When I’m not orchestrating the deaths of my friends and relatives on the Folger’s stage in our current production of Richard III, I teach at Avenues: The World School, in New York City. This past Monday, I returned to school to update my 8th graders on how the play’s been progressing, as they prepare to journey down to DC in March to check it out. Avenues was able to build a portion of the 8th grade curriculum around Richard III, and I’ve tried to take advantage of this opportunity to give my students an insider’s-take on how an actor navigates the creative waters from the audition process through closing night. They are a cool group of kids, and they always pepper me with some great questions, but one of my colleagues surprised me with this one the other day: what’s my favorite line in the show, what’s the context that it’s spoken in, and how do I connect to this line personally?So here it is, from Act 5.4:
“Slave, I have set my life upon a cast/And I will stand the hazard of the die.”
My favorite line no longer exists in our production, having fallen victim to the cutting process necessary to shape the story we ultimately arrived at telling. But it’s a remarkable moment for King Richard. Trapped by fate, and staring down a relentless adversary, Richard’s just uttered the first of two “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse” lines (we may have cut one of those, too). Catesby misinterprets this as a desire to retreat, and offers to help him to a horse to flee when Richard spits out this magnificent line to let him know that he’s still got skin in the game. Richard’s a gambler who knows how to take calculated risks, but he also recognizes that chance always plays a part in determining the outcome. No matter what, he’s prepared to play the game until the very end.
I love that because I live that, as does anyone that chooses a life in the arts. When this show is over, I have no idea where or when I’ll act again. But like Richard, I’m not looking for a horse to carry me off the field of battle because the situation is daunting – I’m all in.
I’ll leave you with this video shot before our first student matinee.
Click here to watch Drew’s video.
*RICHARD III plays at the Folger Theatre through Sunday, March 16. For tickets, contact our box office at 202.544.7077 or click here to purchase online.