Okay, I know I’ve written about this historic event before, but now that there’s so much buzz surrounding the Julius Caesar Shakespeare in the Park controversy where Caesar is supposed to look like the President, I just want to say: this is nothing new.
Theatre has never been an apolitical vacuum. Shakespeare’s work has never been an apolitical vacuum. Back in his day, it was illegal to depict living royals onstage, though there were more than a few contemporary references woven in.
One of his popular plays was Richard II, the story of a weak, indecisive, and arrogant king who took his nobles’ property and overtaxed his subjects to fund his futile Irish wars. Richard II is then forced to resign by his more popular cousin, who returns from exile to take the crown, and Richard is later killed in prison.
People LOVED this play, although it’s not one of the most popular today. FIVE different editions were published in Shakespeare’s lifetime. But the best scene in the play is the “deposition,” the part where Richard actually hands over his crown, and that scene was CENSORED from the first three editions published because it was considered too risky.
Still with me? Well, Queen Elizabeth was on the throne at the time and had had a loooong reign- with, like Richard, no direct heirs. She’d also been waging the expensive Nine-Years War….against Ireland.
Well, in 1601, the Queen’s former favorite, the Earl of Essex, decided to stage a rebellion. He’d been disgraced and fired from his leadership roles in the Irish wars, which he’d bungled. The queen banned him from court and crushed his lucrative wine business. He was impoverished, powerless, and desperate.
Essex formed a conspiracy to create a huge demonstration and rile up the people of London against the a Queen. The night before the event, and his men hired Shakespeare’s theatre troupe, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, to stage a special one-night-only performance of their hit play, Richard II.
With the deposition and murder scenes included.
Well, Essex’s rebellion was quickly halted and the man himself was tried and executed. Meanwhile, at least one member of Shakespeare’s company was brought to court for questioning. Clearly, the crown realized what the play represented.
Years later, the Queen is rumored to have offhandedly remarked to a royal record keeper, when the topic of Richard II came up, “I am Richard II, know ye not that?”
To this day, the role of Richard is traditionally played with feminine traits and many times by a woman- including Cate Blanchett, who has also played Queen Elizabeth.
So basically, yeah, it’s nothing new to stage a Shakespeare play in response to contemporary events!
I just started reading The Hobbit again. So it was about time for some Thorin fanart. :)
This one is - obviously - based on the book not on the movies. Even though, despite all the niggling about him, I liked Richard Armitage in the role. And I think he had some amazing and intense scenes in the films.
“renner is very much a very physically capable guy and i like that. i like the challenge of that because i like that the guy i’m up against is tough. not just mentally tough but physically tough … i like that it’s renner.
renner reminds me of, like, richard widmark. he reminds me of bill holden. a guy who he can be charming and he can throw it off in a certain way but he can be tough. a very tough guy.”
You quickly dodged the combat boot currently flying towards your face by ducking down with ease. After doing so you spun and used the gained momentum to slash the side of the assailants head, causing them to stumble backwards. Your partner then delivered the final blow causing them to fall to the hard concrete sidewalk unconscious. “I thought you were going after the funny masked guy?” The masked man aiding you remarked. His bow staff was now folded away and he looked at you through his black mask with a piercing gaze.
“I was.” You stated with a motion to a man at the corner of an alley way further down the street. He was slumped against the graffiti covered brick walls with his hands cuffed behind his back. “This one showed up after.” You added pointing the fallen robber between the both of you. Your partner nodded in understanding and the both of you looked around the block taking in and assessing damages.
“So much for covert…” Nightwing said looking at the smoke rising from the partially collapsed building. “Bats is gonna be pissed.” He wiped his dark locks to the side while he huffed a sad sigh. You put a hand on his shoulder reassuringly before heading to your motorbike.
You sat down and grabbed your helmet, “So what? It’s not our fault Slade backed this.” As you pulled down the visor Nightwing walked over to his vehicle beside yours.
“Yeah, what does Wilson want anyway? We need to find out how he’s outsourcing and track down his main location.” Grayson stated as he placed his helmet over his head. You nodded knowing that was the only lead you both could follow at the moment. He got rid of the kickstand and took off down the now less busy street at a high speed. You followed after him in a flurry of engine noise. Both of you later arrived at the apartment complex, ditching your bikes a couple of blocks down and changing out of your ‘business’ attire. You entered the familiar hallway with the taller young man walking beside you. Nightwing was now wearing a pair of dark shades and a grey hoodie, now he was Richard Grayson once again. You wore a simple outfit of jeans and a band t-shirt, going by your actual name once more as well. The building security officer greeted you with a wide smile and wave like he normal did, you waved back but Richard didn’t. He must be too focused on everything that has been happening in the city, you couldn’t blame him. You both strode into the elevator and you looked over at Richard, he had his hands in his pockets with a distressed slouch. You frowned not knowing what to do for him, there wasn’t anything that could cheer him up at the moment, well except maybe for Deathstroke’s head.
“Grayson.” You finally broke the silence softly, he finally looked over towards you and you shot him a small grin.
“Yeah (y/n)?” The blue eyed boy replied coolly.
“We’ll fix this, please stop fretting about it.” The elevator made a sound as it opened at your floor and he walked in front of you. Following him to the door you watched him unlock it and once inside you closed the door behind you both. “Seriously Richard, please, you’re going to lose yourself in this case if you continue like this.” You shoved the mopping man onto the couch with a quick push and he let out a yelp of surprise. Ignoring his surprised gaze you walked over to the kitchen area and pulled out two root beers, no need for him to be depressed and drunk, and tossed him the second one.
“Thanks.” He stated still shocked at your unusual actions as he opened up the bottle. You smiled for a moment and then went to your small bedroom to assess your wounds. Richard was fine, he luckily only dealt with the detonator wielding perp but you got into a few tussles. Pulling your shirt over your head with a small wince you looked over your physique with a large frown. A nasty gash carried from your side all the way to your stomach from where a knife caught you. You grabbed the first aid kit and found the antiseptic, dousing it onto a small bandaging cloth before putting it on your cut. The sting was sharp and fiery as you cleaned the deep cut and you couldn’t help but wince a little. “(Y/n)?” You heard Grayson call you from the other side of the door.
“I’m getting changed!” You replied with a quick lie and you found a different shirt lying on a piece of furniture. Quickly you pulled the shirt over your head, it hurt like hell when you stretched the skin around the wounds area like that. You grimaced but called to him, “All good.” He opened the door and held a half grin.
“We should look up Deathstroke’s movements on Oracle…” His blue eyes fell to your new top, and you realized the drastic mistake you just made. The shirt was bright white. Mentally you were hitting your head against the wall as you knew there was no way to hide your injury. “You know you’re a bad liar, but that fashion choice really didn’t help your case.” You chuckled lightly and he gave you a look. You sighed and pulled off the now red tainted shirt and he walked over grabbing some more bandaging. “You shouldn’t have hid this, it’s pretty bad…” Grayson began carefully wrapping the wound tightly. You held a strong poker face and barely flinched at the aches from the injury.
“Sounds like I’ve heard this conversation before, though not from you.” You stated looking at him with a knowing glance.
“Looks like we swapped roles.” Richard replied with a chuckle, though he soon frowned a little when he reached the deepest part of the cut. “I think you’re gonna need to be stitched up.” You reached for the small and overused kit inside the case but he grabbed it from you. “I’ll do it.” As you stuck your tongue out childishly he began prepping the needle. Grayson put some of the cream for numbing around the injury before beginning with an apologetic look. You clenched your teeth and looked away as he carefully and precisely sewed up the spot. “There.” He smiled reassuringly and you mustered up a grin as you put on a shirt.
“I think we can wait on the Oracle search, though tomorrow we’ll begin a full swing operation.” You told him walking back out to the main living area.
“Alright, though the Chinese is on you.” Richard remarked with a grin grabbing a cell.
“Fine, I deserve Chinese after being stabbed.” You said putting your nose in the air jokingly causing you both to burst into a fit of laughter. He placed an order for Chinese to be dropped downstairs and then sat beside you on the couch. You kissed his cheek lightly and he blushed in surprise.
“What was that for?” His blue eyes looked into yours, you smiled blushing a little.
I think what bothers me the most about the Hobbit movies is that, in their bloody-minded insistence on facilely equating dwarvishness with rough, stereotypically masculine interests and pursuits and elvishness with delicate, stereotypically feminine interests and pursuits, they deprive us of seeing Richard Armitage in full Thorin Oakenshield getup playing the harp.