Time to catch up on my ‘project 365 redux’. This image is from 11th January 2009. It is the Magna Carta memorial at Runnymede. This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, at Runnymede, on 15 June 1215. Originally an attempt to settle the disputes between King John and his barons, Magna Carta has, over the centuries and through many reissues, renewals and reimaginings, become a symbol of liberty. Lord Denning described it as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot” (Wikipedia).
This image, from 10th January 2014, called ‘I, Coriolanus’, was captured in London’s Seven Dials area. It is in the tradition of street photography, a genre with conventions that include ‘blur, over-exposure, unwanted elements [that] intrude upon the scene [I could add noise and under-exposure]’ (Inigo Taylor, Black and White Photography magazine, Jan 2015). The poster is for the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, with Tom Hiddleston in the title role, directed by Josie Rourke.
The image seemed an appropriate companion for the Magna Carta picture. Shakespeare’s tragedy (1605-8) is based on the life of Caius Marcius Coriolanus, a Roman general turned politician who, after being deposed, schemes to exert his own will upon Rome. He rails against the idea of allowing plebeians to have a say in politics and leads an assault against Rome. Ultimately, he is persuaded to sign a peace treaty. However, like the despotic King John, his alliances become his burden; he is murdered by conspirators from within.
King John died in 1216. Most historical accounts give the cause as dysentery contracted while on campaign against the barons (the first agreement of Magna Carta having been dishonoured by both sides). However, in another Shakespeare play, King John, he is poisoned by a monk within his own cortege.
The plots of not only Shakespeare’s histories but also his tragedies often came from history books of his time, most notably Holinshed’s Chronicles. They are history redux. Thus the link with my very much more humble 365 redux was impossible to ignore!