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Tony Grist

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The Duchess At The Wanamaker [May. 27th, 2014|09:01 am]
Tony Grist
I was watching a recording of The Duchess of Malfi from the Globe's new indoor theatre last night. I only got to just over the half way mark because the computer kept stopping and starting (blame the internet connection) and then it was bedtime, but I saw enough to be able to imagine the rest. Candlelight is the loveliest of artificial lights.  How Shakespeare must have loved it- towards the end of his career- when he got to work in a theatre with a roof- and things became possible that had never been possible before.  Webster has a scene where the lights go down completely and something horrific happens in the dark. That must have been electrifying first time round.

I was taught The Duchess at 6th form level by an English teacher who loved it- and passed his love on.  When we read it in class I played Ferdinand to his Bosola.  Webster is our greatest dramatic poet after Shakespeare and there are scenes in the Duchess where he's operating at the older man's level.

Strangling is a very quiet death.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: nineweaving
2014-05-27 08:12 am (UTC)
It broke my heart I couldn't see this in the theatre. I am very glad it was filmed.

Nine
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-27 08:33 am (UTC)
It's getting to be routine to film important stage productions. It's a good development.
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[User Picture]From: redatt
2014-05-27 11:29 am (UTC)
It is. We saw a live broadcast (simulcast?) of Coriolanus at the local one screen cinema a couple of months ago. Good stuff.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-27 12:29 pm (UTC)
Excellent.

When I think of all the great performances of the past that are lost forever....
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-27 12:23 pm (UTC)
The post title stopped me for a moment, since the legendary Wanamaker's department store is such an icon here in Philadelphia. I suppose they could play The Duchess of Malfi in the Grand Court, if so inclined.

Filming of live theater is pretty wonderful. We saw Richard II, starring David Tennant, in a cinema; it took our breath away.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-27 12:32 pm (UTC)
I imagine Sam was a member of the same family.

I want to see Tennant's Richard II. His Hamlet was brilliant.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-05-27 07:55 pm (UTC)
I usually don't like Richard II, because Richard is such a difficult character to sympathize with.

Tennant knocked it out of the park. (Or, to translate that to British, "knocked it for a six.")
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-27 08:21 pm (UTC)
It's one of my favourite plays. The abdication scene is one of the greatest things in the canon.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-28 12:49 pm (UTC)
I don't think so. "My" Wanamaker's father was a brickmaker born in Kingswood NJ in the early nineteenth century. Sam Wanamaker's parents were Ukrainian Jews. (EDITED TO ADD: Tennant's Hamlet was gripping. His Richard II is stunning. And I believe the latter is now available on DVD.)

Edited at 2014-05-28 12:56 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-28 05:24 pm (UTC)
I'll have to get it.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2014-05-27 02:50 pm (UTC)
I do hope this trend of broadcasting and/or recording theatrical performances continues. Often, it can simply be impractical for people to make it along to a venue, especially internationally - or, a show can be sold out rapidly. There's nothing quite like being right there, of course, but it's almost as good to simply be able to revel in masterful performances.

I hadn't been aware they were reconstructing an indoor theatre there! Most cool. (Reminds me, I ought to try getting along to one of the Open Air Theatre shows this year)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-27 06:01 pm (UTC)
I could wish the trend had begun earlier. Why isn't there a film of Peter Brook's Midsummer Night's Dream
or Olivier's Coriolanus or Gielgud's Hamlet- the list is endless.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-28 12:57 pm (UTC)
We recently watched the film of the production of Olivier's Othello (1965), as much to see a younger Maggie Smith and Derek Jacobi as anything else. Olivier chewed a lot of scenery, but I admired the lengths to which he went to lower his voice an octave to help increase his physical presence.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-28 05:21 pm (UTC)
I've only seen clips.

It struck me as a object lesson in how not to do it.

Olivier made three very good Shakespeare films- and then seems to have lost the knack.
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[User Picture]From: negothick
2014-05-29 12:03 am (UTC)
Legend hath it that Olivier blacked up ALL OVER his body, not just where it showed, to really get into his character.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-05-29 08:52 pm (UTC)
I can believe it.

I read that as part of his homework he went and watched Sammy Davis perform night after night.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2014-05-29 07:29 pm (UTC)
Some of it was very good. Some of it was awful.

I thought his Shylock was okay and his late-life Lear, when he was too frail to carry Cordelia (who had to be harnessed) was incredibly poignant.
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