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A feminist reinterpretation of
Richard III

She was the epitome of discovering true power of women and how they find personal strength. Queen Elizabeth, a minor character in Shakespeare’s eponymous history play Richard III, is despite the limitations women faced in her time, a true display of power and strength that is still appealing and inspirational today. Whilst Shakespeare’s play was an exploration of the political intrigues associated with the War of the Roses, we were captured by Elizabeth’s journey as a woman and individual with growing self awareness and personal power. Thus, our production, Elizabeth: a feminist reinterpretation of Richard III, makes the power hungry Richard the antagonist, whilst focusing on our protagonist, Elizabeth. Her story is told using edited scenes, Act I Scene III and Act IV Scene IV, and an original montage and clips based on Shakespeare’s depiction of the character. Using spectacle and Shakespeare’s powerful language, we explore Elizabeth’s transformation from lavishly titled but with limited power to personally rich whilst maintaining her morals and values as a strong woman. “Bold, quick, ingenious, forward and capable”, these characteristics are prime in drawing our attention to the extraordinary character that is Elizabeth. Her raw strength through times of adversity such as the battle against Richard III, a man aimed at her demise is precisely what draws us as young women to her. Thus our feminist take on Richard III highlights her journey from dependent and personally powerless to strong, composed and personally capable. Our production entailed an expository montage, selected portions of Act 1 Scene 3, a brief clip, patterned parts of Act 4 scene 4 and a concluding clip. Elizabeth at the beginning saw through Richard’s disguise. Critic Shirley Galloway states “The women of this play function as voices of protest and morality. They often see through his intrigues and predict dire consequences from his acts. Shakespeare uses the women to point out moral truths and emphasize general principles of the Elizabethan world view of moral and political order." Elizabeth was one of the few characters who survived the impending acts that were to be committed by Richard and who faced him and survived.

The introductory montage commenced with Queen Margaret holding a lighted candle saying “Poor Painted Queen”. It continued to a scene in the throne room with sickly king Edward, Queen Elizabeth and devious Richard. It progressed to another image of Queen Elizabeth praying feverishly, reminiscing outside of the castle having quality time with her son, the prince and possible heir to the throne all the while inconspicuously spied on by Richard, hiding and plotting. Her brother, Rivers and her son Grey then escort her to the throne room introducing Act 1 Scene 3. These images comprising a montage introduced choice fragments of Act 1 Scene 3. This Scene displayed a forlorn Elizabeth surrounded by supportive Rivers, her brother and Grey, her son. They were then joined by Buckingham and Derby bringing news of visiting King Edward. Richard furiously storms in offended that he “must be held a rancorous enemy” by the Queen and her family. Queen Elizabeth taken aback and filled with self pity explains that she does not appreciate the “gross taunts” that she endured all the while enlightening Richard that being a Queen is more stressful than joyful. Ex-Queen Margaret enters the scene invisible to the other characters reciting asides in response to Richard’s vile taunts towards the Queen. Margaret then emerges and insists that everyone in the room owed her a kingdom and a family. She tries in vain to convince Queen Elizabeth that Richard is a villain and Queen Elizabeth is blind sighted towards her prophecy. The house of York, including Richard turned and ridiculed Margaret who responded by saying “poor painted Queen, vain flourished of my fortune, poor painted queen” The binding element between...
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