Click here to listen to the interview with Rebecca Watson.
New York-based actor Rebecca Watson is the featured guest on the latest episode of The State of Shakespeare, hosted by Jim Elliott and Gerritt VanderMeer.
Ms. Watson, fresh from her turn as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing at the Pioneer Theater in Salt Lake City, Utah, opens by revealing how a bold costume design led her to discover unexpected aspects of character that defined her portrayal. What does it say when Beatrice alternates between full-body armor and a belly-baring bodice?
With good humor and striking candor, Ms. Watson confesses that Beatrice is a character who seems to present more questions than answers. The famous exchange between Beatrice and Benedick in Act I, scene 4, for example, raises the questions: why doesn’t Beatrice “Kill Claudio” herself? Why doesn’t she cover for Hero? What does the word “honor” mean in a world of lies and broken promises? Is Beatrice the first feminist?
Ms. Watson holds that the answer to whether Beatrice is a prototypical feminist is no, but in fact, she explains, Beatrice may be the first practitioner of freedom of choice. Gerritt and Jim ask what it means to be a woman in a world of men. Ms. Watson reveals what happens when the armor Beatrice wears comes off (literally and metaphorically) and the price she pays for exposing her vulnerability.
There are inevitable parallels between Beatrice and Kate from Taming of the Shrew. Ms. Watson notes that not only does Beatrice outstrip Kate in her wit, but she bests Benedick in all of their tete-a-tetes. Beatrice, however, does feel the pointed sting of failing to help a friend in a critical moment of need.
The interview concludes with an exploration of text and the difficulties that Ms. Watson overcame when presented with the challenge of playing a character who is fickle with the verse – frequently falling into prose. Ms. Watson explains how Beatrice’s prose speaks volumes not merely about the character, but may also, perhaps, open a window to Shakespeare’s intent in writing this beautiful comedy.
Join Jim Elliott and Gerritt VanderMeer at http://www.stateofshakespeare.com for a fascinating look at one of Shakespeare’s timeless leading ladies. Armor optional.