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Posts Tagged ‘William Shakespeare’

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Those he commands move only in command,

Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.

-William Shakespeare,  Macbeth

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I read an interesting article in The Atlantic  by Eliot Cohen this week that has stuck with me for the past few days. It parallels the possible fall of the current administration to that of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. How fitting that the Scottish play, as it is often called, might mirror the fall of a man with a Scottish ancestry.

The end may be brought about by those he has freely abused and those around him who serve him not from admiration or love but from fear and the self-serving nature of the position, things that will no doubt soon fall away as the downward spiral hastens and his true nature of this utterly selfish person becomes apparent to even those who still follow him with fervor.

As Cohen writes:

…his spirit remains tyrannical—that is, utterly self-absorbed and self-concerned, indifferent to the suffering of others, knowing no moral restraint. He expects fealty and gives none. Such people can exert power for a long time, by playing on the fear and cupidity, the gullibility and the hatreds of those around them. Ideological fervor can substitute for personal affection and attachment for a time, and so too can blind terror and sheer stupidity, but in the end, these fall away as well.

Who will be Macduff, the one who ends the reign of the tyrant, in this version of the play is yet to be determined. But the last words of Macduff before he is urged by Macbeth to Lay on, Macduff should be remembered:

Then yield thee, coward,
And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time:
We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted on a pole, and underwrit,
‘Here may you see the tyrant.’

In case you don’t know the play, it doesn’t end well for Macbeth.

The Cohen article is an interesting read. You can see it here.

For this week’s Sunday morning music I have chosen a nice collaboration of a song from the great American songbook from Elvis Costello and the late great Chet Baker. The title fits well with an article about a man who demands love and loyalty but offers none in return: You Don’t Know What Love Is.

Take a look and a listen. Have a good Sunday.

 

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Took a day or two to shoot into NYC.  We packed a lot into a very short time and quickly fled the throngs that packed the streets and parks of the city. Hit and run.

Neue Galerie - Gustav Klimt Portait of Adele Bloch-BauerWe first ran up through Central Park  to the Neue Galerie, a small museum just above the Metroplitan Museum that features German and Austrian Modern art.  It’s a beautiful collection situated in a beautiful 5th Avenue mansion which makes for intimate, if sometimes crowded, viewing of the art.  If you’re in NYC, the Neue Galerie is worth a visit if only to see this piece even though there is much, much more to see there.

It has a memorable group of Germanic paintings and drawings from the likes of Klimt, Schiele, Kirchner, Beckman and many others.  But undoubtedly, the crown jewel of their collection is the  Portrait of Adele-Bloch Bauer by artist Gustav Klimt, the $135 million masterpiece with the fabled past that spawned last year’s film, Woman in Gold.

The lighting in the room with this painting is a flat and even light that dampens the gold’s glimmer, making it less shimmering than you may have seen it in photos.  But even that can’t diminish this stunning piece which is evidenced by the flocks of people that surround it, a long with a docent who monopolized the piece for about 30 minutes.

That was all the time we had for museum hopping and it was on to the theater.  We were meeting our neighbor and friend Bill’s English class from our local high school the next day for a matinee of the Eugene O’Neill landmark drama Long Day’s Journey into Night so we figured that we needed something a bit less weighty and dark to counter the dose of O’Neill that was to come.  We hit the musical  Something Rotten which tells the story of two playwright brothers struggling to outdo William Shakespeare, who is wonderfully portrayed by Tony-winner Christian Borle as a rockstar who is idolized by the masses in Elizabethan England.

Very high energy, very funny and a really great cast.

The next day’s performance continued that theme, if you substitute the word dark for funny.  The revival of O’Neill’s biographical masterpiece features a tremendous cast with Jessica Lange, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Shannon and John Gallagher, Jr. and they did not disappoint in any way.  You could sense their total engagement with the material which is really needed for a production that runs over 3 1/2 hours and features very dark and probing dialogue between the small cast.  In lesser hands, it could be a tortuous 3 1/2 hours but they made the time pass easily for the viewer.  Great, great show.

Bill’s students seemed to understand the significance of what they were seeing which is a great thing to witness.  Many kudos to Bill for exposing these kids to this part of the world.  And if you get a chance and like the idea of seeing great actors doing great material, check out this show before it ends its short run at the end of June.

All in all, a good couple of days in the city.  That being said, there is nothing better than that time approaching home when the traffic that snarls the city has fallen away and all you can see ahead of you is a single pair of taillights far in the distance and the outline of darkened hills set against the clear night sky.  No crowds, no traffic, no noise– home is near.

Okay, for this Sunday’s music, here is a little sample from Something Rotten.  It is the real theme of the whole show.  It’s God, I Hate Shakespeare sung by Brain d’Arcy James.

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We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

–William Shakespeare

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Interesting line from the Bard.  Awareness of what we are is a good thing but we should not be satisfied.  We can always be better, be more than we are now.

 More tolerant and understanding of the plight of others.  More patient. More generous.  More kind.  More peaceful.  More willing to listen, to learn.  More loving.

Just better.

That’s what I see in this piece, Knowingness, an 18″ by 26″ painting that is part of my show opening tomorrow at the West End Gallery.  It’s about knowing what you are and, while being at peace with this knowledge, realizes there is always the possibility of being more.

 It may be the beginning of real wisdom.

I can’t say for sure.  I don’t think I’m at that point yet but, with this painting serving as a reminder,  remain hopeful.

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And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet, Act I, Scene V

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I call this new painting Heaven and Earth.  It’s about 7″ wide by 35″ tall on paper and is very much in the same vein as the very  large painting that I recently completed and featured here, The Internal Landscape.  This piece features a nocturnal scene however with a deep blue sky punctured by the light of stars.

The title might refer, in a way, to the lines above from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Horatio and Marcellus barge in on Hamlet’s conversation with the ghost of his father.  Horatio is a rationalist, philosophically, and to him  the idea of ghosts seems absurd so that when Hamlet asks him to swear to not  speak of what he has seenl he is mystified.  Hamlet then utters the lines — There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

I suppose this painting is saying much the same thing, that we live both in the world that we know and in a world of which we are unaware.  The stars above are, and have been, always with us but we know little of them, really.  The river  runs but we often know little of its journey and the roads travel to places we shall never see.  And around us at all times are radiowaves carrying voices and images from every corner of the globe, unseen and unheard.  And perhaps among all this  are the ghosts like Hamlet’s father, moving unnoticed by our eyes focused on that which we know and see.  Or, at least, are trying to know.

I guess the takeaway here is that there is often more than meets the eye, even when the scene before you might seem enough.

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