(*) Ewa Procter
You may or may not enjoy this tragedy by William Shakespeare. You may think it is too heavy, too tiring, too difficult to understand. However, I am sure that if you go and watch the theatrical version where Gustavo Gasparani and Sérgio Modena adapted this famous text, you will see that it is an enjoyable way to either get acquainted or to remember the story of this famous villain. Although this production counts on a single actor, and the performance is staged as if it were a lesson in a classroom, the gist of “Richard III” is there for the audience to enjoy, be horrified, understand… whatever their emotions bring them.
It may seem strange that Shakespeare’s “Richard III” can be performed as a monologue. However, it is a wonderful way to be able to listen (in its Brazilian translation) to the words that were written so many centuries ago. One must think that when Shakespeare wrote his plays, many times he based himself on characters and real facts. Obviously, he always used his imagination and the result was a text full of poetry. Thus, there is a side where everything is true; and then there is the other side where it is mostly a legend, a fantasy.
This is the second time that I go and watch this performance. The first one was in 2014, during the first run of this play (it is now in its sixth run!). However, at that time, although I thought it was a wonderful way of doing “Richard III”, my article for “The Umbrella” was dedicated to “Educating Rita” and I could only write a brief note on this monologue.
Since the very beginning Gustavo Gasparani thought of the story of Richard III as something very dear to his heart. For the audience to understand what is going on, he starts by explaining some of the story, including the meaning of dynasty. With a bird’s eye view on this, while mentioning the Windsors, the Tudors, the Stuarts, Gasparani moves on to the War of the Roses, the Yorks with their White Rose and the Lancasters with their Red Rose who were the two families fighting for the Crown. This was a war that lasted for thirty years! And then Gasparani goes on by showing the genealogic tree of the two families, with their main characters and then, the secondary ones, all of them that start by appearing, and gradually disappearing.
In order to present all the people that Shakespeare included as part of his play, Gasparani also stresses the fact that, in those days, there was not a great variety in the given names for both men and women. So, there were many Georges, Richards, Elizabeths, Edwards, Annes, and so on. It may come as a shock to most people when Gasparani erases the names of some of the characters from his blackboard where, when the play starts, all the genealogical tree of the Plantagenets dynasty is drawn.
As I said above, this is the sixth run of “Ricardo III”. Gustavo Gasparani revives this monologue at different occasions, in different theatres, always under the direction of Sérgio Modena. Since 2014 he has won many awards for his performance, as well as having been indicated to some others. Talking about this with a journalist friend of mine, he mentioned that this is a kind of show that Gasparani can perform for many years, as it does not require a specific age for the character and the simplicity of the staging is a bonus: “Ricardo III” can travel and be presented at many different spaces (big or small) without any problems.
At the moment, “Ricardo III” plays at the Teatro Poeirinha, Rua São João Batista, 104, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro. There is no formal parking at the theatre, but there is some nearby, as well as plenty of taxis at the door of the theatre when the performance is over. Presentations take place from Thursday to Saturday, at 09:00 P.M., and on Sunday at 08:00 P.M. Price of tickets is R$ 60,00 (sixty Reais). There is a discount for students and senior citizens. Censorship is for young people under the age of twelve. The Teatro Poeirinha is the small, experimental theatre at the same address as its “older brother”, the Teatro Poeira. They are located next door to each other and share the box office and the telephone number (2537-8053). There is a small café at the Teatro Poeira, with soft drinks and snacks before the performances.
So, if you are interested in a different theatrical experience do not miss “Ricardo III” at the Teatro Poeirinha. The present run finishes on the 16th of February. And the audience response has been excellent, full houses at all times!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theatre translator,
and Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga.