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Dear friends and readers,

This is another don't miss it!  My third in a row.

Last night Jim, I, and Isobel enjoyed the real privilege of seeing a the WSC's new production, Schiller's Mary Stuart. Adapted by Peter Oswald, Schiller's Mary Stuart opened "to great acclaim" in London in 2005, where it moved from the Donmar Warehouse to the West End and then in NYC to Broadway.  Performed with remarkably few gimmicks, the remarkable acting and script comment on politics today and just rivet you with the rivalry of the women -- and just as much the male courtiers and (vulnerable) flunkies all around them.  As they are doing it with their presentation of Richard III (this one maybe over-directed by contrast) as a parable about politicians, it seems they are having a season which connects indirectly to politics today.

What's remarkable is with how much respect they treat both Elizabeth and Mary Queens of Scots. This is no harpy v harpy production but two women fighting for respect, life, meaning. A third, Mary's servant, Hannah, is not neglected either. .  In Richard III, Mundy Spears as Lady Anne and Karen Novack as Elizabeth Tudor were similarly powerful effective. The function of these numinous "star" women is significant, even if male critics avoid noticing this or mock it -- some London critic's tone was often semi-derisory (they make money for their snarkiness and evidence a nasty nstinct to dismiss what they saw was at work).

Our local critic of Hovdn's production -- strong praise -- treated the play and production with insight.  Elizabeth was played as unnerved.

Heather Hanley as Mary Stuart

Sara Barker as Elizabeth the all powerful

Small steps forward.

In the London production Janet McTeer played Mary

and Harriet Walter, Elizabeth: 

Unfortunately I also have no close-up pictures of Sara Barker as Elizabeth and there are an overabundance of shots of McTeer too -- which suggests we still favor Elizabeth (despite the Kate Blanchett and Helen Mirren movies, the latter of which made Elizabeth a sentimental heroine).  Nonetheless, Elizabeth is presented as a real person, not a monstrous fiend, nor crazed frustrated Machiavel (as she is by Sophia Lee, then Walter Scott and perhaps Schiller too). At the WSC company, Sara Barker had the hard role of somehow emoting intense feeling without showing it too strongly -- as did Joe Brack as Leicester. They were all up to it Virtuouso performances from young actors.



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
London production
I actually ummed and ahhed about going to the London performance, but ultimately decided against it on the coals to Newcastle principle, but now you rather make me wish I had:( I seem to remember going to a Donmar Ibsen play instead.

I obviously don't know the accents the new English adaptation sets, but Schiller's original privileges Mary Stuart and has lastingly influenced the Germans' impression of Elizabeth as a baddy.


Dec. 8th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Arlington director: Colin Hovde
The production I saw _did_ not make Elizabeth a baddy at all.

It showed her caught up in political necessity and surrounded by people egoistic and hypocritical.

It gave both women real sympathy,
Dec. 8th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
Schiller's text
Thanks for the review. Here's a text that gives you some idea of the how weighted Schiller's actual play is in its overall sympathy for Mary and how ruthless and unappealing Elizabeth seems in comparison:


Dec. 12th, 2010 12:51 pm (UTC)
The dramaturgy of the production
An interesting blog, Izzy.


I've now been told that the Don Carlos we saw is not only a Schiller inspired opera, but stems from a French historical novel.

Dec. 12th, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Mary the movie
Did you ever see the movie with Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave? I loved it when it came out and I think that was before I saw Schiller's play (as a college student, probably in 1971). Certainly there was a strong contrast between Mary, the single-minded passionate idealist, and Elizabeth always thinking three different thoughts at once--sensibility and sense, I guess. Jackson had played her in a miniseries (which I hadn't seen) and she was so completely THERE that she was not unsympathetic, yet Mary's situation and actions were such that even Elizabeth had to sympathize with her. Maybe that's why I didn't pay much attention to either the Mirren or Blanchett Elizabeths. I would watch a bit on TV, and then, much as I admire these actresses, shrug my shoulders.
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jacksonmovie
I've not seen that movie but will look it up on Netflix. I did watch Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth in the TV mini-series, but was too young to watch it with any awareness. Ellen
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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