In Which Amanda Riggle and Lauren Sumabat Geek-Out over Richard III

Benedict Cumberbatch and Judi Dench have been cast in an upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Co-blogger Lauren Sumabat and I could hardly contain our excitement about the upcoming production and we’ve decided to share our conversation about why we are so excited with the readers of this blog. Enjoy!


Lauren: Aren’t you a little saddened that Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be all deformed? It’s like, ugh, what a waste.

Amanda: I think it’s his voice I’m most excited about. It’s good for a bad guy.

I’ve noted that Benedict Cumberbatch starts in a lot of book-related things.

Atonement was where I first saw him, then Sherlock, The Hobbit, and now he’s getting into some Shakespeare.

Lauren: He was also in August: Osage County, in some real fucked up family situations. That movie was ridiculous, really.

Amanda: I never saw that. I saw a clip from it, where he was singing. He has a lovely singing voice.

The first thing I saw him in was Atonement. I loved the book and I loved the movie. He was such a good bad guy in that.

Lauren: I’ve actually never read the book. I’ve seen the movie though.

Amanda: He did a great job playing the blue blooded pedophilic predator. I hated him in that movie, but he was supposed to be hated.

Lauren: Yeah. That’s how you know they’re a good actor, if they make you hate them enough.

Amanda: I think that skill will be invaluable in Richard III. Shakespeare’s Richard III is a bloody play with a bloody king. We get to see Benedict Cumberbatch be bloodthirsty in this one.

Lauren: And he’s the guy for it!

Amanda: Has he been in anything where he’s been steeped in blood? I’m picturing Titus Andronicus levels of gore, but I know Richard III isn’t that bloody.

Lauren: I’ve never read Titus Andronicus, but I’ve read about productions of it in my theater class.

Amanda: It’s dark. Like, if you ever want to read about the worst aspects of humanity, it’s right there for the taking.

Back onto Benedict Cumberbatch. Because, honestly, we all want to be on Benedict Cumberbatch.

Some critics of the play say that the character of Richard III is somewhat flat because he’s written as a bloodthirsty tyrant without much development. What qualities do you think Benedict Cumberbatch has to make this character round?

Lauren: First off, I’m surprised that people perceive Richard III as being a flat character. I think because Richard III is meant to be so deceptive and manipulative, leading up to bloodbath, makes Benedict perfect for this role.

Looking back at Star Trek: Into Darkness, I don’t know about you, but I was totally duped by Benedict’s “I come in peace, my peeps need help” pitch.

Amanda: That was one of his only roles not based on books, although, I guess it could be argued that there’s a whole ton of Star Trek books out there. He did a great job as a sympathetic villain in Star Trek: Into Darkness. He really got you feeling for him and then used that power.

Lauren: Like you mentioned before, the tone of his voice is a huge factor.

Amanda: I think the control he has over it is great. I mean, thank you his parents for the genetic contributions you made in making that voice to begin with, but he has such great control of his pitch, pacing, and delivery that it really is more than genetics that makes his voice great.

Lauren: Which are oh so important when it comes to Shakespeare. All of those factors can make or break a scene, change the audience’s perception of the character, or even cause the audience to re-evaluate character motives.

Amanda: Exactly. Shakespeare’s theater wasn’t all about the visual. It was about voice and tone and delivery.

What’s happening on stage and the bodies are important, but you can’t have a good play without good oral skills. Theater is a more aural medium than television or film. Less so than radio.

Lauren: Which is why I’d give anything to see Benedict on stage for Hamlet. Oh, did you see he’s going to be doing Hamlet in the Summer of 2015 in London with the Royal Shakespeare Company? I was already trying to devise a plan to get myself out to London in 2015.

Amanda: I’ll be excited to see what Cumberbatch does with it. I’ll say it’s for research and get my grad school to pay for it.

Lauren: YES, WE WILL DO IT.

Amanda: Dear people reading this blog post, we have a donation button on the side. If you give us money, we will go see this play and blog about it. Also, we should start a Kickstarter.Com campaign – “fund us to go to England to see this play and write about how awesome it was.” If it can be done for potato salad and puglet (the all pug production of Hamlet), it can be done for this.

Lauren: If it was done for that, my hopes are soaring.

Amanda: I think there were some other points I wanted to touch on when it came to why we were excited for Benedict Cumberbatch, besides our universal attraction to him.

Like, seriously, is anyone not attracted to him?

Nicole: Nope, I’m not.

Amanda: What? Not even his voice?

Nicole: Nope. I’m not attracted to British people, actually.

Amanda: Not even any of the 007’s?

Nicole: I prefer Australian or New Zealand folk.

Amanda: Who have tans and muscles.

Nicole: My kind of man. Oh! I did like Sean Connery. Does he count as a British guy?

Amanda: I think he’s Scottish. So, no, you still don’t like British men.

Melanie: I think Benedict Cumberbatch is physically attractive. But I will say that it’s honestly his mind and personality to me that’s more attractive. Nicole must be one of the only girls I know who just isn’t into British guys.

Lauren: Well, come on:

Amanda: His ice bucket challenge was the best.

Lauren: He’s responsible for the drought in America because we’ll be importing our water sources so that he can have a continuous flow of water thrown on him.

Amanda: He’s also responsible for my new fetish of wet men in suits.

Lauren: Anyway, can be talk about Judi Dench now? I heart her.

Amanda: Yes. Judi Dench is a great addition to the Richard III production. She’s been in a ton of Jane Austen book-based movies, and she’s been in Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet before as well.

Lauren: And, a production of Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest. Lady Augusta!

Amanda: She was also in Shakespeare in Love. I didn’t like that movie. I know tons of people that did. Am I broken for not liking it?

Lauren: Lol, Gwyneth Paltrow ruins everything for me. Everything. No. You’re not.

Amanda: And yes, Gwyneth Paltrow was horrible with her fake British accent. Judi Dench did nothing wrong in that movie, other than being in it with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Lauren: But Judi Dench plays such a great mother protector role, with a hint of bitch. Yes, I don’t blame Judi Dench, I blame the casting director for that slip-up.

Amanda: It’s like Kenneth Brananananaha (Kenneth Branagh) casting Alicia Silverstone as the French princess in Love’s Labour’s Lost – aka awful, terrible, and stupid, and don’t ever do that again.

Lauren: I haven’t seen that. I’m thankful.

Amanda: It’s one of my favorite comedies to read, but that movie would turn anyone off of it.

Lauren: Alicia Silverstone was good for the movie Clueless and that was about it.

Amanda: She should be banned from Shakespeare for life.

Lauren: I’m really curious to see how Judi Dench will take on her role as spawning the devilish Richard III, though. I have great faith that she will do very well.

Amanda: Judi Dench has also been in a ton of James Bond movies. Since we’re on the subject of hot British men being in movies with Judi Dench.

Lauren: Yes! Again, another kick-ass lead role for women. I feel like she’s type-casted, for sure, but with all good reason.

Amanda: She plays strong women well. And there’s nothing wrong with type-casting, if the person does that part well and has developed that type of character well. I think being type-casted for people like Judi Dench, for being a strong woman, is different than say, people like Katherine Heigl who is stuck in romantic comedies and can’t get out.

Lauren: Well actually, I don’t think Em constitutes as a “lead role,” (in fact, I have no idea). What I meant to say is that she tends to play a leadership role, displaying strong, independent, often stubborn, qualities that make her a woman you don’t want to mess with. Yes, I think we’re pretty much on the same page for that.

Amanda: Judi Dench is taking on the role of the Duchess of York, which means she’ll have an adversarial relationship with Richard III in the production. This means we get to see Judi Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch go head to head.

Lauren: Judi Dench was actually born in Yorkshire (Northern), too. Just an interesting side note.

Amanda: She was literally born to play this part.

Lauren: Ha ha.

Amanda: Can you imagine a blood thirsty Benedict Cumberbatch being told to back off by Judi Dench? It’s going to be fantastic.

Lauren: Seriously. I am so excited about this. When is it set to air?

Amanda: It’s just being announced now. I don’t know when. It’s not on IMDB.Com or anything.

Lauren: Dammit.

Amanda: Alright, are we good on our Richard III conversation? Do we need to add anything before we call it a post?

Lauren: I think that’s good. Did anyone else want to add to it?

Amanda: More sexual puns?

Lauren: Ha ha, I’m okay.

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About ThePandaBard

Amanda is the Managing Editor at The Poetics Project and of The Socialist, the national magazine of The Socialist Party USA. She graduated with a BA in English Education and a minor in Political Science. She is currently enrolled in an English MA program with an emphasis in Literature. During her free time, Amanda enjoys writing poetry, reading, traveling, crocheting, watching entire seasons of campy shows on Netflix, and, of course, writing blogs. You can follow Amanda on Twitter @ThePandaBard, on Pinterest @ThePandaBard, or on Medium @ThePandaBard. You can also find her research on Academia.Edu at Cpp.Academia.Edu/MandaRiggle.
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19 Responses to In Which Amanda Riggle and Lauren Sumabat Geek-Out over Richard III

  1. Pingback: The Hobbit Movies: Adaptation Gone Mad or A Work of Art? | The Poetics Project

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