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Home :: Archive :: 1991 :: February ::
New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 62. Wednesday, 20 Feb 1991.
 
Date:         Wed, 20 Feb 91 17:20:28 EST
From:         Ken Steele <
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Subject:      New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver
 
Speaking of file transfer techniques, my sincere appreciation once
again to Skip Shand, who has patiently and resourcefully managed to
get a Macintosh Word version of his seminar paper for the SAA conference
to me in ASCII form.
 
"Queen of the First Quarto" is now available to all on the SHAKSPER
Fileserver as HAMLETQ1 QUEEN SHAKSPER.  I reproduce the abstract below,
which is also available as SHAND ABSTRACT SHAKSPER:
 
 
        Abstract: "Queen of the First Quarto"
 
Actorly study of the Queen in Q1 *Hamlet* reveals a role which, while
demonstrably simpler than that of Gertrude in Q2/F, is nonetheless
conceived with consistent theatrical intelligence. Q1's Queen is
regularly on the edges of dialogic moments where she is central in Q2/F.
She is treated, even by Corambis, with something close to dismissal, in a
way symptomatic of Q1's blunter assertion of the patriarchal assumptions of
Elsinore. She is much less potentially a partner in a love relationship with
the King than is her 1604/23 counterpart. She inhabits, as Janis Lull has
demonstrated in detail, a markedly different moral/ethical world from that of
Q2/F, and has consequently easier attitudes to conscience and revenge,
contributing to a simpler task for the Queen-actor. The suicide option, so
clear an invitation to the Queen of the Big Play, is much less available as
an actorly option here. But the role has its demonstrable and coherent
challenges nonetheless, and they appear to be considered rather than chance.
 
Whether the Q1 script be early draft or (slightly) later reconstruction, the
creation of its Queen tells the same probable narrative: the role has almost
certainly been consciously devised for an actor (or category of actor) much
less crafty and experienced than the actor for whom Q2/F Gertrude was
written. It begins to be conceivable that the differences between the roles
bear most interestingly, not on the issue of textual priority/authenticity,
but on the differing worldviews of the two plays and, more central to my
concerns, on the question of the craft and durability of the boy actors,
their varying abilities, and the business of writing for them at different
stages of their young careers.
 
 
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