Author Archives: Celeste Moratti - Titania
Thanks Will Vaultz!
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.