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Monday, May 3, 2010

"Richard" Reviews

Here are links to the reviews I have found for our production, although I have to say my favorite reviews came in the form of "fan mail" from the students of Somerset High School who saw our high school matinee performance. This obviously very bright group of students was captivated by the production, and the reactions from all of the students who attended throughout the performance were terrific and unforgettable!

"Gabriel King is wearing the heavy crown in Carnegie Mellon's current production of "Richard III," a daunting responsibility for a young actor, but he doesn't shirk from the burden. After a tentative, subdued start opening night, Mr. King seized the role with energy and growing confidence as the play marched toward its inexorable finale of blood and revenge."

"Robert Kotcher composed and arranged a welter of musical styles that lent both a historical period sense as well as a sense of paranoia, fitting to a story of cynical betrayal and brutality.

'Richard III' is rich with possibilities, from the least interesting (English history) to the infinitely fascinating (the seductive qualities of evil with a smiling face). The CMU crew couldn't decide which ones to choose, so it tried a bunch of them. Some worked, some didn't, yet the overall result is a rich night of theater, both challenging and entertaining."

(Take this review with a grain of salt: the description of the set makes me think that the reviewer saw a model or rendering of the set and not the actual set itself...)

"Thoughtfully conceived and stylishly attractive, it's a very up-to-date, yet timeless retelling of Shakespeare's drama."

Pittsburgh City Paper: 'Richard III' On stage

"That clarity is needed, given the dark intricacies of this sinister nightmare. To follow these twists, an advance grasp of the royal families and how they relate to each other is helpful. The good program notes help, as does a lobby genealogy chart. But even if you don't understand all the relationships, you can get the basics. Richard would become king. He plots and kills his way to the throne.

"Gray's images are contemporary, evoking eternal evils, reminding us of how greed for power knows no bounds, how deception and treachery rule. Those who stand in the way meet cruel fates; those who seek to preserve themselves fall into obsequious self-abasement."

Also, a very positive review congratulating all of the actors and designers on their work was printed in the Carnival week edition of the Tartan. Not only did they quote my program notes a couple of times, but they also helped advertise the (very successful) talk back on Tuesday night!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lab A6 Podcast Recording

Click here to listen to the Lab A6 podcast recording for Richard III with the designers Crystal, Jordan, Riley and Danielle, Gabe King, who plays Richard, and myself, the dramaturg. It will also be available soon on iTunes.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Low Down on Talk Backs

There will be three post-show talk backs for Richard III:

Thursday, April 15th--This is for a small class that is attending the preview, and will be held in room 103.
Tuesday, April 20th--directly after the show in the Chosky.
Monday, April 26th--after the high school matinee performance at 10am. I hope everyone is as excited as I am to hear what these students have to say about the production!

Also, stay tuned for information about the Lab A6 Podcast session that I recorded with Crystal, Jordan, Gabe, Danielle and Riley about the show. Should be available on iTunes any day...

Spread the word!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Notes from the Citizen Scene:

“Abroad”: It was not until 1560 that “abroad” meant foreign, but instead meant:

1. a. Over a broad or wide area; widely, broadly; so as to be fully open or outspread (obs.). In later use more commonly with reference to non-physical things, as news, information, etc. Freq. in later use to spread abroad.


2. In public, so as to be widely known, believed, used, etc.; openly, publicly; (so as to be) in general circulation; at large.

(From the Oxford English Dictionary).

From a faculty website at Wisconsin, by JP Sommerville on Medieval English Government:

Justices of the Peace were typically members of the local gentry (large landowners who did not have noble titles) given a commission by the monarch to administer justice in their county. JPs could personally punish minor offences and commit criminals for trial at the Assize Courts. Justices of the Peace were appointed from the 14th Century onward but it was only during the 16th that they became the primary administrators of local government, replacing the sheriff.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First Rehearsal

Here are a few photos from our incredible, unconventional first rehearsal.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Words I Love and Terms You Should Know in "Richard III"

Abortive rooting Hogge: an aborted or stillborn fetus, failing to produce a viable child, an unsuccessful result; the act of implanting, later, slang for the male’s part of sexual intercourse; specifically, a castrated male swine raised for slaughter, also refers to Richard’s symbol, the boar.

Arme: spelling could mean both arm or army, conjuring images of flesh and war at once.

Burgundy: the most wealthy, powerful state during the 15th century in Europe reaching from the English Channel to western Germany with power concentrated in the Duchy of Burgundy, it had a large influence on English trade and culture. For example, under Edward IV, England adopted the elaborate Burgundian court ceremonies. Burgundy’s Phillip the Good allowed the English to take much of northern France and thus this remained a supporter of York while his cousin, Charles VII, and later Louis XI supported Lancaster. The even more fervently anti-French successor, Charles the Bold, married Edward IV’s sister, Margaret of York, who was hostile towards Henry VII and continued to support various Yorkists even after the Duchy was reabsorbed into France. Also, a sweet red wine from this region in France.

Cloy: satiate, gorge, satisfy.

Cockatrice: a serpent identified with a Basilisk that was hatched from a cock’s egg and could kill with its glance; rarely, another term for crocodile.

Crosbie House: one of Richard’s houses in London, which became where Elizabeth I received ambassadors.

Crosse-row: the alphabet, used in prophesizing; Shakespeare’s audience would have known that Queen Elizabeth was herself a fan of astrology and employed “philosophers,” such as John Dee, who scheduled her coronation with his horoscope.

Diet: way of living, i.e. Edward’s corrupt lifestyle is his “evil diet."

Dighton and Forrest: The two servants hired by Tyrell to carry out the murder of the two princes.

Eagles should be mew’d up: specifically the Golden Eagle, a native species of England, symbolic of nobility, power, and royalty.

Haire about her ears: Elizabeth enters with her hair undone, a way Shakespeare liked to depict his distressed damsels, such as Constance who tears her hair in King John.

Hedge-hogge: hedgehogs represented evil because they “robbed” grapes from vines the way the devil was thought to rob people of their souls. They were also believed to be another form of goblin and were associated with neglecting to pray.

Humour: mood, disposition, frame of mind as determined by the balance of the four humours, or bodily fluids, blood (passion), phlegm (idleness), choler (anger) and melancholy (sadness).

Kites and Buzzards: birds of prey, thieving birds and bad omens; inferior breed of hawks used as an insult to mean a stupid person. Hastings means that it is a pity that he and Clarence (“eagles”) should be locked up by their enemies, whom he likens to inferior species of bird.

Livery: the special uniform provided for an official by his employer, such as a collar, hood or gown in a special color or design.

Lord Chamberlaine: a peer and member of the Privy Council who was one of the King’s closest, most important officers. This is Lord Hastings.

Margaret’s “bloody deed”: In Henry IV, Part III, Margaret stabs Richard of York, Richard III’s father, at Wakefield, after first offering him a handkerchief drenched in his son Edmund, Earl of Rutland’s blood and placing upon then knocking off a paper crown from his head.

Minority: the state of being a minor, not of age (14 years old), so that a Lord Protector would rule instead until he was of age (typically one of the King’s brothers according to age).

Mistress Shore: Elizabeth or Jane Shore was allegedly Edward’s favorite mistress, with whom he became involved about 1470. Her later affair with Thomas Grey, marquis of Dorset and later his rival Lord Hastings is what landed her in prison for practicing “sorcery,” though she was probably just their political go-between.

Nest of Spicery: figuratively, the womb.

Pomfret: from Latin “ponte fracto,” meaning broken bridge; Pontefract Castle, in Pontefract, West Yorkshire; belonged to John of Gaunt and the site of Richard II’s murder in 1399.

Pursuiuant at Armes: a junior officer attending a herald.

Queenes Kindred: Elizabeth’s eldest son Thomas Grey, marquis of Dorset, her son Richard Grey, her brother Anthony, Earl Rivers.

Scaffold: hanging was considered a common form of punishment while beheading was typically saved for the upper classes. Traitors could be hung, drawn and quartered, murderers or criminals might be mutilated or dissected and displayed after death, and drowning or boiling pits were not unheard of.

Son of York: Edward IV assumed a sun as his emblem after the vision of the three suns appear to him and his brothers before the battle of Mortimer’s Cross (Henry VI, Part III).

Sowre Ferry-man: Charon, who carries souls across the rivers Styx and Acheron in hell.

Surfet: illness brought on by excess, gluttony. Margaret’s curse reflects on Edward’s indulgent lifestyle.

“The Curse my Noble Father layd on thee”: at Wakefield, Richard of York curses Queen Margaret in Henry VI, Part III before she slays him.

“What would betide on me”: While some Queen Mothers became guardians or coregents of their young kings, others were completely stripped of their political power and left court, some evening entering a convent, unable to remarry. Historically, Elizabeth did not receive much from Edward IV’s will and it was not until Henry VII was crowned that she received the wealth and property due to her position as Queen Dowager.

White-livered runnagate: cowardly fugitive or rebel.

Wolves, Spiders, Toades: wolves are both a symbol of appetite and Catholicism; spiders could traditionally symbolize both evil creatures who sucked the blood of their prey and signs of good luck; toads were symbols of witchcraft and decay.

Wonton ambling Nymph: Literally, a malicious and lusty wandering earth-spirit in the form of a maiden; nymph can mean anything from a maiden to a prostitute to a slangy old-Latin term for the labia minora.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Images of "Why This Play Now?"

Some research images and ideas that keep Richard III relevant. Find out more on Matt's Ning. Read about cyborgs and Richard III here.

After Bhutto assasination.

Lamenting women.

Media attention.

Young leader.

Prince in the Tower.

Surveillance in Great Briton today:

Death, Ritual and the Media.


Bhutto's unmarked coffin.

Power and Technology.


Dailyxpress/Thai Photo Blog.

"How things go pop." Indymedia Ireland.

Hoyt, Mike. Reporting Iraq: An oral history of the war by reporters who covered it. Hoboken, NJ: Melville House Publishing. 2007. Print.

"Pakistan Mourns Death of Benazir Bhutto."

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images via New York Times

Warrick Page/Bloomberg News via New York Times