Friday, August 19, 2011

"Under the Counterfeited Zeal for God.. ."

We saw Henry IV Part 2 last night.  It was a performance filmed at the Globe Theater in London - an authentic replica, according to the introductory film, of the first Globe Theater.  This is the theater that Shakespeare wrote for and the people quoted in the film - actors, directors, stage designers - all agreed that the 600 members of the audience who stand during the whole performance change the experience of the actor radically.  (Another 900 or so sit in boxes.) The fact that they perform in natural light means the audience is very visible.  Someone even said they are performers in the play.  And as I watched the movie my eye wandered to the audience from the actors in the beginning, but not at the end.  (I wonder if they had fewer shots of the audience at the end.)

This was rather like the movie theater showings of the Metropolitan Opera - with higher ticket prices and an audience that is probably not your average audience.  No cell phones went off, but the smell of garlic and jalapenos interrupted the performance for me.  I imagine in Shakespeare's time, people ate during a three hour performance like this so I get over it.  (OK, I'm over it.)

Technically, I was occasionally distracted by a dip in the volume as, I'm guessing, the actor moved from one microphone to another.

Oh yes, then there was Shakespeare's play itself.  Even with the introductory film, it was hard to keep track of all the characters and, at times, to track the meaning of the words.  But a couple themes jumped out at me near the end, reminding me that underneath our modern veneer, we are just humans who aren't much different from humans long ago.

"We are time's subjects, and time bids be gone."

. . . it is the time,
And not the king, that doth you injuries.
This debate lingers today.  Is Obama doing injuries?  Or is it the time?

And using one's devotion to God for earthly gains is nothing new.  Below, Lancaster speaks to the Archbishop of York:
Who hath not heard it spoken
How deep you were within the books of God?
To us the speaker in his parliament;
To us the imagined voice of God himself;
The very opener and intelligencer
Between the grace, the sanctities of heaven
And our dull workings. O, who shall believe
But you misuse the reverence of your place,
Employ the countenance and grace of heaven,
As a false favourite doth his prince's name,
In deeds dishonourable? You have ta'en up,
Under the counterfeited zeal of God,
The subjects of his substitute, my father,
And both against the peace of heaven and him
Have here up-swarm'd them.

1 comment:

  1. That was something that bothered me in a parochial school-- I felt like religion was a form of witch craft that they tried to make look OK, so long as their version of a marketed Jesus was a partner in it. I spoke to the pastor in private so as not to embarrass him and he spoke to me of not accepting with my heart what he was sharing, but that I was instead breaking it down with my mind. A few weeks later he started slamming Mormons who, while their theology was silly to me, they seemed genuine. My mom got me out of the school.


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