SHAKESPEARE ALOUD

Two Gents Act 4, Scene 1 – United Nations

Well this was strange.  I realize that what I’m referring to when I say, ‘this is just amazing’ is in fact, not that amazing.  I was speaking to the vibe in the whole square – this public demonstration of strange speakers and stranger music choices.  Odd to play the Back to the Future theme music during an Iraq war protest.   It was more fitting that I was reading the first Outlaws scene.  Here where people travel from all over the world to protest the world’s governing body for human rights violations, I regale the scene where banished Valentine convinces a band of outlaws to save his life.  Not only to the listen to him and spare him but they make him their captain!

I’m reading this scene underneath the enormous symbolic three-and-a-half legged chair that sits outside the huge United Nations building in Geneva.  This huge court with a lovely fountain and all of the flags of the nations of the world apparently boasts a new rally for a different cause every day of the week.  When we drove by it yesterday to check out the site there was a ‘Free Tibet’ rally in full force.  Today it was a protest of the occupation of Iraq.   Nonetheless, undeterred, I set out to read with Yorick, standing directly under the blasted-off leg of the big chair (the Chair installation is supposed to direct attention to bombs being detonated underfoot by civilians – usually cluster bombs, or ‘bombies’ that are still common though illegal.

At one point a busload of tourists drives by behind me to see the Chair and me reading under it holding my little skull.

 

THE SCENE

This is a quick little scene with some more half-verse or doggerel that the Outlaws speak.    One thing I’d like to note, that by line 30 the Outlaws have been so moved by Valentine (and his slick iambic pentameter), that they come out of their lawless doggerel-speaking shells and reveal that they’re noblemen on the lam.  As they do their speech takes the form of increasingly more musical verse.

So in 75 lines Shakespeare has taken these people from:

1 OUTLAW            Fellows, stand fast.  I see a passenger.

2 OUTLAW            If there be ten, shrink not, but down with ‘em.

to,

3 OUTLAW            No, we detest such vile base practices.

Come, go with us.  We’ll bring thee to our crews

And show thee all the treasure we have got,

Which, with ourselves, all rest at thy dispose.

To his credit, the third outlaw throughout speaks a little more verse-like than the others, but as a true member of his faction, is clearly transformed (more Ovid) by his encounter.

BB

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