Chukwudi Iwuji as Gloucester and Jonathan Slinger as King Richard in Richard II, dir. Michael Boyd, 2007. Photo and © Ellie Kurtz.In the heated dispute that opens Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke, the king’s cousin, accuses Thomas Mowbray, a nobleman, of treason. Among the charges, he states that Mowbray “did plot the Duke of Gloucester’s death” and “like a traitor coward, / Sluiced out his innocent blood / Which blood, like sacrificing Abel’s, cries, / Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth / To me for justice and rough chastisement,” (1.1.100-106).[1] This Biblical reference and the wealth of scripture across the play, suggests that a spiritual lens is apt for a consideration of this drama. My essay explores the significance of the ghosts Michael Boyd introduced into his production of Shakespeare’s Richard II (2007), part of his larger unified cycle The Histories. I was fortunate enough to see not only Richard II but the entire cycle and was struck by Boyd’s use of ghosts throughout. Drawing on contemporary cultural theories of ghosts and haunting and applying the Biblical concept of grace, I suggest that Boyd’s spectres created psychological, moral, and spiritual encounters which offered possible ways out of the cycles of revenge and violence that Shakespeare dramatizes. My discussion is also informed by personal interviews with two actors and the assistant director who worked on Boyd’s Histories cycle. My analysis brings the play into dialogue with contemporary theory, notably the ideas of Edward Soja and Jacques Derrida, and demonstrates that the Christian vision of a kingdom founded on grace can both complement and fulfil the desires for a just world expressed by modern and postmodern thinkers.

The ghost is an established dramatic figure, and Shakespeare’s ghosts have provoked extensive discussions as to their nature, moral significance, their spiritual provenance (particularly whether they hail from Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory), the theatrical means of representing them, and whether they should be staged at all.[2] Shakespeare’s Richard II may seem a strange point of departure for a discussion of ghosts since none are listed in the dramatis personae.[3] However, the idea of haunting pervades the play. It is evoked by Richard, who in a moment of despair tells his followers that, in the “sad stories” told about “the death of kings,” some have been “haunted by the ghosts they have deposed” (3.2.156,158). Further, Bolingbroke’s accusation that Mowbray plotted the Duke of Gloucester’s death and veiled suggestion of Richard’s involvement in the murder, makes it clear that there is a backstory that has not been laid to rest. Indeed, the critic for the Tatler noted that in Val May’s 1959 Old Vic production, Richard (John Justin) appeared from the beginning to be “already haunted” by the fear that his part in Gloucester’s death would be discovered.[4]

When Boyd staged the entire cycle of Shakespeare’s histories (2006-2008) for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), he introduced ghosts into each of the eight plays.[5] Richard II was Boyd’s most fully developed use of these spectral presences and best exemplifies the complex relationship between haunting and memory at work throughout the cycle. It therefore suggests how such theatrical hauntings can illuminate the social and political work of the play, even offering a transformative spiritual perspective on its revenge narrative. I am particularly concerned with how the spectral figures in Richard II, in the act of haunting, disturbed the revenge pattern narrative and created a space for something other, perhaps even grace.

I argue that Boyd’s interpolated theatrical ghosts opened up, in performance, opportunities for remembrance and reflection, constituting what Edward Soja calls “thirdspace” — “a space  of radical openness” where it is possible to go beyond traditional binaries and “entrenched boundaries,” and which therefore offers “a strategic meeting place for fostering collective political action against all forms of human oppression.”[6] Since the exploration of just and truthful governance is at the heart of Richard II, Soja’s term is useful in thinking about the encounters Boyd staged between the living and the ghosts. These episodes produced creative spiritual meeting places, where issues of justice and mercy, so pertinent to the operations of power in Richard II, could be renegotiated. Moreover, when viewed through the Biblical lens of grace, the “thirdspaces” created by the presence of the Ghosts in Boyd’s Richard II can be seen as opening up a way out of cycles of violence and revenge, offering the insight necessary to begin to imagine an economy of the gift. In other words, the possibility even of moving beyond remembrance, reflection, and renegotiation, to redemption.

A GHOST ARISES

In Boyd’s production of Richard II, before the dialogue began, the upstage-centre doors opened and the entire cast, except for the King, entered and progressed downstage in a stately pavane, interspersing their steps with bows directed downstage. Simultaneously, Richard (Jonathan Slinger) entered from the opposite direction through the central block of the stalls and, as he arrived on stage, the others parted, making space for the King to approach his throne. As the courtiers formed equal groups on either side of the throne, a bloody corpse (Chukwudi Iwuji) was discovered lying centre stage, and as Richard ascended the throne his cloak swept over the body.

During the first exchanges in the scene, Iwuji lay motionless, but when Bolingbroke enunciated his accusation concerning Mowbray’s part in Gloucester’s death, he rose, identifying himself as the murdered Duke of Gloucester, and began to observe the proceedings, Although Dead Gloucester was ‘unseen’ by the other characters, Jonathon  Slinger, the actor playing Richard, was conscious of how the ghost’s presence affected his work, informing his sense of Richard’s discomfort and embodying the “psychological reality that Richard has constantly got the ghost of Gloucester in his mind.”[7] Spectral Gloucester charged the space with a sense of the uncanny, as did his widow.

She does not feature textually until 1.2, but Boyd included the Duchess of Gloucester (Katy Stephens) in the opening scene, although it would have been easy for the audience to miss her. She was dressed in black, standing in an extreme upstage left position, not directly lit, and, unlike the others present, failing to respond to Richard’s pronouncements.[8] When the court party exited, she emerged from the margins of the playing area for her dialogue with John of Gaunt (Roger Watkins) and her sudden apparition in the space seemed “almost like a magical revelation.”[9] Although a living character in the play-world, her revealed presence out of the shadows had the same spectral and disconcerting quality as the first appearance of her husband’s ghost.[10] This seeming ability to appear out of nowhere suggested in Stephens’s and Iwuji’s characters an uncanny combination of corporeality and ethereality, attached to them a disturbing ambiguity developed later in the garden scene (3.4) when they both appeared as ghosts.

Iwuji (Dead Gloucester) remained onstage for the first part of the dialogue between Gaunt and the Duchess of Gloucester, a figure of ambiguous presence and absence that characterises the ghostly (seen by the audience yet unseen by his brother and distraught widow). His close proximity to his wife and brother intensified their shared sorrow and added force to the conflict between Gaunt’s commitment to political and religious duties to King Richard as “God’s substitute, / . . . anointed in His sight” (1.3.37-38) and the Duchess’s emphasis on love and family. The brief co-presence on stage of these three characters, two living and one dead, worked to bind them together in a space of grief and loss, which was ruptured when Iwuji (Dead Gloucester) exited just as the Duchess named him, “Thomas, my dear Lord, my life, my Gloucester,” and spoke of him as ‘hacked down and his summer leaves all faded, / By envy’s hand and murderer’s bloody axe” (1.2.16, 20-21).[11]

Iwuji’s haunting presence-absence in these opening scenes established a strong association in the minds of the spectators between him and the murdered Gloucester, thus raising their consciousness that this story of regime change is also a revenge narrative. In the transition to 1.3, Iwuji entered through the lower upstage doors of the central tower, dragging on the set of steps that had earlier formed Richard’s throne, but now reversed to form a platform from which Richard and the Queen could oversee the trial by combat between Bolingbroke and Mowbray in 1.3. For Iwuji, bringing on the steps performed “the idea of leading [. . . Richard] to his doom.”[12]

Although directors have sometimes added an extra-textual prologue to highlight the murder of Gloucester, which has taken place before the play begins, in Boyd’s production, Iwuji continued to haunt the play-world in a number of roles.[13] In the role of a servant in 2.2, he brought in a letter which announced Bolingbroke’s return. As Scroop, Iwuji delivered the intelligence that young and old, men and women alike had joined with Bolingbroke and that his uncle York had defected, and he also appeared in the garden scene (3.4). More clearly, in 4.1, when the debate about Gloucester’s murder is reopened, Iwuji moved unseen among the nobles accusing and challenging each other, and, in the same scene, played the attendant who carried out Richard’s request that a mirror be brought. In the role of the man in the York household, Iwuji eagerly brought York his boots when the latter demands them in order to ride post-haste to betray Aumerle’s participation in the plot to kill Bolingbroke (now Henry IV) (5.2). Iwuji spoke the words of the anonymous man who confirms Exton’s conviction that he is the agent appointed to rid Henry of his “living fear” (5.4.2); and, finally, he played the Groom who visits Richard in prison (5.5).

Although this account of Iwuji’s trajectory through the production might suggest a simple case of an actor playing multiple roles, as Coen Heijes has rightly argued, doubling in Boyd’s cycle was particularly complex and profoundly “symbolic”.[14] Furthermore, as Steve Pile argues, “ghosts take on many guises.” Iwuji himself affirmed that he consciously and consistently played Dead Gloucester, “possess[ing] different bodies” as he “watch[ed] the game unfold.”[15] What Iwuji was playing in all these characters, then, was always a ghost. Although his objective as Gloucester was primarily to achieve revenge, as a spectral figure he was instrumental in creating spaces that afforded the possibility of arresting this driving force of vengeance. This was particularly evident, as we shall see, in the garden scene of 3.4 and the court scene of 4.1.

THE HAUNTED GARDEN

In the garden of Boyd’s Richard II, time and space were “out of joint,” to borrow Hamlet’s words after seeing the ghost of his father (Hamlet, 1.5.189). Hamlet’s articulation of the profound cosmic disturbance resulting from the haunting murder of his father can be applied to Shakespeare’s histories since, in each of these, the play-world is thrown into disequilibrium by acts of violence. Pile argues that it is through the “fissures” created by violent events that ghosts “join the living world” and haunt the sites “where [. . . places] are out of joint.”[16] This was certainly the case in Boyd’s Richard II as the ghosts who mingled with the living unsettled the kingdom praised by Gaunt as an “earth of majesty,” “other Eden” and “blessèd plot” (2.1.41,42,50). As figures of mourning, they suggested that England was “a fractured [. . . nation] cut across by the shards of pain, loss, injustice and failure.”[17] Further, their presence evoked the shattering of the spiritual Paradise, Eden, referenced in Gaunt’s speech and reiterated in 3.4 when the Queen addresses the Gardener as “Thou, old Adam’s likeness” and asks him “What Eve, what serpent hath suggested thee / To make a second Fall of cursed man” (3.4.73a, 75-76).

The garden, which is the structural centre of the play, is portrayed textually as a place of leisure and labour, a metaphor for the kingdom, and the meeting place of social and spiritual mythologies. Its identity in Boyd’s production was further nuanced by the ghosts who inhabited it. The Duchess of Gloucester is dead by this point in the play. The report of her decease (2.2.97) was delivered by Iwuji in the role of a servant, adding poignancy to the message. However, when Stephens entered the garden scene as the Queen’s Second Lady, she was costumed in the same black dress she had worn as the Duchess of Gloucester in 1.2, reminding the audience of the black-clad figure who had emerged from the shadows to remonstrate with Gaunt for not avenging her husband’s untimely death. As the Queen’s Second Lady, Stephens spoke only the line “I could weep, madam, would it do you good” (3.4.22), giving it a new emotional resonance through the evocation of the Duchess of Gloucester’s own grief, echoing her final words to Gaunt “Desolate, desolate will I hence and die / The last leave of thee takes my weeping eye” (1.2.73-74).

As a ghost in the form of the Queen’s Second Lady, therefore, Stephens/the Duchess of Gloucester was required to serve the wife of the man who had commanded her husband’s murder. Her presence made the conversation about finding a suitably entertaining pastime to assuage the Queen’s suffering particularly ironic, and this irony was intensified when the pursuit of possible pleasure through playing bowls, dancing, telling tales, or singing (3.4.1-19) was interrupted by the entrance of the Gardeners, played by none other than Iwuji and Watkins. As with Stephens, there was no costume change for Watkins as the Gardener, so he was dressed in the nightshirt and dressing gown he had worn as the dying Gaunt (2.1). Spoken by Watkins/Gaunt and Iwuji/Dead Gloucester, the state-of-the-nation dialogue, in which two workmen interrogate the nature of governance, was simultaneously a “conversation between two dead brothers” one who had been murdered at the king’s command, and one who had died bereft of his banished son.[18]

Boyd’s indecorous spectral Gardeners (Watkins/Gaunt “spray[ing] the audience with weedkiller” and Iwuji/Dead Gloucester ominously wielding shears),[19] and taciturn lady in black brought “a charged strangeness” to the garden, unsettling its initial identity as a safe place of courtly entertainment as well as disrupting the ‘divide’ between actors and audience.[20] When ruminating upon the discrepancies between the care with which he and his companion tended the garden and the negligence demonstrated by those responsible for the welfare of the “sea-wallèd garden, the whole land” (3.4.43), Iwuji (as both Gardener and Dead Gloucester) positioned himself at the very edge of a significant propriety line; he crouched with his shears at the downstage-center edge of the stage surveying audience members, appearing to wryly remonstrate with them for being silent and inactive witnesses to the injustice of his death and the ensuing events. In making this menacing gesture, the ghost extended the property line of the fictive world by casting the spectators as “England, the garden.”[21] Whether or not they were conscious of being co-opted into the narrative, those spectators nearest to Iwuji momentarily hovered uncomfortably close to the world of the spectres, on the verge of the garden of the dead and the already- and soon-to-be-bereaved.

The uncanny partnership established between Iwuji and Watkins, who then passed together through subsequent scenes, was extended to include Stephens, who, after the Queen’s exit, paused before closing the upper doors of the tower and exchanged a smile with Iwuji. This gesture evoked their dramatic relationship as husband and wife, as the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and suggested their shared satisfaction at Richard’s demise (as prophesied in this scene: “Depressed he is already, and deposed / ’Tis doubt he will be.” (3.4.68-69a). By possessing the garden, the spectral Gaunt and Duke and Duchess of Gloucester “call[ed] forth ideas and feelings” and re-minded the audience of marginalized histories, repressed presents, and unrealized futures, since through ghosts, “[t]he indignity and injustice of death returns (once again) to haunt the living. And the living are (once again) caught up in the traumas and losses of the past.”[22]

Reconfiguring the garden as a place where the stories and sufferings of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Gaunt could be remembered adds new levels of pathos and urgency to the Gardener’s intention to “set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace / [. . .] In the remembrance of a weeping Queen” (3.4.105-107). Along with sorrow and distress, rue carries notions of penitence, repentance, and regret. I’d like to suggest that the rue in Boyd’s garden of ghosts was commemorative of both the Queen’s “want of joy” (3.4.16) and the sadness of her missed opportunity to reckon with the ghosts of the past and so bring into play a sweeter grace. In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, the Duke’s corrupt deputy Angelo laments “when once our grace we have forgot / Nothing goes right” (4.4). The motions of grace, however, open a way for things to be remade and redeemed.

Although her first scene in Shakespeare’s text is 2.1, the Queen in Boyd’s production was also a silent presence in I.1, I.3, and I.4, observing the fierce exchanges between Bolingbroke and Mowbray regarding the murder of Gloucester, the aborted trial by combat, and the disrespect shown by Richard for Bolingbroke and his sick father, Gaunt. Introducing the Queen into these scenes offered audiences the opportunity to ponder her responses to the accusations and political manoeuvrings she witnesses. Placing the Queen in the garden, that is also a microcosm of the nation, with spectral figures, who were disturbingly familiar and disquietingly strange, imbued the place with a sense of memento mori, suggesting the Queen’s need to address her own mortality and face her suppression of the past. It also made the garden a spiritual space in which she might have paused to recognize the ghosts. Sarah Beckwith notes that “the language of acknowledgement” has its roots in the sacrament of penance and that “the earliest usages of the word ‘acknowe’ are intimately bound up with the histories of this sacrament, especially in the act of confession.” The OED (as Beckwith points out), glosses “acknowe” firstly as “to acknowledge” and secondly as “to make oneself known;[23] so, the Queen’s encounter with the ghosts afforded her an opportunity to acknowledge them in both these senses: to see their sorrows and her own role in these. Grasping such an opportunity would have made the garden not merely a space where the characters dialogue about the fate of the king and the kingdom, but a place where the “sweeter grace” could circulate through such mutual recognition and confession.

A MIRROR UP TO THE SUPERNATURAL

Richard, too, was presented with an opportunity to reckon with the ghost(s). When Gloucester’s murder is again debated in 4.1, Iwuji circled the stage, unseen by the other characters, knowing that Richard had ordered his death but curious as to whom his actual killer had been.[24] After performing his own un-kinging ceremony, Richard requests a mirror that “[. . .] it may show me what a face I have / Since it is bankrupt of his majesty” (4.1.264-265). In this production, Iwuji played the attendant who brought Richard the looking glass. In the fleeting exchange of glances that ensued, it was uncertain whether, in the proffered mirror, Richard saw the face of his murdered uncle or the reflection of his own face. This brief, ambiguous, but exciting, theatrical moment gestured towards a potential encounter between Richard and the ghost of Gloucester. For an instant, within the complex hauntings that Boyd’s production staged, victim and perpetrator could have stood together and faced themselves and each other.

Jacques Derrida advocates that we should address our ghosts in order to re-joint time which has been put out of joint. He also urges the need for a place of justice, but “[n]ot for law, for the calculation of restitution, the economy of vengeance or punishment,” but a place which facilitates going “beyond the economy of repression” to  an economy of “the gift.”[25] Wesley Hill aptly observes that for Derrida the idea of the “pure gift” freely given and freely received “remained [. . .] a haunting possibility never to be realized,” but I’d like to suggest that the possibility for such a place of unrestrained giving and receiving was theatrically signalled in this production.[26] I call this the space of grace, because grace, the “unearned, undeserved favour of God,” is the principle upon which God’s own kingdom and kingship are based.[27] Grace suggests the liberating processes of repentance and forgiveness — both of which require “acknowe,” in the sense of actively seeing self and other — and facilitates restoration and reconciliation between God and human beings and between people. Grace therefore enables the going beyond repression and oppression advocated by Derrida and brings about the “thirdspace” of radical openness envisaged by Soja. Pondering this spectral moment in Boyd’s production enables us to imagine a renegotiation of the tensions between justice, mercy, and revenge to make way for a radically new spiritual politics grounded in charism.

The Old Testament words chen, often translated as grace or favour, and chesed, frequently rendered as mercy, kindness, or lovingkindness are blended in the New Testament in the word charis, primarily translated as grace and expressive of the unconditional and boundless gift of God through Christ.[28] God’s throne, as opposed to that royal seat fought over in Shakespeare’s history plays, is a “throne of grace” where all, whether monarch or subject, can “come boldly [. . . to] obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”[29]

In opening up this space, where mercy and forgiveness offer an alternative to the path of revenge and a way out of the cycle it induces, the mirror moment between Dead Gloucester and Richard reflected the yearning that haunting can create “for the insight of that moment in which we recognize [. . .] that it could have been and can be otherwise.”[30] It allowed a brief glimpse of a new spiritual politics that could emerge from an act of recognition, simultaneously apprehending the face of the ghost and acknowledging the need for revolution to begin with the self. In Buber’s terms, it might become an “I — Thou” moment, and, in Beckwith’s thinking, a sacramental space where the characters were present to God and each other: an opportunity for turning, renewal, refreshment, and restoration.[31] Grace, of course, as a free gift, can be refused, and Slinger (Richard) soon directed his gaze towards himself and pondering the “brittle glory” of his own face (4.1.287), but the suggestion remained and the possibility reverberated after the moment passed.

THE BITTER-SWEETNESS OF REVENGE

In his final role as the Groom who visits Richard in prison, Iwuji’s rendering of the story of Bolingbroke riding Richard’s horse “roan Barbary” in triumph through the streets of London on his coronation day became an agonizing taunt (5.5.76-80) and his final act was to witness the revenge that he (as Dead Gloucester) had watched and waited for throughout the play. When the murderers entered, Iwuji watched Richard meet his death in the exact spot where the audience had seen him lying dead in the opening scene. In the three Henry VI plays that feature in Shakespeare’s histories cycle, Boyd cast Iwuji as Henry VI and his adversary and murderer, Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III), was played by Jonathan Slinger. Further, Richard II (Slinger) was murdered in the very spot where Iwuji (as Henry VI) had been/would be murdered by Richard of Gloucester (Slinger) in Richard III.[32]  Playing this moment on stage, Iwuji had the sensation of something walking over his grave. Within Boyd’s haunted Histories, Dead Gloucester’s witnessing of the death of Richard II brought the realisation that “it wasn’t over, but just beginning,” since he also foresaw his own death as Henry VI’s death and realised that “it wasn’t over, but just beginning.”[33] The moment of expected triumph was actually “totally bittersweet.”[34] Iwuji’s acknowledgement of the bittersweet ending, where achieving revenge does not provide the expected satisfactory outcome of the ghost’s return, suggests that for Dead Gloucester too, this was potentially a mirror moment, with an alternative that could have been played out.

F. W. Moorman argues that an important intervention that Shakespeare made in constructing the ghost was to move away from the gory spectacles of “gibbering” ghosts in “foul sheet[s]” that had populated Senecan drama and to make the ghost “more human” and give it a spiritual significance, “as the embodiment of remorseful presentiment and the instrument of divine justice.”[35] Iwuji’s performance and his reflections on interpreting Dead Gloucester (in his various guises) testify to the humanity of this (invented) spectral figure. Moreover, his consciousness of the futility of revenge suggests another possibility gestured towards but beyond this theatrical production.

“Being haunted,” Gordon argues, “draws us affectively, sometimes against our will and always a bit magically into the structure of feeling of a reality we come to experience, not as cold knowledge but as transformative recognition.”[36] As spectres, Dead Gloucester, Gaunt, and the Duchess of Gloucester made the garden a memorial space of spiritual opportunity for the Queen. Thus, Boyd’s production provoked thought about what might have happened if she had paused to recognize them and accept her responsibility towards them. Dead Gloucester also urged Richard towards this possibility of transformative recognition. And Iwuji’s reflections on his spectral role(s) suggest that even ghosts may be in need of a grace that could give them rest from the unsatisfactory desire for revenge.

Boyd’s invented ghosts echoed the most urgent cries of Shakespeare’s textual ghosts: “Remember me” and “Think on […] me” and created spaces of grace in which, had they been acknowledged, other histories could have been imagined and other choices made.[37]  Whilst, in the theatre, Shakespeare’s Richard II must play out to the bitter end, an alertness to the hauntings inherent in the narrative and embodied in Boyd’s production make the play not simply a story about the contested divine right of kings, but one which hints at what it means to be divine: that is, to operate within the economy of grace.


Citation Information

Laura Higgins, “Shakespeare’s Hidden Ghosts: Spectral Presences and Spaces of Grace in Michael Boy’d Richard II,” An Unexpected Journal: Shakespeare & Cultural Apologetics 5, no. 4. (Advent 2022), 190-204.


Endnotes

[1] All references from Richard II are to the Penguin Shakespeare, ed. Stanley Wells (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969).

[2] On the nature of the ghost in Hamlet see, for example: F. W Moorman, “Shakespeare’s Ghosts,” The Modern Language Review 1, no. 3 (Apr 1906): 192-201; John D. Rea, “Hamlet and the Ghost Again,” The English Journal 18, no. 3 (March 1929): 207-213; R. W. Battenhouse, “The Ghost in Hamlet: A Catholic ‘Linchpin,’’’ Studies in Philology 48, no. 2 (Apr 1951), 161-192; Robert H. West, “King Hamlet’s Ambiguous Ghost,” PMLA, 70, no.5, (Dec 1955): 1107-1117. See also Thomas Cartelli, “Banquo’s Ghost: The Shared Vision,” Theatre Journal 35, no. 3 The Poetics of Theatre (October 1983): 389-405; Alan L. Ackerman Jr., “Visualizing Hamlet’s Ghost: The Spirit of Modern Subjectivity,” Theatre Journal 53, no. 1: Theatre and Visual Culture (March 2001): 119-144; and Edward Gordon Craig, On the Art of the Theatre (London: Mercury Books, 1962).

[3] The only spectres in Shakespeare’s history plays are the “sleep phantoms” in Richard III (Moorman, ‘Shakespeare’s Ghosts’, 196); these are the victims of his violence who curse Richard and bless Richmond the night before the Battle of Bosworth.

[4] Tatler, Review of Richard II, directed by Val May, 6 December 1959.

[5] This intervention was underpinned by Boyd’s belief that Shakespeare’s early history plays reflect a medieval concept of history, featuring characters who figure and prefigure types as in medieval mystery cycles (Kevin Wright, The Histories, RSC, 2007, 4, 5): In performance, “the dead ke[pt] on re-emerging either as the dead, or as new people.” (Donnacadh O’Briain, Assistant Director The Histories, personal interview). In The Histories  actors not only portrayed the same character in the plays that feature the role, but also characters who reflected the pre-figuring and re-figuring of types, and, at times, they haunted the action after their death.

[6] Edward W. Soja, “Thirdspace: Expanding the Scope of the Geographical Imagination,” in Doreen Massey et al Human Geography Today (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999), 276, 269.

[7] Jonathan Slinger, King Richard in Richard II, dir. Michael Boyd, 2007, personal interview, 13 August 2008. Iwuji’s character was, in fact, referred to as “Dead Gloucester” in the production prompt book.

[8] For example, the courtiers laughed and applauded when Richard exhorted Bolingbroke and Mowbray to end their dispute and withdraw their challenges to face each other in trail by combat with the words “Forget, forgive, conclude and be agreed / Our doctors say this is no month to bleed.” (1.1.156-157).

[9] O’Briain, personal interview.

[10] Only the most observant of spectators would have noticed the stagecraft by which Iwuji was able to take up his initial position in order for the dead duke to be similarly revealed as Richard approached the throne.

[11] All references from Richard II are to the Penguin Shakespeare, ed. Stanley Wells (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969).

[12] This feature of Tom Piper’s set was referred to by the company as the Hell Mouth; Chukwudi Iwuji, Gloucester in Richard II, dir. Michael Boyd, 2007, personal interview, 4 November 2008.

[13] John David (1985) opened with a presentation of Edward III’s family in which ‘[t]he Duke of Gloucester appear[ed] with his head struck off’ (B. A. Young, Financial Times 15 February 1985); Adrián Daumas (Spain, 1998) began with a dumbshow of Gloucester’s killing, “his head plunged into a bowl by mysterious assassins” (Gregor 220); in Claus Peymann (Berliner Ensemble, Germany, 2000, revived Stratford-Upon-Avon, 2006) the corpse of Gloucester wrapped in a transparent body-bag was on stage as the audience entered and once the house doors were closed the sound of flies buzzing was heard, a sound which increased to a high volume before there was a blackout and the lights came up on Gaunt and the Duchess of Gloucester (a re-ordering of 1.1 and 1.2  designed to reinforce the connection between the corpse and the Duchess’s plea for justice).

[14] Coen Heijes, “‘Thus play I in one person many people’: The Art and Craft of Doubling in the Boyd History Cycle,” Shakespeare, 6 no. 1 (2010): 52-73.

[15] Pile, “Ghosts and the City,” 216; Iwuji, personal interview.

[16] Pile, “Ghosts and the City,” 217.

[17] Ibid.

[18] O’Briain, personal interview.

[19] Benedict Nightingale, Review Richard II, dir. Michael Boyd, Times 17 April 2008.

[20] Gordon maintains that the ghost “imports a charged strangeness into the place or sphere of its haunting, thus unsettling the propriety and property lines that delimit a zone of activity or knowledge,” Ghostly Matters, 63.

[21] Iwuji, personal interview.

[22] Pile, “Ghosts and the City,” 217.

[23] Sarah Beckwith, Shakespeare and the Grammar of Forgiveness (New York: Cornell University Press, 2011).

[24] Iwuji, personal interview.

[25] Derrida, Specters, 22-23.

[26] Wesley Hill, “‘Paul and the Gift’ is the Gift That Keeps on Giving,” Christianity Today, January 2021.

[27] This phrase features as an additional gloss to all instances of grace in the New Testament in the Amplified Bible. https://biblehub.com/amp/john/1.htm

[28] Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (KJV), Blue Letter Bible:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h2580/kjv/wlc/0-1/

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h2617/kjv/wlc/0-1/

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g5485/kjv/tr/0-1/

[29] Heb 4:16 (KJV).

[30] Gordon, Ghostly Matters, 57-58.

[31] See Martin Buber, I and Thou, newly translated by Walter Kaufmann (NY: Scribner’s, 1970; first German, 1923, first English, 1937). Beckwith, Introduction, Signifying God: Social Relation and Symbolic Act in the York Corpus Christi Plays (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), xv.

[32] Boyd originally staged the first tetralogy: Henry VI Parts 1, 2, and 3 and Richard III, then added the second tetralogy: Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Subsequently, audiences had opportunity to see the plays in the order Shakespeare wrote them and in order of the sequential historical narrative they form, and actors were very aware of the cyclical nature of the action in relation to the characters they played.

[33] Iwuji, personal interview.

[34] Ibid.

[35] F. W Moorman, “Shakespeare’s Ghosts,” The Modern Language Review 1, no. 3 (Apr 1906), 192-201 (201; 192).

[36] Gordon, Ghostly Matters, 8.

[37] Shakespeare, Hamlet, I.v.91 and Richard III, V.v.80. See Hamlet pp. 683-718 (690), 1.5.95; 1.5.97, and Richard III pp. 185-220 (217) 5.5.80  in The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works, 2nd edn. eds. John Jowett et. al (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005).