‘Despair, and Die!’: Descend into the
Depravity of Richard III
By Emily Chase
After the death
of King Henry VI, a British duke rose to power through a series
of acts that cemented his position in history as one of the most
ruthless men ever to wear a crown. Shakespeare dramatized these
events in Richard III, an early historical play that
remains an audience favorite four hundred years later and comes
to UIS this week.
The plot is, to put
it mildly, complicated, following the late-15th century
shift in British rule from the Plantagenet family to the Tudors.
Fortunately, an audience member need not be an expert of the Duke
of Gloucester (commonly known by his first name, Richard) or
political intrigue of the 1480s. Pared down to simplicity, the
plot follows Richard, an ambitious and truly evil man whose
physical deformity (kyphosis, or a hunchback) seems to coincide
with his iniquity. Richard, completely devoid of compassion or
morality, rises to the throne by killing anyone in his way,
including his wife and family members, his enemies and supporters
alike. Early in the play the dowager Queen Margaret in effect
outlines the course of action. Cursing the assembled characters,
she states that Edward IV (the current king) will die; his son,
Edward V will die young; Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth, will live a
long and miserable life; Richard’s allies will each die of an
“unlooked accident”; and Richard himself will prove to be as base
as her ignored ramblings claim. After Margaret’s predictions come
true Richard prepares to meet in battle Richmond, the future King
Henry VII, a Tudor who will restore peace to England. The night
before the battle of Bosworth Field the ghosts of Richard’s
victims visit him the night before battle and drive him insane
with their taunts to “…despair, and die!” Richmond kills Richard,
restoring peace and goodness to England:
Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord,
That would reduce these bloody days again
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!
Let them not live to taste this land's increase
That would with treason wound this fair land's peace!
Now civil wounds are stopped, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say Amen!
V, Scene V)
Unlike most of
Shakespeare’s main characters, Richard is not only evil but also
unrepentant. In his famous opening soliloquy he brags to the
audience how terrible he is and that he is simply not suited for
the tranquil England in which he lives:
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
(Act I, Scene I)
Despite his boasts
and his physical ugliness (a traditional symbol for evil) he
bewitches and even charms the audience with his iniquitous
behavior; as always, audiences love a good villain.
Richard III, one of
history’s greatest villains, comes to Richard III comes to
Sangamon Auditorium for one performance at 8:00 p.m., Friday,
February 27. Tickets are $35, $32, $29, and $25; student
discounts are available. Contact the Auditorium box office on the
second level of the Public Affairs Center, at 206-6160 or at
sangamonauditorium.org. Media sponsors are FAXXON Title Services
Springfield's other favorite
son: Vachel Lindsay and Performance Art on the Prairie
The drive from
downtown Springfield to I-55 passes quaint shops, restaurants,
bars, the governor's mansion and several beautiful old houses.
Many of those houses have been converted into businesses or
apartments but some still are single residences. One house, a
large beige building with arched columns on the porch and dark
brown trim on the tall windows next to the governor's mansion,
blends unassumingly into the rest. Were it not for the sign in
the front yard it could be anyone's home or office. And for a
while it was someone's home and office. Vachel Lindsay spent the
beginning and end of his life in this two-story, five-bedroom
In 1879 Dr. Vachel
Thomas and Esther Frazee Lindsay had a son, Nicholas Vachel, their
only son among five daughters. Dr. Lindsay expected his son to
join him in medical practice but Esther, an amateur painter
herself, encouraged young Vachel to foster his creativity as a
hobby. While attending Hiram College he decided he could not be a
doctor and, despite his parent's objections, enrolled in Art
Institute in Chicago and later the New York School of Art. While
at the School one of his teachers, urban realist painter Robert
Henri, bluntly told Lindsay to focus on his poetry rather than
drawing and painting. After hearing Lindsay's "The Tree of the
Laughing Bells" Henri felt Lindsay would find more success as a
poet than painter.
assertion, Lindsay found no success in New York and returned to
Springfield. To prove to himself and his family that he could
survive as an artist he left home with no money, walking across
the country selling poems, performances, and drawings for food and
lodging. In his three walking tours he covered almost 3000 miles
- all on foot. In addition to his poetry Lindsay wrote prose
about his travels.
has, like many of his contemporaries', enjoyed a revival in
critical and scholarly circles but has been unable to develop a
large public following. Part of this can be attributed to
Lindsay's subject matter; he usually wrote about what he
experienced no matter where he was. During his walks across
country he wrote and drew about the people he met and the places
he saw. When at home in Springfield he wrote about the city and
its residents. As the father and uncle of young children he wrote
children's poetry for them. And he wrote about the politics of
the day - race relations to Jane Addams, women's suffrage to Mary
Pickford and the new film industry. The result is a collection of
poems with no coherence or overriding theme. (Lindsay's personal
philosophy, the Gospel of Beauty, was an ever-present motif of his
works but had no effect on his choice of subject. In his Gospel
of Beauty (1912) Lindsay outlines his belief that aesthetic
pleasures support and promote democracy and spirituality.)
Most of Lindsay's
lack of popularity is the unique style of his work. Many of his
most successful and well received poems are to be sung or
chanted. Some even include stage notes written in the margins and
between stanzas directing the performer's gestures and physical
responses. Yes, performer. To appreciate much of Lindsay's work
one must, in the words of VL Home site administrator Jennie
Battles, "not be afraid to really let loose!" Also, Lindsay drew
beautiful ink drawings and then wrote poems to illustrate
them. Because the poems depend on the pictures - and not
the other way around, as some believe - poems published without
the pictures often make little sense.
When read as poetry
Lindsay's works satisfy. His language and subjects depict a
variety of aspects of life in the early 20th century.
When read or, rather, performed, in the manner he intended and in
the correct historical context, however, Lindsay's works thrill.
Today fans can
visit the Lindsay Home, at 603 S. 5th Street, to learn
about his life and works. Battles and volunteers conduct tours
Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5:00. Poetry readings by
various writers, including Marcellus Leonard of UIS, and Lindsay
scholars are held throughout the year. For more information, call
Battles at 524-0901.
[Note: Of the
dozens of poems by Lindsay the following are not the necessarily
the most famous, the most admired or the most universal but they
are, I hope, representative of Lindsay as an artist and as a
Springfield native. And, I must confess, they are some of my
favorites. - E. Chase]
I Want To Go
I want to go
wandering. Who shall declare
I will regret if I
To the rich days of
A wide fenceless
A lonely old tune,
And sunset too
Behind the brown
The sun will go
I shall climb, I
To the sumptuous
To the rocks of the
And find some
strange things: --
Some echo of echoes
Or a feeble old
He may leave me and
But if he shall
I shall bury him
While the thunder
And there, as the
late of my earth-nights go:
What is the thing I
With a feather cast
off from his wings
I shall write, be
it revel or psalm,
Or whisper of
redwood, or cypress, or palm, --
The treasure of
dream that he brings.
The soul of the
eagle will call,
Whether he lives or
he dies: --
The cliff and the
The sagebrush and
And the songs of my
far-away Sangamon call
From the plume of
the bird of the Rockies,
omnipotent wing --
The last of my
earth-nights will ring
With cries from a
far haunted river,
And all of my
Let not young souls
be smothered out before
They do quaint
deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world's
one crime its babes grow dull,
Its poor are
ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
Not that they
starve, but starve so dreamlessly,
Not that they sow,
but that they seldom reap.
Not that they
serve, but have no gods to serve,
Not that they die,
but that they die like sheep. (1910-1912)
On the Building
Let not our town be
That little Athens was the Muses' home,
That Oxford rules the heart of London still,
That Florence gave the Renaissance to Rome.
Record it for the grandson of your son -
A city is not builded in a day:
Our little town cannot complete her soul
Till countless generations pass away.
Now let each child be joined as to a church
To her perpetual hopes, each man ordained:
Let every street be made a reverent aisle
Where Music grows and Beauty is unchained.
Let Science and Machinery and Trade
Be slaves of her, and make her all in all,
Building against our blatant, restless time
An unseen, skilful, medieval wall.
Let every citizen be rich toward God.
Let Christ the beggar, teach divinity.
Let no man rule who holds his money dear.
Let this, our city, be our luxury.
We should build parks that students from afar
Would choose to starve in, rather than go home,
Fair little squares, with Phidian ornament,
Food for the spirit, milk and honeycomb.
Songs shall be sung by us in that good day,
Songs we have written, blood within the rhyme
Beating, as when Old England still was glad, -
The purple, rich Elizabethan time.
Say, is my prophecy too fair and far?
I only know, unless her faith be high,
The soul of this, our Nineveh, is doomed,
Our little Babylon will surely die.
Some city on the breast of Illinois
No wiser and no better at the start
By faith shall rise redeemed, by faith shall rise
Bearing the western glory in her heart.
The genius of the Maple, Elm and Oak,
The secret hidden in each grain of corn,
The glory that the prairie angels sing
At night when sons of Life and Love are born,
Born but to struggle, squalid and alone,
Broken and wandering in their early years.
When will they make our dusty streets their goal,
Within our attics hide their sacred tears?
When will they start our vulgar blood athrill
With living language, words that set us free?
When will they make a path of beauty clear
Between our riches and our liberty?
We must have many Lincoln-hearted men.
A city is not builded in a day.
And they must do their work, and come and go
While countless generations pass away. (1916)
In this, the City
of my Discontent,
Sometimes there comes a whisper from the grass,
"Romance, Romance - is here. No Hindu town
Is quite so strange. No Citadel of Brass
By Sinbad found, held half such love and hate;
No picture-palace in a picture-book
Such webs of Friendship, Beauty, Greed and Fate!"
In this, the City of my Discontent,
Down from the sky, up from the smoking deep
Wild legends new and old burn round my bed
While trees and grass and men are wrapped in sleep.
Angels come down, with Christmas in their hearts,
Gentle, whimsical, laughing, heaven-sent;
And, for a day, fair Peace have given me
In this, the City of my Discontent! (1909)
Walks at Midnight
(In Springfield, Illinois)
It is portentous, and a thing of state
That here at midnight, in our little town
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
Near the old court-house pacing up and down.
Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards
He lingers where his children used to play,
Or through the market, on the well-worn stones
He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.
A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,
A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl
Make him the quaint great figure that men love,
The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.
He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.
He is among us: -- as in times before!
And we who toss and lie awake for long
Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.
His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many peasants fight, they know not why,
Too many homesteads in black terror weep.
The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.
He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn
Shall come; -- the shining hope of Europe free;
The league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth,
Bringing long peace to Cornwall, Alp and Sea.
It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,
That all his hours of travail here for men
Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace
That he may sleep upon his hill again? (1914)
Nighttime cravings never
tasted so good
By Nanette C.
Tired of steak burgers and milkshakes
for your 1:00am cravings? Has Steak and Shake gotten old after
the umpteenth visit? Are you sick of waiting to be seated or too
poor to leave a tip all the time? While it is true that most of
Springfield shuts down around 10:00 pm, there are a couple of
other places that have chosen to not jump the bandwagon.
Music to a college student’s ear—food
late! If you’ve ever shown up to Steak and Shake and been lucky
enough to see the sign that reads “Closed for cleaning,” you’ll be
happy to hear that there are more options.
First, there is Denny’s. Whether
you’re closer to the one on Stevenson across from La Mex or the
one on Wabash by the White Oaks Mall, you’re Denny’s of choice may
vary. But don’t fret. Thanks to homogenization, you can be sure
that the product will be virtually the same.
Specializing in breakfast food, Denny’s
is quite possibly best known for the Grand Slam. They do offer
dinner and lunch, but breakfast is definitely recommended. Like
Steak and Shake, Denny’s has the restaurant feel, which to a
college student’s mind should interpret into a server and a
If Denny’s and Steak and Shake aren’t
your flavor of choice, there is a Perkins located on Veterans.
Perkins, a little like Denny’s, offers all three meals, but the
breakfast foods are probably the best choice. Arguably their pies
are the best in town. Reasonably priced, it is a nice alternative
to the typical Steak and Shake and Denny’s. Don’t forget a little
extra money for a tip for your server.
Last, but definitely not least is a
little restaurant called La Bambas. Well known for their
“burritos as big as your head,” it is located over by the old
Nicer than Taco Bell, La Bambas stays
open extra late. It closes at
2:00am on weeknights and 3:00am on weekends. Don’t be fooled by
the small building—it may look small, but it tastes big! Offering
various spins on the typical Mexican foods, your choice is made
right to order.
Hot, fresh Mexican dishes late at
night? You’ve got it!
Springfield has broadened its horizons past the
breakfast/hamburger joints. So, if you’re up for trying something
new, La Bambas is the place for you!
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago heats up
Modern dance heated up a cold and windy
night at Sangamon Auditorium Friday, February 20, with Hubbard
Street Dance Chicago.
The opening number, “Diphthong” (a
diphthong is two vowel sounds in the same syllable, such as rain
or noise) seemed to surprise some of the audience members with its
primitive-looking costumes and dancers hopping spasmodically about
the stage. As the piece went on, though, and intricate choral
harmonies and pop music blended with the constant tribal beat, the
audience relaxed and accepted it.
Next was “Kiss,” a simple, short work
choreographed by Susan Marshall with the music of Arvo Pärt. The
jeans-clad dancers were attached to harnesses at their waists and
hips; ropes hooked to the harnesses allowed the dancers to cover
the emotions felt during a kiss between lovers. A few snickers
could be heard at first but no one laughed as suddenly, with a
slight swelling of the music, both dancers moved their arms,
subtly controlling and manipulating the ropes, and started to
soar. The on-stage lovers floated a few feet above the stage in a
breathtaking display of the power and possibility of momentum and
After the first intermission came the
Rolling Stones medley “Rooster”, the clear audience favorite.
This focused on the men of the company with black blazers and
brightly colored dress shirts like Brian Jones on the “Through the
Past, Darkly” album cover. Bypassing some of the more famous and
overplayed Stones’ songs, choreographer Christopher Bruce chose
intelligent songs covering male ego and sexuality, or, in short,
songs highly representative of the Stones: “Little Red Rooster,”
a surprisingly sexy number in which the principal male dancer
strutted around the stage with the mannerisms of both a rooster
and Mick Jagger; “Paint It Black,” an intriguing and sensual tune
for the women’s entrance; “As Tears Go By,” in which the dancers
exclude two of their peers who eventually find each other; “Play
with Fire” and “Not Fade Away,” a demonstration of the athleticism
of male dancers; “Ruby Tuesday,” a tender solo for a woman in a
long red dress; “Lady Jane,” in which couples waltzed together
while periodically breaking into energetic bursts of leaps and
solos; and “Sympathy for the Devil,” a true Stones finale oozing
Opening up the third act was “Call the
Whole Thing Off,” choreographed by Harrison McEldowney with music
by George and Ira Gershwin, Mose Allison, and Sammy Cahn. Like
“Kiss” “Call” was a simple number with just two dancers
representing lovers. As the man explained to his girlfriend why
he was late – a hilarious, rambling explanation set to the
greatest song about not breaking up – the woman danced an
energetic dance of love to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” Then
she had her say (though, after the dancing, she was understandably
winded), complaining about his irresponsibility as he jumped and
danced to “Your Mind Is on Vacation.” The audience could not stop
laughing throughout this incredibly fun piece.
Sadly, though, the finale was a
disappointment. Featuring the entire company “The 40s” should
have been a rousing revival of Big Band dance. Instead, it seemed
boring, repetitive and unoriginal after “Kiss,” “Rooster” and
“Call…” Choreography by company founder Lou Conte with great
Ralhp Burns/Sy Oliver music could not save “The 40s.”
Despite the lackluster end, Hubbard
Street Dance Chicago delivered a diverse collection to
And, yes, their main studios are
Hubbard Street in Chicago.
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