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This is a telling realization, as my "comedy is hard" tag gets frequent use.

Anyway, has anyone else read this article from 2014?

Shakespeare's Bloody Problem: Why the Tragedies Almost Never Work Anymore

Here's the central argument:

I can’t help noticing, as I watch them through splayed fingers, how all four [plays] are structured. In their first halves, Shakespeare dramatizes the intersection of intimate relations and political power, employing the most imaginative theatrical poetry ever written to knit the complexities together. But having climbed these wonderful stairways of insight, they then take a slide down Bloodbath Mountain. All the marvelous thickness of family intrigue in Lear and Hamlet, all the madness of marital love in Macbeth, all the knottiness of psychopathology in Richard [III] seem to dissipate around the middle of Act Three, replaced by swordplay, death skits, war scenes, howling, eye-gouging, head-­severing, and pageants of frenzied murderousness. It’s almost as if Shakespeare didn’t trust his audience, or the part of it standing in the yard with oranges, to hang around for the second half unless he threw them a bone or ten. Of course, there’s still high-class poetry scattered amid the Grand Guignol for the groundlings, some of it as beautiful as ever. But it now floats free from the binding of story, like marooned islands of fat in a broken mayonnaise.

I'm trying to decide what I think about it: it's true that I've often felt that the second half of a performance of one of the tragedies doesn't live up to the first half, but I feel that way during a lot of performances of the comedies, too. (Intermission is a hard thing to come back from.) I don't know that it's specifically because of the violence - although I do often feel as though the violence is staged to no particular purpose or design; it's often just sort of…there.

Anyone else have any thoughts?
From Pepys' diary:

I went away […] to my Lord’s lodgings, where my brother Tom and Dr. Thomas Pepys were to speak with me. So I walked with them in the garden, and was very angry with them both for their going out of town without my knowledge; but they told me the business, which was to see a gentlewoman for a wife for Tom, of Mr. Cooke’s providing, worth 500l., of good education, her name Hobell, and lives near Banbury, demands 40l. per annum joynter. Tom likes her, and, they say, had a very good reception, and that Cooke hath been very serviceable therein, and that she is committed to old Mr. Young, of the Wardrobe’s, tuition.

Good lord, for alliance!
26 August 2015 @ 07:51 pm

On the one hand, David Dawson - very good.

On the other hand…this trailer is strikingly incoherent about exactly when this show is supposed to take place (beyond the dark, cool-paletted, what-is-color? Middle Ages, of course), or what exactly is going on besides "battles, lots of." Also, somewhat perversely perhaps, I would like someone to decide that just because they have the budget to spend a lot of time on battle scenes, that doesn't mean that they have to. I'd kind of like someone to tell a story like this (whatever story this is; I'll get back to you once I've looked at something other than this information-free trailer) solely through scenes of intrigue and planning, and worried hushed whispers from the women who have just as much at stake even if they aren't the ones wielding the swords - just to show all the stuff you're freed up to spend time on when you aren't choreographing and shooting yet another battle sequence. And I'd like the trailer to suggest that women have some other purpose besides sex and being menaced, but let's not ask for the moon, I guess.
19 August 2015 @ 11:40 pm
I saw some pictures from Sleepy Hollow filming and Tom Mison seemed to be in costume but wasn't wearing the ponytail wig. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself if a) Ichabod Crane got a haircut; and b) it is not the subject of at least one conversation onscreen between Abbie and Ichabod.

(He is also wearing tennis shoes, so I can't tell if he's just doing a run-through for blocking or something, or if they just don't plan on filming his feet…)
19 August 2015 @ 11:17 pm
…you are excited by the fact that the opening voiceover in this trailer (which is set in 17th-century New England) forms its first question - "What came we to this wilderness to find?" - without the use of auxiliary 'do'.

The Witch Trailer and Poster: 1630s New England Was a Scary Place

This is because, as stated above, I am a ridiculous human. But that kind of thing is so rare in movies!

(Auxiliary 'do' involves the use of the verb "to do" as an auxiliary rather than a main verb: he did go, where go is the main verb, as opposed to he did the dishes. In Present Day English, we have to use auxiliary 'do' to form most questions and negative statements: Did he go to the store?; he did not go to the store. In Early Modern English, auxiliary 'do' is in use but not required: you could also say Went he to the fields this day? or he went not to the fields.)
18 August 2015 @ 12:19 pm
Came to this via Linda Holmes on Twitter, as she's the one who used the phrase "splatter murder" quoted in the piece:

Everything about this article makes me tired. "Oh, our show has graphic violence but it's necessary, because that's the story we're telling." (Well…can we stop telling that story? Seriously, could we maybe just stop with the stories about murderers we're supposed to 'root for' for a while? If Shakespeare couldn't make me like it, you are certainly not going to.*) "Oh, this isn't misogynist violence, because we're women, and there will totally be male victims. I mean, if trends hold, the male victims won't be sexualized while they're murdered, unlike the female victim who is literally murdered while performing oral sex, and we clearly thought that killing a woman first was the way to get everyone's attention and show we mean business, but nope, no misogyny here!" Ugh.

And why does murder always have to be the hook, anyway? Why couldn't this show be about the rock-and-roll culture of the '80s without being about "Bonnie and Clyde-esque serial killers"? That might actually have been something new and different to watch. But no, because a show without murder just isn't worth doing, apparently. I feel like we have reached a point where murder is just the quickest way to make the case that your show is really about something, that it's serious and important and dark and gritty, and everything that's supposed to make for highbrow entertainment these days. Either that, or it's an easy plot device for neatly compartmentalized, episodic shows, the victim's corpse just something for detectives to exchange banter over, to fill out forty-five minutes without requiring the audience to have to care about something from week to week.

*This comment was about Richard III (longtime readers know that I am just spectacularly uninterested in villains), but in context here it also reminds me of the little debate about Macbeth tucked into season 2 of Slings & Arrows - where Geoffrey says that the play teaches us about evil, and Nahum counters that no, it only shows us evil (and, he implies, what's the point of showing that, when we all know it exists?). I think Macbeth does more than that - though only if you direct it properly; it can totally turn into "splatter murder" if you're not careful - but I always think of that debate, because it's such an important question to ask. Are you actually saying something about murder and evil? Or are you just showing it?
I love everything about this piece, especially Linda Holmes' usual way of taking what many would dismiss as an offhand comment and responding to it thoughtfully:


But descriptions like this one are wonderful, too:

FX is a relatively new player in the history of scripted TV, given that they only started developing shows 15 years ago. But they're a legacy outlet when you compare them to the short-pants whiz-bang upstarts at Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, and they long ago established the critical credibility that's only recently arrived at, for instance, Lifetime with its excellent summer drama UnREAL. If prestige in television is your currency, FX is already old money. Maybe not relatives-on-the-Mayflower money, but certainly, say, steel money rather than tech money.

*giggle* I love "short-pants whiz-bang upstarts."
31 July 2015 @ 01:16 pm
‘Little Women’ Series Produced By Michael Weatherly In Development At CW

(LJ keeps blocking the post because the article is from Deadline dot com, so I removed that bit of the URL.)

"Written by Jolly, Little Women is described as a hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, in which disparate half-sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy band together in order to survive the dystopic streets of Philadelphia and unravel a conspiracy that stretches far beyond anything they have ever imagined – all while trying not to kill each other in the process."






(Note: this is not the same Little Women modern adaptation that I posted about before here:
That one gets mentioned at the end of this article, but it's not clear what its status is.)