Update: British archeologists have confirmed the identity of the skeleton as that of Richard III using DNA testing.
Last week, British archaeologists announced they’d found what appeared to be the remains of King Richard III. The bones were discovered in a parking lot in the city of Leicester just more than a dozen miles from Bosworth Field, where Richard III became the last English king to die in battle. A preliminary examination of the bones suggests Richard suffered life-ending injuries on the battlefield, a finding consistent with Shakespeare's narrative.
Anya Saffir, theater director and instructor at the Atlantic Acting School, speaks with The Takeaway about the discoveries, and the play itself.
"There's been a tremendous amount of argument on the part of historians about the degree to which Richard was disfigured." While Shakespeare's Richard had a limp, and a withered arm, many historians thought that this disfigurement must have been entirely fictitious, as Richard was a great warrior. Yet his bones tell a different story. It appears that the king suffered from severe scoliosis, a condition that made his right shoulder hunch higher than his left one.
"Richard III" is, in many ways, a play about mortality, which makes the discovery of his bones all the more poignant.
Shakespeare's "Richard III" has been hotly contested among historians for its depiction of Richard, and the license that Shakespeare took with history. Some argue that Richard was not quite the brutal villain that the play paints him to be.
But regardless of how evil his character seems, Saffir says that it's paramount for the actor playing the role to understand their character's motivations. "It's extremely important to take your character's side in the depicting of them. Not to sentimentalize them, but to bring some sense of morality to what they do." Richard is not an easy character to find sympathetic, but perhaps his physical deformities provide a way in for actors. Richard could have been born good, but experienced such persecution that he had no recourse but to become evil.