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

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.


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BB: Richard II, the Speeches

Artwork - Andre Simoneau
Artwork – Andre Simoneau

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back Brawlers to the speeches podcast of our tenth play, Richard II.

Listen to or download the podcast, or better yet subscribe on iTunes.

We also discuss the merits of bottled beer, stubbed-nosed or otherwise, versus tall cans.  Special treat: there may also be a nod to the brilliance of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (aka Patrick Stewart) in Star Trek: First Contact.

Enjoy!

“Should dying men flatter with those that live?” Act II, scene 1
Speakers: Richard II, John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt’s loaded and near-death. King Richard pays him a visit to his dying uncle in the hopes that the old man will die soon so he can gobble up his lands and cash. However, as his death-bed speech Gaunt tells Richard that he’s the one who in danger of dying because he’s killed his own uncle Gloucester and now surrounds himself with flatterers who are likely to run to henry as soon as he gets back to England.

“Where is the duke my father with his power?” Act III, scene 2
Speakers: Duke of Aumerle, Richard II
Things are looking pretty grim for Richard. None of his so-called friends have shown up to fight on his side. He’s screwed and he knows it. And he wants everybody else around to know that he’s royally screwed and to finally stop feeding him bullshit and telling him what he wants to hear. He knows now that kings rarely make it to retirement and that for all of his kingly privilege, he’s just like everybody else, a nobody.

“Ascend his throne, descending now from him…” Act IV, scene 1
Speakers: Duke of York, Henry Bolingbroke, Bishop of Carlisle
Surrounded by his buddies, Henry Bolingrbroke agrees to take the throne and reign as Henry IV! Except the Bishop of Carlisle have a few issues with that. See, as kings are anointed by God people can’t just decide to replace the king with someone lese. Even if they take his power, Richard II is still the rightful king. Carlisle warns that they’ll be hell to pay if they go through with this.

Henry IV’s not too happy to hear this so he just has him arrested. Problem solved.

“Great king, within this coffin I present” Act 5 V, scene 6
Speakers: Exton, Henry Bolingbroke
It only makes sense that so long as Richard II is still around, there will be a bunch of people who refuse to accept that Henry IV is the new king. Life of course would be so much simpler if Richard would just meet with an unfortunate accident and disappear from The Tower. Seems like henry might have let that slip so Exton took his cue and did the dirty work. He then comes back to court to claim his reward except that henry doesn’t want this shit to reflect poorly on him.

So can you spell scapegoat? Yup, that’s right: E-X-T-O-N.

That’s it for play number ten Brawlers! Stay tuned for our next play in the next week or two and for announcements about the upcoming 3rd volume of ‘Zounds!

Zoey Baldwin returns to the brawl and brings us a lovely reading of Sonnet 56.

And hey! Buy ‘Zounds! You’ll never regret or forget it. Volume II is OUT NOW.

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Stay in Touch Brawlers!

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BB: Timon of Athens, the Speeches

Artwork - Leigh MacRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited byEric Jean)

Welcome back Brawlers to Timon of AthensStephanie E.M. Coleman‘s favourite Shakespeare play.

What better way to wrap up the year than with a Timon of Athens speeches podcast? Just in time for your New Year’s Eve party. (You know, the one where you are serving rocks and warm water to your ungrateful entourage)

Listen to or download the podcast.

 

“Good morrow to thee, gentle Apemantus!” Act I, Scene 1
Speakers: Timon, Apemantus, Painter
Why is Apemantus even at Timon’s house if he’s just going to talk smack at him the entire time? And why does Timon put up with it? Our best guess is that Timon’s house is like the king’s court – anybody and everybody in society is invited and not showing up is like relegating yourself to civic obscurity. Here he is, calling our Timon’s guests for their brown-nosing… and calling out Timon for lapping it up.

“You make me marvel: wherefore ere this time” Act II, Scene 2
Speakers: Flavius, Timon
Timon’s creditors are at his door and he’s just learned the bad news: as a result of his lavish and generous lifestyle, he’s completely broke and can’t afford to pay his debts. He tries to blame his servant/bookkeeper Flavius for not telling him about this sooner but Flavius makes it clear that this is not the first time he’s tried to discuss finances with Timon. Even if Timon sold all of his lands, he would not have enough to pay back his creditors.

“Each man to his stool, with that spur as he would to” Act III, Scene 6
Speakers: Timon, various lords
The lords of Athens believe that Timon has miraculously managed to pay his debts. While they all refused to help him when he asked them for help, they’re all right back at his place for this special feast in their honour. Wouldn’t you be a little suspicious? Even after he’s spelled out why he did this, the lords still don’t quite get it and just think he’s gone crazy.

“How came the noble Timon to this change?” Act IV, Scene 3
Speakers: Alcibiades, Timon, Timandra
Alcibiades and Timon should technically be on the same side; they were both taken advantage of or treated poorly by Athens and are now living in the wilderness. Big difference between the two? Alcibiades is travelling with two prostitutes and it seems to have worked wonders on his mood. In this scene, Alcibiades is trying to understand what drove Timon nuts; Timon is trying to convince Alcibiades to kill everybody.

“By all description this should be the place.” and “‘Here lies a
wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft”
Act V, Scene 3 and Act V, Scene 4
Speakers: Solider, Alcibiades
We’ve actually spliced together two scenes. Act V, scene 3 is just a short scene of an illiterate soldier coming across Timon’s grave. As he can’t read the whole inscription on the gravestone, so he makes a copy of it and brings it to his general, Alcibiades. (My best guess as to how the gravestone gets set up? Flavius must have done it. Unless Timon buried alive by summoning the animals of the forest to do his bidding. Whichever one seems more plausible to you, I guess.) The rest of the ‘speech’ picks up at the end of the play where Alcibiades reads the rest of the inscription and decides that he won’t kill everybody – just the people who the senators of Athens will have decided are guilty of his exile.

That’s it for the Bard Brawl’s eighth play!

We want to thank everybody who helped spread the word and who donated to ‘Zounds!, our upcoming Bard brawl journal! Our campaign raised a total of $1020 thanks to your efforts!

Stay tuned for updates about ‘Zounds! in the coming days and weeks!

And Happy New Year Brawlers!

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

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