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A South Park Imagining of Richard IIIs Opening Soliloquy

Kyle McCartan ENG 364 Dr. Ketner Fall 2010

Kyle McCartan ENG 364 Dr. Ketner Fall 2010 A South Park Imagining of Richard IIIs Opening Soliloquy As the writers and creators of the infamous television series South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have created one of the most evil, manipulative, and two-faced characters of the twentieth century: Eric Cartman. I chose Eric Cartman because he possesses immense powers of manipulate, able to influence characters around him using a mastery of language and subversive acts of treachery. The moment I grasped the depth of character Shakespeare has portrayed in this opening soliloquy, I immediately began to see similarities between Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Eric Cartman. In a South Park representation of Richard IIIs opening soliloquy, I am attempting to display the manipulative, villainous, and treacherous nature of Richards character, and illuminate the dichotomy Shakespeare has created within the first forty-three lines. I would utilize main characters from the South Park television series to fill the major rolls of the scene. The only character viewed in this small scene is Eric Cartman, who would fill the roll of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. If I were to stage this act beyond the opening soliloquy, Stan Marsh would play George, Duke of Clarence, and Butters Stotch, a naive and easily manipulated South Park character would fill the role of Brackenbury. Butters Stotch would appear as a hall-monitor and accompany Stan, who is being detained in the principals office (the Tower). Lord Hastings would be played by Kenny McCormick, a character who has just been released from the principals office and, although not featured directly in act 1, King Edward would be played by Kyle Broflovski, a major character in South Park and a friend of all characters.

This initial scene of my South Park rendition of Richard III takes place in the hallway of South Park Elementary, just as students arrive at school and congregate in the hallways. The physical characteristics of South Park Elementary are nearly verbatim with its depiction in the T.V. series. Dual-level, light green lockers backdrop our characters, minimally contrasted by the slightly darker green paint covering the wall just above the lockers. In the only physical departure, the tile floor has been replaced by hard-wood, allowing the footsteps of approaching characters to be audible. I chose South Park Elementary because it easily allows for the entrance and exit of Clarence, Brackenbury, and Lord Hastings, while the principals office is a natural substitute for the Tower Placing Richard III in a school setting automatically creates social and power hierarchies for our antagonist to usurp. Furthermore, the school setting allows for the director to mimic Shakespeares lampoon of court life. In the school setting social hierarchy often becomes a veritable aristocracy, leaving falsehood and illegitimacy as the most viable ways to ascend the social ladder. In my South Park rendition of Richard III the class president, Kyle, has had his appendix removed and Cartman wishes to assume the newly vacated title of class president, rendering him in control of the entire student body. The reigning class president had endorsed Cartmans close friend Stan to be his successor, and Cartman knows he cannot gain power by usual means as there are many better candidates. Cartman, however, desperately wants the power of being class president and feels his candidacy is being unjustly neglected. As he is fat Cartman often feels rudely stamped and cheated of feature by dissembling nature (Shakespeare 1.1.20). Given his predisposition for malice, Cartman quickly decides to plot against those in his path to power, and vows he is determined to prove a villain (Shakespeare 1.1.30). As the opening theme song of South Park concludes, Come on down to South Park

and meet some friends of mine the scene begins with Cartman, in front of the lockers illuminated by an inconsistent glow provided by a single compact fluorescent lightbulb. All around Cartman the hall bustles giddily with gossip of the upcoming class elections yet his head is bowed, brow furrowed. He begins to speak softly, however he is obviously audible to those around him; Now is the winter of our discontent/ Made glorious by this departing 4th grader/ And all the clouds that loured upon our house/ In the deep bosom of the ocean buried (Shakespeare 1.1.1). As the soliloquy begins the light over Cartman is steady, he faces the kids in the hallway gradually lifting his head as he continues to speak, gaining momentum. As Cartman describes the lascivious pleasing of a lute in regard to Stan, his pace slows considerably, head fully raised he turns and focuses his speech on bystanders to his left, the camera pans out. But I am not made for sportive tricks Cartman continues raising his brow briefly before it settles into a glower. As he descant[s] on [his] own deformity (Shakespeare 1.1.27), Cartman turns and opens his locker. Between the consistently bright lighting and Cartmans relative sociability, I hope that this will establish his characterization as a cunning linguist, capable of articulation his thoughts, dismayed as he may be. As if placed in his locker the camera sees the door open from the inside, revealing Cartmans face shrouded in shadow, silhouetted by the light behind him, his eyes narrowing menacingly. And therefore since I cannot prove a lover. . . I am determined to prove a villain/ And hate the idle pleasures of these days escapes his lips in a pained whisper (Shakespeare 1.1.28). For this rendition of Richard III, it is necessary to change the prophecy to accommodate character names and relations, thus, Cartman reveals of a prophecy of a friend with a puff atop hat will be the presidents downfall. Stan is known for wearing a poof-ball hat throughout the series, yet Cartman has a small yellow poof on top of his hat as well that

generally goes unnoticed. While Cartman is ensconced in his locker, divulging his treacherous plan to turn friend against friend (not brother against brother in this scenario), the dark lighting and isolation privileges the viewer to the deceitful side of Eric Cartman. Exclaiming Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here [Stan] comes (Shakespeare 1.1.42), Cartman shuts the locker on the camera eye once again hiding his treachery. Despite its cartoon nature this soliloquy is delivered relatively conventionally. My major departures lie in the setting and character relations. The setting has been moved to present day in a small Colorado town and because I wanted to incorporate pre-existing South Park characters, the relationship between Richard (Cartman) George (Stan) and King Edward (Kyle) is a relationship of intimate friendship; not kinship. Throughout Shakespeares Richard III I was captivated by the evil manipulations of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in the same way I have been mesmerized by South Parks treacherous Eric Cartman. I believe that the two characters mirror each other in their ways of linguistic manipulation and subversive physical acts of treachery. I contend that by portraying Richard III as an episode of South Park, a director could open the eyes of thousands of teens to the multifaceted characteristics of Shakespeares Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Viewers of South Park are aware that when dealing with Cartmans treachery, nothing is at is seem, and anything is possible; a character trait shared by Richard that could easily be lost on young viewers if not for Eric Cartmans conveyance.