2010 HSC English Advanced - Assessment Task 3
"What's this thing that gets between us and Shakespeare?"
How and why does Pacino attempt to connect a modern audience with King Richard III?
Pacino - Hey, what's up, this is Pacino here and today we are here with William Shakespeare and we will be discussing the barricade that separates us from Shakespeare's plays. Welcome Shakespeare.
Shakespeare - Thanks Al, good to be here.
Pacino - We will be focusing on your much acknowledged and brilliant play, Richard III. In our society we have many many different views and readings of Richard III. You like it? You don't like it? Is it a tragedy? Is it not? And there are even some people that haven't heard of your play, isn't that ridiculous?
Shakespeare - Why yes Al.
Pacino - Now that's the problem, some find it very difficult to understand your work, and in doing this cannot appreciate or acknowledge how your work has influenced our world. There is obviously barriers keeping the people of our society uninterested in your work, why do you think this is so?
Shakespeare - Well times have changed Al, your audience belongs to a completely different time in history and everything is different. To understand it more easily you need to know what happened during when I wrote it. You see, I wrote this play in 1593 during the reign of Elizabeth I. She was a direct descendant from Richmond in the play, who is known as King Henry VII. So everyone at the time believed that Richmond is the hero who rids England of the evil Richard. The audience at the time were very familiar with the story of the play, especially the presentation of Richard as the renowned villain of England. Also knowing this, the Elizabethan audience in no way could have classified this play as a tragedy.
Pacino - so this is an obvious barrier. Due to context, the audience's perception on dramatic characters have changed. Villains in my society are different to the villains you once knew. In my society we don't have this monstrous `evil'. Evil is seen more as a pathological illness making us feel sorry for them. That's why in my documentary `Looking for Richard' I show Richard as less of a physical deformed human so the audience actually perceives him more as a human, and not as this monster you have made him. But by keeping his villainy I cover up a lot of Richard's character with shadows during the shoots as well as giving him a slight limp.
But knowing Richard's circumstances as you write "Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made up". Also you have portrayed him as a despicable, monstrous deformed human, don't you feel sympathy for him, God has brought him to this world, incomplete, don't you think that it is not fair?, he has every right to become a villain.
Shakespeare - No no no. This is merely an acting technique for the people...