What's Happening

Ricardo II: Episode 2

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Nov 17, 2020 at 07:17 PM in Fringe Projects

Episode two of Merced Shakespearefest's Ricardo II: A Bilingual Adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard II features the interrupted duel between Henry Bolingbroke and Tomás Mercedes/Mowbray. As the king enters to invite the opponents in, he first officiously removes a blue cotton face mask before speaking, highlighting how this production has integrated covid-19 safety measures into the blocking and costuming of this live-filmed performance.

The entire cast wears cloth face masks for the duration of the performance, lowering them to speak. The details of these ubiquitous masks, designed by Eulalia Gomez, speak to the characters they represent, just as any other element of costuming: pale blue cotton is worn only by king Ricardo and a few other high-ranking royals, pale grey by mid-ranking courtiers like John of Gaunt, and a darker, bandana-patterned blue by low-ranking courtiers and the rebellious Henry Bolingbroke. 

The blocking of the duel in a court environment also easily enables social distancing protocols. Courtiers are spaced evenly, several feet apart, forming a half-circle around Ricardo's seat. Royal entrances and exits are done with a flourish that allows the king and queen to lead the court away, their their palms raised toward one another over a safe distance that also evokes the formality of their bond. Even Ricardo's impulsive interruption of the duel takes place just as Bolingbroke and Mercedes are set to rush toward each other in battle, their long spears still raised and almost measuring the distance between them.

This episode ends with Bolingbroke and Mercedes exiled: the former only temporarily, and the latter on pain of death. Keep watching for more episodes of this innovative, bilingual production on Mercedes Shakespearefest's Youtube channel, and keep an eye on our blog for more episode recaps!