Student Comments on attending The Globe Theater production of Shakespeare's Richard III at the Belasco Theater on Broadway, October 30, 2013
So it was Wednesday, and there you were holding a decently-priced ticket that entitled you to be an audience member at the Belasco Theatre in the greatest city in the world. What was on that night? Richard III. A classic of course, but you started to ask yourself, why am I seeing this again? You have probably read the play about six times throughout high school and college. Then, as you walked up out of the subway station in Times Square, those bright lights smacked you in the face and you were lost immediately. You bumped into tourists, men dressed as Spiderman, even watched policemen on horses stroll by before you got anywhere near the theatre. Then you see those bright lights that read, BELASCO. The excitement is boiling up, but then your eyes fall on this massive line outside of the theatre. For a minute you believe this might be the wrong place—how could there be such a line? But indeed, the play attracted folks from every facet of life: students, the elderly, middle-aged, even teenaged love birds were seen in some of the theatre’s tight seating.
Overall, I would highly recommend this play to people from all reaches of life. It’s a special play, something that will be performed for years and years to come. This cast, this city, and this wonderful cozy theatre should be enough reason for you to come see the play, but if that isn’t enough, then the roasted peanuts they were selling on the corner should at least yet your attention!
Richard is the villain. That is what William Shakespeare wanted his audience to think about this character. He not only had Richard kill his own brothers, who respected and loved him, but also made him do so happily, without denying it even to his own mother. He ordered the death of his young nephews, even though they posed no real threat to him. There is no question that Richard is the villain; the real question is what kind of villain you feel he is. He could be the monster, the anti-hero, the dastardly schemer, or the lovable sociopath.
I found that watching Richard III helped me understand the flexibility and freedom that comes with directing a play. By experimenting with the different directions that are appropriate for the storyline, it is interesting to observe the several different meanings that can come from one simple line- all which derive from the character's expression, inflection, and setting. This being said, the theater is truly a personal experience, as some audience members will relate to certain characters and scenarios solely based on the connection between their own lives and the way the director chose to portray the scene and/or person. For this reason, the theater serves as an escape from the classroom, our jobs, and our everyday lives into a fictional situation that can add meaning and inspiration to our real lives.
- Kara Shields
Reading a play (especially Shakespeare) is great, but seeing it acted out is taking it one level higher. Not only do you get to see the interactions between characters (which brings more depth and realism than words on a page ever could), but a play like Hamlet or Richard III could be presented in an infinite number of ways. When I came out of the production of Richard III we watched, I couldn't help but think "well, what if the director chose to present the play as sad as possible?" or in any other x amount of different ways that lines could have been carried out or different music could have been played or physical movements could have been executed. Seeing this one particular performance just makes me go "ah, so that's what you think Shakespeare was saying". Maybe this is obvious! But it's certainly new stuff for me.
- Eva Li
By going and seeing Richard III I was able to understand the emotional factors that drive the plot a lot better. By reading the play I was able to understand the political machinations that were going on and how the various characters were plotting and planning to outdo one another. When reading the play, however, it is very difficult to keep track of the characters and which characters are related and in what way. Seeing Richard III performed live gave me a much better understanding of relationships and the emotions shared by the characters. Instead of Richard being cursed by the Duchess of York it becomes Richard being cursed by his own mother. Richard's betrayals and scheming seem much more villainous and malicious when you remember that he is betraying family members and lifelong friends.
I learned that acting is about a lot more than memorizing the lines and working on timing, delivery etc. In a live performance an actor must have a free-flowing relationship with the other actors on stage that makes the performance seem more natural. Every performance will be a little different and every audience will react (more or less) a little bit differently and the actor must be able to take these slight variations in stride and adapt while staying in character. The actor's thought process has to be, "how would this character react to this situation?" instead of "what should I do in this situation?".
- Andrew Morse
I've never seen a Shakespeare performance prior to this, and it was certainly interesting to juxtapose this kind of performance to contemporary ones I've seen on Broadway. I am used to seeing cute performances like Mamma Mia, or Wicked- so this definitely took me out of that element and immersed me in a real Shakespearean experience-- a rather cultural experience. I learned that tragedy plays do not always have to be catastrophic and grievous. Instead they can be performed with a twist of comedy, as Richard III was.
It was interesting to see men playing women's roles, but I wasn't convinced fully that they were their true characters. I thought that over time, I would get used to seeing the men as women, and that they would strike me as women and that I would be so fully absorbed into the play that it would not occur to me otherwise. I still feel that this using men to play women was effective in the sense that it was being true to the Shakespearean theater experience.
- Jennah Shahid
After seeing the play I learned that acting involves taking a character and making it yours, and shaping the performance to match the actor's style and not necessarily in the same way the character was written or envisioned. I also learned that there weren't any dressing rooms in Shakespeare's days and that the actors dressed up on stage.
- Shahnt Aghbolaghi
What was most interesting about going to see the play was seeing scenes I had imagined in my mind enacted and interpreted differently by the actors. By going to see a play, you're forcing your mind to re-analyze characters you already know, and I think that this process helps students learn the play much better than simply sitting in class.
I also found it very interesting that we got to see the actors getting ready on stage before they actually performed. It enhanced the mood and it was definitely a different experience to reading the play. When you're reading, you create and imagine your own world, but at the theater, you have all the interpretations and scenes laid out before you.
- Natalie Cheung
I believe attending a play, such as Richard III, is almost essential in understanding the play. As a class, we would be able to read the play and gain an understanding for it. However, watching the play contributed to a better understanding of the specific play. In Richard III, we were able to see how the theater group portrayed his deformity and drew in the audience. Also, I was thoroughly surprised by the comedic elements of the play which I wouldn't be able to have seen through reading.
- Erando Halilaj
After seeing Richard III performed live I realized the importance of casting and the different direction one specific actor can have on the entire performance of a show. When reading plays, I often feel distanced from the characters since the only thing provided in the text is the dialogue. Unlike a novel where more information is given about the character whether through a matter of perspective or an author's narrative and one develops a sort of relationship with the characters, in plays, I often feel indifferent towards the characters. However in the performance of "Richard III," I found myself captured by the actors through their body language, tone, and diction. For example, in the case of Lord Buckingham, I had read the play paying little attention to the character who seemed to act more as a liaison rather than a strong character. However during the show I saw the crucial role he played in the ascension of Richard and noticed a sort of absence on the stage after he was killed.
- Jeffrey Meehan