Cordello Jones as Caius Lucius
Cymbeline. Is it a masterpiece or a stepping stone of tricks and devices not fully stylized by the Sir William Shakespeare? There’s always that cliche at stake. Is it pure genius or complete madness? “…has he reached a point to where he can no longer see the end?” If my opinion has any validity, I say, simply, Shakespeare knew what he was doing.
This is what makes it difficult to perform today. Shakespeare is more than the language, I’m afraid. The Theatre must understand soul and spirit language to give any meaning to the characters. Today actors are told that the “Who, What, When, Where, and How” interprets the character, and from this can you create actions. All of this is a petty human conflict. It is everywhere and everlasting. We need something that changes man indefinitely. The mere modern character analysis will not measure up.
Example: a Roman soldier. It is logical that he cares about matters of the State. This is a good conclusion, but not necessarily appropriate. Being a soldier was a duty, not a motivation. Briefly, the Roman soldier is looking for divinity and justice, his duty is a means to that end. He’s looking for the God, Jupiter. This journey, cannot be discovered in his relations with the other characters. It is the inner voice each character has.
One absolute truth about all Shakespeare’s characters is they all speak their true selves. Each character wants satisfaction from the gods. Imogen wants true love to live “by the gods.” Posthumus thanks the gods, saying “by their grace I will keep her.” It is remarkable how they speak their inner voices so freely. These are explicit examples of the characters motivated by the spiritual and soul-in-tuned voice. Their true inner voice that heightens the stakes for each character and the scenes.
What Shakespeare has reminded me, and hopefully those who watch his work, is that it is more than what people and human nature do to each other that drives a story forward. Instead, it is what people do to each other for the sanctity of their soul and spirit. We all want to be saved by something. The difference between today and Shakespeare time (or the time he captured) is we believe in Hospitals, “Hey Doc!” and they lived knowing…“Thou art the comforts the gods will diet me with.”