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Home :: Archive :: 1991 :: October ::
Shakespeare's Unstaged Scenes
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 252. Thursday, 10 Oct 1991.
 
Date:    	Sun, 6 Oct 1991 16:33:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: 		David Richman <
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Subject: 	Shakespeare's unstaged scenes
 
     I am quite conservative about the staging of Shakespeare's unstaged
scenes--Othello's wooing of Desdemona, Hamlet among the pirates,
Leontes's discovery that the shepherd's daughter is really Perdita,
Bertram or Angelo's sexual encounters with the wrong-right!!! woman, the
Claudio-Margaret business.  Indeed, I would argue that staging the
scenes that Shakespeare chose to leave unstaged is comparable in
vulgarity to the colorizing of *Citizen Kane*.  A great artist makes
excellences out of the tools he has.  Shakespeare knew the virtues and
limitations of his stage better than we do.  His subtle effects are
altered, usually for the worse, when incidents he chose to have
described are instead enacted.  No dramatist was more sensitive to the
differing responses that could be elicited in an audience by description
or action.  Sorry if I seem polemical--this is a special hobby-horse of
mine.
 
     It can be argued that both Claudio and Bertram are underwritten
roles, needing more than the usual amount of help from performers and
directors.  I have directed *Much Ado* and *All's Well*, and I am
intimate with the problem.  The redemptions of these young men must
come, if come they do, the hard way--through imaginative and painstaking
work from performers and other artists.  Many solutions have been found.
Walter Kerr, several years ago, suggested that Claudio's youth be
emphasized.  "He hath done in the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion."
We might forgive things in an insecure boy trying to cope in a man's
world, and we might recognize that he might be redeemed and forgiven
with luck.  Muriel St. Clare Byrne argued that the final moments of
*All's Well* are Helena's.  She wants to win Bertram, and the audience
must feel her feeling the moment's impact.  My credo:  Describe what the
playwright wants described; enact what the playwright wants enacted.  I
am in the minority here, but I will observe that rule in my own
productions.
 
David Richman
University of New Hampshire
 

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