Staging and Performing Shakespeare is always one of the biggest challenges an actor and creative team can face. The sheer weight of performance history behind every one of his plays is startling enough and the language can often act as a barrier to many. Unfortunately Richard III is undeniably guilty of being one of Shakespeare’s most performed and beloved texts. Yet, with this production, everyone involved has worked so immensely hard to stage a production that commendably stays true to many of the most loved elements of the play, and displays how relevant this text is today.
Speaking as an actor playing the title role, I have focused upon portraying the character in a manner that stays true to the psychotic, power obsessive nature that Shakespeare’s text suggests. I have been taught how to use my body in a way that shows Richard to suffer from a horrendous case of Scoliosis (and other visible physical ‘deformities’ as many characters suggest)) and I have physically trained over Christmas to be able to perform this physicality consistently. I believe this character trait is a serious factor working against Richard’s ability to mechanize his plots and so truly highlights how obsessed he is on taking the crown and removing any lives that stand in his way.
However, this production takes much time to show the strong will of the female characters to stand against Richard. It is the women in this play such as Queen Elizabeth, and Margaret that see through Richard’s flaws and work hard to defeat him. This production focuses on male fascinations with power and how oppressed women are, yet how strong willed they are to try and overcome this. This aspect of the play is so relevant to our modern world where society remains hugely patriarchal. However, our production strives to emphasise political uncertainty within this play, which after 2016, we hope will resonate with the audience today.
Mostly being untrained actors and creatives, staging Richard III has presented many challenges and nobody would expect or predict a flawless production. We have staged it sparsely with minimal aesthetics, but there is a tight focus on portraying these great Shakespearean characters in a very exciting manner. We are confident we can present an accessible and engaging production that focuses on many interesting aspects of the text and like many other adaptations, proves how relevant the play is today.