Titus & Tamora (simply put: wrath)

The third instalment of ‘Zounds! is coming. The Mad King is destined to be amazing with some great submissions already in. If you would like to be a part of the epic journey along with the Bard Brawlers, click here and check out the submission guidelines. Better yet, buy a previous edition and get the idea of what ‘Zounds! is all about.

Here is an poem from ‘Zounds! Act I, scene ii: T by poet, singer/songwriter, playwrite and overall good guy Andre Simoneau. Enjoy.


Titus & Tamora

(simply put: wrath)

Andre Simoneau

Listen to or download a dramatic reading by Andre.

1.

look:

here is the shape of a tragedy

a violence forged twixt two pillars

two parents

warmother and warfather

queen, general

opposite progenitors of a wrathful legacy

a bloodline most cold

here is a lesson in shape of a massacre:

vengeance begets vengeance

sin sin

and wrath paid is repaid hundredfold

until all this your world is burned flat

in all white raging fire

all burning

all: wrath

2.

look:

enter Andronicus in shape of hero

Tamora shape of slave

bound and kneeling

made to pray for her life’s life

her eldest Alabrus

now see your hero’s slaying pride

his devotion to the form of victory

see the cost of it:

how quickly his stony countenance crumbles to marble dust

leaving naught but a silent taut thread of grief

drawing on to a snap

a sudden hot shock of recognition:

Titus you fool, you lost tragic tool, it was you

and all the wailing in the world

can only be now but a pale shadow of the true torment

in this Roman father’s warring chest

3.

look:

enter Aaron

with a flourish of pure malice

a villain beyond understanding

see the gleeful depravity

with which he schemes

see a murder of shade stretching out long beneath a copse of trees at day’s end

in a darkened wood

on the king’s hunting grounds

and ask:

what is a corpse in a hole?

4.

ask:

what are hands?

tongues?

what is rape?

witness vile Chiron, hateful Demetrius

these feral prowling sons

these cackling Gothic brothers

and ask:

how does this happen?

what evil is this?

what terrible hunger is it that leads beasts to sever youth

from herself?

and where is that burning brink of mind beyond which reason is annihilated

finally, irrevocably?

and just how much of a person may be excised in basest surgery

before they become more lack than presence?

ask:

what is it to touch?

to speak?

to taste?

what is the weight of evil?

what is the worth of life?

5.

look:

see these shapes of violence played out in grotesque dumbshow

by this maimed daughter, haunted Lavinia

and ask:

what is a mouth full of shade?

see her father’s fury in all its pathetic contortions

all its Roman spectacle

see him drunk on wrath’s hateful liquor

and hungry to feed his heart’s despised enemies

on all the roiling gore that stews inside his own gut

his hangman’s knot of twisted entrails

now see the ugliness of the wrathsnake feasting on itself

this is a warning in shape of the blade that

kills Tamora

kills Titus

6.

look:

the shape of revenge is recursion

the shape of revenge is recursion

the shape of revenge is recursion

Poet, singer/songwriter, playwrite and overall good guy Andre Simoneau at the mic.
Poet, singer/songwriter, playwrite and overall good guy Andre Simoneau at the mic.
'Zounds!, Act I, ii
‘Zounds!, Act I, ii

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The Merchant of Venice (2004), Michael Radford (director)

Andre Simoneau

The Merchant of Venice is a tragicomic tale of hypocrisy, pride and revenge, and Michael Radford’s beautiful production is a subtle and faithful interpretation of Shakespeare’s ambiguous and highly controversial play.

——-

Though ultimately it serves as a compelling case for mercy and the value of love, The Merchant of Venice has, over the centuries, come to be seen as one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays, thanks in no small part to the cruel and complex depiction of the Jew Shylock, portrayed by Al Pacino.

While he acknowledges the inherent judeophobia of the time, Radford (1984, Il Postino) takes great care in bookending the piece with scenes that help impart a deeper context than may have been evident to modern audiences in the original text.

In a written prologue added by Radford, we are told of the pitiful conditions in which the Jewish community lived in 16th century Venice, confined to guarded ‘gettos’ and forbidden from owning land. Shylock himself describes in detail the pains which he has suffered at the hands – and feet – of the Christian bourgeoisie. In fact, there are several passages in the play which point to the hypocrisies of the ruling class and which highlight the humanity of the oppressed. All this only serves to amplify the ambiguity of Shakespeare’s villain and to further the case for Shylock as a tragic figure.

The infamous debt at the heart of the story involves Antonio, a nobleman who has agreed to take out a loan from Shylock on behalf of his bankrupt young friend Bassanio, to help him in the pursuit of the beautiful Portia. Though highly sought after, Portia may only select a suitor by means set out to her by her late father, and Bassanio wants to make a worthy impression. Meanwhile, Shylock’s daughter Jessica runs off with one of Bassanio’s men, never to return, and they all sail to Portia’s court. As Bassanio wins Portia’s hand in marriage, Shylock slips into a depression. When Antonio is unable to repay his debt, Shylock vows to avenge the injury dealt to him by exacting the horrific – though lawful – execution of his bond.

In his portrayal of Shylock, Pacino is at the top of his game, delivering the famous ‘hath not a jew eyes?’ speech with empathy and his trademark unrestrained passion. He is aptly matched by, the sexually ambiguous Jeremy Irons as frail Antonio, the title merchant who is sworn by bond to deliver a pound of flesh to his creditor. The cast is rounded out by the excellent Lynn Collins as Portia, who delivers an equally well-known speech on the ‘quality of mercy’, and Joseph Fiennes as her suitor Bassanio (Antonio’s lover?). There is also a number of highly skilled comic actors who step in to fill the play’s many clown parts.

Add to that an exquisite production design by the late Bruno Robeo and costume design by Sammy Sheldon to imbue the story with texture and atmosphere. Venice’s inimitable canals and unique architecture are on full display here, and lend an authenticity to the film which enhances the moral and historical undertones of the source material.

The Merchant of Venice is a problematic play for a variety of reasons, and poses many challenges to would-be performers. Little wonder then that it had never been filmed (with sound) before this. With his production, Radford and co. succeed in delivering a nuanced and intelligent reading of Shakespeare’s text, while managing to create a detailed visual palette to serve as its backdrop.

Andre Simoneau is a first line bard brawler and regularly reads for the Bard Brawl podcasts.

Andre Simoneau

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