Deformity in Richard III


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Richard III and Deformity  

Some scholars insist that Richard was neither crippled nor humpbacked,

 

and they are passionately dedicated to proving that Shakespeare's

 

portrait of the inhuman monster is based on Tudor propaganda used to

 

bolster Henry VII's weak claim to the throne

 

               The only "proof" we have of Richard III's deformity is that which

 

is provided by Sir Thomas More in "The History of King Richard the

 

Third".  It is here that modern readers digest the adjectives which

 

forever plague Richard "Little of stature, ill-featured of limbs,

 

crooked-backed, his left shoulder much higher than his right".  This

 

description may seem horrible, but it is only compounded when it is

 

placed next to the deformity of his character.  Regardless of whether

 

Richard was truly the demon he was portrayed to be, the role of Richard

 

III as established by William Shakespeare is one of the more

 

challenging roles for the Shakespearean actor. Because this week's

 

annotations were to be focused on the actor's perspective of

 

Shakespeare, I chose to focus my posting on the same topic.

 

               First of all, Richard III is on stage longer than any other Bard

 

character. Usually, the time on stage is not a bed of roses either.

 

The actor must limp, wear a hump, or at least hunch over for the

 

duration of the play.  This may doom an actor to chiropractic

 

sessions for the rest of their life!

 

               Certain actors have defined the role of Richard.  Antony Sher

 

researched the affects of scoliosis on the body, and any other

 

back deformity he could.  When it was time for him to begin acting the

 

role and he saw the make-up crews version of his hump he stated,

 

 

 

"With my heart in my mouth, I hurry over to see my back.  It's

 

much softer than I imagined, lying on the floor like a big pink

 

blancmange, a slice of blubber, a side of Elephant Man.

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"Deformity in Richard III." 123HelpMe.com. 27 Feb 2017
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 I can hardly

 

get my clothes off fast enough to hoist it onto my back."

 

               Psychologically, Richard must choose between portraying the

 

seductive character, of the deformed wretch of a man using love as

 

an excuse.

 

               Basically, the role of Richard is one which captivates and

 

infuriates actors.  To deform, or not to deform, to seduce or

 

not to seduce. . . these are the questions which keep the role

 

of Richard III alive for actors today.

 


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