These quotations, chosen by Richard Cottrell, direct the audience’s attention to the intentions of his production.
"God hath not only lent the king his figure,
His throne and sword but given him his own name,
Calls him a god on earth. What do you then,
Rising 'gainst him that God himself instals
But rise 'gainst God." Sir Thomas More (circa 1595)
"Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark what discord follows." Troilus and Cressida
'Whosoever rebels against any ruler, either good or bad, rebels against God, and shall be sure of a wretched end: for God cannot but maintain his deputy. Yet this I note by the way, concerning rebels and rebellions: although the Devil raise them, yet God always uses them to his glory, as part of His justice. For when Kings and chief rulers suffer their under-officers to misuse their subjects, and will not hear nor remedy their people's wrongs when they complain, then God suffers the Rebel to rage, and to execute that part of His justice which the partial prince would not.' A Mirror for Magistrates 1559
"In Richard II, Shakespeare deposed not only the king but the idea of kingly power. . .Royal Power comes from God and all power on earth is merely a reflection of the wider power wielded by the King . . . Richard II is a tragedy of dethronement, not just Richard's dethronement but that of ... the idea of regal power." — Jan Kott "Shakespeare Our Contemporary"
"We are in a world where means matter more than ends and where it is more important to keep strictly to the rules of an elaborate game than either to win or lose it." — E. M. W. Tillyard "Shakespeare's History Plays"
"The horror of civil war was common to the whole of Western Europe but it took a special form in England where the conception of what civil war meant was founded in memories of the Wars of the Roses." — E. M. W. Tillyard "Shakespeare's History Plays"
"Not today, oh Lord,
Oh not today, think upon the fault
My father made in compassing the crown,
I Richard's body have interred anew
And on it have bestow'd more contrite tears
Than from it issued forced drops of blood." Henry V
The character of Richard: a selection of views
"Richard II is typical not because he ever existed but because he made us know something in our minds we had never known if he had never been imagined." — W. B. Yeats, 1923
"An actor and a poseur." — Robert Brustein, 1965
"A character of pathos—that is to say, of feeling combined with weakness." — "The Examiner", W. Hazlitt, 1815
"In his prosperity we saw him imperious and oppressive but in his distress he is wise, patient and pious." — Dr. Johnson, 1765
"He throws himself into the part of the deposed monarch ... and falls gracefully onto the world's stage." — Walter Pater. 1889
"Gods cannot sin: it is this which distinguishes them from man. Richard begins to realise that he is only a man when the deaths of Bushy and Green make him see that he 'feels want, needs friends' but it is the realisation that he is 'a traitor like the rest' in agreeing to resign his crown that leads him towards humanity and spiritual growth." From a discussion at rehearsals
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