SHAKESPEARE ALOUD

Two Gents Act 4, Scene 2 – Guiting Power Church, England

For cinematography’s sake, this was the spot.  I realize it gets really windy toward the end, which is a shame because it was going really rather well.

It was great to be able to return to a Church for Proteus’ newest soliloquy debating his own guilt.  The last one, the big one, II;vi, was done inside Notre Dame dancing between the buttresses.  We start this back in Proteus’s familiarly pensive place, then go outside for the song.  This gorgeous little town in the Cotwolds, Guiting Power, provided the most idyllic setting we could have imagined.  What a gorgeous lovely church and beautiful grounds.  The town was apparently resurrected from financial ruin by a rich resident who created a trust to preserve the major buildings and infrastructure.  Consequently, this pastoral dream of an English town will be long preserved.

As far as my reading is concerned, I miss some big moments with the verse – stressing in the wrong places and behind on some thoughts, but alas.

Stay through to the end of the video to see a lovely pan of the church exterior and landscape.  My mother is filming – this is Ashley Hunt and her mother Christie and husband Rich Gingrich.

 

THE SCENE

Proteus launches into this speech and scene with a somersaulting rhythm

1            Already have I been false to Valentine

Significantly, the first four syllables, ‘Already have’ are all included in the first foot of the line, normally two beats and not infrequently three.  But four is strange.  The first syllable is an upbeat, the next three form a triplet.  This propels the thought directly into ‘false’ and ‘Valentine’ with unique energy.

Now this scene is all about the music, featuring the Big Song and only song of the play, ‘Who is Silvia?’ So we’re going to trace all its lines that discuss it.

PROTEUS…             And give some evening music to her ear.

[Enter THURIO and Musicians]

THURIO            How now, Sir Proteus, are you crept before us?

PROTEUS            Ay, gentle Thurio: for you know that love

20            Will creep in service where it cannot go.

THURIO            Ay, but I hope, sir, that you love not here.

PROTEUS            Sir, but I do; or else I would be hence.

THURIO            Who? Silvia?

PROTEUS                              Ay, Silvia; for your sake.

THURIO            I thank you for your own. Now, gentlemen,

25            Let’s tune, and to it lustily awhile.

[Enter, at a distance, Host, and JULIA in boy’s clothes]

Host            Now, my young guest, methinks you’re allycholly: I

27            pray you, why is it?

JULIA            Marry, mine host, because I cannot be merry.

Host            Come, we’ll have you merry: I’ll bring you where

30            you shall hear music and see the gentleman that you asked for.

JULIA            But shall I hear him speak?

Host            Ay, that you shall.

JULIA            That will be music.

[Music plays]

Host            Hark, hark!

JULIA            Is he among these?

Host            Ay: but, peace! let’s hear ’em.

SONG.

38            Who is Silvia? what is she,

That all our swains commend her?

Holy, fair and wise is she;

The heaven such grace did lend her,

That she might admired be.

43            Is she kind as she is fair?

For beauty lives with kindness.

Love doth to her eyes repair,

To help him of his blindness,

And, being help’d, inhabits there.

48            Then to Silvia let us sing,

That Silvia is excelling;

She excels each mortal thing

Upon the dull earth dwelling:

To her let us garlands bring.

Host            How now! are you sadder than you were before? How

54            do you, man? the music likes you not.

JULIA            You mistake; the musician likes me not.

Host            Why, my pretty youth?

JULIA            He plays false, father.

Host            How? out of tune on the strings?

JULIA            Not so; but yet so false that he grieves my very

60            heart-strings.

Host            You have a quick ear.

JULIA            Ay, I would I were deaf; it makes me have a slow heart.

Host            I perceive you delight not in music.

JULIA            Not a whit, when it jars so.

Host            Hark, what fine change is in the music!

JULIA            Ay, that change is the spite.

Host            You would have them always play but one thing?

JULIA            I would always have one play but one thing.

[Exeunt THURIO and Musicians]

[Enter SILVIA above]

PROTEUS

82            Madam, good even to your ladyship.

SILVIA            I thank you for your music, gentlemen.

Once again, as in earlier with Lucetta and Julia, when he really gets going with the metaphor he doesn’t hold back.  It’s pretty extensive, buttressing the song with lots of discussion of music, and ensuring that the song is a real event between the characters.  Recordings of this may sound sweet, and some are rather beautiful as it’s set a great deal.  However, my gut tells me this is time for a funny scene, and there are various ways a company might achieve that delightfully.

The Host’s ‘Hark what fine change is in the music’ is a vague thing to say.  ‘Change’ probably meant musical variability or even fickleness or quickness – regardless, it probably carried more specificity than the word would connote today, but done now, its vagueness could be a comically polite cover today for its very poor musical qualities.

My gut also tells me that the last two lines from this selection, the brief discussion of playing ‘one thing,’ probably means a lot of different things.  There is a musical meaning, there is also the meaning of her character playing two sexes, even the likelihood of the Host being double cast.  There is, no doubt, a sexual meaning as well.

These added lines relating to the music are padding this play’s percentage of having a noticeable number of lines related to music, proportionally speaking.

Some little things:

The shared line:

SILVIA                        What’s your will?

PROTEUS                                         That I may compass yours.

Can really propel the scene into the next beat if observed.  What’s more, Proteus and Silvia just have both had half-lines that weren’t shared.  There is a bit of business that can warrant those pauses.  In other words, stop/start energy gives way to people who suddenly have the courage to tell each other what they think and feel.

This is a fabulous example of a trochaic line really helping the thought, and coming at the very end of the speech (‘Even for this time…’):

SILVIA                        I am so far from granting thy request

99            That I despise thee for thy wrongful suit,

100            And by and by intend to chide myself

101             Even for this time I spend in talking to thee.

BB

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