Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[ASP] Coriolanus [2009-03-21]

Sat, March 21 - Fight Night: Fight Call & Violence Design, 6:30pm
Pre-show talk with Robert Walsh, Director of Coriolanus
I think it was actually the guy who played Aufidius who said the interesting stuff I jotted down.

He said that staged combat is more storytelling than martial art.

He talked about combat as being a way we communicate when words fail.

I think it was in talking about fight choreography that he talked about something (I didn't quite catch what) as Lego blocks, with which we create different physical sentences.


Caius. Martius. Coriolanus.

[Note: Most every performance has a free pre- or post-show talk/reception, schedule listed on this link, plus the pay-what-you-can Conversation.]

Bob Walsh mentioned that they set the play in the 1920s/1930s.  There's a lot of "workers of the world unite" kind of imagery, and I was really struck by how the opening scene has the people wanting corn at a fair price and arguing that they are famishing.  I know they selected this play for this seasons well before the financial crisis, but it still feels very resonant.

That said, I am very sympathetic to Coriolanus' hateful anti-populist stance, and not just because the people suck so much, though they really really do.  INCREDIBLY fickle...

As we saw during the Fight Call, the fight choreography here was awesome.

The way they did the scene where banished-Martius goes to Aufidius was AMAZING.  They're alone on stage, each facing the audience, Martius in the center and Aufidius off to one side, lights low, spotlight on each, their shadows cast on the back wall.  Aufidius's shadow is small, Martius' large.  As Martius tells Aufidius that if he does not accept his offer he should kill him, he moves back, his shadow shrinking.  As Aufidius responds, he moves forward, his shadow growing.

I wasn't thrilled by Coriolanus agreeing to spare Rome based on his family's pleas 'cause hi, let them stay in the camp with you and slaughter everyone else (maybe spare your father figure and Cominius, too).  I totally respect Aufidius being pissed but dude, betrayal=sad -- especially handing him over to the state to be killed, I mean, fight him like a warrior ... though yes, earlier in the play Aufidius said that every time they fight Martius beats him and he expects that would continue to be true even if they fought as often as they ate.  Really creepy juxtaposing the welcome home of the women with the execution of Martius.  The women are welcomed home, then the invading army arrives with the truce (Cate commented that near the end of the play, the double-casting gets confusing because we can't always tell who's Roman and who's Volscian -- I do wish there was some clear and consistent demarcator, like hats and no or something) and Aufidius crumples it up and Martius snaps and yadda yadda he gets taken away, but then the women are parading along the balcony and he's dragged right past them, which they are oblivious to, and he's tied up and shot as they stand to the side, still apparently oblivious, and Aufidius gives his closing speech from a ledge right below them.  Very creepy (and deliberately so, I'm sure).

The program has an essay titled "Exploring the Image of the Warrior" by David Evett.  I read it afterward, and one part speaks to my complaint about Coriolanus' change of heart:
Marjorie Garber has identified three contexts in which Martius moves and whose interplay decides his fate.  Each is highlighted in a crucial scene.  [...]

The third moment, in act 5, is familial: his mother, wife, child, and female friend come to plead with him.  Much more than that abstract thing the state, more than the workers and businessmen that sustain its economy, more than the immediate network of neighbors and male friends, these women and this child are the vulnerable core of the city most threatened by the enemy; they are what the warrior is bound to defend with his life.  Where Volscian sword, senatorial arguments, the cries and gibes of the plebians have glanced off harmlessly, the tears of these nominally helpless dear ones burn through to the warrior's human heart.  The inner conflict they provoke, between his sense of his own personal integrity and worth and the obligations he has undertaken, opens the way toward tragedy.

I was surprised, in looking back at my LJ, to read how much I didn't like Coriolanus when I first saw it, especially since I think I remember when I was looking at the works we would do in my senior year Shakespeare class, I was excited that we were doing the very obscure and very gay (huh, I forgot that the nuptial bed line -- which I think got cut from this production -- was actually Martius to Cominius, though I was noticing in this production that they are so bff) Coriolanus.
Tags: plays: asp, plays: attended, plays: boston area, plays: shakespeare

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