Cry Havoc and let’s decide who is the best Marc Antony

3 May You got the role actor, now see if you can match the king. Spoiler alert: you can't.

Daniel J. Rowe 

It is, in all of Shakespeare’s plays, one of the most famous speeches. It is the one that, I’ll admit it, I wanted to read the most when the Bard Brawl went through Julius Caesar.

The lines are those after the dictator of Rome has been murdered and second billing on the funeral oration speakers’ list is that favourite buddy of JC, Marc Antony. Note to all Brutuses (Bruti?) our there: never go first.

The speech is great for a number of reasons – language, moment in play, setting, crescendo like movement in the words – but my theory is that it stands out and is remembered so well simply because one actor, once, nailed it perfectly.

I’ve seen the play a number of times since (on stage mostly), and am always waiting for Act III, scene ii, and the speech that brings the house down. I’m always wondering if someone, somewhere, somehow can compare to the one perfect rendition of this speech among speeches in a play with a whole shwack of dudes standing and talking for long periods of time.

The Guardian recently posted this video of that guy from Homeland and Band of Brothers giving it a swirl, and it is… Alright.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/stage/video/2016/may/03/damian-lewis-antony-julius-caesar-friends-romans-countrymen-shakespeare-video

Not bad Damian Lewis, not bad.

I asked an actor once who played the role how it was, and he said every time he does the speech it’s stressful. Audience members are sitting eagerly, sometimes with texts in their hands, mouthing the words or giving that knowing ‘I hear a famous line’ face.

Ok. Enough build up.

We all know that when speaking about Antony there is one gold standard, one that stands above them all, and one that you will always be compared to.

All yours Marlon.

So powerful, so scary, so perfect. There’s really nothing much else to be said about Brando’s delivery, emotion, energy and poise.

Must suck to get cast as the role knowing that you will always be compared. His “cry havoc” speech is equally impressive. (I may actually prefer it in some ways).

To show how much this speech can be blown, let’s take a look at that gun loving nut Charlton Heston, and see how he does with the lines.

Ugh. Not great. There’s something about how pompous Heston is, and how he’s trying too hard to be that wardog Antony that it leaves the speech uninspiring. Then again, it is Charlton Heston, so are we really that surprised. Rest in peace.

OK. One more.

Let’s check out this very earnest young man, who really, really wants to nail this speech.

That’s cute.

What do you think? Pick your fav on the poll or leave a comment below if there’s a performance that we missed.


Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Or leave us a comment right here!

Happy 400 Bard, thank you for giving us an excuse to drink beer

25 Apr

Daniel J. Rowe and Eric Jean

Yesterday, (er, April 23rd) apparently was both the day William Shakespeare – the bard, the most famous playwright of all time, the English major’s hero or devil, the inspirer of great films, theatre productions and books, and agent zero for a few awful ones – was born and died.

Happy 400th deathaversary and birthday.

Funny how the world works.

With that in mind, we co-captains of the Bard Brawl thought to take you through a journey that began in a living room over a few beers with a couple of dudes, and grew to become a living room over a few beers with a couple of more beers. Steve Jobs would be proud.

…so without further ado, “from Montreal, Quebec, this is the

- artwork by Leigh Macrae

– artwork by Leigh Macrae

The Bard Brawl, a history

The Bard Brawl is one of the (most important?) legacies of the man born in Stratford upon Avon in 1564, and began in 2009. The co-creators (as well as the long lost Dan Pinese. What happened to that guy? Oh yeah. Toronto happened) decided to meet up and read one act per week. Eric came up with the name, Daniel picked the first play (Coriolanus), and off we went. Stephanie E.M. Coleman soon joined to round out the foursome that became the triumvirate, and the rest is history.

Not sure who is Caesar, who is Pompey and who grabbed the short straw and had to be Marcus Crassus, but there you have it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As of Thursday night, we finished the second act of Two Noble Kinsman, and will have two plays to go for the folio to be complete. We three, along with a collection of fine brawlers, will have read 36 plays, one act at a time, pound-for-pound like a lion and a tiger in a pit with a bunch of drunk peasants betting their paycheques from above. That is if the lion and tiger intersperse their fight with talk of hockey, batman, beer, PEI and whatever weird topic Mr. Nick is on about.

By the way MIT Shakespeare, could you please put Two Noble Kinsman online? It’s really annoying to try to search for it on our phones. Thanks.

(That last rant was brought to you by this YouTube video)

The last play, naturally, will be the Tempest.

Meg Roe's Tempest finds the balance between wonder and soliloquy at Bard on the Beach in 2014. Photo credit - David Blue

Meg Roe’s Tempest finds the balance between wonder and soliloquy at Bard on the Beach in 2014.
Photo credit – David Blue

Reading the plays one act at a time, every whatever day of the week, was just the beginning.

Podcasts ensued, as did book, movie and theatre reviews that are all on this site.

Click around. You’ll have fun.

 

We also produced three volumes of ‘Zounds! A Bard Brawl Journal that you can still buy if you like. There’s tons of clever stuff.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One time we shot a video of a speech from Pericles, but Jay Reid said it wasn’t done right, and then we left it there even though this guy named Jason, who posts a lot on the Facebook page, but rarely comes out to the brawl, keeps telling us we need more video. By the way, Jason and Jay met once and I’m pretty sure Dream Weaver started playing, and a true and noble bromance began.

Some questions

People often ask about Shakespeare, so we pre-empted those questions and interviewed ourselves. Clever no?

Why the bleeping heck do we spend so much time on Shakespeare?

Short answer: because we want to, and leave me alone jock. I can do whatever I want.

Longer answer: because he’s really fun to read, the stories are interesting and entertaining, and it’s all so dang universal in the end.

Sidebar: No, we will not be branching off and doing Marlowe or Arthur Miller plays next.

Did he REALLY write all the plays?

Who cares.

What’s your favourite play?

Othello (Daniel); (Eric); Timon of Athens (Stephanie). But you know, that could all change with the mood.

Read it or watch it?

Whatever you want. Both are fun.

Accent or not?

Whatever you want except when it comes to servant voices. Those must be done Monty Python or football star being forced to be in a theatre play style.

Best character?

Bear that kills Antigonus.

Alright enough questions.

How the H did we get this far?

Keep it simple. Kick no one out. Don’t discourage those who don’t know the language. Allow mistakes. Drink beer or wine regularly, and always talk about it. Allow all questions, and make sure some jerk has bought the pro version of the playShakespeare app on his or her iPhone, so they can bring it up every single week.

Some have left, some have come, some have stuck around. It really doesn’t matter. Let it go if someone gets all worked up and think they are too good to brawl. Be humble and have fun.

Quotes

A smattering of some of the funnest lines to read for your pleasure.

“Reason not the need!”

King Lear

“Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Good signior, you shall more command with years. Than with your weapons.”

Othello

“You common cry of curs whose breath I hate as reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize as the dead carcasses of unburried men that do corrupt my air, I banish you! And here remain with your uncertainty!”

Coriolanus.

Sheesh guys. Tell us what you really think.


Bard-dendum.

Eric here. Daniel did such a great job with this post that I don’t have a lot to add.

But I’m happy to try and upstage anyone, anywhere, any time so here goes.

Why do we brawl? Because it’s damn fun.

Yes, I hear you saying politely, “Oh, that sounds nice.” But then you scrunch up your face like you’re picking up your Great Dane’s business in a flimsy Dollarama bag at the park near my house, the one that says “No Dogs Allowed” and is supposed to be for children under 5 years old. How could you?

We invite you, you decline.

And you really have no idea what you’re missing out on.

I get it. You read Twelfth Night or Romeo and Juliet in Mr./Mrs. Lameville’s class in grade 9 because they made you do it. You brought it home. You read it quietly to yourself. It made no sense. You wrote a paper filled with quotes you thought sounded important but which you didn’t understand and handed the thing in.

You collected your ‘B’ and vowed you would never read another word because who the hell cares about all of this serious, stuffy, old-timey stuff anyhow? You’re going to be a social media icon one day! You’ll have a beard and an ironic moustache!

You have no time for this!

Be honest. You hate this stuff because it scares the crap out of you.

You’ve had a lifetime of knowing that Shakespeare is serious business, that it’s meant to be revered, unquestioned, and that only special people with years of training can ever hope to understand even a small part of it.

Bullshit.

Don’t let ‘THE MAN’ win! This shit’s for everyone! (Like, literally. It’s all free on the internet.)

Honestly, though. Shakespeare’s plays weren’t meant for academics and undergrads trying to sound smart.

Sure, there’s a lot of meaning jammed in there, the language sounds foreign, the characters have funny names and the places described as ‘Athens’ or ‘Bohemia’ seem populated with people who dress and act like Shakespeare’s English contemporaries.

That’s just because it’s gathered a little dust through the centuries. Or tannins. Or oak flakes. Or whatever weird magic makes old booze taste better than new booze.

The murders, betrayals, adulteries and sex jokes are still there. (In fact, a good rule when reading: if it sounds dirty, it probably is.)

So maybe you need to try to live with the fact that it’s old. It’s been around for a while, much longer than anything you write will likely be (unless you’re Daniel, whose honeyed words are clearly immortal). It just needs a little help getting out of bed or crossing the street. It’s wiser and stuff.

But it was never meant to be hard. It’s wicked smart, sure, but also damned entertaining.

Shakespeare’s plays are a lot less like a first-year film student’s art film and a lot more like blockbuster movies.

Poor-ass peasants would scrounge up whatever cash they could just to have a chance to go to one of these things. Nobles went, too. Maybe they got different jokes but there was something in there for everyone.

That’s what’s fun about the Bard Brawl.

Everyone’s different – different backgrounds, educations, states of intoxication – and the best part about it for me is seeing what different people take away, what clicks and what flops. That, and just spending time with people who like to relax and not take themselves (and Shakespeare) too seriously.

I’m always surprised by how incredibly insightful everyone can be about this stuff. Even (especially) those people who insist that they don’t understand.

Yeah, you do understand. It’s cool to admit it. We are all Shakespeare scholars and lovers. We all know more than we think. Yo

And yes, there’s still plenty that we don’t get, or that’s bad or makes no sense. But that’s part of the fun. We make mistakes. We all laugh about them. We make ’em again. We laugh some more.

Kind of sort of like this:

Trust us. Or better yet, call our bluff and come join us.

Here’s to you Bill, and to Bard Brawlers everywhere!

Thanks for an excellent adventure!

 


Still interested, check out this Studio 360 podcast. It’s very good. Take a listen.

https://www.wnyc.org/widgets/ondemand_player/wnyc/#file=/audio/json/595296/&share=1

Artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman

Artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman


Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

Graphic art meets Shakespeare part I

24 Apr ShakeP3

Johnny Joannou

‘Elements of the Bard of Avon’ uses the periodic-table as the structure to show information about his plays, some of his greatest characters and elements of his greatest speeches.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I spend a great deal of time in the wonderful British library, researching my subjects from books to films to sports.

Johnny Joannou am a London based designer. He focuses on producing geeky prints. He tries to categorise and arrange key metrics and then use an appropriate colour palette to communicate information aesthetically. 

Check out his website and order a print.

www.onasixpence.bigcartel.com

Graphic art meets Shakespeare part I

17 Apr "To thine own self be true."

Johnny Joannou

‘To thine own self be true’ shows his work in 37 segments. Each of the 37 segments shows the name of the play, the year he started writing the play, the genre and ten memorable characters. It also includes the number of characters, speeches, acts and parts for each play. Part of a quote from each play flies out of each segment!

I spend a great deal of time in the wonderful British library, researching my subjects from books to films to sports.

Johnny Joannou am a London based designer. He focuses on producing geeky prints. He tries to categorise and arrange key metrics and then use an appropriate colour palette to communicate information aesthetically. 

Check out his website and order a print.

www.onasixpence.bigcartel.com

Hark!, a great set of comic strips with a bit of the Bard

18 Mar

Daniel J. Rowe

Kate Beaton is made to Brawl.

Just read Hark! A Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, and you’ll understand why immediately.

Funny, witty, and with a taste for the classics. Yep. Sounds like a brawler.

The idea of her comic strips, much like ‘Zounds! contributor Mya Gosling with her Good Tickle Brain, is to take history, literature and art and make them clever, fun and funny. She takes subject matter from mainstream and lesser known histories, as well as classic literature (and a bit of Batman).

Beaton is very funny and nerdy. It’s like she was meant to be a brawler. What she does is very clever.

  1. Take a historical or literature subject
  2. Draw them in a funny but not mocking manner
  3. Make sure to show to the nerds that you know what you’re talking about in the strip, but also make it easy to understand for those who are not a masters of the arts like someone I know
  4. Make it funny

Does she pull it off?

Yes she does.

There is not too much of the Bard in either book, but there is a rad one on MacBeth that I really liked.

IMG_7685

There is so much funny in this that I’ll leave it to you readers to post them in the comments below. The books derive from her popular website that is well worth killing an hour or two at while at work.

I actually laughed out loud at times reading Beaton’s two books.

At the bottom of each series of strips, there’s a bit of her thoughts on say, Edgar Allen Poe, Sir John A. MacDonald, the Tudors or Kokoro (you may have to look that one up, but I’m really hoping you don’t. Such a great book).

Here’s her take on Macbeth:

They say the real Macbeth was a pretty decent fellow and a good ruler, and he’d probably have a bone to pick with Shakespeare over character assassination. He’d have to get in line behind Richard III though, whom I have heard (from certain Elizabethan sources) was an ugly hunchbacked troll.

Very clever.

She would fit in well at a brawl indeed. We’ll sit her between Nick and Brooke and just let it go from there.


 

Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

Let’s Keep Killing Shakespeare!

12 Nov

Eric Jean

Hey Brawlers! It’s finally “next time!”

No, that doesn’t mean a new recording of Titus Andronicus – though we’re hoping to finally get some Brawlers together to  get act V out Soon™.

I mean that it’s finally time to find to talk about IDW Publishing‘s comic series Kill Shakespeare again! You know the awesome graphic novel / comic book series created and written by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col.

As Daniel pointed out, we’re reading the hella slick “Backstage Edition,” a hardcover edition of all twelve issues of Kill Shakespeare. If you can swing it, I highly recommend picking it up here. May as well pick up the other volumes while you’re at it. And while you’re shopping, why not load up on some Kill Shakespeare t-shirts.

On an unrelated note, Christmas is coming up in a few weeks…


Issue Five: O Coward Conscience

Courtesy – IDW PublishingSoft! I did but dream.

“O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!”

– Richard the Third, V.iii

“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.”

– Hamlet, III.i

Hamlet’s still confused about what’s going on in issue 5. He’s still convinced that Richard III is a good guy and that Juliet, Othello and the rebels are disruptive elements of the benign king’s just rule. Also, Iago just saved Hamlet’s life so he’s still pretty convinced that Iago’s on his side. Juliet and Othello aren’t buying any of it though. And Othello’s pretty mad, bro.

It’s hard to take Hamlet and Falstaff seriously of course as they’re still walking around in dresses after their getaway in the last issue but what’s Shakespeare without cross-dressing?

Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth and Richard are negotiating. He wants the use of her Black Guard troops but she’s not budging: she’s planning to keep them stationed in her lands. She’s smokin’ hot but Radcliff’s right – she’s trouble for sure.

Hamlet tries to run off in the middle of the night with Iago but Juliet spots him and tells him he’s got to go on alone if he wants to leave. So off he goes and wanders into a walking nightmare. Hamlet sees his father’s image go all zombie undead, pulling at his skin and growing snakes out of his flesh.

That drives him a little nuts but he comes to his senses as he wanders right unto a scene of Don John and Richard’s conies beating up some townsfolk to find out where Hamlet’s hiding. Don John even cuts out Shallow’s tongue and, like a wuss, Hamlet hides in the bushes until they pass.

When Juliet and company arrive in Shrewsbury, they are told not to stick around seeing as the fear of Richard’s men might make someone rat them out. Seems like some good advice.

Finally, Hamlet eventually falls and knocks himself out in the woods trying to run away from Don John and his troops. He’s found by Lysander, Demetrius and Adriana who are on their way to Shrewsbury. Along the way, they drop some truth about their beneficent King Richard.

Characters introduced: Lysander, Demetrius, Adriana


Issue Six: Lend Me Your Ears

Courtesy – IDW Publishing

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.”

– Julius Caesar, III.ii

Turns out that crazy walking nightmare wasn’t just some bad food but was some sort of spell cast by Lady Macbeth and the weird sisters. (You know, the ones who tell Macbeth he’s be king one day but that Banquo’s kids will take over from him.) In this version, it seems like Lady M’s tapping into their juju to mess with Hamlet (and Skype with Iago, eventually).

In Shrewsbury, Iago’s messing with Othello’s mind by playing nice but “accidentally” saying stuff to set him off. And Juliet and Falstaff find Hamlet sleeping in some stables and guilt him into working the fields to pay for his free lunch.

While they work, Adriana drops some hints to Hamlet who’s totally clueless (Hey dude! Wake up! She wants to “care for thy coat!,” know what I’m saying?) But Hamlet’s too busy being emo Hamlet on account of his being a wuss earlier and not fighting Don John to save the peasant’s tongue.

Elsewhere, King Richard sleeps with Lady Macbeth.

Juliet makes a rousing speech to convince the people of Shrewsbury to join the rebellion against Richard. Rolls a natural 20 on her Diplomacy check. Everyone’s all in!

Ooops! Guess that was a little loud. Seems like Don John and co. hear that, too and now they’ve got the place surrounded and have started beating up on folks!

This time, Hamlet’s ready to throw down though and he clubs a guard in the head. A rumble breaks out and Juliet brains Don John. Even Iago gets in on the action and after they win the fight, beer and food for all.

Oh, and it turns out that Iago’s been serving Lady Macbeth this whole time because he, too, has been hypnotised by her gratuitously giant comic book boobs. (I mean just like Richard, not me. I don’t get hypnotised by cartoon boobs.)

Characters added: no one, but Don John is dead, which is a nice bonus!


Issue Seven: The Play’s The Thing

Courtesy – IDW Publishing

“[…]I’ll have grounds
More relative than this: the play ‘s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”

– Hamlet, II.ii

So Iago’s been using his own magic to Skype with Lady Macbeth who is totally willing to keep using the promise of her body to get stupid men to do stupid things. This isn’t like real life at all, guys.

It’s Twelfth Night in Shrewsbury (well, everywhere else in England too, I would imagine) and Juliet and company are convinced to stick around for a play staged by Feste and Sir Toby Belch. Or just plain Belch here.

Hamlet finally gets a clue and dances with Adriana but the dance is interrupted by the start of the play. Feste’s asking for an audience member to join them on stage.

Feste: “No, not you. No… Ah, Hamlet. Shadow King. You’ll do. Get your ass up here! Here’s a costume.”

Hamlet” What the hell am I supposed to do?”

Feste: “Oh, it’s just an old play called the Murder of King Hamlet. Errr, I mean,Gonzago. The murder of Gonzago. You get to be the murderer. Fun, right?”

Hamelt: “GAHHHHHHHH!” (Exit stage right, running and screaming)

Feste: “Was it something I said?”

Of course, the Murder of Gonzago mirrors the Mousetrap play in Hamlet. This one retells the story of the murder of Hamlet’s father by his brother Claudius. But the names are different so how did Hamlet figure it out? Must be because he’s always making everything about him.

So where does he end up when he runs off? In a crazy, trippy house of mirrors of course. Could there by some symbolism going on? Anyhow, Juliet’s worried about him so she runs off after him and discovers him going all emo again about his dad. So she confides in him about how her lover Romeo (I’ve heard that name before…) killed himself because he thought she was dead but she was just knocked out by some special totally creepy knock-out juice that made her sleep for 2 days.

Hey wait! I thought Juliet died in R&J? Yup. But she gets saved in this version just before she stabs herself and ends up leading the rebellion.

Then cue full-page image of Juliet and Hamlet on either sides of a wall, all Pyramus and Thisby style, talking through a wall and commiserating.

Characters added: Feste, Sir Toby Belch


Issue Eight: Journeys End in Lovers Meeting

Courtesy – IDW Publishing

“O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love’s coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man’s son doth know.”

– Twelfth Night, II.iii

Hamlet and the others run into Morton. (Not to be confused with this Morton.) He was discovered spying for the rebellion and just barely managed to escape. Falstaff’s had enough of Hamlet’s waffling and declares that it’s time to find Shakespeare and get all this shit fixed.

In the mean time, Iago and Othello are training the resistance militia. Iago is giving some advice on how to beat stronger opponents like Othello. Seems that some of the advice is doing a number on Othello who gets his butt whipped and then walks off. Iago’s doublespeak is starting to twist and turn him and Othello starts his own #guiltfest.

Didn’t he shaft Iago when he passed him over for a promotion? Maybe murdering his wife Desdemona was all his fault and not Iago’s? And maybe Othello’s just a cool blooded killer anyhow?

Hamlet’s standing on his balcony musing about this whole Shadow King stuff when Juliet calls down from below and then climbs up to him. Some more clever R&J reversal. And finally they make out! The next morning, Falstaff, Iago and Hamlet set out towards… somewhere, to find Shakespeare.

Remember how Lady Macbeth was holding the Black Guard in reserve? Yeah, well Richard kinda went behind her back and invited them and their leader Philip the Bastard to join him in fighting the rebels. Pwnd!

Iago and Falstaff are poking fun at Hamlet about this whole Juliet thing when they are accosted along the road by a bunch of well-armed and armoured paladins or holy warriors. They’re not really buying this Shadow King stuff so their leader steps forward and asks Hamlet to prove it.

Who’s their leader? Romeo Montague, much less dead that previously reported.

Oh snap!

Characters added: Philip the Bastard, Orsino, Romeo

 

What happens next? Well, I know but you should probably pick up the graphic novel to find out for yourself. But if you’re willing to wait, we’ll eventually tell you when we cover issues 9 through 12.

Enjoy, Brawlers!


Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

 

Biker Cymbeline a Real Drag

6 Nov The original title for Cymbeline was "Anarchy; Ride or Die." Not a bad title, but it couldn't have saved this film.

Daniel J. Rowe

Want to watch an excellent play full of life, energy, violence, intrigue, decapitation and romance and make it boring? No? Neither did I.

That’s why Cymbeline, the biker/cop adaptation of the Shakespeare play of same name that could have been oh-so-cool, was so disappointing.

How did this happen?

The idea for the film had everything you want in a Shakespearean adaptation: good play, good idea, good actors and nice set pieces, and yet, it failed in almost every respect.

A brief synopsis.

Directed byMichael Almereyda and starring Ed Harris (Cymbeline), Ethan Hawke (Iachimo), Milla Jovovich (the Queen), Penn Badgley (Posthumus) and Dakota Johnson (Imogen), the film centres on Cymbeline’s motorcycle club’s fight to get out from under the colonial weight of Rome (the cops).

Without getting into specific plot points, let’s just say there are fights, prodigal sons, almost rapes, poisoning, faked deaths, hide-and-go-seek games, and a chopped off head.

How did this film fail?

First, the delivery of lines.

Anyone not entirely sure what the term “vocal fry” means will have a definitive answer after watching this film. The cast, almost without exception, mumble, grumble and sometimes whisper their way through lines I guess in an attempt to make sure everyone knows they’re a tough sort used to rumbling through life. You know, like motorbikes. Sort of.

Vocal Fry:

In speech, a low, scratchy sound that occupies the vocal range below modal voice (the most commonly used vocal register in speech and singing). Also known as vocal fry register, creaky voice, pulse register, laryngealization, and glottal fry. (See Examples and Observations, below.)

David Crystal notes that American actor Vincent Price “produced excellent creaky voice in his especially menacing moments” (A Dictionary of Language, 2001).

I kind of hoped there would be a bit more energy to the characters. It’s not like there is not energy in the lines!

The film’s stars never seem to have any passion while speaking, and there is a good chance a few snoozes could be had while getting through the film.

All of the actors seem good fits for the roles. I mean Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl is practically Posthumus, and wouldn’t you know it, Penn Badgley plays him. Just cut and past, and swap some dialogue. I won’t lie, when Dan and Serena van der Woodson broke up I stopped watching. Their love was just so real and perfect. Dangit TV! Why do you ruin everything. Then again, they might have got back together in the end. Maybe I should finish watching the series.

Where was I? Oh right. Shakespeare.

Imogen as well is lacking, but maybe I was spoiled by Lily Rabe’s stellar performance in the park this year. Johnson, however, is very drab.

And then there’s Iachimo, a very creepy and crazy character. I was expecting a lot out of Hawke given the quality of his performance in Hamlet. He was dull. I was sad.

Anton Yelchin as Cloten is perhaps the biggest disappointment. Cloten is one of Shakespeare’s most underrated characters. He can be buffoonishly funny, terrifyingly dangerous, or menacing depending on how you play him, and Yelchin is none of these.

The Queen is played by this woman, and has to be called out as a miss. She is on screen very little and given so few lines that it’s unclear what she did, why it mattered, and how her plot was foiled.

John Leguizamo‘s in it too, and adds another ‘guy who was cool in other Shakespeare play, but dull in this one’ credits to the film.

Argh. I know all of these actors are better than this, and I DEFINITELY know the play is better than this.

Second, direction.

This, I don’t understand. Almereyda did a kickass version of Hamlet in 2000, and the hope was that he’d be able to bring the same energy and style to one of Shakespeare’s weirdest and most interesting plays. He had the actors for it, but the film just didn’t wind up picking up any steam. It lacked energy and style, which is baffling as the concept had both.

Even the scenes of violence, confrontation and passion play out very low key. By the end, there is little impact when prodigal sons return, heads are lopped off or doting and devoted husbands prove their infidelity.

You want to see this play, and you want to see it done right, and Almereyda fails. This makes me sad.

Other things.

The constant scene and locale changes don’t help those trying to piece together what is actually a very complicated plot. It’s hard to connect with any of the characters when they get very short scenes, mumble their lines, and have no emotion be it humourous or dramatic.

The bikers aren’t that badass, and the cops don’t have the intimidating power due to Rome. The film is a miss, and, for someone who anticipated its release so much, discouraging.

It was original released as Anarchy, Ride or Die, which is a pretty dumb title and doesn’t really make any sense when you think about it. The story is more about controlling and asserting a state’s existence within an empire.

Please make another version of this play. It deserves it.


 Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

 

Shakespeare in Pop Culture

5 Nov

Roslyn Willson contacted the Bard Brawl promoting a infographic that shows how much influence the bard has had on popular culture. Without further ado…


 
Shakespeare in Pop Culture
Source: SuperScholar.org


What do you think Brawlers?

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

Cymbeline in Central Park, a perfect summer night

2 Nov

Daniel J. Rowe

Oh dang. Watching American Horror Story Freak Show the other night, I realized, after seeing the always charming, chilling and a little bit creepy, Lily Rabe, that I had neglected to post the review I wrote in the summer of Cymbeline in which she starred. Twenty-eight lashes and three monologues of private lamentation later, I thought, why not just post it, and remember warm nights in the summer and brilliant productions of the bard. 

Here it is.


Photo before the performance. I obeyed the rules and put my phone away during.

Photo before the performance. I obeyed the rules and put my phone away during.

I have always, always, always wanted to see a play in Central Park, NYC. It’s one of those things all bard brawlers must do at some time, and, thanks to a lovely person from New Zealand, I got a couple of tickets. Oh, and I took a friend who had never been to a Shakespeare play before! So many lovely things right there.

(My friend Rene won the free tickets and gave them to me. Such a darling)

Boom. Bring on Cymbeline, an incredible play that I also saw last year at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver.

It was, simply put, great.

It is a great play to begin with full of craziness, funny stuff, pastoral, politics, history and a guy getting his head cut off. Always a nice touch.

The Public Theater production at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park centres on starred Lily Rabe of (as noted) as Imogen, and Hamish Linklater getting the double role of Posthumous and the scene-stealing Cloten.

First off, the opening of the play was great. Director Daniel Sullivan has those “turn off your phones” guys both welcome people, and thank sponsors (people actually clapped for the Bank of America. Weird). Then, the cast came out on stage and real audience members asked questions to get the crowd into the play, and, BANG, play starts. So smart. The effect was perfect. Everyone was laughing and ready to get set for what is a very strange and great play.

Rabe and Linklater were great.

Rabe has this incredible ability to be beautiful, and tragic, and funny, and weird all at once. A think I loved about her performance in Cymbeline was the way she moved. She didn’t do that predictable puffed out chest, “Victorian” stance that I seem to see so often in Shakespeare productions. She moved more hunched over and slinky, so, while she definitely commanded attention on stage, she also gave the character a bit of needed vulnerability.

Linklater was side-splitting hilarious as Cloten, as well as mopey, love-torn, romantic as Posthumous. A particularly incredible scene featuring both leads was the “Hark, hark the lark” song, Cloten serenades the girl who is “supposed” to love him! Why don’t you love Cloten?! It’s perfect.

Linklater even was able to make the particularly troubling speech about killing Posthumous and raping Imogen ridiculous and funny. He delivered the intense line with the false bravado of a 14-year-old spazz, and thus could be laughed at without feeling horrible that you’re laughing at some pretty gross stuff. Hey. Dark comedy is still comedy am I wrong?

Patrick Page was also great as Iachimo; full of energy, conniving spirit and all of that fun stuff. Actually, pretty much every cast member did their job and did it well.

The set was very well-built. Props for making sure it was whimsical, but not overbearing. A single circular platform that came up from the floor was the only moving part, which was effective and gave a nice throwback to the Elizabethan trapdoor trick.

Oh, and a racoon scurried onto the set during the production I went to. It was delightful, unplanned, and had nothing to do with the play, but, hey, animals should always get a nod if they happen to show up. I’m pretty sure the racoon just wanted to catch a bit of the play. Why wouldn’t he?


 Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter and/or Instagram.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

 

The Comedy of Errors with a Steampunk Twist, a Bard on the Beach miracle

13 Aug Logo
With Bard on the Beach in full swing during a sweltering Vancouver summer, Director Scott Bellis has taken Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and given it the gears and gadgets of the Steampunk genre.
 I know what you’re thinking, “Steampunk? Was that not a thing a decade ago? I mean, how can you add to the genre when Will Smith’s Wild Wild West filled the cup full?”
Well said and I did think the same going into the main stage on Vancouver’s beautiful Vanier Park looking out over English Bay. How many times have we seen a kind of kitschy genre played out once too many much to the audience’s chagrin?
Comedy of Errors3

Photo credits – David Blue

Yet Scott Bellis and the Bard on the Beach cast delivered a delightfully entertaining performance using the Steampunk back drop to add colourful characters behind the scenes and flashy special effects right in the audience’s faces.

The widgets, levers and wire-rimmed glasses worked in and around Shakespearean forms of love, hate, jealousy, misdirection and slap stick found in his comedies.  The stage lighting tricks and quirky use of the monstrous Nurse, did nothing to take away from the fun of the mistaken identities and the foibles the followed.  It was not a nauseating ride through the planet’s core filled with distracting gooberfish  and the bigger fish that eat the gooberfish. It was a laugh fest coloured with smoke and lightening thanks to the design team including Pam Johnson (Scenery), Gerald King (Lighting), Malcolm Dow (Sound).
Comedy of Errors

Antipholus and Dromio take centre stage.

The play begins with the aging Egeon (Scott Bellis) from Syracuse thrown before the Duke of Ephesus and sentenced to death simply for being a Syracusian.  Sounds about right. Pleading for his life, Egeon tells his tragic tale of loss and how he came to be in Ephesus.  Many years ago on a voyage at sea a terrible storm separated Egeon from his wife and son leaving him with his other twin son and twin servant. Yep. All believable so far. Both children were called Antipholus and the servants Dromio and when Egeon’s remaining son left for Ephesus and failed to return, he has been on a decade long search for him.  The ever so generous Duke is moved by Egeon’s tale and grants a stay of execution granting him one day to come up with money for bail proving that all politicians are motivated by the promise of monetary reward (how can one not be cynical in these electoral times).

Comedy of Errors2

Antipholus berates his servant Dromio

Meanwhile across town, Antipholus of Syracuse (Ben Elliott) and his servant Dromio (Luisa Jojic) have come ashore unaware that they have stumbled upon the home town of their twin brothers Antipholus of Ephesus (Jay Hindle) and Dromio (Dawn Petten). In the ensuing confusion created by mistaken identity schtick that Shakespeare does so well, the antics of the Dromios and Antipholi drives the energy and comedy of the play right to the closing curtain.  Hats off to Elliott and Hindle as they are thrown this way and that and even more so to Jojic and Petten who were spectacular in making the horrors of slave ownership and abuse quite funny as they were slap sticked around the stage. Hmmm. Feels wrong.

Costume designer Mara Gottler deserves kudos for capturing the feel of Steampunk especially with the minor characters nefarious Dr. Pinch, the mysterious Abbess and the monstrous Nurse Poppy. The iron gears and twisting metal made for a darker backdrop to the play and added a mysterious element juxtaposing the comedic performances in the foreground. Gottler does well by taking the darker science fiction/fantasy look and decorating the characters with horned rimmed glasses, old aviator helmets and trench coats.
When mixed with the sights and sounds of the stage crew, Bard on the Beach delivers a production of The Comedy of Errors that is a unique and wild and fun and a show that demonstrates how this company continues to keep Shakespeare alive in Vancouver.

Bard on the Beach


Check out the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Mad King, now available. Click the button and let 'Zounds! be yours.


 Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at bardbrawl@gmail.com

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 650 other followers