“… let no quarrel nor no brawl to come taint the condition of this present hour,” Fabian
Welcome back to the Bard Brawl and to the final act of our Twelfth Nightredux!
The gauntlet of relatives, three heaping platefuls of cipâtes, your second copy of Moneyball in as many days (*pokes Niki Lambros), that the guy you made out with at the New Year’s Eve party who you later discovered was your second cousin (Dramatization, may not have happened.), you survived it all.
You made it! Pat yourself on the back, enjoy what’s left of the bubbly (we sure did) and have a listen as we wrap up Twelfth Night in true Bard Brawl style with a little NKOTB.
Side note: Enjoy the “crusher” guitar intro. We sure did.
Only one scene in this act but it’s a pretty wild one.
Orsino, that lazy, pathetic ass, has finally decided that if he wants Olivia he should probably make some sort of effort himself to win her over. He runs into Feste and Fabian outside of Olivia’s house. Insert a couple of jokes about friends and asses before Orsino sends Feste to fetch Olivia. While he waits, Viola (yup, still disguised as Cesario) notices Antonio being lead before the Duke by an officer. Orsino immediately recognises him as a pirate, but Viola tries to plead for mercy as Antonio defended her from Sir Toby and Andrew Aguecheek’s attacks.
Antonio attempts to defend his presence in Illyria by explaining that he was bewitched by Sebastian’s good looks and obvious character into making stupid decisions like exposing himself to the death penalty by being caught wandering the streets of Illyria. To make matters worse, he accuses Viola (thinking it’s Sebastian) of having refused to give back the money he had given him in trust. Of course, everybody thinks he’s a little nuts because Viola honestly has no clue what the hell he’s talking about. Both Orsino and Antonio claim to have been with “Viola” for the last 3 months.
Olivia arrives and once again refuses Orsino’s advances. To make matters worse, she hits on ‘Cesario’ who she thinks she just married an act ago. When Viola says she plans on following the person she loves, Orsino, Olivia accuses her ‘husband’ of being unfaithful. Viola denies it, of course, but just then – by total coincidence – the priest comes in and backs Olivia.
Moments later, Aguecheek comes in asking for a doctor for Sir Toby who was just injured by ‘Cesario.’ More confusion as Aguecheek blames Viola for Sebastian’s actions. As Belch and his buddies are lead out, Sebastian walks on stage. Finally we have both siblings on-stage at once! Olivia seems particularly happy at the prospect of two Cesario’s: “Most wonderful!” I’ll let you finish the porn joke in whatever way seems best to you.
Sebastian and Viola tease out the moment where they finally admit that they’re brother and sister and that, strangely, all of this is totally okay in the end. Olivia is just as happy with Sebastian, Sebastian is all too happy with Olivia’s money; Viola finally gets to have Orsino, who now seems perfectly happy to give up his hot widow for woman he has spent the entire play confusing for a boy. This will make for some interesting swinger parties.
There are a few other loose ends to warp up. They read Malvolio’s letter and realise that maybe he’s not nuts so they may as well let him out of the asylum. Malvolio accuses Olivia of having toyed with him but Olivia denies that she had anything to do with it. Malvolio swears vengeance. I imagine everybody just laughs.
We also learn that Sir Toby and Maria are getting married but I’m sure they won’t be invited to the swinger party.
What’s in store for this act? Probably a lot of things that we would call bullying today. Although if we were to bully anyone, we could do worse than to pick on Malvolio. Seems to me like someone’s a little light on Elizabethan holiday spirit. What better way to send a message than through public humiliation? I can’t think of any.
Turns out we’ve already reprised this podcast back when we were working on our first issue of ‘Zounds! (Which remains me that you can get your copy of issues 1 and 2 here, and that you can send submission for the upcoming Mad King issue here.)
But I’m sure you’ll forgive us as not only is this a particularly rockin’ and raucous episode but it was also our farewell brawl for Brawlers-for-life power couple “Second” Jay Ovenden and Zoey Baldwin.
So here’s to all the Brawlers out there, near and far.
And to those who cannot be with us, I’ll shotgun an extra bear just for you.
Viola (still in disguise as Cesario, of course) is waiting outside of Olivia’s house at the start of act III. She is waiting to be admitted with yet another suit from Orsino and is engaged in a witty exchange by Feste, the clown. The two exchange a bunch of jokes about husbands being fools, words being whored out through misuse and overuse, with some punning about the young Cesario ‘wanting’ a beard thrown in for good measure: The beard she ‘wants’ is attached to Orsino’s face, get it?
While she waits, Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby arrive and invite Viola in. Before they can enter, however, Olivia meets with them and is left alone with ‘Cesario.’ Olivia is enraptured by ‘Cesario’ and tries to get him to drop his suit on behalf of wooing for himself. She confesses to the ploy with the ring intended to get Cesario back here but Viola doesn’t bite. Viola says ‘Cesario’ won’t return given that it will be impossible to convince Olivia to love Orsino but Olivia ask that Cesario return anyhow, ‘just in case’ he might be able to convince her somehow…
It seems the Aguecheek saw the whole exchange between Cesario and Olivia in the garden and has decided, at the start of scene 2, that he has no chance with Olivia and should probably just leave. Fabian and Sir Toby convince him that what he needs to do is demonstrate his valour by challenging Cesario to a duel. Sir Toby asks him to write a challenge letter which he will deliver to Cesario. Seems like this is another prank and Sir Aguecheek just another fool. Maria arrives and informs that Malvolio’s all dressed up and ready to make a fool of himself.
Antonio catches up to Sebastian on his way to Illyria in scene 3. Despite the danger to himself, Antonio is moved to help Sebastian. We find out that the reason Antonio is a wanted man is because he stole from Orsino and was recognised in fleeing. He hands Sebastian some money and agrees to meet him at an inn called ‘The Elephant.’
Scene 4 is a monster of a scene, with a lot going on.
As the scene starts, Olivia is waiting impatiently for Malvolio. He arrives dressed as the letter suggested, with his bright yellow stocking, cross-gartered. Olivia immediately assumes he’s lost his mind and ask him to go to bed… which of course he takes as an invitation. He starts quoting bits of the letter as he kisses Olivia’s hand. She, of course, has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.
When Cesario is announced, Olivia asks Maria and Sir Toby to take care of the maddened Malvolio. Malvolio, though, assumes that this is just a test and that he’s supposed to exercise his ‘new authority’ over Sir Toby. They toy with him a bit and when Malvolio walks off, they decide to ties him up and put him in a dark room. Sir Andrew then arrives with his challenge letter. As it is a letter which would betray that Aguecheek is a moron, Sir Toby decides to deliver the challenge to Cesario himself, in his own words.
Olivia and Cesario are in the garden replaying the same scene: Olivia trying to convince Cesario to love her, Cesario trying to convince Olivia to love Orsino. When they take their leave, Sir Toby approaches Cesario and issues Aguecheek’s challenge. Of course, Viola is ignorant of any offense she might have given Aguecheek so she asks Sir Toby to find out what exactly Aguecheek is accusing her of. She asks Fabian about Aguecheek cheek and he describes him as a dangerous and skillful warrior. Sir Toby gives basically the same description of Cesario. While both of the combatants hope the combat will be avoided, Sir Toby manipulates them into it and they are interrupted by Antonio as they draw their swords. He has clearly confused Viola for Sebastian. (The impossible identical twins, remember?)
Moments later, some officers arrive and arrest Antonio. Thinking that he’s speaking with Sebastian, Antonio asks for his money back to bail him out of this mess. Viola denies having the money but offers half of what she has to help him. Antonio is incensed that ‘Sebastian’ has denied him but he is taken away by the guards. Viola slips away with Andrew Aguecheek and the others giving chase.
Hope you’re nice and buzzed because today we continue with our special Twelfth Night redux of Twelfth Nightwith act II.
Finally got those yellow stockings you were pining for this Christmas? Tonight’s the night to bust a New Year’s Eve fashion move and rock those cross-gartered wonders in all their glory!
If you didn’t get your yellow stockings – like that Nintendo you kept asking for and not getting because you were told that there just wasn’t room in Santa’s sleigh – you can use the line that was used on me as a kid: Ah! There’s always next year!
In the first act of the play, Viola disguises herself as Cesario, the young eunuch page in service to Orsino. Olivia has continued to refuse his advances but though better of his envoy, Cesario. A bit of a problem for everyone involved in that scenario…
Oh, but what do we have here at the start of act II? Why, a young man, washed up on the shore, who bears a striking resemblance to Viola in her Cesario disguise? Hmm… wonder where Shakespeare’s going with that. Anyhow, this is Viola’s brother Sebastian who she thinks is dead but who is – as we can see – very much alive. He was found washed ashore by this Antonio fellow. Sebastian decides that he’ll seek out Orsino (presumably to figure out a way home) and, despite having enemies in Orsino’s court, Antonio is moved by his love for the young man and decides to follow him anyway.
Malvolio, whom Olivia had sent after Cesario, catches up her in scene 2 and gives her a ring. When Viola tries to turn down the ring because it is not hers, Malvolio insists that not only is it her ring but that she threw at Olivia. Malvolio drops the thing on the ground and leaves. This is where Viola realises that maybe her disguise was a little too good. Ooops.
We return to Olivia’s house for scene 3 where Toby Belch, Sir Andrew and Feste the clown are singing, drinking and generally making a racket. Maria comes to tell them to quiet down nut the noise brings Malvolio. He immediately tells Sir Toby that he is only welcome here if he can check his excesses at the door. Sir Toby’s response? Something along the lines of “who the @$&# do you think you are?” He reminds Malvolio that his self-righteous behaviour might make him feel important but he’s still just a twerp. Like my 11 year old niece, Malvolio stomps off to go tell Olivia. They decide that they’ll play a (kind of mean) prank on him to take him down a peg: Maria will forge a fake letter to make Malvolio think that Olivia is in love with him. This is basically going to lead him to make a fool of himself.
This next scene is a little complicated to explain but actually quite simple. Orsino is listening to music when Viola arrives. He notices that ‘Cesario’ seems to be showing the signs that he’s fallen in love. Orsino. Seeing as he can’t feed is own appetite for love, he figures he can at least get some enjoyment
from hearing about ‘Cesario’s’ love interest. Of course, seeing as he is the object of Viola’s love, a lot of his questions are answered with: “she’s kind of a lot like you are. Like exactly.” Orsino says some stuff about how much better men are at love than women but Viola then tells him a story about her ‘sister” unrequited love to show that women love deeper than men. Orsino sends her back to Olivia’s house for more wooing!
The last scene of act II takes place in Olivia’s garden. Sir Toby, Sir Andrew and Maria have brought a friend, Fabian, along to watch Malvolio make a fool of himself. They all hide in the bushes. Malvolio walks on the stage talking to himself about how great it would be to be a count. He starts thinking of precedents to ladies marrying underlings. He imagines kicking Sir Toby out, having the run of the house. Eventually, he finds the letter written by Maria. Of course, he decides to read it aloud and describe his thoughts about the cryptic love letter. He ‘brilliantly’ deduces that the letter is written by Olivia and was left there on purpose for him to find it. Emboldened by this letter, he determines to follow its instructions and confess his love to Olivia. Of course, the gawkers chase after him so they won’t miss seeing him be shot down by Olivia.
The letter Malvolio finds mentions that its mysterious author wants to see Malvolio in yellow stocking, “cross-gartered.”
Before the advent of elasticized socks, men wore their socks up to their knees held up by straps or garters. It seems that there were several ways of gartering your socks. The “regular” way would have had the garters running down the side of the leg, parallel to the leg. Cross-gartering instead runs the straps or bands in a criss-cross pattern up the calf and to the knee.
Here’s how that might have looked:
I have no idea just how bad of a fashion faux-pas this would have been in Shakespeare’s day but I’ll take a guess. If we translate that into contemporary terms, the letter might as well have said: “I would really love for you to wear these skin-tight black and fluorescent green bicycle shorts when we go out for brunch with my mother this weekend.”
While I mentioned that Feste is the clown in the play, the real clown – in many ways – is Malvolio. He’s the one everybody’s laughing at. And I’m guessing that Malvolio would have looked just as ridiculous to Shakespeare’s audience as he does to us wearing those bright yellow sock, cross-gartered.
If, like me, you like taking pleasure at the misfortunes of others, you won’t want to miss the next act!
Welcome back Brawlers to the Bard Brawl! And I’m sorry.
It’s my fault (that’s me as in Master of the English Renaissance, Eric Jean) that you’ve been waiting so patiently for the Bard brawl podcast to return. There was this little thing I’ve been calling The %$#!ing Thesis™ which was gobbling up most of my days but now that’s I’m done writing about King Lear and Kurosawa’s Ran, it’s time to rock some Shakespeare!
You know, just for fun and stuff.
With holiday schedules being what they are, we weren’t able to round up a posse to press-gang a new play into service for the Brawl. We’ll get on that in the new year. Instead, we decided that we’d revisit a play in the spirit of Shakespeare’s Christmas holidays, Twelfth Night!
See, while we’ve got Christmas presents and New year’s eve merrymaking, Shakespeare’s Christmas was a twelve day, no holds barred bash where servants were free to poke fun at their masters, where people drank and ate to excess and everyone could just let loose for a few days before getting back to the business of day-to-day living. Think of it like two weeks at an all-inclusive where nothing has any real consequences and where the best state of being is festive drunkenness.
But before that, just a tiny bit of business.
The third edition of ‘Zounds! which was scheduled for late 2014 will instead come out in early 2015. While we had intended to do three a year, we’ve realised that putting together a magazine takes a bit of work and costs a chunk of change. Surprise. So instead we’ll go with two a year for now and see about getting some funding to ramp up production.
That’s good news for you though because it means that we’re still accepting submissions for the next issue which we’re calling Mad King! It also gives you time to go back and get the first two issues if you haven’t yet. Which you should totally do here.
If you’ve got an article or art submission you’ve been sitting on don’t bogart it, spread it around! Check out our submission guidelines here.
So as I said the first time around… waddaya say to a little bit of cross-dressing, mistaken identity and drunken merriment where no one dies and which doesn’t end with the kingdom falling into chaos? I thought so.
Take Sir Toby’s advice. This play is best enjoyed with a drink in hand. (Might I suggest an eggnog, a nice bourbon or some bubbly?)
Act 1, scene 1 starts with the Duke Orsino sitting around with his musicians, pathetically pining after Olivia. His servant Curio asks him if he will go hunting ‘the hart’ and Orsino tells him that he is already hunting the finest ‘heart’ that beats, Olivia’s. Punderful. (Harts, for reasons that should be obvious, came up pretty often in love poetry in the Renaissance. Here’s a pretty popular example from Sir Thomas Wyatt, a man who had the misfortune of loving the same woman as Henry VIII.) Orsino’s messenger, Valentine (really Shakespeare?), arrives and informs Orsino that Olivia would not see him but sends the message that she has refused to take on suitors as she wishes to concentrate on mourning her lost brother. Morbid? Not if you;re Orsino, apparently.
The next scene, scene 2, takes place on the coast of Illyria. (Here’s a link.) There has been a shipwreck and Viola is one of the survivors. With her, the only other known survivor, the captain of the ship. The captain tells her they are in Illyria, in the lands governed by Duke Orsino. As a single woman with no resources and allies, Viola realised that she is vulnerable so she decides the enlist the captain’s help to disguise herself as a boy-eunuch and offer her services to the duke until she can figure out more about her situation.
Sir Toby belch stumbles onto the stage at the start of scene 3. He seems to think that she’s spent way too much time and energy mourning her dead brother and that she should lighten up and start worrying about the living. Specifically, it seems that Sir Toby is trying to fix his niece Olivia up with a certain Andrew Aguecheek whose chief quality is that he has money, although it seems that he’s not very good at holding on to it. In fact, he’s a total witless and clueless loser without a thought of his own. He makes a complete mess of his meeting with Maria, confusing terms of address with her name. In fact, he gets totally pwned by Maria. More drinking ensues.
The next scene is a short exchange between Duke Orsino and ‘Cesario’ (Viola in diguise). Not sure what the hiring process was like but Orsino seems to believe that ‘Cesario’ will be able to gain access to Olivia because he’s got gorgeous boyish features… As a final aside before the scene ends, Viola confesses that while she needs to woo Olivia on Orsino’s behalf, she herself has fallen for him.
In this final scene of act I we return to Olivia’s house. It seem her clown Feste has returned from some trip. She’s in no mood to laugh, though she bears Feste’s barbs lightly. Malvolio seems annoyed by Feste but Olivia calls him out for taking himself too seriously. ‘Cesario’ (Viola) is announced at the door but is initially refused entrance. However, it seems that like Orsino, Olivia cannot resist young boyish pages ans she allows Viola to enter. Viola starts with her rehearsed speech from Orsino but the two women quickly get into a war of wits which seems, in the end, only to inflame Olivia’s desire for the messenger, not the message. She tells Viola that she refuses Orsino’s advances but that she would willingly love to have a Cesario of her own… Viola leaves but Olivia, in order to make sure that ‘Cesario’ comes back, sends him a ring which she claims he left behind.
As you usual, we’ll end this week’s post with a list presenting the major characters in Twelfth Night. Hope it helps though this play is nowhere near as confusing as Henry VI part 1 or Taming of the Shrew:
Duke Orsino: The duke’s a love-obsessed fool who start of the play madly in love with Olivia. Honestly, he doesn’t really do much besides pine and complain. By the end of the play, he’ll hook up with Viola instead.
Viola: The main heroine of the play, Viola washes ashore in Illyria and disguises herself as a boy – Cesario – who is a page to Duke Orsino. Of course, she falls in love with him but all he wants her to do is woo Olivia on his behalf. She has a twin brother who looks exactly like her. Like, exactly. Somehow.
Sir Toby Belch: Olivia’s rowdy, drunk uncle. He seems to be the ringleader of a small group of drunken merry-makers. He takes a special pleasure in mocking the uptight Malvolio.
Maria: Lady Olivia’s servant. She takes the initiative in mocking Malvolio, who she feels is too uptight and serious. She’s eventually shack up with Belch.
Sir Andrew Aguecheek: One of Toby Belch’s friends and a suitor to Olivia. He’s basically a spineless, blubbering moron who Toby keeps around to fund his drinking and make fun of.
Feste, the Clown: This is lady Olivia’s clown or jester though, really, everyone spends most of their time laughing at Malvolio. He’s often considered one of Shakespeare’s best clown characters.
Olivia: A widow in mourning… although she’s not really mourning her husband, but her brother. Anyhow, she doesn’t want anything to do with Orsino. However, he does find his servant ‘Cesario’ to be to her liking. If only there was some way that could work out…
Malvolio: Olivia’s chamberlain, his job is to care for Olivia’s house. So, that makes him a middle-management administrator. Of course, Malvolio sees himself as upwardly mobile and dreams of marrying Olivia… which leaves him wide-open to Maria’s pranks. Think of him as the ugly ancestor of the strong protestant work ethic.
Sebastian: Viola’s twin brother. To be honest, he doesn’t have much of a personality though Viola tells us that her Cesario is copy of Sebastien in manner and dress. So, basically, Sebastian is a poor (wo)man’s Viola.
Antonio: An older gentleman who cares for Sebastian when he washes ashore in Illyria.
Those of you keeping up with our Twitter page will know that with summer (sadly) winding down, we’ve finally been able to gather the crew and record the next act of Richard II. However, the next episode isn’t going to be ready for a few days so in the mean time, we thought you might like a little refresher on what’s gone down for the first two acts of the play.
Here’s act I again, and we’ll repost act II in a few days so.
We haven’t even started yet and you’re already confused, aren’t you? You’ve listened to our Henry VI part I podcasts and thought “I like that all these heads are rolling but I just wish I knew who they belonged to!”
Here the short version though: first tetralogy was written first but describes events which happen at the end of the War of the Roses (ie: Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings). The second tetralogy was written later but the events take place at the start of the War of the Roses (The Hobbit).
Boom. Now you know everything.
Turns out that fewer characters, clear motivations for characters and a stronger plot arch combine to make a much better play. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of death and betrayal.
The play starts at King Richard’s court. Henry Bolingbroke (the Duke of Hereford) is accusing Thomas Mowbray (the Duke of Norfolk) of treason. Specifically, Bolingbroke accuses Mowbray of the murder of the Duke of Gloucester as well as stealing royal funds. The two men want to be allowed to settle the matter with a duel. They play a little ‘he said, she said’ and the king asks his uncle John of Gaunt (who is also Henry Bolingbroke’s father) to help calm everything down. When that fails, the King sets a date for a trial by combat, the only civilized way of putting an end to the finger-pointing and the name calling.
The Duchess of York is pleading with John of Gaunt to take a direct hand in avenging the death of Gloucester in scene 2. She’d like nothing more than for Gaunt to grab a buddy like Carl Weathers or Bryan Genesse and go Street Justice on Mowbray.
He tells the Duchess to forget the uncouth vigilante curb stomp. They’ll just have hope that Bolingbroke kills Mowbray for them.
So scene 3. We’re at the Coventry grounds which is the jousting a duelling field where the big trial by compact is about to take place. Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray are all armoured up, on horseback, lances levelled at the opponent’s chest, ready to charge. The herald-ringside announcers introduce them, the intro music plays and the trumpet sounds the charge, this is it!
And then the king stops the fight and orders the fighters back to their corners.
Instead of a nice clear fight where this would be settled once and for all, one way or another, the king decides he’s just going to banish both of them. Seeing that he’s such a fair guy though and doesn’t want to play favourites (we know he’s fair because King Richard tells us, right?) he decides that he will banish Mowbray for life and Bolingbroke for 10 years. Of wait! Is that John of Gaunt I hear crying? No worries, let’s make it six years for Bolingbroke.
I’m sure everyone will agree that this is totally and completely fair and that no bad feelings whatsoever will ever come out of this.
As soon as Henry Bolingbroke leaves in scene 4, Richard starts thinking about how popular Henry is with the common people of England. He starts wondering if this is going to be a problem when Henry comes back in 6 years. (It will be.)
What do the King’s right hand men do?
Change the subject.
“Hey, remember all this fighting we need to do in Ireland? We might want to get started on that.” The king agrees with him but, seeing as he’s short on cash from throwing too many parties, he sets up an aggressive taxation scheme which I am sure will not at all make him more unpopular with the people of England.
Before they leave, however, Sir John Bushy arrives with an announcement that John of Gaunt is on his deathbed. Did someone say free money? Seeing as John of Gaunt is one of the richest men in England, King Richard “The Vulture” flies to Ely house, ready to scoop up his lands when he dies.
If you’re still having a hard time following along, here’s a list of the major characters which appear in this act:
King Richard II: The king of England and a cousin of Henry Bolingbroke. He’s got a reputation of spending money irresponsibly and trying to recoup the loses in taxes. Not a very popular guy with the people
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster: One of the most popular nobles in England, he’s also stinking rich. He’s Henry Bolingbroke’s father and Richard II’s uncle.
Henry Bolingbroke (sometimes spelled Bullingbrook): He’s the son of John of Gaunt. He gets banished from England but when the King snatches his lands away from him, he comes back to England to take back what’s his. He will become Henry IV by the end of the play.
Thomas Mowbray: The Duke of Norfolk. He’s accused of treason by Bolingbroke and banished from England for life.
I wonder how Henry Bolingbroke will feel about the king taking his inheritance away from him like that?
And hey! Buy ‘Zounds!It’s the Bard Brawl’s first ever journal. You’ll never regret or forget it.
Yes Brawlers. We haven’t been keeping up with the Brawl of late but there’s a good reason for that:
we’re hard at work putting the finishing touches on the first ever issue of ‘Zounds!!
We’ve just finished corralling and editing all of the submissions and are polishing off our mise en page and design before everything gets sent off to the printer’s. Any day now we can start shipping these babies out to you! (Babies are figurative, shipping is literal.)
We will get back to our recording in the very near future but in the meantime, here’s a little something to tide you over and – for no reason whatsoever – put you in the mood for implausible romance stories. Funny stuff and not a bad cure for the mid-January blues, either.