Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Clowns: An Irreverent and Magical Brazilian Version of Richard III

Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Clowns: An Irreverent and Magical Brazilian Version of Richard III

Article excerpt

Shakespeare's Clowns: An irreverent and magical Brazilian version of Richard III

Richard III. Dir. Gabriel Villela. Blanes Museum Garden, Montevideo, Uruguay.

Reviewed by Verónica D'Auria

Shakespeare's Clowns: An irreverent and magical Brazilian version of Richard III

The choice of Richard III by the company who call themselves "Shakespeare's Clowns" and the Brazilian director Gabriel Villela had to meet several challenges. In the first place there are 52 characters in the tragedy (there is a self-referential joke about this fact) played by only 8 actors. Secondly, the artists had to be very resourceful since they had to combine clowning with serious or tragic acting as well as sing and play several musical instruments at the same time. The performance in Uruguay, which was part of the celebrations of "Montevideo Latin-American Capital of Culture 2013", was given in Spanish, which implied an extra effort for the director and the cast. This company of itinerant players included many typical funeral songs from the Northeast of Brazil (called "incelenÇas") and rock classics as part of their repertoire, setting the melancholy or dramatic tone of most of the scenes.

From the beginning Richard was portrayed as a hog, with a pig's mask which he later removed, making obscene gestures and grunting. The scene of the seduction of Lady Anne (a male actor with two balloons used as breasts) was entirely comical and irreverent, with a rather heavy and lascivious Gloucester carrying an umbrella in a sequence that seemed to be stripped out of its dramatic grandeur and fit for popular or street theatre. Most secondary characters were played by the same actors, who removed wigs or put on top hats onstage, but the impossibility of following all the details of the plot did not prevent its understanding.

Some minor parts, such as the murderers' or Tyrrell's, took on greater importance as their own role and their greed -regardless of Richard's cruelty or ambition- are also of paramount importance. Tyrrell (who also played the Duchess of York in an unbecoming red evening gown) was characterized by his moustache (which he kept while playing the Duchess, a feature that was commented jokingly during the play) and his mirrored aviator glasses, a trait immediately recognizable by a Latin-American audience as distinctive of the repressors of their former dictatorships. …

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