trick brought that to light.

As soon as the second act begins, David Tennant’s Benedick becomes more and more serious. He is the only male character of the play who shows himself fully conscious of Hero’s drama. He never supports his mate Claudio, believing straight from the accusation that the girl has been disgraced without any fault, and seems to accept to challenge him not only for Beatrice’s love but to defend the weaker and offended side of their small but complicated world. Benedick is not a chauvinist after all, and the instinctive and passionate, but inherently logical style in which Tennant performs his role, sparing no efforts to render it nothing but coherent with the natural developing of both his character and the plot, gives the spectator a hint about how hard he must have studied to put up such a lively and plausible version of “Signior Mountanto”.

A final consideration about what I use to judge an actor, to help the reader better understand my point of view about this production: I try not to discuss the person or his/her past or different roles. Of course, the fact that Catherine Tate and David Tennant are friends in their “real” life can do well for this play, for example, and the chemistry between them is indisputable, but talking about added values, I think it’s important to consider them first as two professional and incredible trained actors who really deserve their success, for their hard work and for the sincere passion they put in their job. And I swear on Yorick’s tomb that I am impartial, and even if I like them very very much my impressions are purely objective and I would have shown my discontent if I had not enjoyed their performance.

What do you think Shakespeare’s opinion would it be, if he could have a TARDIS to join us and watch this version of his Comedy?

I think he would have liked it. He would have loved the highly sympathetic, audience-friendly approach of the main characters, which I found very populist in a positive way, very graceful and natural at the same time. And I think he would have asked to try and drive the golf buggy.

Would you like to add something before we say goodbye?
I look forward to training for another Shakespeare play now…
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So, that’s my two cents about David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s Much Ado. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart this amazing website I collaborate with, and I am very proud and honored to be part of its staff.  I would like like to say a special “GRAZIE!” to Mr. Jeremy Fiebig, its Administrator, who always supported me from the beginning of our cooperation and who gave me the fantastic opportunity to start and maintain this blog. And all my love and respect to the fantastic Lacy White, who patiently copy-edited my posts – Lacy, you really are the sweet Champollion of my sentences in Italenglish.

Now, before I become soppy, my final thanks go to all the friends who accepted to be interviewed – and tormented – by this crazy geek, starting from the matchless English friends who made me feel at home when I was in London (my sister of soul Trish Starkey, amazing Bianca Dye and her glorious Mom Margaret, and unparalleled Lora Colver, to whom I dedicate a special BOOM! [you know what I mean sweetheart], glorious Helen Riley and delicious Lisa Walsh). And thanks of course to all the patient readers who followed me during this journey of discovering Shakespeare and myself together.

All the best to anyone, then, looking forward to my next Shakespeare “thing”! Ciao e a presto!!!

 (formerly published on theshakespearestandard.com)

 

Shakespeare Memories from the Past: MAAN at Wyndham’s, London, Summer 2011, Post #10

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29th June 2011
Post # 10

The day I’ve waited on for six months has arrived and tomorrow I will leave for London. I feel so excited I am all buffaloes now – butterflies would not have given the right idea. I decided last minute to treat myself to a We Will Rock You musical online ticket for tomorrow night’s performance, just to train myself a little bit more with Queen’s music I love so much, preparing and motivating myself before David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s Much Ado About Nothing like Rocky Balboa before he fights against Apollo Creed. Well, I am not sure that they would like this comparison…

While I’m waiting for next Friday, when I hope I will have the chance to meet my “heroes”, I will share with you some more impressions from my fantastic mates and fellow David Tennant fangirls Helen Riley and Judy Spreng. Enjoy!

Welcome, girls! Would you like to introduce yourselves to the readers of The Shakespeare Standard?)

HR: My name is Helen Riley. I work part-time in Fundraising Administration for a local Hospice (my perfect job!). I’m married & have a 4-year-old daughter.

JS: Judy Spreng. I live in Bellingham, WA, USA. I’m a technical writer, currently consulting at Microsoft. I’m single and almost 50 years old (OMG!)

Did you already know this Shakespearean comedy? Have you already seen other performances of that same play? Other representations of the same text?

HR: My only familiarity with Shakespeare comes from the plays I studied at school 30 years ago (e.g., Romeo & Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing). I have never seen MAAN on the stage, but I have watched the Kenneth Branagh / Emma Thompson film, both on its release and once again recently to refresh my memory. I’ve also re-read the play in preparation.

JS: I had heard of this play, but I had never read or watched a performance of it before this year. After purchasing the ticket to this production, I saw the Kenneth Branagh movie and then closer to the trip, I bought a version of the play that had the original text on the left page and a modern translation on the right page so I could better understand some of the subtlety of the language. This especially helped in many of the Dogberry speeches, in which he uses a word opposite of what he means. That would be hard for an audience to understand without any preparation.

How did you learn about this production? What were the main reasons which convinced you to see it in person?

HR: I heard about this production on the day it was announced by David Tennant & Catherine Tate on the BBC Breakfast Showon 8th January 2011. I think if it had been David Tennant alone starring in the play, I would have wanted to see it certainly, but because it was both Catherine & David, I bought tickets that same day, and some more tickets the next day “just in case”! Their work together on Doctor Who and on other occasions, such as for Comic Relief or on radio shows, was enough to convince me that their Beatrice & Benedick would be worth seeing.

JS: I’m a huge David Tennant fan. I saw David Tennant and Catherine Tate announce it on Breakfast TV in January. I immediately started thinking about possibly going to London to see it (I’ve been wanting to take another trip back to London for about 5 years now, anyway), but took a couple weeks to justify the cost for the trip. I realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my favorite actor perform live, and I’ve been wanting to take a trip back to Britain for the past couple years, so I decided to go for it. I bought my ticket for the play on January 15th, 2011. Oh, I ended up going a second time while I was there through the daily lottery. I went June 2nd (Lottery ticket; 2nd row!) and June 6th (purchased ticket, up in the grand circle but right in the middle)

What is your general opinion about the representation?

HR: This version of MAAN was energetic and fast-paced. The nature of the staging meant that little time had to be spent changing the set and this seemed to increase the pace of the production even further. The staging was in fact very evocative of a Mediterranean setting – I don’t think there was a soundtrack of cicadas, but it felt as if there might have been! All in all, this was a fun and exciting show and all of the cast were very good indeed.

JS: Generally, I loved the production. I thought the staging, putting it in the 80s, was a brilliant choice and the stage itself (with the revolving platform and the movable columns) was very creative and kept the action moving throughout the play, yet allowed different scenes to be played in different locations. The performances were great. Of course I thought David and Catherine were wonderful in their parts and had real chemistry between them. All the other actors were great, particularly the one playing Margaret. She did some “acting” in a scene where she didn’t have any lines that was brilliant. (Spoiler: it was during the wedding scene where Claudio is describing to Hero what he saw the previous night, and Margaret displays that she realizes that it was her he saw, not Hero. The dismay in her body language was so effective, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.)

What is the thing you liked the most, and what did you like about the show?

HR: I very much liked the performance of Leonato – the manner of “bonhomie” he displays in the early scenes contrasts with his anger at Hero and subsequently at Don Pedro & Claudio. I had the good fortune to meet Jonathan Coy (who plays Leonato) at the Stage Door and to tell him how much I enjoyed his performance.

I was a bit disappointed in the scene where Hero and Ursula deceive Beatrice, as it was almost impossible to hear the actors’ voices over the laughter of the audience, even though I greatly enjoyed the antics of Catherine Tate in this scene.

JS: Most of it I liked. I thought David Tennant’s scene where he’s overhearing the conversation between the other men was wonderful. How he can be covered in paint every single night is beyond me. He’s a great comic actor! I actually didn’t like Catherine Tate’s overhearing the conversation scene as well. For some reason having her hanging from the painter’s ropes just didn’t sit right with me. On the other hand, she had me in stitches in a little scene where Don Pedro flippantly asks her to marry him. Her reactions to that were priceless! The scene where Claudio seemingly almost kills himself didn’t sit right with me. It was not needed (it’s not in the play, there’s no dialogue) and seemed out of place and too dark. And some of the obvious gags, like Benedick coming into his first scene alone and on a golf cart was near being too “over the top” (although it was hilarious!). But none of the negatives detracted me from having a great evening at the theatre.

Do you think that the choice to set it in the 80s was a good one?

HR: Yes – the costumes – from white naval dress uniforms to the fancy-dress attire (e.g., New Romantics or Michael Jackson) – were amazing. In fact, some of David’s costumes have to be seen to be believed! The 1980s are far enough away to be history, but close enough to be remembered (by some of us!), so that was a great setting for this play.

JS: I thought it was a great choice. It gave it a contemporary look and feel, but still made sense in the context of the play. The woman who sat next to me the 1st time I saw it wasn’t particularly a DT fan, but just a fan of good theatre. She was so impressed by the staging of the play, she thought it would make a great film. She had no idea we were already trying to get a DVD of the production.

How much does music contribute to the fascination of this particular production?

HR: The music is very loud, 80s-themed (in the style of Wham! or soft rock, for example) and is almost always present – obviously at the fancy-dress party and in the hen-night scene in the night club, but also from a tape-recorder that Claudio plays. The music itself is a great tribute to the 1980s.

JS: I thought the music fit the staging of the play perfectly, but I wouldn’t say it added to my fascination of the production. It made it enjoyable and any other style of music would have sounded out of place.

Do you think that DT and CT fit their roles?

HR: Catherine gave a lot of “bite” to Beatrice’s clever lines, and the emotion she shows in the second half of the play seemed very real. And, of course, Catherine excelled at the comedic parts of the play and had the audience in gales of laughter.
David displayed so much energy as Benedick in the first half of the play, that he seemed almost statue-like in the second half, when events turn more serious. His tongue seems to be made to utter Shakespeare’s beautiful words. Speaking in his own Scottish accent, his words were crystal clear, so that even a theatre-goer unfamiliar with Shakespeare would be able to understand what was going on.

Their chemistry together was obvious, even to the point that they seemed almost to be trying to make the other laugh on stage – which certainly occurred in one instance, when Catherine struggled to compose herself before Beatrice’s line, “Against my will I am sent to bid you come into dinner”. They also switched so easily from comedy into a more serious emotion (e. g., at the end of the scene of Claudio & Hero’s “wedding”, when Beatrice & Benedick are alone, when Benedick says “Enough, I am engaged. I will challenge him”, which I found really chilling).

JS: Yes, they have great chemistry together, so you can really believe that there’s an attraction there that they both deny at the beginning. Their sparring scenes are great. And you can believe that they would so willingly believe that the other is in love with them, that they fall in love themselves. They portrayed the sudden turnaround, like they were just waiting for an excuse, really well.

What do you think Shakespeare’s opinion would it be, if he could have a TARDIS to join us and watch this version of his Comedy?

HR: I think Shakespeare would enjoy this production immensely, as it is a lot of fun! It is clearly aimed at a more general theatre-goer rather than a Shakespeare aficionado, in the same way that in his day the plays were aimed at a mass audience.

JS: If it was 16th century Shakespeare, he’d have a hard time understanding it, as he’d have a hard time understanding everything in our modern day.   But, if he lived in the 21st century, I think he’d approve of this updating of his work and think it was appropriate to the play.

Would you like to add something before we say goodbye?

HR: I’m inspired to read and/or watch more Shakespeare, as I’ve realised I really love the beautiful words so much.

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Thank you, girls!

My suitcase is ready and I thank God I am so tired after a full day work that I will sleep like a log tonight. Just hope the buffaloes will be of the same opinion.

Stay tuned then and look forward for my Much Ado About Nothing review at last! Thank you for reading! Ciao!!!

(formerly published on theshakesparestandard.com)