Shakespeare's Staging
Richard II
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Richard II: Royal Shakespeare Company, May 1987. Richard II: Jeremy Irons; Director: Barry Kyle; Designer: William Dudley; Photographer: Janet Arnold. Courtesy AHDS.

STAGING KING RICHARD II

This play is accepted as the first in a planned series of four, including the two parts of Henry IV and Henry V, though it never had the visibility that these succcessors won as a result of their exploitation of the comic effect of Falstaff and his associates. It is also considered to reflect Shakespeare's decision to examine the political antecedents to his first tetralogy, Henry VI-Richard III, which begins with Henry V's funeral. Though his emotional role is often seen as anticipating Hamlet, Richard's fluency is usually shown to be overshadowed by the political dexterity of the usurper Henry Bolingbroke: the play's impact depends primarily on their interaction as representatives of traditional medieval attitudes to kingship and more "modern" ones respectively. Current interpretations usually favor the cynical mastery of Henry at the expense of the more sentimental Richard, but Richard's historical sophistication is often reflected in highly ornamental staging of the ambience of his court which is reinforced by the predominant versification of the script, compared to the increasing prose of the play's successors. Whatever modern literary critics may assert, historically Henry IV's reign was pretty much of a disaster, and read carefully it is clear that it appears so in the two parts of Henry IV, with their endless tumults, which may encourage directors not to slant the earlier script too much in Bolingbroke's favor.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Berger, Harry, Jr. "Richard II 3.2: An Exercise in Imaginary Audition." ELH 55 (1988): 755-96.

Berger, Harry, Jr. "Textual Dramaturgy: Representing the Limits of Theatre in Richard II." Theatre Journal 39 (1987): 135-55.

Bordinat, Philip. "The Death of Tragedy in Richard II:  John Barton's Epic Theatre Production at Stratford-upon-Avon." In Selected Papers from the West Virginia Shakespeare & Renaissance Association,edited by Sophia Blaydes and Philip Bordinat, 26-36. Morgantown: West Virginia University Foundation, 1976.

Brantley, Ben."This Star of England, in Person." [London productions of R2,H5, Cor.] Arts & Leisure, 1,5. New York Times, 2/2/14.

Collins, David G. "The Three Faces of Richard II: New Light from Stratford, Ontario (1979)." Publications of the Missouri Philological Association 5 (1980): 31-38.

Gilbert, Miriam. "Richard II at Stratford: Role-Playing as Metaphor." In Shakespeare: The Theatrical Dimension, edited by Philip McGuire and David A. Samuelson, 84-101. New York: AMS Press, 1979.

Hakola, Lisa. In One Person Many People: The Image of the King in Three RSC Productions of William Shakespeare's King Richard II. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1988.

Johnson, Odai. "Empty Houses: The Suppression of Tate's Richard II." Theatre Journal 47, no. 4 (December 1995): 503-16.

Jones, Maria. "'Bifold authority' in Deborah Warner's Richard II." Shakespeare Bulletin 15, no. 1 (1997): 28-30.

Loney, Glenn. "The Royal Shakespeare Richard II." In Staging Shakespeare: Seminars on Production Problems, edited by Glenn Loney, 19-54. New York; London: Garland, 1990.

Mnouchkine, Ariane, trans. Richard II. Paris: Solin, 1983.

Mullin, Michael. "An Invitation to Richard II." In The Shakespeare Plays: A Study Guide, 74-100. San Diego: University of California, San Diego, 1978.

Newlin, Jeanne T., ed. Richard II: Critical Essays. New York; London: Garland, 1984.

O'Brien, Timothy. "Designing a Shakespeare Play: Richard II." Shakespeare-Jahrbuch (Bochum) 110 (1974): 111-20.

Page, Malcolm. Richard II: Text and Performance. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1987.

Potter, Lois. "The Second Tetralogy: Performance as Interpretation." In A Companion to Shakespeare's Works, Volume II: The Histories, edited by Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.

Richmond, H. M. Shakespeare's Political Plays. New York: Random House, 1967.

Royce, Jacalyn. "Richard II." Review of Richard II, Oregon Shakespeare. Shakespeare Bulletin 21, no. 3 (Fall 2003): 94-6.

Shewring, Margaret. Richard II. Shakespeare in Performance. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000.

Sporre, Dennis J. "Charles Kean's Antiquarianism: The Designs for Richard II, 1857." In Historical Drama, edited by James Redmond, 93-111. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Stredder, James. "John Barton's Production of Richard II at Stratford-on-Avon, 1973." Shakespeare-Jahrbuch (Bochum) 112 (1976): 23-42.

Richard II at Talkin' Broadway.

Viator, Timothy J. "Nahum Tate's Richard II." Theatre Notebook 42 (1988): 109-117.

Wilson, M. Glen. "Charles Kean's Production of Richard II." Theatre Journal 19 (1967): 41-51.

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