The Shakespeare Cinemacast: Coriolanus

Abstract

Josie Rourke’s Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus (2013–14) was broadcast by National Theatre Live (NT Live) to cinematic venues all over the world. Previous considerations of Shakespearean cinemacasts have explored the similarities and differences between watching an NT Live broadcast and viewing a theatrical version of the same production. With its preference for text over image, its acceptance of theatrical conventions, and its status as a special, ephemeral happening, the cinemacast does bear a resemblance to a theatrical performance. However, based on the cinemacast’s shot selection, multicam approach, and editing process, it also resembles a televised event. Furthermore, the two-dimensional, large-screen showings in movie theaters; the cinematic camera work; and the control of the viewer’s gaze intrinsic to cinemacasts make them similar to films. Cinemacasts lack the co-presence of actors and audience inimical to theater; they cannot achieve many of the editing and camera effects of movie-making; and NT Live productions cannot be viewed on television. Thus, cinemacasts do not fit comfortably into any single existing category of media. By focusing on Tim van Someren’s contributions as the director of the NT Live version of Rourke’s production, I hope to demonstrate that cinemacasts constitute, not an original art form, but a new postmodern pastiche of the forms in which Shakespeare has taken shape in the past, including theater, cinema, and television. As such, they deserve to be compared with each other, rather than being considered only as cut-rate replacements for a theatrical experience of the play.

Figure 1. Seating on three sides of the Donmar Warehouse stage. Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 1. Seating on three sides of the Donmar Warehouse stage. Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 2. Martius sins in envying the nobility of Aufidius (1.1). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 2. Martius sins in envying the nobility of Aufidius (1.1). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 3. Coriolanus reunited with his son and wife (5.3). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 3. Coriolanus reunited with his son and wife (5.3). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 4. Tim van Someren’s camera plot for the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Reproduced courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 4. Tim van Someren’s camera plot for the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Reproduced courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 5. The opening page of Tim van Someren’s camera script for the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Reproduced courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 5. The opening page of Tim van Someren’s camera script for the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Reproduced courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 6. Martius poised between Virgilia and Volumnia (1.3). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 6. Martius poised between Virgilia and Volumnia (1.3). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 7. Young Martius positioned between Coriolanus and his mother (3.2). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 7. Young Martius positioned between Coriolanus and his mother (3.2). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 8. TowerCam shot of Coriolanus trapped in a box (3.3). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 8. TowerCam shot of Coriolanus trapped in a box (3.3). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 9. Martius towers over his troops at Corioles (1.4). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 9. Martius towers over his troops at Corioles (1.4). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 10. Hand-held shot of Martius pinning Aufidius (1.8). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren. Figure 10. Hand-held shot of Martius pinning Aufidius (1.8). Cinemacast still from the Donmar Warehouse’s "Coriolanus," stage direction by Josie Rourke, screen direction by Tim van Someren, broadcast by National Theatre Live (30 January 2014). Photograph courtesy of Tim van Someren.