Arts: History Repeats Itself at the RSC; Director Michael Attenborough Talks to Terry Grimley about the Abiding Fascination of Shakespeare's History Plays

By Grimley, Terry | The Birmingham Post (England), June 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

Arts: History Repeats Itself at the RSC; Director Michael Attenborough Talks to Terry Grimley about the Abiding Fascination of Shakespeare's History Plays


Grimley, Terry, The Birmingham Post (England)


Cynics used to say that when the Royal Shakespeare Company was in trouble at the box office it was time to roll out another cycle of the history plays.

But the current two-year cycle, This England - the most extensive it has ever undertaken - comes at a time when the company is in rude health. The general consensus is that the RSC is in excellent artistic form, audience figures in Stratford are good, and company morale is almost ostentatiously high.

The first two instalments of This England, Richard II directed by Steven Pimlott at The Other Place and Henry IV, Part I directed by Michael Attenborough at The Swan, have both been well received by critics and audiences, and Part 2 of Henry IV is unveiled on Thursday.

These first two productions have been quite different in style, but then, as Michael Attenborough pointed out to me during a break in rehearsals, so are the plays themselves. The stylistic inconsistencies are not surprising, given that Shakespeare did not write them in chronological order.

'We found that, unlike The Wars of the Roses and The Plantagenets, they don't lend themselves to a massive, all-enveloping style,' said Attenborough.

'Comparing Richard II and Henry IV, you have the first one entirely in verse and the second in a language which becomes much more tainted and earthy, constantly moving back and forth between the court and pubs and streets.

'I think they're very, very different plays, and the moment we decided to do them in different auditoriums, with a white box in The Other Place, it was inevitable that they would be very different in style.

'Then you have to relate that to Henry V on the main stage, so you have this slightly paradoxical thing that the actors carry through but the style doesn't. But I think the actors would say that so far it has caused them very little problem.'

A few months ago another director was talking to me about his perception of a cycle of fashion in Shakespeare's plays, citing Troilus and Cressida as an example of a play which had come in from the cold in recent years and the histories as examples of plays which had moved in the other direction.

Michael Attenborough, however, is sceptical about this argument. He came to the RSC as a new writing specialist, and has directed such notable Stratford premieres as Peter Whelan's The Herbal Bed and David Edgar's Pentecost. But he has now directed four Shakespeare plays in succession and, just turned 50, feels he has discovered him all over again.

'I think on the whole Shakespeare's plays are not subject to fashion,' he said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Arts: History Repeats Itself at the RSC; Director Michael Attenborough Talks to Terry Grimley about the Abiding Fascination of Shakespeare's History Plays
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.