Richard III Design Influences




Cubist Cards: Asymmetrical – Heraldry Rose Shape


Set Inspiration



The two actions for Richard III are the Consumption and the Game.

Richard will stop at nothing to obtain the crown; this idea obsesses and consumes him throughout the play. In his hunger to gain power, he uses or consumes anyone who will bring him closer to the crown. Once he has gained the crown, his anxiety and paranoia to keep it safe drives him to eliminate anyone that might pose a threat to his power. Satisfaction and contentment are perpetually beyond his reach. Richard is dually consumed by his desire to be king and the guilt derived by his killings. He consumes his power rapidly and he consumes (uses or disposes of) people even faster in an effort to satisfy his hunger. By the end of the play, Richard is so enveloped by the guilt of his actions (which brought ghosts to his bed side) and his fear of loosing power that he eventually has no other release than to consume himself.

Richard III is a contest or game for power and supremacy; Richard requires the destruction of any rivals. He destroys the English nobles who can be potential threats to the throne–but little does he know that his main opponent at this game is he himself. In order to remove all obstacles blocking his way, Richard has to use different strategies at each step including manipulation, seduction, execution, isolation, and reconciliation.

Like an experienced card shark, Richard rearranges his relationships to different members of the English court, who constitute different cards in his hand. Margaret is the fortune-teller reading Tarot Cards and Richard is under the false assumption that they can be recalibrated as a classic deck of cards. He constantly oscillates between being a skilled player of this game and being played by his ambitions and desires for power.

Metaphor 1: Fairground Carnival and Circus. See Style for clarification.

Metaphor 2: Cancer spreading and consuming. The desire for power is like a malignant, spreading cancer that consumes everything in its way. Richard is the biggest and hungriest of the tumours, but he is not alone in his hunger.

Metaphor 3: Deck of Tarot Cards. The arrangement of cards, especially Tarot cards, are said to have predictive values. This game ends with the cards organized in a fashion predicted by Margaret at the beginning of the play.

Metaphor 4: Snakes and Ladders


Our Richard III is a feast of fools; a carnivaliesque hyper-reality. For, Bakhtin carnival and carnivalesque create an alternative social space, a moment when everything is permitted. It occurs on the border between art and life, and is a kind of life shaped according to a pattern of play. It is usually marked by displays of excess and grotesqueness. An emphasis is placed on basic needs and the body, and on the sensual and the senses. It is a dark, psychedelic world that is delirious and colour-saturated, liberated from the limitations of realism.

In keeping with ghosts, prophesies and dreams, the setting is a distorted fairground carnival. Gangs of tarot card inspired circus freaks and performers roam this imaginary, dream/nightmare landscape with Richard as the joker or jester and Margaret is the fortune-teller, who reads the cards. The inhabitants are acrobats, dancers and circus entertainers. Camouflaged in plain sight is a game of snakes and ladders – ways to climb up and ways to slide down. In this circus world filled with performance, competition and conspiracy there are hoops hanging from the ceiling, hiding places and perches from which to spy and tents for rival gang encampments.