Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 153. Tuesday, 9 March 1993.
Date: Monday, 08 Mar 93 20:12:21 EST
Subject: 4.0150 R: Tracing Actors Though the Plays
Comment: Re: SHK 4.0150 R: Tracing Actors Though the Plays
About Roy Flannagan's actor-tracing query: SHAKSPER correspondent Don Foster at
Vassar printed a series of pieces in SHAKESPEARE NEWSLETTER over the last few
years that give the tentative results of his fascinating computer analysis of
"rare words" as they recurr in play after play. He found that these words
aren't evenly distributed across a playscript. Instead, the rare words that
are found in an early play in only one or two roles appear in disproportionate
numbers in the following plays. Foster argues that Shakespeare would have
been most closely associated with the words from roles that he played himself,
so they would be at the tip of his tongue (or pen) as he composed further.
Then the theory begins to deliver many fascinating projections about the order
of composition, the possibilities of revision, and the retirement and return
to the King's Men repertory of different plays. So, Foster's research, still
grinding through textual data, will have a lot to tell you about at least one
very interesting actor in the company.
Steve Urkowitz SURCC@CUNYVM