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Home :: Archive :: 1991 :: October ::
Unstaged Scenes; Burton's *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 274. Monday, 28 Oct 1991.
 
 
(1)	Date: 	Sat, 26 Oct 1991 20:11:03 -0400
	From: 	Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
	Subj:   Re: SHK 2.0272  Staging Shakespeare's Unstaged Scenes
 
(2)	Date: 	Mon, 28 Oct 1991 11:15:00 -0500
	From: 	Kevin Berland <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 2.0270  Richard Burton's *Hamlet*
 
	
(1)------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Sat, 26 Oct 1991 20:11:03 -0400
From: 		Steve Urkowitz <surcc@cunyvm.bitnet>
Subject: 2.0272  Staging Shakespeare's Unstaged Scenes
Comment:      	Re: SHK 2.0272  Staging Shakespeare's Unstaged Scenes
 
About violating artistic integrity:  I have often been led to think about
the differences between esthetics and pragmatics, particularly in theatre
arts.  But the issue of an art-object and an artistic-design-for performance
as being incommensurate . . . .  Well, that's a funny problem.  Sculpting
Jockey shorts onto Michaelangelo's David pretty much violates the artist's
intentions.  No problem there.  But what about using incandescent lighting
in a play originally designed for daytime performance under natural light?
What about using female players instead of male players for women characters?
What about providing camera shots of Romeo and his page thundering home on
horseback in Zefferelli's movie?  Performance folks keep trying to find ways
to play with plays, and their efforts sometimes are damned by academics who
imagine a possible "unmediated" access to the "original" art experience.
But that's just a fantasy, since "original" means something very different
in a performing art than it does in painting or sculpture.
 
As a textual scholar, I find scary the fierce pretensions of editors who claim
to offer their own reconstructions of "what Shakespeare actually wrote."  KING
LEAR 3.1, for example, runs about 40 lines in the Folio, about 60 in the First
Quarto, but it is conflated to about 80 in modern versions.  Then, dopily,
modern critics who rely on the modern text criticize the scene for its slowly
meandering pace.  Should an editor be "allowed" to create scenes this way?
In the example I gave from 3Henry VI a couple of days ago, we have at least
one modern editor who snaggles the whispering exchange out of the Quarto and
hooks it onto the much more abrupt coup-de-theatrical Folio and claims to
have offered us what Shakespeare really wanted onstage.  When a production
does that, the consequence usually ends with the closing of the show.
Edited interpolations ring their tinny and sour notes for much longer.
Ah well.
                   See you 'round the facsimile shelves,
 
		   Steve Urkowitz
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Mon, 28 Oct 1991 11:15:00 -0500
From: 		Kevin Berland <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Subject: 2.0270  Richard Burton's *Hamlet*
Comment: 	Re: SHK 2.0270  Richard Burton's *Hamlet*
 
I thought I *saw* that film, in about 1964 or thereabouts.  It was shown
in Canadian movie theatres for hordes of high-school kids...  I remember
comparing it with Christopher Plummer's Hamlet, aired on Canadian TV about
the same time.
 
Kevin Berland
 

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