“Since I cannot prove a lover, / To entertain these fair well-spoken days,” concludes Shakespeare’s Richard III, “I am determined to prove a villain / and hate the idle pleasures of these days.” This malevolent decision, made in the first scene of Richard III, sets a bloody tragedy in motion, one that charts the rise and fall of its hunchbacked antihero. Exploring the psychological impact of social stigma, the play triggers an uneasy mix of sympathy and revulsion among audiences, making it one of Shakespeare’s most violent yet nuanced works. If Richard’s loneliness leaves him murderous, who is to blame for his villainous nature? This summer, the Hudson Shakespeare Festival explores the question once more. —C.J.F.
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Boscobel House and Gardens 1601 Route NY-9D Garrison, NY 10524 Get Directions »