Hazardous parallels

A couple of weeks ago, after a few days of intense activity (a.k.a. ‘too much work’), I decided to binge on film, as I am wont to do. Despite my doubts, among the various movies I decided to see was Diana, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Naomi Watts as the Princess of Wales.

diana-affiche1After having thought about what Mary Queen of Scots must have felt as a prisoner before ending up on the scaffold, I sensed there could be a few parallels between Mary’s story and that of the famed Queen of Hearts / People’s Princess, who is portrayed in the movie as a victim living in a gilded cage.

Half-jokingly, I came up with the following list of hazardous parallels between Mary and Diana: Continue reading Hazardous parallels

Stage or Scaffold?

My post on Mary Queen of Scots prompted me to think about why her case seems so dramatic, in the literal sense of the word, and why it gave rise to several theatrical adaptations. In this post, I’d like to provide one answer: Mary was executed on a scaffold and scaffolds were also among the first stages used for theatrical performances1. Contemporary accounts of her trial and execution are telling: both usually picture a square table or scaffold in the center, as if it were a stage in which was performed the final act of Mary’s tragedy. But the pictures themselves are more than just snapshots of a momentous episode of British history: they are actually built as plays with a narrative structure. Continue reading Stage or Scaffold?

  1. On the ‘théâtre de l’échafaud’, see Christian Biet, “Naissance sur l’échafaud ou la tragédie du début du XVIIe siècle“, in Intermédialités, n. 1, printemps 2003, p. 75-105, DOI : 10.7202/1005446ar, and Christian Biet et Charlotte Bouteille-Meister, Théâtre de la cruauté et récits sanglants en France: XVIe-XVIIe siècle, Paris, R. Laffont, 2006. []