Author Archives: Celeste Moratti - Titania

NY performance pictures (part tres)

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NY performance pictures (part deux)!

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Thanks Will Vaultz!

NY Performance pictures!

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Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania!

About the fairy queen:

tough, tough tough rehearsal today, at least for me. Up on my feet for the first time as Titania, I started questioning a lot of things: Titania speaks some of the best poetry in Shakespeare, and some of the most mundane lines. She is the fairy queen and a prized possession of Oberon, who toys with her until he gets what he wants. She hates him with a vengeance and calls him “My Oberon”  and “my lord” as soon as she wakes up from her magic stupor. Opposites, opposites, opposites and more opposites. I started the rehearsal with a lot of doubts. What is she? And why does Shakespeare give her that mastodon of a  speech?

Dealing with the speech (I’m talking about  the infamous  “Forgeries of Jealousy”) as part of a lover’s quarrel seems incredibly reductive: it’s not to Oberon she speaks. This is a perfect example of a “choric” speech, a place for Shakespeare to paint a landscape and set an atmosphere. And what a terrifying landscape does she paint!

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain

As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea

Contagious fogs, which falling in the land

Have every pelting river made so proud

That they have overborne their continents.

I’m listening to the lines an images of ravaged Japan come to my mind. Continents swallowed up by tides, so incredibly terrible and so sadly current. But there’s more:

And thorough this distemperature we see

The seasons alter: hoary headed frosts

Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,

And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown

An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds 

Is as in mockery set; the spring, the summer,

the childing autumn, angry winter change 

their wonted liveries, and the mazed world

by their increase, now knows not which is which.

Wow. Now she sounds like Al Gore.

And here’s how she closes:

And this same progeny of evils comes from our debate,

from our dissention: we are their parents and original.

“We” being in this case herself and Oberon, but also “we” as in “we all”. The message in the speech is pretty clear, and reflects a school of thought derived from Plato’s theories and very familiar to Shakespeare: the universe is a harmony of opposites: good and bad, love and hate, day and night, nature and civilization, unity and duplicity: when these opposites coexist in harmonious accord, all is good in the universe; when the harmony is broken, the pillars of the universe crumble and fall.  All it takes is a quarrel about a stupid human child. Or digging one hole too many in the ocean, or engineering mutant  sterile crops of corn (she also talks about rotting corn in the speech!), or killing someone because he believes in a slightly different god than yours, you have the choice. In any case, the world is going to shit and it’s our fault. And it’s interesting that, at the end of the play, when harmony is restored, Helena finds her Demetrius “like a jewel: mine own and  not mine own”. Harmony of opposites. I just wish we had a magic flower to make all things right.