Friday, May 2, 2008

Actors Performing Badly

Shakespeare's Soliloquies. Dir. Scott Mansfield. Perf. Not Worth Mentioning. 2001. DVD. Monterey Video, 2004.
In part, we know good Shakespearean acting by knowing bad.

Though it’s extremely painful, hearing a few minutes of the video listed above will make good acting more apparent. It’s a kind of a way to “by indirections find directions out.” And if you’re a Netflix subscriber, you can play it instantly to know instantly how insanely bad it is.

Brief let me be. The film is a collection of bad actors perfoming Shakespeare badly. I should have known with introductoy lines such as these:

The script for our lives has already been written . . . in the words of William Shakespeare . . . . And what wonderful words . . . . Webster defines “soliloquy” as . . . .

But what confirmed its incompatible badness is the utter flippancy of the script. To one actor’s intriguing announcement that, during this film, “. . . you’ll hear many phrases which have become an integral part of our daily conversation, he says the following:

I think I used one yesterday—“The first thing we do--let’s kill all the lawyers”—which I believe was originally from Henry IV, Part One. Used more recently by myself . . . a little irate . . . on the telephone.

He thinks he used one yesterday? He believes it from 1 Henry IV, does he? Preposterous!

The quote is from 2 Henry VI, not 1 Henry IV, first of all. Second of all, good grief.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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