Funny thing about reading Shakespeare outside Buckingham Palace – the BBC may be watching you. So it happened today – after reading my scene, a reporter clearly out with his headphones and microphone to do some audio interviews, couldn’t resist asking me what in the world I was doing. We chatted for a bit about Shakespeare Aloud – he was very interested which was nice of him. At some point he turned his recording device on and suddenly this became taped. My mother, valiantly cinematographing for me today as we parade about London’s more famous sites, decided a couple minutes in that she would tape the interview too. So I have that as a separate interview – by that time I think we were onto politics!
The Palace grounds really do look fabulous – the royal wedding just 3 weeks prior had everything looking as spic and span as is humanly possible. You can still see Big Ben from where the camera’s pointing if the light were better. Very beautiful spot .
It’s so amusing with this project to read a pretty banal scene of ruffians outside such prestigious landmarks. All the charm of the project. This particular ruffian’s opening speech however, Lance with his dog Crab, is a speech I got a whole lot of mileage out of in high school and college auditions. I loved doing this speech – then it got old. It was nice to reprise it for this video.
Musically speaking, Lance, or better yet the actor playing Lance, has got to favor the music of comic timing over all. His is a sort of densely cadencing punch line usually. And most of the laughs a good Lance will get will be between the dog and the audience. Probably just looking from one to the other a few times will get us all right on the same page. Lance, like all lower clowns, looks with his nose.
It’s a beautiful speech, and while it of itself may not be that funny haha, it is funny (greatly amusing), and buried not so deep within is a real sadness, sense of longing, and fragile vulnerability.
The only observation I’ll make musically speaking is that the ensuing Pantino/Lance bit (lines 31 to 55) is exemplary of the way characters use each other’s words ‘against’ them if you will in a typically prose way as opposed to a verse way. In verse very often characters will borrow the other’s words (see the first scene of this play) to build upon the argument – it is an altitude-altering exercise. Or to say it differently, the one-upsmanship smacks of an energetic game of tennis between two posh worthy adversaries. But in prose, as in here, repeated words are more spat between the two or kicked at each other like a half-baked game. Of course the argument is always still there (this is Shakespeare after all and everyone’s always pushing something), but the energy with which people borrow each other’s language is just more basely playful than in verse. Usually. Witness:
34 Away, ass, you’ll lose the tide if you tarry any longer.
35 It is no matter if the tied were lost, for it is the
36 unkindest tied that ever any man tied.
37 What’s the unkindest tide?
38 Why, he that’s tied here, Crab, my dog.
39 Tut, man, I mean thou’lt lose the flood, and in
40 losing the flood, lose thy voyage, and in losing
41 thy voyage, lost thy master, and in losing thy
42 master, lose thy service, and in losing thy service –
43 why dost thou stop my mouth?
For fear thou shouldst lose thy tongue.
45 Where shall I lose my tongue?
46 In thy tale.
47 In thy tail!
48 Lose the tide, and the voyage, and the master, and
49 the service, and the tied? Why, man, if the river were
50 dry, I am able to fill it with my tears; if the wind were
51 down, I could drive the boat with my sighs.
52 Come, come away, man. I was sent to call thee.
53 Sir, call me what thou dar’st.
54 Wilt thou go?
55 Well, I will go.
Pantino gives us another typical prose ‘list’ speech, which really should all be assembled and read in order sometime by someone. But it’s clear that sharing language is part of the gag in this scenelet. Shakespeare also tries out here the old ‘tongue in your tail’ gag, which if this is indeed before Taming of the Shrew, was obviously quite a riot because he put it smack dab in the middle of the Kate/Petruchio wooing scene.