Reason #2: The Speeches. (It is a Shakespeare course after all), but everything from, “Now is the winter of our discontent,” to “The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.” From “Where eagles dare,” to “My horse, my horse…” Richard’s ruthless, blood thirsty cries and whispers are relished. My favorite being, “Since I cannot prove a lover, I am determined to prove a villain,” which to me sheds early light two-hundred and fifty years later on 19th century literature’s premiere villain: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov who ponders, in an unjust society, the only true form of survival is to become a criminal.
Reason #3: All the great actors have portrayed him. There’s Lawrence Olivier, who's ashes are buried in Westminster across from the Shakespeare statue in Poet’s Corner, to modern day Kenneth Branagh. But it’s the latest addition, the World War II Nazi motif Richard III starring Ian McKellan. That movie is a powerhouse! It blows kid’s minds. The jazz music and the costumes and tanks rolling through walls. Certainly, it makes the story come alive again.
But I also have students perform Shakespeare parodies, which this blog has outlined numerous times. Still, I’ve yet to do a Richard III. I suppose, the right student just hasn’t come along yet to play him. Here in Asia that's not easy. I forced Macbeth on the most popular kid in class because I wanted him to see he could be more than just a dumb jock. But he turned out to be a worthless twit, cursing me and sabotaging our production. I forced Caesar on another, a thoughtful boy who wanted desperately to win the Spelling Bee and the Speech Contest, but he threw a fit before the show and I basically had to dress him and push his sullen, tantrum throwing butt on stage.
Makes you question what other accepted truths are really just bunk. The bones were found two feet underground… what else is lurking just under the surface for us to scratch up and find. What, if any, could change the world?