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The Sweet Tea Shakespeare Hours Lunch Hours | Unpacking the History Plays with Wiley Basho Gorn (rebroadcast)

This week for Lunch Hours, we have a rebroadcast of a fan favorite episode. Claire interviews Wiley Basho Gorn about the politics in Shakespeare’s plays,  the color- and gender-conscious future of classical storytelling, and  why the term “history play” is a misnomer. We’ll be back to you with fresh Lunch Hours episodes next week!

Wiley Basho Gorn: http://www.wileybashogorn.com/

Contact us at hours@sweetteashakespeare.com

Make a monthly, sustaining pledge on Patreon to support the work of  Sweet Tea Shakespeare and its artists. We are a 501(c)3 charitable  organization.

Sweet Tea Shakespeare: Patreon: patreon.com/sweetteashakes 

The show is produced by Claire Martin and Jeremy Fiebig.

Our Director of Engagement is Ashanti Bennett. Jen Pommerenke also assisted with this episode.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sweetteashakes

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This project is supported by the Arts Council in part by  contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from  the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts  Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural  Resources.

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2

00:01:06
Hello out there. I’m Claire Martin it’s lunchtime hear at Sweet Tea Shakespeare grab a bite to eat and settle in for the Sweet Tea Shakespeare Lunch Hours enjoy. Hey Wiley
0

00:01:21
Hi. It’s Claire hello?
2

00:01:24
I love it. So good to see you.
0

00:01:26
So you do that was a great little intro music. Is that, is that like a copyright as Sweet Tea thing?
2

00:01:31
Yup. Our incredible composer O and M he wrote that for us and then there’s a little infographic that Plays and its, its a jam. I always dance. Yeah.
0

00:01:40
I love that. That was very, that was a great way in
2

00:01:44
It’s also and it will also play us out. So it won’t be the last time you hear it. Thank you so much for joining us today.
0

00:01:54
Of course. It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me
2

00:01:57
I’m so for anyone out there listening, thanks so much for being with us. My name is Claire Martin and I’m the assistant artistic director of Sweet Tea Shakespeare and I am just overjoyed to be joined today by my dear friend and colleague Wiley Gorn. So Wiley is a, he is a director, a dramaturg a text coach, a teaching artist and actor. He is, as we talked about in our cocktail hour, he is the, the, the full package, a multidisciplinary artist, a absolutely profound, a depth and breadth of knowledge when it comes to Shakespeare.
2

00:02:36
He specializes in heightened text and particularly in helping actors sort of connect emotionally to, to heightened text, which is such a powerful thing and so important in making Shakespeare sort of come alive for audiences and to really let the language like live in actors’ bodies. So I’ve known him for a couple of years now. I was fortunate enough to meet thanks. A brilliant mutual colleague Chevy Chung and yes, hello Chevy. We love you.
2

00:03:08
And Wiley a sort of Seattle based. So we’re close to each other in the Pacific Northwest and has worked with Seattle Shakespeare company with the upstart Crow collective, which is an all women and non-binary sh a classical theater company that’s based out of Seattle and the Oregon Shakespeare festival among other theaters. So today we’re going to chat, we’re gonna chat Shakespeare we are going to talk about text. We may even, we may even read some and mostly we are going to talk about sort of a shared passion that connects the two of us, which is Shakespeare is History Plays a, the genre that is perhaps kind of at least known in the common consciousness, but perhaps most applicable to the, the world in, especially the America that we’re living in today.
2

00:03:58
So yeah. Wiley thanks for, thanks for being here.
3

00:04:02
Yeah, this is, this is, this is great. That’s a great little setup, but we got, and I also just, I got to say, I really like the name Sweet Tea Shakespeare company. It’s really great. I went to school in North Carolina and I’m a big fan of Sweet Tea although its been a while since I’ve had what I would consider to be very like authentic North Carolina Sweet Tea it was always my roommate in school or are we would be, I remember one of the first times we met, I was at his place and he just had this huge picture in his, in his fridge that he was pouring from.
3

00:04:42
So I, yeah, that holds a very special place in my heart. So happy to be here.
2

00:04:47
I had forgotten, I had forgotten you went to undergrad in North Carolina.
3

00:04:51
I did, I did North Carolina school of VR it’s in Winston, Salem, North Carolina, home of the fighting pickles. That was our mascot. We were, yeah, we were very curious. Then you can look it up, fighting pickles. I am telling the truth. The mascot is a pickle that is wearing a, a Tutu that’s made at a piano keys and has a little mustache and a, a little goatee, a mask on a little floppy hat and uhm, in one hand it’s holding a, a, a film camera and then the other one is a paintbrush and its sort of got like a fencing position if we were the fighting pickles.
2

00:05:33
So what would we, would that be a Renaissance pickle?
3

00:05:37
I was a Renaissance pickle. When you were, were pickles of a thing. That’s got to be a thing in, in the Renaissance, right? Yeah.
2

00:05:46
I just think of everything is being pickled, including the people.
3

00:05:50
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. You really, at any form of water, you could probably pickle something then back then, but you had North Carolina is I hold a very, very special place in my heart of the that’s very connected to just to youth and creativity and yeah, it’s a good place and Sweet Tea reign Supreme.
2

00:06:18
Fantastic. Well we just, we just talked to Our with a friend of mine and Emily Garrison who is also had the Sweet Tea and I never have, and I was told that there is something very specific about the way it is. It is brewed and made its apparently I’ve taken very seriously.
3

00:06:35
There’s a simplicity to it that I really appreciate. It’s not too much it’s and like it can’t be too sweet it’s yeah. Right, right. I’ll be honest. I have no idea how to make it nor have I ever tried, but yeah, there’s a very, you gotta, you gotta be in the pocket with the Sweet Tea so it’s it’s special. It’s a real thing. Sweet team Cheerwine is another North Carolina thing I didn’t know about Cheerwine
2

00:07:02
Okay. Well I’m looking forward to experiencing all of these things. I’ll probably come in. I’ll probably tap you before I move and be like, what are all of the specific like cultural nuances I’m going to need to know it before I go there.
3

00:07:14
Are you going to be yet definitely asking someone whose not from North Carolina, what those cultural nuances are perfect now. Yeah, but but yeah. North Carolina, North Carolina school of the arts, how to a very foundational, I mean that was just where I think every artist can a trace to that, those, that watershed moment where you see a production are you get in a room with someone and the way that they approach the work kind of changes the way you experienced that you feel like you really grow as a, as a person and as an artist.
3

00:07:52
And I really associated a lot of North Carolina with that and all the residual growth that has happened in the seven, eight years since I left. I also think all of that is connected back to, to that institution and the, a, the groundwork they laid for for picking up new skills and developing new ideas and just a way to engage with the world.
2

00:08:21
That’s awesome. So do you have a watershed moment? And if so, what was it?
3

00:08:27
Well, I’ll never forget the first production that I ever saw at that school when I was just, I was 18 going down to visit, it was a production of Scapino this Italian comedy, but it was all done with red noses. It was, it was a red nose, clown Scapino and it was so it was so yeah, I just, didn’t never, I’d never experienced any show like that.
3

00:08:58
It was so specific to the world that it was in, it was in such a small little intimate space. It was so funny and it was just alive in a way that I was committed, unprepared for. Yeah. That was definitely the moment where I was like, Oh, this is the place I got to go. But then being there, I mean, it was The it was The the teachers that had amassed, the learning was a goal at that time through a lot of changes.
3

00:09:29
I really I’ve, I’ve been in touch with a few folks who are teachers, they are now, and it’s a really incredible institution. The climate, I got another call, sorry about that. This is what happens working off of fun. Yeah. But the, the, the app academic structure, the way they structured the education, it just really focused on it was all based on and our individual growth.
3

00:10:01
There’s a very clear progression to which point at which point in the training, do you start working on language at which point in the training? Okay. You started working on language met at which point do you start working on Shakespeare? There was a really, there was a great there’s just in the inherent growth, built into how they structured the work. So all the classes fed one into another and you realize that the way I throw a punch in stage combat is exactly the same as how I pursue an action in acting class or the like releasing myself in to some movement.
3

00:10:43
Improv is the same thing as the release of sound in a voice class. And that sort of collective understanding of, Oh my God, all these pieces are coming together in to this one thing. She is really a masterful way that the program was structured, but I’m still that I continue to discover and learn new things about my own education years out, which is very exciting. And that was definitely a, I mean, Shakespeare had always been a very big a part of my life and a big draw to theater, but that was the place where I really got to sort of sit down and be with the language and the Plays in a more, a structured way than I had before.
3

00:11:27
And that was really exciting. I think that shifted just my, a connection with the language, but also just where I, where I fit in on, on the chain of being within the spectrum of working with Shakespeare think we did a lot of great exercises about that. Elizabeth, then the cosmic of being everything, the entire universe is on this chain of being there is a love, there’s a wonderful exercise that we would do when we were all third.
3

00:12:03
You don’t work on Shakespeare really until your third year that’s when you spend this entire year developing this understanding and affinity for it that always begins with what do I personally connect to? And there’s a great exercise we did with our monologues were each assigned to different monologue and a knowing our characters and knowing givens are a teacher had us line up and place ourselves on the great chain of being as to where we believed we were.
3

00:12:34
So if you were a King, you are definitely at this part of the line, it may be you’re a Lord. And it looked goes to all the way down the line. And of course, if you’re a bastard, she was like, okay, go stand outside the room. That’s where you are up is great. And it was great. It was just a wonderful, a physical, visual representation of, of the, the impact of these, of these stories. Not just one of them. Yeah. That’s fantastic. So who were you, what was your monologue?
3

00:13:04
My monologue was from Richard. The second let’s talk of graves’ of worms and appetites. Yeah. Yeah. I, that was, that was my, and I was my first, I think I had seen Richard the second once or twice previously, but that was the first time I got, I spent some time with that play and that character and a completely acknowledged that I have no idea what that was at 21 or something working in that, but I tried to use my own personal experience to connect to it.
3

00:13:38
And I really, I love that speech very much. I love the, I love the, yeah, it’s so beautiful. And I love the, you know, that’s another speech that has great Natural stage directions of a, if you look on like, Oh, what can I, as an actor gain from the text, you look at what they are saying. Let’s set upon the ground, cover your heads. Yeah. Yeah. But I worked on Richard the second and that was in our voice class.
3

00:14:09
They, all of the Shakespeare work, went hand in hand with our voice work. So it, for a while now Shakespeare has been very connected in a, to two voice work for me. And when I say voice work, I mean self expression, because I do think that is what voice work is. I think the work that we do on our voices contributes to us being a more expansive and better people, as opposed to just better actors.
3

00:14:43
And, and that, that Shakespeare could be a tool for my own growth. And discovery was a really exciting thing to discover and something that I’ve tried just to keep alive in, in every time I work on one of those Plays
2

00:14:59
That’s marvelous. Well, I had this question for sort of saved tucked away for later in the conversation, but since you were sort of guiding us there already, I’ll ask right now. I mean, what, what roles in, in the works are you particularly drawn to whether it’s as an actor, dramaturg text coach director, or some combination of those, like what roles really draw you in
3

00:15:24
For sure. Absolutely. Ah, Rosalyn has always been a really, a really big draw for me, partially because so much of her work is in prose and there’s like, there’s sort of a free form, chaotic energy with Prolia is that I really, really love and yeah.
3

00:16:02
Yeah. Rosalind and I’d say Roslyn was also definitely like an early Shakespeare crush of mine, for sure. Yeah. Rosalyn just a, has always had a big impact on me specifically because of the, because of the melancholy in nature, because he, because he, he feels so out on it he’s integral, but he also feels very outside of that, the whole story within 12th night.
3

00:16:40
Yeah. And, and also that’s just, that’s my favorite of the place for sure. Yeah. And there’s a lot of characters in 12th night that I absolutely loved and I, okay. So director, text dramaturgy, there are certain scenes that I find myself very wrong to and connected with. And one, one, five in 12th night is definitely one of them. It’s where we first meet the Lithia.
3

00:17:11
We first meet the Fest day. Yeah, yeah. That whole, that whole exchange, helping someone through grief and really speaking about grief and trauma and what it means to, to let that go or not let that go, but just like what it means to live with it. There’s, there’s a lot of, ’em, there’s a lot of language around acceptance and a, and the duality of life and that, you know, the suffering and joy can go hand in hand. And then I’m the shift over from that into the Olivia Viola encounter, which is just one of my favorites, textually.
3

00:17:51
I love when characters shift between verse and prose or prose to verse. Yeah. I think that tells us a lot about the moment. And I love also that there’s no fast, there is no hard and set rule about that. Right. Is it specific to each circumstance, each character in each play, why they might shift like that? I would let a little workshop on, on Unpacking pros. And one of the first things I came up against, it was like, you know, as soon as you set rules, you got to throw them out the window.
3

00:18:24
But so yeah, that is, that scene definitely textually the way it shifts from verse to pro’s, you know, its so interesting. I really don’t consider myself to be an actor with a lot of the stuff. And so when you said, you know, what draws you as an actor? I don’t, I don’t really, I don’t know. No. I mean lately Midsummer has been on my mind a lot and, and in mid-summer a, the mechanicals in bottom, I absolutely love that park in that journey.
3

00:18:57
More, a lot more pros. Yeah. A lot of pros and, and like this and there’s like, there’s, there’s something very, you know, naturalistic about the crows also. And I’m, I’m so curious at the productions of Midsummer that I see again, when the actors are really able to bring themselves, cause especially with the mechanicals, we are talking about things that for artists and theater people are, it’s very easy for us to connect the dots and go, Oh my gosh, that’s just like me.
3

00:19:32
So I’m always so excited when I see a company really relax into the similarities as opposed to try and force it and find the bits. Yeah. Yeah. Other other ones I’ve been having a great time looking over Richard, the second that’s the most recent play that I’ve been taking a look at, which I know you love so much. It’s they’re the, his language and articulation throughout is really exciting to look at, especially as the play goes on.
3

00:20:10
Right. He’s he something cracks open as it goes on. That’s been a really, really cool. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Gosh. So, and then Hamlet is always going to have some draw because there’s a, an actor that is an actor writer that I’ve been working with for a few years now on, we’ve been crafting an adaptation, a pamphlet that is reflective of their life story as, so my mind’s been very much in that uhm, as a, as a, as the, with the, like the director dramaturge brain on of, okay, what’s going on and that story and what’s going on in the story that we’re trying to tell, where do those to meet you?
3

00:21:00
Where do they overlap? Where does one overtake the other? That’s a, that’s something, the, the idea of like ourselves overtaking Shakespeare is something I’ve been really interested in is when, when the, the language in the story becomes a vehicle, truly for the humans telling it when we can win, we can a C and D and be aware of the work that’s going on behind the story that we think we came to see if that makes sense.
3

00:21:30
There’s there’s just, yeah. Yeah. Anytime we do any time we do these Plays anytime we are talking about Shakespeare I think on some level we’re always really talking about ourselves and I’d like seeing the self come through in the little moments, which is it folds back into the, the, the voice work. That’s why I think Shakespeare is such a great tool to utilize when you’re doing voice work because of the level, because the level of articulation, the level of emotional articulation and emotional nuance, then you can find simply in the sound of some of those words is a great thing to be able to release feelings and emotions onto that.
3

00:22:14
We may not have words for, I may not be able to fully articulate myself in my feelings, but if I’m given a little, a little bit of a Romeo to go with then, Oh my God, that’s exactly what it feels like for me, which is, which is very exciting. So yeah,
2

00:22:37
All of that, and I, I, I know from experience with someone who struggles with emotional vulnerability and like struggles to open up to people and struggle is to trust people. I have found salvation in so much of Shakespeare because I feel like it, it puts words on the emotions that I don’t want to touch with my own words or a lot like, ay, the things that I can’t articulate, it gives me a way to convey those feelings. I’m in almost, almost in as almost an, a safe environment.
2

00:23:08
Like it’s almost like the words, his words create a, a safe conduit for me to channel of emotion through. And I think that’s a very personal version of what we think, what we think of a theater doing for us. Like sociopolitically right. Like a theater is a safe place, a safe conduit for us to ask really scary questions and, and challenge existing paradigms.
2

00:23:38
But it’s like, it’s like a safe environment to do it in. And I feel like Shakespeare is language is like a environment for me to release really, really deep, deeply felt emotions.
3

00:23:52
Hmm. Yeah. I love that. I love the image of a conduit. I always think of it like a river bed that has no, that has no water in it. And you are the water. The actors are the water and the performance is the water. And its got a set of course that its going to go on and that’s the story, that’s the language. Yeah. But how do you feel it is totally up to you, right? You may, one day it may be Rapids and you just blow through the whole thing or it might be the, you know, the big lazy river, these like slow still deep, deep waters.
3

00:24:30
But yeah, it’s, it is, it is a channel. It is, it is a conduit and I’d go, I’d go so far as to say that any form of heightened texts has the potential to do that. And I’m always interested with Shakespeare. It’s like what if, if Shakespeare especially is becomes a bit of a doorway to find other writer it’s to do that same thing for us. I think, I think that can be a great opportunity to continue to, to learn more about the world and the people who are are writing Plays in a heightened text that are out there right now.
2

00:25:08
Hello, are you enjoying the episode so far, then you should consider joining the Sweet Tea Shakespeare Patrion community. As we gear up for another exciting season of shows, concerts and events, we are issuing a challenge to boost our monthly Patrion sustainer giving for a pledge of as little as $5 a month. You can ensure that Sweet Tea Shakespeare can continue making delightful content all year round. You can also buy a season ticket that will grant you access to all of our exclusive Patrion content along with reserved seats to every one of our performances.
2

00:25:40
For more information on season tickets, check out our website@sweetteashakespeare.com to join our Patrion community. You can find this at patreon.com/sweet Tea Shakespeare it Shakespeare was my gateway to restoration drama and restoration comedy is actually where my heart lives actually like I don’t I’ve read a lot of Shakespeare is contemporaries, but I don’t, I don’t connect to them.
3

00:26:03
That’s not. Yeah.
2

00:26:06
Like I love Dutchess of Ralphie. I love Edward the second for the most part, I can’t, I appreciate them as, as literary works. I appreciate the poetry of much of Shakespeare is contemporaries. I don’t find the stories are the characters. I’m a three dimensional or engaging enough for me to care about them on an, on an artistic, like a practice level. Umm, but with restoration drama, what I love about it is that you have characters who are, who are using language as like pepper spray to keep people at arms distance because they are so afraid of anyone finding out that they have emotions.
2

00:26:40
And that really resonates with me. And so it’s like, it’s like taking the principle of Beatrice and Benedick and their sparring and its making entire Plays about it. But it is, it is still heightened text. It may not be verse, but it is still for the most part hight, you know, very heightened, very stylistic. And yet I think that in every restoration comedy, there comes a moment when you hear the, the, the scared little kids underneath these elegant courtiers, these to be scared, kids whose parents were cruel to them going, please don’t hurt me.
2

00:27:16
Please, please, please don’t hurt me. I’m scared. I’m a yeah, but that there are people doing beautiful, you know, poetical, heightened language Plays today as well. I mean, Naomi is lucky. For instance, I read her anonymous and I was like, this is like liquid silver. This is you.
3

00:27:39
Absolutely.
2

00:27:40
And to speak it, I think would, would carry an actor to the, to the verge of sort of immuno a full emotional surrender in a way that Shakespeare kind of invites us to. And I dunno about you, but I know sometimes when I speak is his text, I find that emotions, I didn’t even know were bubbling end up rising to the surface. When I played, when I played Isabella in measure for measure, I remember one day in rehearsal, I got to her, I got to her monologue to Angelo and to, to a, like the one about JoVE I’m not gonna be able to do it off the cuff right now, but great men thunder is drove himself, does drove, would near be quiet that one.
2

00:28:22
And I reached the fever pitch at that monologue, which comes like 12 lines in. And I felt like myself started to cry. And it was just because I was sensing her fervor, her zeal. So, so fully and her sort of commitment to God and her love of grace and her love of mercy. So deeply that it was like, it was like bringing me the actor to tears because the language was like, Sweet like sweeping me they’re you know?
3

00:28:49
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think, you know, everyone really letting yourself be swept away in that. It shows that you’re meeting, you’re meeting the language halfway, right? It’s not doing all the work for you. You’re coming to the table with what you have your whole open body spirit, emotional being, and the language picks you up and carries you the rest of the way. And one of Aria, I think one of the things about working with Shakespeare is that the character’s in those worlds and those Plays, their, their speech is their thoughts.
3

00:29:34
There’s so little have a filter. It’s just, I think I feel I speak and I, I think that its great that nowadays we edit ourselves a little bit. I think it’s important. I think its helpful to have, well, you know, maybe I shouldn’t say the first thing that comes into my head, but everyone deserves to be in a space where they can see what that feels like and, and working, working on the Plays working on that language is just such a great way to connect to that.
3

00:30:10
And you don’t have to be an actor to do that. No, its just a personal, that’s just a personal thing. Yeah.
2

00:30:15
I mean Joe Romeo, Romeo and Juliet as characters get a lot of flack for being dumb kids, but you know what speaking from experience, it takes a lot of courage to tell some when you love them like that, that takes guts and bless those young people for just doing it fearlessly and boldly and with absolutely no guarantee that it’s going to be reciprocated. They just say it. And like there is courage in that, that I would, I would take over the courage of entire armies, you know?
3

00:30:50
Yeah, yeah.
2

00:30:53
So we’re at about the halfway Mark. So I just want to take a moment to thank some of the people who have enabled us to have this wonderful conversation today. So a big shout out and thank you to the Arts council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County thank you for investing in Sweet Tea Shakespeare and in the arts communities of North Carolina, we’re so grateful to you for supporting us and for enabling us to do this really exciting virtual work that allows us to connect with wonderful artists from all over the country and even outside the country and to just keep having conversations that make us feel connected and enriched even during this time of quarantine.
2

00:31:29
So thank you so so much for, for allowing us to do this work. And then I also just want to say a big thank you to artistic director, Jeremy Fiebig and Our General Manager is Ashanti Bennett who do more work than is conceivable to the human brain. Thank you so much for who are investing in me and for supporting me and, and for sort of helping you create this, the series of podcasts so that I can so that I can have wonderful conversations like this one with Wiley and very appreciative.
2

00:32:00
So Wiley I, I want to talk about Richard the second.
3

00:32:05
Yeah, it did this, that and let’s f**k it. Like all the histories.
2

00:32:09
I mean, you know, like Richard This I leverage her the second very, very deeply, but it’s my least favorite of a Henry at the time. I don’t get fully invested until how it shows up. So its, you know, for all the love I have of Richard the second it’s it doesn’t even measure up to what I feel about one or two week four on each five. But I know that you and I are both in the we’re in the pre-gaming mode for Richard the second for various productions. So I’d love to hear about the one that you have coming up, the circumstances of that show and, and what this
3

00:32:40
Dramaturgical period is like for you. Yeah, sure. So I work with the company called upstart Crow collective. That is a, a committed to performing classical texts with a diverse female and non-binary casts. And I’ve been working with them for the last four years or so obviously not in an acting capacity at all. No, I’ve I’ve been job dramaturg I think three or four shows I assistant directed another and yeah, their work just speaks to me immensely.
3

00:33:19
And how do I understand Shakespeare and I think their work moves the conversation around those place forward specifically around the accessibility and representation that, that I is always worked for on those stages. The, yeah. Yeah. So my, my experience with the History primarily have all been through working on them with caste of women in a non binary folks and me being the minority in the roof, which is another fascinating experience.
3

00:34:00
Yeah.
4

00:34:01
And so it’s really,
3

00:34:04
It’s really interesting cause like the work of upstart Crow is, is one thing. And then the work that we were just doing on this workshop are virtual for a second felt part of it, but also completely different. Cause we’re trying to conceive how to do Richard the second for it in a time of physical distance, right. Is there a way that this lives online on screens is streamed in some way?
3

00:34:37
And I can’t, I can’t speak a whole lot to a, any decisions that were made because the workshop was very much just an exploratory one. We talked about a lot of themes and what, what, what themes of this play speak to our current political social economic experience? And one of the things that I really appreciated about working with upstart Crow, specifically, those artists that really run the company are a roasted Josee.
3

00:35:12
Kate was new ski and Betsy Schwartz. One of the things that I learned from them is that when you’re talking about History, Plays, they’re really, they’re not History Plays their political war Plays they were about politics and war. Those are things that are, those are universal experiences. And immediately shifting that perspective of, Oh, this isn’t a history play. This is about politics. And more this be happening right now immediately shifted. It shifted the focus out of, Oh, this is something that happened to other people a long time ago to, Oh this is actually, this is happening right now.
3

00:35:49
And, and I think it’s, that’s true as well for Shakespeare is audiences. Right? Cause he is, of course he never, he is very smart about not writing about the Elizabethan politics. I think like there’s only like there’s one overt reference to, to Essex, right. And, and Henry five. But other than that, he keeps a buffer zone of either it’s either, you know, if its in England, its at least
2

00:36:19
A hundred years yeah.
3

00:36:21
At least a hundred years or its like it’s made up land it’s in the Leary, a Lawrence and or, or the Roman empire it’s in Italy, it’s in France, it’s in the Roman empire, its something, it’s all of these great oblique angles that he’s able to focus in on and tell a story. I was reading some talking to you,
2

00:36:44
Have you been reading Stephen Green? Cause that’s what I’m going in my head.
3

00:36:48
That’s exactly who I was reading. Now we talked about that. There was some, a proclamation of like you can’t depict or imagine the deposition and that, that phrasing means that the authorities could really pick and choose what they saw to be suspicious. So I, I think it in a similar way, he, he is, he is doing the same thing of using something from the past to illustrate what is going on right now.
3

00:37:20
So yeah, a lot of our conversations around Richard, the second is how, how is, how is this play reflective of us in this moment? Now when we worked on the goal that upstart Crow has in this I can say is the goal we have is to workup to a place where we can perform the entire history of cycle all the way through a set company of actors and take it to DC and set up a tent, the a on a national mall right in front of the white house and perform it there.
3

00:38:02
So that’s the goal
2

00:38:05
When you have to get roasted and let me in, even if I’m just like, I’ll just, I’ll just like carry yourself. I’ll carry props. I don’t be there. Just show up.
3

00:38:16
And that’s, that’s what I listen. The way, the way I started working with upstart Crow is I had heard that this director roasted Josie in Seattle was a, this is in 2016 that I reached out to her and I heard that in 2017, she was going to be putting off a production called bring down the house, which was a two part of the Henry, the sixth trilogy and a, it was going to be performed with a cast, all female cast. And I was very excited about this. We met for coffee, what a great time and great time connecting.
3

00:38:48
And they said, you know, I really, I, I, I hear that you do not have an assistant on this yet. I would love to work with you. And she said, well, to be honest, I am looking for a young woman to assist me. So give me two weeks. I’m going to make some calls. And on the off chance that I cannot find anyone you are at the top of my young white male list. So she, she was true to her words. She made calls on the reason why she couldn’t find a female assistant is cause all the people she asked were already directing something.
3

00:39:23
They already have jobs. So yeah, for me, it was a real, it’s a real win for the white guys, you know, but that is that Austrade in my experience with those shows, bring that in the house, the Henry of the six is I believe that was actually the first history play that I had ever worked on. I don’t, I hadn’t worked on any other history of Plays. So my whole view of the world of these Plays from like being, you know, I’d seen other histories before, but from working within them, it was always in a room full of women and non-binary folks, which is which, you know, it’s, it was, and it’s given me a really different perspective on a lot of the themes that ha that, that come to those places, especially like this whole question of divine rights, right.
3

00:40:19
To rule that is my, is my destiny in my rights to play this part. This part was written for me. I is, I is my time to play this part versus I’m going to take it. I’m going to take the crown right now. I’ve spent too many years being wrong. And so I’m going to change it. I’m going to write my own destiny. And there’s something just very rebellious that I found just being in these rooms and experiencing it with those bodies and those voices up on stage, telling those stories, all of that, to say, tying it back to Richard.
3

00:40:58
The second, when we were working on Richard, the third a, which of course is at the end of the cycle, the central phrase or question the whole, the central, the whole production is built on is we are all Richard. We are all Richard. We all possess that same possibility, but also we are all complicit in creating this person.
3

00:41:30
Our, our production was a production very much. It took its cue from a lot of what Greenblatt talks about and a tyrant of all the enablers, all the different enablers, the way you get to power. So we had this, we had the central phrase, if we are all Richard, and now going back to Richard, the second we have a similar phrase of it’s it’s like Richard is in all of us or we all reflect Richard. And a lot of the conversation we’ve been talking about is the way that Richard Richard’s journey is a journey of self discovery.
3

00:42:07
And so much of his world is everything that’s reflected back to him. A lot of talk about mirrors, mirror images, all of the behavior that he does, that’s reflected back to him. And that when he actually breaks that mirror is when there’s a real shift in his character of finding this, this, yeah. This truer self that that is beneath the, the title and the exterior and the clothes on the crown, which I think runs that runs through almost all the History of Plays.
3

00:42:42
Right. This is a question of a King. Yeah. A King.
2

00:42:48
Well, and how’s, how’s singular soliloquy in Henry five. The one time he is by himself. I know. Trust me. We, can you talk about that speech all day, but what he’s booked his thing is its it’s the same recognition is Richard’s except it for him. He’s saying I’ve known this all along because I wasn’t born to be the Prince. I wasn’t born to be the King. So I know better than anyone that it’s the objects that we’re seeing. That’s what they see the glamour, they see the, the, the giftedness of my life.
2

00:43:20
But I know that I’m just an idiot. I know that I’m just a human person who is messy because that’s who I was before. These things were dumped on me by my father. Right? Like he, and so what he says is like, these objects are arbitrary and I know this, but I have to pretend that they’re not because I have to make it authentic to the people looking at me. And for Richard, he comes the opposite way. He thinks these things are intrinsic to him and then he realizes they’re not. But the salvation of his story is like, but we I’m still a person underneath.
2

00:43:51
I’m still my God. There’s a person
3

00:43:54
I can. Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I love that. That word ceremony in that big speech, you know what of King’s the privates have not two save ceremony, say Sarah, and what are you? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. What are you, what are you, Sarah? I love the way that Shakespeare investigates a single word. I’m thinking about ceremony in that speech. I think about commodity in the bastards speech.
3

00:44:26
I’m in King and King John. Yeah. And then of course I think about honor in false staff have a chasm about what his, what his honor, what’s the, what’s the word is it’s a word. Yeah, man. Those little moments of humanity that pop through, especially in the History Plays those are what get me like Hotspur meeting with all his, with all of these boys, just like, Ooh, we are going to do this rebellion and they forgot the map. Like, ah, damn it.
3

00:44:57
I forgot the map. I that’s just, that’s so funny and human and how, how could that be? History that’s happening right now? So yeah. I mean, there’s, dramaturgically, it’s an interesting question of, Oh, there we go.
2

00:45:14
It was an adventure.
3

00:45:15
That was a, that was a total adventure dramaturgically there is an interesting, a question of how much of a, of the, of the work of all of the, the history and knowledge feeds into this story that we’re telling right now, this question came up in Richard the second, the whole question of Gloucester’s depths, this initial conflict. Yeah. That we don’t see.
3

00:45:46
And I was just learning, there’s a play called Woodstock. That’s by an anonymous author. That’s like <inaudible> to fix that is fascinating, but we don’t see it. And we only, especially, I think anytime you’re watching this, Shakespeare, especially if you’re not as familiar with a story, two scenes, 15 minutes or two scenes, it takes for you to actually start understanding the language. So, you know,
2

00:46:12
He’s like, he’s like 15 minutes in and he’s like, if I don’t understand it, 15 minutes in, I’m not gonna understand anything that happens.
3

00:46:18
Exactly. And which means like to top load. And I think about the beginnings of Sony of these Plays are really all about setting up the X position of this is what’s going on in this world. And that whole Gloucester’s death kind of stays up the periphery of the action, but that’s always a constant question. Cause as soon as Bolingbrook has gone into power, he immediately opens up another investigation into let’s talk about that.
3

00:46:49
But we were talking about like, how important is it? Obviously the actors need to know the givens, but like how important is it that the audience follows us? What is an audience’s understanding of what this conflict is and how can we help them towards the story we’re telling versus filling in History that? And Elizabeth and audience would know about the past. It’s a, it’s such a fascinating Mount, which, which goes to say like, again, it’s all about bringing these Plays to us now.
3

00:47:23
It’s it’s feeling that dramaturgically yes, it was written in 1550. They’re like, well, you know, 15, 15, seven, 1590 for the written in 1594 set in 1399. Right. And we’re performing it in 2020 where those are, those are three very different timelines. What’s the intersection between those three timelines that we can make a story that really the ground’s the audience in the world and, and takes them on this journey with us.
3

00:48:01
And I think that’s it’s, and it’s always, you’re always working with those timelines when you are working on Shakespeare. But especially with the History, it’s always what’s relevant to us now. And I know one of the things that Rose has talked a lot about is as, as a director, she’s always asking, what does leadership look like? What do we want from leadership? What do we get from leadership? What are we willing to forgive? And what are the things that we will never forget?
2

00:48:31
Yeah. And what, what, and where’s the disparity between what they promised in what they deliver, which is something we talked, I heard, I heard that, that talked about a lot in the rooms at the Oregon Shakespeare festival for bringing down the house. There was this question of like, what are these characters? What are these Lords jockeying for power jockeying for the throne saying that they’re going to do for the people and what are they actually doing? And the Gulf between those things is just like potently relevant today.
3

00:49:04
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I also think, I especially feel that today in our, in our current political movement of like the, the, the people, our voice has the power and impact it should. And I feel like there’s a possibility that it can. I mean, I was thinking about the elections that just happened this past Tuesday and specifically about like, are the ones that I was really focused on was in New York and Kentucky.
3

00:49:39
And I mean, specifically with that Kentucky one that the national, I shifted on two, a primary election in this state, that’s a pretty deeply read, but suddenly there was this intense search for everyone looking to see what happened and connecting and back to these Plays, I mean, we’re in a world where divine right, is sort of a given of the land, but within that, there’s all these questions and, and challenges coming from upstarts all over the place.
3

00:50:20
And that there’s there. There’s, there’s always a potential, the, the for leadership a can be found anywhere. And, and then on, on the darker side, it’s, it’s when that, that potential for change completely shifts to being for personal gain. I’m specifically thinking about the, a, about Henry six and not a whole trilogy, right?
3

00:50:51
These political, the political terms of personal, you use politics as a personal vehicle to get two to further my own. And when that happens, then the country is the one that suffers. Yeah.
2

00:51:08
Do you love Sweet Tea Shakespeare do you believe in the mission of our company, then you should consider becoming a board member. If you’re interested in learning more, please email us@gmatsweetteashakespeare.com that’s G as in general, M as a manager@sweetteashakespeare.com. And I think Shakespeare was pretty clear sighted about that.
2

00:51:38
I mean, it’s not, that is Plays are often quite ambiguous, including the History Plays. And as you say, he’s very clever about deflecting the implications off of his present moment for reasons of self preservation, obviously. But, but I think that he, I don’t think he glorifies any of his power hungry, like tyrants. That’s what’s really interesting. Now the characters in the Plays often do, and if in the case of Richard, the second, he often does it about himself.
2

00:52:13
There’s self, their self aggrandizement that happens. There’s characters like, like filling each other full of hot air. And yet the, the, the fact that the country suffers and that often the most vulnerable and disenfranchised people suffer when these, when these power struggles unfold, I think he’s actually, he’s pretty on the nose about that. I mean, I think of the end of Henry for part two, and the last thing we see really have like the East cheap crowd in that play, or at least if the East Jeep Tavern is quickly in doll, getting dragged away by these hooking mail, you know, policemen to a prison.
2

00:52:55
That’s the last thing we see there. And it’s this little tiny seen, and it’s, Tea, it’s like, it’s just sort of tucked right before the big coronation scene. And it is this, like, I don’t know. I think it’s a, I think it’s a very direct reminder of, Hey, look, look at who’s suffering right now. Look at who is actually, Behring the consequence of This this changeover. Yes. We want, we want the guy that we knew was how to be a good leader, like look at what it means.
2

00:53:28
It’s women it’s to pee it’s to poor, low born women that are, that are being literally like brought low by the turning of the tide.
3

00:53:39
Yeah. And throughout all those History Plays I love that. He gives us moments to check in with, what do people think of this? Like in Richard, the second it’s the gardeners, it’s just three gardeners, just going, Whoa, this is not, not looking good for this guy. Kind of ruined the whole thing. And then, I mean, there’s that incredible, the whole connection with, with East chief and, and Falstaff who are kind of a champion of that perspective. Right? So he’s kind of, he’s out, he’s out for himself and his friends and trying to make a buck.
3

00:54:12
And then when I, when it comes to Henry five, you get that beautiful moment with the soldiers William’s in Bates. Some of those beautiful poetry is just around a campfire. The yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely beautiful. The more pros and also when pros can be poetic that it happens, right. He gives some of the most profound views of the world to soldiers, to just common soldiers and not play. And then in Henry the six, that the moment with the father in the song, when they realize that they’ve the one has killed, the other is just a, what, I don’t know, not many of the characters have real moments of like personal reflection like that.
3

00:55:00
Other than Henri, of course, Henry has, is it’s right after is a mole Hill seen. And then in Richard, the third I think about, and this scene I realized is almost always cut, but it’s the scene between the citizens? It’s the citizens like what’s up neighbor. You, you kind of what you hear the news. Umm, yeah, we are always getting,
2

00:55:21
Yeah. I think the Scribner from a pure third, which is all also the Scribner who runs it in
3

00:55:26
And so blind, then you cannot see this palpable device. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s man Scribner and its interesting when we were doing Richard The Richard, the third that was like late 2018 and Oh, even as I say it, cause I remember there was something that, that Trump had done that was very much like, did anyone else just see that? Yeah. Who is so blind that can not see this palpable device.
3

00:55:57
And it was, it was interesting. The dramaturgy for that was very much let’s look at dictators around the world and track how they came to power and let’s us pull things from our media. Now we will also say, and we were doing that play. Richard was never Trump in, in our mind. We, we tried, we, it was never like in a, a one to one thing. Cause that doesn’t make sense for that. Richard is self Richard is self-aware in a way that yeah, but it’s all. But again, this thing of like the complicity, we all made this happen, all our parts and especially, you know, as we think about the conversation now is we all, as, as white folks, especially reflect on and understand our part in white supremacy, this feeling of like, we are all complicit in this.
3

00:56:48
That’s a, that’s a scary place to sit in, but it’s, it’s a necessary journey that we gotta go on in order to effect any, any form of change. Yeah.
2

00:56:59
This isn’t, it, this isn’t entirely related, but its been on my mind because I’ve been in playwriting mode a lot this spring during, during shutdown. And I wrote a stage adaptation of, of Leo Tolstoy is more in piece and, and I include, I included a soliloquy from Napoleon that is it in the book and I just wrote it and it, it crops up in part to after just, yeah, just after he’s taken Moscow and he basically throws a hissy fit.
2

00:57:31
Can you just comes in to me? We’ve seen him before. We’ve heard him talk before, but we don’t really feel like we know him. It doesn’t really matter if we know him because he’s so ancillary to like what’s really happening in Warren piece is all about the Russian characters. Many of whom don’t even see the battlefield. But I wrote it without thinking, I didn’t, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like a planned thing. I was just like, this is when the bullying comes out. And what I wanted to do was I wanted to, it wasn’t just to make a political statement. Although it’s also that I also, I really wanted to drive home how the loyalty, that, that Napoleon’s invasion was actually in gendering in the Russian peasants was misplaced because we have a seat.
2

00:58:16
Tolstoy gives us a scene where the peasants refuse to flee as the French are invading, they refuse to flee their town and move further East because they think the French are going to liberate them. They’re like, look, the French had a revolution. The French killed all of the, you know, all of the oppressive Nobles, why that’s what they’re going to do here. Right? Like they’re going to take care of us. They are going to give us a land and grain. Like we are going to be taking, we are going to be taken care of like, we don’t want to give you are horses so that you can flee East. Like we want to stay here and wait for the French to chop off your heads and give land and rights to us.
2

00:58:50
And what actually happened of course, was that the French under Napoleon’s orders, Napoleon who had once championed like the CR the progress of the revolution, they just came and burned. Everything. You just came and slaughtered everyone. You know what I mean? Like they didn’t like, regardless of rank, regardless of how wealthy you were, everyone died, everyone died and everything was, was taken by the, by the French government. Nothing was redistributed to the people. It was just an invasion. It was just an invasion by a tyrant.
2

00:59:20
But these French peasants who would hurt, who are these rush Russian peasants, who had heard the stories of the revolution and they were like, this is our chance. And so I wanted to be very clear. I wanted to pull into have a moment where he came out and articulated that for the audience. Cause of course you can’t show towns burning on stage. That’s a harder thing to do. But I did want the audience to see the figure that these, that these Russian peasants who were very understandably set up with the, their current paradigm, I wanted to shine a spotlight on the reality of the man that they were throwing their support behind, you know?
3

00:59:55
Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s wonderful.
2

00:59:58
I think that there, I think it was the influence of the History Plays I look back on it now and I’m like, I think it’s because I’ve always been so drenched in History Plays but that’s where that impulse came from.
3

01:00:09
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, that sounds so what I’m so excited to read that adaptation.
2

01:00:14
I’m excited for you to be, I’m very nervous for you to read it, but I can’t. I think so. Do you have, okay. A is a hard question, but do you have a favorite Shakespeare play slash do you have a dream production for it?
3

01:00:31
Sure. A favorite is a favorite is 12th night and I’ll stand by that the Brits 12th night. And, and I think a reason for that, his partially was the first one that I ever had any experience with a, I was seven years old and my dad had seen a production at Lincoln center. I think it was in 1990. It was around 1997 or something. It was with Helen Hunt and Paul Rudd. We know how is that one with the pools of water on stage?
3

01:01:04
And my dad saw it and he had such a good time and he came back and he took the little like action figures. And he told the story to me with the little figures of, of like, okay, so like this, this is Sebastian and this is my editors. And he told it, told the story. He said that that’ll always be f**k always my favorite one that I worked to do a production of, of let’s see, there’s, there’s a Macbeth that I’m really interested in that is like specifically like a design I’m I’m I love small casts.
3

01:01:49
Shakespeare I love, you know, four to seven actors playing a bunch of different parts. So I’m interested to see what you book you can find out with, with the mic. It does feel like, ah, like a ritual, this, this, this Hamlet that I’m working on with a, with my friend mammy Garcia, they they’re, they’re a view on Hamlet is it’s a ghost story. How much of a ghost story? And I’m interested in what that brings us as we tell this play like a ghost story.
3

01:02:26
I’m interested in what that does and then any others. Yeah. Those are, those are the ones that really are sticking, sticking to my mind at the moment. That’s great. Yeah. Hmm. What about you?
2

01:02:45
Oh, I have, I have so many, I have too many,
3

01:02:49
So many to many to,
2

01:02:53
No, I have always wanted to do Love’s Labour’s site specifically in a library, preferably preferably a library on a really, let us say elite college campus, you know, and I wanted, I want to begin and end it with The with Jack Netta, just shelving books. And I want the whole thing to be focalized through her. She is watching these prep school Ken’s in, Barbie’s just, you know, rec the library and who has to clean it up.
2

01:03:29
Her, you know?
3

01:03:33
Yep. Absolutely.
2

01:03:35
To the library.
3

01:03:38
I will tell the wonder is with that faith without faith,
2

01:03:43
I feel like she gets, yeah. I feel like she gets, she gets hit on by like students, TAs and teachers all alike. And she’s just trying, she’s just trying to do her part time job that she can you say, you know, just tried to do her job. I’m the only macros I’ve ever wanted to do is Southern Gothic where the witches are with weather, which is, are dead children. And one of the witch’s is the dead child have the Mackers themselves. And yeah. And the whole thing is I see the whole thing is like a rug kind of a, like a revenge story by these, by these dead, these dead children.
2

01:04:23
And I mean, obviously like I’m so excited to do Richard the second this winter, cause its kicking off the Henry ad and basically all they want to do with my director Henry ad. I’ll just do it.
3

01:04:34
Are you working for them one after a time? Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
2

01:04:39
All of them so much. And I, for me it’s not so much like, do I have a production concept per se, but it very, my only interest is how do I make this to American politics right now? That’s all I care. So I think what that will mean for Richard and probably for the rest of the Henry as well, is men in suits? Not, not so much because I don’t want its not the women. I want women on stage. I want sort of gender parody. I want diversity, which is possible, but like I don’t, I don’t want the doublet and hose getting in the way of the audience realizing that these political war Plays our, about the issues injustices, but we still have not solved all these years later and they are still play being played out on a national stage.
2

01:05:22
So it with Richard, the second, for instance, there’s this question of like performative masculinity. So what kind of masculinity do powerful rich men through their lot behind will they throw it behind the one that looks socially acceptable, which is machismo and like physical power and prowess and sort of grunt brusque language and like sort of, of a lack of, of like no, no poetry, no emotional frills or expression like this, this kind of stoic stern martial power that is the kind of masculinity they will support.
2

01:06:00
Right. And then with The when you sort of move into the Henry ad, like I’m interested in, in fathers and sons and the pressure that is put on, on children, by their parents and the self and how toxic masculinity perpetuates itself, especially when you have men in positions of power. So, so that is, that’s my interest sort of there, but also like I, I’m also just interested in what the cost of what the cost of the turning of the tides is to the people who were never going to have power at all the people who have been shut out of the system.
2

01:06:35
I’m interested in how they suffer. I mean, I think, I think the soldiers that talked to how the night before the battle of Azure for John Bates and Michael Williams, like to me, they are the heart of that play. You don’t the play doesn’t work without them in the play. I wouldn’t like it. If that scene didn’t exist, I couldn’t like, and I love him as much as I love that character. I wouldn’t be able to find my way in if it weren’t for that moment. Because I think when, how here’s John, when John, when he hears Williams doing the kind of quasi world war one prose poem about, you know, all the heads and limbs chopped off and like, you know, just, just the horrors of war, basically it is it’s, it’s horrific language, but it’s also quite poetical.
2

01:07:19
And the only other person to Henry add who can be so political with prose is how of himself. When we hear us, when we hear well staph, you know, the, the, the, the son, the fare hot went and played a colored taffeta, like that’s, he makes poetry, he puts poetry into his prose and then he meets Michael Williams and Michael Williams is doing the same thing, but turning the rhetoric around the world.
3

01:07:41
And we worked on, yeah, we worked on Henry five. We talked about that scene that it’s in that scene and the soliloquy that follows it, where, how figures out, what he’s going to say during the speech of st Crispin’s day, but he doesn’t know how will he is going to do it, but its through listening to those guys and having that moment of self reflection that he figures out the, okay, this is, this is what we’re going to do.
2

01:08:09
And I love that. That’s how I read it as well. Wiley thank you so much for coming on the show with me today. It’s been so fun talking to you.
1

01:08:18
Thank you. This flew by. It was such a great time. Thank you so much Claire and thank you. Sweet Tea Shakespeare yes.
2

01:08:31
That’s our show for today. You’ve been listening to the Sweet Tea Shakespeare Lunch Hours catch you next time.

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