You taught me language and my profit on’t/ Is, I know how to curse. – TEMPEST, I ii

Must go dig out the extra-large thermos. The debate is settled, the sweaters are out, and in the morning, bright and early (though not so early as it could be thanks to the outmoded but welcome tweaks of Daylight Savings), I’ll be teaching a Dealing with Verse in Shakespeare workshop to a bunch of unsuspecting actors. I’m looking forward to it, in part because I love the opportunity to practice my brand of geek evangelism. But like all evangelists, I’ll be in danger of crossing over into zealot territory, try as I might to rein it in.

I am in many ways a terrible, cruel, unfeeling person when it comes to The Good Of The Show; my concern for the emotions and often the needs of others and self almost always comes after TGOTS (or what I diagnose as falling into that category) which sits poorly with my non-confrontational tendencies and my deeply held but spottily obeyed belief that nothing is so important as to really freak out about it. One of these days I’ll figure out how to surf the balance between wielding a Buddhist’s calm and a nun’s knuckle ruler. Probably. Maybe. Back to Stoppard:

          Guildenstern: Do I contradict myself?

          Rosencrantz: I can’t remember.

It happens onstage sometimes, this balance, but less frequently off it. Which is why actors behave the way they do offstage, I expect (insert cocktail emoji), as well as why Chazz Palminteri shot Jennifer Tilly, though I’ve never taken it that far except in my mind. At least once a production, but still.

But since I’ve been digging through Richard II, living with my contradictions is a little less tricky…

          …For no thought is contented. The better sort,

          As thoughts of things Divine, are intermixt

          With scruples, and do set the word it selfe

          Against the word, as thus: ‘Come litle ones’: & then again,

          ‘It is as hard to come, as for a Camell

          To thred the posterne of a Needle’s eye’.

Except that’s not what the Folio says, now that I think of it, what with the “Don’t Say The Name of Our Lord Or Anything Too Sacrilegious On Stage You Repulsive Little Actors”  Puritan Bullshit Act of 1606 making it illegal to say “the word” in the context of “Bible stuff”. No, unlike the 1597 Quarto, the 1623 Folio says, with my emphasis,

         …and do set the Faith it selfe

          Against the Faith: as thus: Come litle ones…

Which someone felt was better (?). Odd that what may be the two most famous lines from Richard II, this and “For [God’s? Heaven’s?] sake let us sit upon the ground…”, are both affected by this.

Also the punctuation’s a little different, as if to remind me to go lightly on the Folio Zealotry mentioned above since the Folio is every bit as inconsistent as the Bible Richard of Bordeaux is musing on about.

Also, Shakespeare’s use of antithesis will figure into the workshop prominently, so the old actor chestnut of setting the word itself against the word is every bit as likely to come up as suiting the action to the word, the word to the action, so .

Also Richard is murderèd about five minutes later, assuming the pace of the Visiting Groom section doesn’t get too melodramatic. So maybe I’m taking the wrong lesson away from here altogether.

Now, where is that thermos?

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