Last night I saw Much Ado About Nothing at the National Theater. If you ever go to London I think the National Theater is a place you must visit. Anything you see will be good, plus it’s an interesting atmosphere. It is made entirely out of concrete that has been embossed with a wood grain in the interior. Seems cost effective and more interesting than plain concrete. The theaters (of which there are three in the building) are designed perfectly. You will have a good view from any seat, there is no way the person in front of you can block your view. The seats are very comfortable and there is decent leg room, which in my book is a must or else I really won’t enjoy the performance. This production was done perfectly, there really isn’t anything I would change. Beatrice was played by Zoe Wanamaker, who played Madame Hooch in Harry Potter, among her other remarkable roles. The costume designer won an Emmy, and it seems every person involved in the production had a long list of accomplishments and awards. Here is the link of the cast and info about this production: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/muchado

Today I had 6 hours of class, which is actually a typical Wednesday. In the morning I have three hours of a class called Theater, Audience, and Society. This is one of my favorite classes because I feel like I learn the most. We studied The Duchess of Malfi which is a play by Webster. He wrote around the same time as Shakespeare and his plays were performed at the Blackfriars theater, which is down the river from the Thames. It was the indoor counterpart to the outdoor Globe Theater. Webster was educated as a barrister and wrote few plays, so he probably wrote on the side just for kicks. He studied at the The Inns of Court which patronized theater in London. The Inns of Court is a Inn association that is similar to a bar association: a society that all Barristers must be a member of. There are only 4 of these Inns left in London. They were initially residential where three people would stay or study: students, barristers, and Masters of Bench (the barristers who appoint important positions, essentially the highest position for a barrister). The fact that Webster was a member of this Inn indicates that he wrote for a different audience that Shakespeare, whose work had more sophomoric humor and was written for a larger variety of audience (from the poor to the rich). Anyway, his work is quite interesting. The Duchess of Malfi is very dark and based on a true historical story. The Duchess marries a man of a lower social status against her family’s will and eventually pays the ultimate price of death because she broke the rules. He plays on a popular literary tradition, using rhyming couplets to illustrate a moral, something done on stained glass windows and in emblem books for people who couldn’t read. This drama plays on the roles of personal responsibility, asserting “the self” in life, and the failure of societal and law systems. It also introduces a the malecontent, or revenger, who takes law into his own hands. In The Duchess of Malfi, the malecontent is named Bosola. Webster is known for his different use of blank verse and dense, rich, compressed and ornamental writing full of images of death and decay.

Originally posted 3/12/08