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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: May ::
Re: Talking in Plays
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 322.  Monday, 24 May 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Timothy Bowden <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 May 93 06:51:37 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0310 Re: Talking at Plays
 
(2)     From:   John Cox <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 May 1993 09:34 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0310 Re: Talking at Plays
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Bowden <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 May 93 06:51:37 PST
Subject: 4.0310 Re: Talking at Plays
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0310 Re: Talking at Plays
 
There is a practical measure to be taken in the matter of distractions
by the audience attending plays beyond the elitism implied by complaints
about the tourist class.  For me, it isn't a question of attending in
utter silence a sacremental work of art, but neither is it an obeissance
such as celebrating a mass and not needing to have the Latin translated.
Succinctly, a play of Shakespeare's for me is diction, and if I don't
hear it, I feel I've missed the show.  Whatever the question of original
Elizabethan intent, I doubt the Bard was fielding a mime troup.
 
If you have experiences with a considerate and aware audience in
Ashland, then those aren't the ones I'm writing about.  But if you can
sit through as I have the experience of having whole lines of dialogue
blotted out by stage whispers in the crowd and even fast-food
sack-rattling with complete aplomb, then I respect your equanimity
(if suspect your reason for being there at all).
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <
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Date:           Monday, 24 May 1993 09:34 EST
Subject: 4.0310 Re: Talking at Plays
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0310 Re: Talking at Plays
 
Balz Engler asks whether different periods have different kinds of audience
behavior.  For partial answer, see Marc Baer's *Theatre and Disorder in Late
Georgian London* (Oxford, 1992), which documents a months-long theater strike
by patrons.  Shakespeare was still POPULAR at that point, and the strike was
called to protest management's raising the ticket prices.  Audience behavior
was unimaginable by late-twentieth expectations:  people constantly called out
to actors, heckled, cheered, booed, stood up and turned their backs, etc.  In
fact, the strike took the form of people filling the theater but preventing the
performance by means of noisy and disruptive behavior.  If a quiet theater is
the price we pay for an elite Shakespeare in today's theaters, is it a price
we're willing to go on paying?
 
John Cox
 

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