Monday, April 25, 2011

The Royal Wedding

So, apparently there is an event happening this week that has the entire world buzzing - other than my birthday. :) I speak of course about the Royal Wedding, which has had my wife glued to the television every time they mention the latest detail about whether the oddsmakers have William actually crying during references to his mother, or just getting a bit misty.

Anyway, it seems like we could find a Shakespeare spin on the subject. Correct me if I'm wrong in this, but Shakespeare never actually put a wedding on stage, right? That's what my research told me when I was working on my book. It being a sacrament and all, it would have been pretty blasphemous for him to portray the actual ceremony on stage and look as if he was making light of a solemn event.

He did, however, talk *about* weddings. Many times. Much Ado About Nothing has that great "Ok, now let's all go get married once the play is over" scene. Taming of the Shrew has its "Did you hear how Petruchio wrecked the wedding?!" third-person account. There's Romeo and Juliet's quickie. And of course, A Midsummer Night's Dream has the greatest wedding reception ever.

I have a couple of things I'd like to accomplish in this post. First, can we come up with the definitive list of when Shakespeare did the "talk around the wedding" thing, as described above? I'm looking specifically for opportunities where it's implied that a wedding takes place, either offstage or immediately after the play. It's the ones that happen during the play that are the most interesting, as they really call attention to the whole question of why Shakespeare never showed weddings. How should we count The Tempest?

Second, how would you add some Shakespeare to William and Kate's wedding? I've been keeping an eye out, and so far I've seen no Shakespeare references at all in any of the public material (i.e. the invitations, speeches and so on). There may yet be some, who knows. But if you were one of the wedding planners, how might you sneak some Shakespeare into the mix?

( Seriously, I'm hoping that somebody associated with this media event manages to make a Shakespeare reference, because the minute that happens a few million people are going to start googling for Shakespeare wedding quotes and yours truly is sitting on the front page for several variations of that search :). Fingers crossed! )


Anonymous said...

What about As You Like It? There's the pretend wedding when Celia presides over Ganymede and Orlando, and then at the end Rosalind pretty much marries Orlando, doesn't she? Hymen (Greek god of marriage) comes in and pretty much marries all four couples...maybe Shakespeare avoids 'making light of something sacrosanct' by using a Greek god instead of a priest.

Alexi said...

The pretend wedding is a good illustration of the way Shakespeare always stops short of showing an actual wedding onstage, because there are a couple marked irregularities: Celia first protests "I cannot say the words!" and indeed she can't, not being a priest. A few lines later, Rosalind answers, "I do take thee, Orlando, for my husband," before Celia can even ask her ("there's a girl goes before a priest"). At this point, the conversation goes in a different direction, as Rosalind switches back to her Ganymede persona (referring to "Rosalind" in third rather than 1st person).

Your point about the last scene could well be right. Hymen's appearance in that final scene is strange. In the last production I was in, we played Hymen as a human (Amiens) dressing up as the god as part of the celebration. The director thought it made more sense.

Anonymous said...

Amiens played our Hymen as well! (I did the show almost six years ago) Actually in the pretend marriage our Celia did the Princess Bride priest voice-- Wiww you, Orwando, have to wife this Wosawind? [mawwwege bwings us Twew wove!] It was hilarious :D

kj said...

I'm nearly certain that Will is planning to turn to Kate near the end of the ceremony and break into "Kiss me, Kate" from the Shakespeare-based musical of the same name.

And there's an ale out there called "Kiss me Kate" (no comma) in honor of the service.

How about Measure for Measure? There's an off-stage marriage consummation in that play.

Much Ado is interesting because we have the beginning of a wedding in it—one that is interrupted.


Charlene said...

I'm glad the first person up mentioned AYLI. Shapiro argues, in 1599, that it is in that very scene that Orlando must realize who Rosalind is, because the words they are saying would have equated to an actual betrothal at the time. He also says that's the very reason Celia freaks out a bit and says "I cannot say the words!" Because she knew legally they would have meaning.

Elleoneiram said...

This was a recent tweet:

misconstrue: This weekend is straight out of Shakespeare, bookended with a royal wedding and the death of a tyrant

MezzoSherri said...

How about Merry Wives of Windsor? Three weddings (of a sort) all happening during Act 5, scene 5...