I don't watch enough television for those TV memes, so I am going to do the Shakespeare one that has been going round.
My one caveat: I am indecisive. No, seriously. I am. Most of these questions will have at least two answers if not possibly more. I am just like that.
Day #1: Your favourite play
And we start with two, just so I don't disappoint you. ;)
For many years, my favourite Shakespeare play was Romeo and Juliet. I first saw the Zeffirelli film when I was maybe seven or eight and adored it (which I suppose says a lot about me, not all of it flattering). And I still love the play (especially Juliet, who is such a wonderful character), but it has been superseded.
Right now, my two favourite Shakespeare plays are Richard III (absolutely no surprise to readers of this LJ, I am certain) and Othello.
I came to Richard III fairly late in my Shakespeare-reading youth. I actually went in the opposite direction from most people -- I first read The Daughter of Time when I was in middle school and decided Richard III was A Very Nice Man, Really. I was aware of the play, but didn't read it in its entirety until my senior year of high school (in AP English, we were given the choice of four Shakespeare plays and had to write a paper on one), when I found myself in the somewhat awkward position of being a staunch Ricardian who also had an embarrassing crush on Shakespeare's Richard. My AP English paper had the dubious distinction of using exactly the same misquote as my doctoral dissertation -- 'Poor shadows, painted queens' -- and being about the representation of Anne and Elizabeth. I am clearly obsessed.
What do I love about this play? Well, the protagonist, for starters. Richard is completely compelling; he's hilarious and awful and you can't take your attention away from him because you absolutely need to see what he does next. And I actually enjoy Shakespeare's Richard even more, knowing what I do about sixteenth-century historiography and the chronicle tradition. Also, I love the women. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THEM. It's even better if you've got the Henry VIs to lead up to it, but even without them, you have four quite prominent female characters, one of whom is Margaret!
Othello is another play that I knew in part long before I read it in full in undergrad. It was the second play we read in my Shakespearean Tragedy elective (after Romeo and Juliet), and, brimming with the kind of enthusiasm that one can only find in an undergraduate, I wrote a paper about how Othello and Romeo were two differing versions of the same type of lover, and how Juliet and Desdemona both rocked and could easily have fixed their broken boyfriends if they'd had more time. Or something to that effect.
As for why I love it -- it breaks my heart. Each and every damn time. One of my friends from Oxford remarked at one point that she would love to see Othello staged as a comedy gone horribly, horribly wrong. The first four acts run somewhat parallel to the Hero-Claudio storyline from Much Ado About Nothing, after all. But since we're dealing not with Don John, but with Iago (who is awesome in the most shudder-inducing way possible), instead of a wedding, we have a pile of corpses.
Day #1: Your favourite play - Othello and Richard III
Day #2: Your favourite character
Day #3: Your favourite hero - Othello
Day #4: Your favourite heroine
Day #5: Your favorite villain
Day #6: Your favourite
Day #7: Your favourite clown
Day #8: Your favourite comedy
Day #9: Your favourite tragedy
Day #10: Your favourite history
Day #11: Your least favourite play
Day #12: Your favourite scene
Day #13: Your favourite romantic scene
Day #14: Your favourite fight scene
Day #15: The first play you read
Day #16: Your first play you saw
Day #17: Your favourite speech
Day #18: Your favourite dialogue
Day #19: Your favourite movie version of a play
Day #20: Your favourite movie adaptation of a play
Day #21: An overrated play
Day #22: An underrated play
Day #23: A role you've never played but would love to play
Day #24: An actor or actress you would love to see in a particular role
Day #25: Sooner or later, everyone has to choose: Hal or Falstaff?
Day #26: Your favourite couple
Day #27: Your favourite couplet
Day #28: Your favourite joke
Day #29: Your favourite sonnet
Day #30: Your favourite single line
Do you know Ann-Marie MacDonald's Good Night, Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)? Based on your thesis, I'd suspect you of being the heroine of that play, except you would have snuck Richard in there somewhere.
I hadn't realized nearly how popular Richard was, even among more casual Shakespeare fans, until I started doing/reading this meme. I wouldn't say I have a crush on this character, but he's brilliant on many levels. And yes, the women --. I remember the first time I saw Richard III after reading the Henry VI plays (I'd seen it before without knowing much of the context), and just gasping when the Duchess said "I had a Rutland!" Partly it was an "oh my God, I know what they're talking about" but also the emotion of the moment and the weight of all that history.
Based on your thesis, I'd suspect you of being the heroine of that play, except you would have snuck Richard in there somewhere.
No, I haven't read it, and clearly I should! ::adds to Amazon Wish List::
Partly it was an "oh my God, I know what they're talking about" but also the emotion of the moment and the weight of all that history.
That is one of my favourite parts of the First Tet in general (and one of the things I keep coming back to whenever I write about it). Shakespeare is subtler about it in the Second Tet, but there's something about the rawness of the First that I just love.
It is. . .basically about a female academic who has a theory of Romeo & Juliet and Othello as comedies gone wrong and gets sucked into the world of the play to try and "fix" them. I've never read or studied it so I don't remember the details that well but I saw an extremely entertaining production when I was in college.
I have mixed feelings towards The Winter's Tale; there are parts of it that I love, but I have issues with the ending. Actually, once you've read it, check out ides_of_april for two brilliant Hermione-centric fics (one of which features a cameo appearance by a gentleman in a blue telephone box).
I quite like The Winter's Tale. Leontes's jealousy comes a little *too* out of nowhere, and there's that HORRIFIC expository scene between Bohemia and Sicilia, but other than that, I think it's shplendid. Luckily it doesn't actually say in the text "by the way, Hermione just lived in a box for sixteen years" (or worse, "Hermione totally did die, but in this play, statues totally come to life!") or the issues would multiply. I would be interested in reading further details on your issues. :)
Oh, mostly they are of the completely immature OMG LEONTES SUCKS AND HERMIONE DESERVES SO MUCH BETTER variety. I think it is an incredibly well-crafted play, and that the first three acts are positively harrowing at times, but for some reason it sort of loses me in the last two.
That being said, seeing it in performance is just brilliant. I saw the RSC do it in 2002 and liked it a lot better afterward. They made the last two acts work for me, though I still don't like reading them.
I think we just have to take it as read that actually quite a LOT happened in Sicilia during the 16 years. Hopefully it wasn't *just* Paulina sticking pins in Leontes for the entire time*, she was helping him become deserving of the awesomeness of Hermione again, and she wouldn't have let them reunite if she didn't think he was on the way to being ready. I think the main problems with the play are the sixteen year gap, the abrupt mood change, and OMG HAVE I MENTIONED THAT HORRIFIC EXPOSITORY SCENE YET?. Oh, and Leontes, but if you have a good enough actor, you can usually work around what a dick he is. :3
*I enjoy thinking she was using pins as well as her tongue to make him feel bad the whole time. Makes it funnier for me. My sense of humour can be a little offbeat. XD
HAHA. That actually is an awesome mental image. Especially if she literally sticks him with a pin every single time she walks past him or something ridiculous like that.
And, yes, HORRIBLE EXPOSITION SCENE. It's like that one between Malcolm and Donalbain in Macbeth that just goes ON AND ON.
I find it quite fascinating that your favourite plays have Shakepeare's two most charismatic villains -- Jago the enigma and Richard the entertainer. I hope you are not harbouring any personal plans for psychological warfare and usurpation yet.
Hee! I don't think so. Though my writing may suggest otherwise. ;)
I think part of why I love these plays so much is how well they engage with the power of words. Both Richard and Iago are so good at manipulating language to change the world around them, and it's really the matter-of-fact nature of their awfulness that I find so frightening -- and fascinating.
You know, I don't think I could even fill out this meme, mostly because of these questions:
Day #16: Your first play you saw
Day #19: Your favorite movie version of a play
Day #20: Your favorite movie adaptation of a play
Now, I don't know what the difference is between a movie VERSION and a movie ADAPTATION. But the thing is, I can't answer any of those questions as I've never seen Shakespeare performed. Not on the stage, not in the movies. I read annotated plays because that's the only way for me to figure out what the hell is going on. I have heard audio performances, but they've always left me with the feeling of, "Wait, WHAT did she just say? Could someone translate that?"
I think you could still do the meme and just explain on those particular days -- I'd be really curious to see your answers to all the other questions. :)
As far as I can tell, a movie version requires the actual text of the play, while an adaptation would be something like Ten Things I Hate About You or My Own Private Idaho or the Shakespeare Retold series they recently made in the UK.
And, as I am one of those people who is all about Shakespeare being performed and adapted, I am going to ramble at length. Please feel free to ignore it!
For a first-time viewer, I'd probably go with Branagh, because a lot of the older versions (i.e. Olivier, An Age of Kings) have the actors speaking very quickly. Branagh's films are generally aimed at a wider audience as well, which makes them a lot easier to follow and they were among the first Shakespeare films I saw.
My favourite of his is Much Ado About Nothing with Emma Thompson as Beatrice (and she is still honestly my favourite Beatrice). Just ignore Keanu Reeves as best you can and the rest of the film is great fun. Also, I like Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night with Nigel Hawthorne as Malvolio and Helena Bonham-Carter as Olivia, although some people found it too mannered.
His Henry V is objectively very good, but I don't necessarily agree with his interpretation of Hal. Keith Baxter is brilliant in Chimes at Midnight (as is Orson Welles as Falstaff and Gielgud as Henry IV), but as far as I can tell, the film is out of print. I also LOVE the 1995 Richard III with Ian McKellen, even though they chose to make a lot of cuts. It's also one of the best examples of how adapt the setting of the play without reducing it to window-dressing (which is one of my big problems with Branagh's As You Like It).
Tragedies are a bit more difficult. My two favourites are the recent filmed RSC versions -- King Lear with McKellen again, and Hamlet with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. I haven't yet seen an Othello that works for me, and I don't think they've really filmed Antony and Cleopatra aside from the BBC version (which is apparently pretty good and has a young Patrick Stewart as Enobarbus). Romeo and Juliet is also a bit tricky, in that there are aspects of both the Zeffirelli version and the Baz Lurhmann version that I like, but neither film as a whole quite captures MY interpretation of the play.
Also, I will shut up now. ;)
One of my friends from Oxford remarked at one point that she would love to see Othello staged as a comedy gone horribly, horribly wrong.Oh, wow! That sounds undeniably awesome!
Sorry to comment on this so late. I have been very lax in my LJ reading lately and only came upon this by noticing your most recent post in this meme.
By the way, I agree with you on your two choices, but whenever anyone asks me my favorite Shakespeare play, I qualify my answer with, "it depends. Tragedy, comedy, or history?" After which, I answer that my favorite tragedy is Othello, comedy is Twelfth Night, and history is Richard III.
(I only realised today that all of these posts had come up under a filter for some inexplicable reason and fixed them, so that's why you hadn't seen them until now.)
Oh, yeah, one of the things I love about this meme is that it's got category answers -- you get to list your favourite comedy, tragedy, and history, and that makes my life considerably easier. Because I can then cheat and pick a large selection of plays. ;)
If anybody is every crazy enough to let me direct Othello (I theoretically had the opportunity in Oxford, but I didn't have the time to spare), I think that might be how I stage it, just because I would be so hopelessly curious. Well, either that or my crackpot idea to set it in India at the height of the British Raj.
And, oh, Twelfth Night. I will always have a soft spot for that play!