Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: March ::
Various Responses
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 156.  Wednesday, 10 March 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Michael D. Friedman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 1993 14:32:59 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0147  Tracing Actors Through the Plays
 
(2)     From:   Ben Schneider <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 1993 12:26:29 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Various responses
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael D. Friedman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 1993 14:32:59 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0147  Tracing Actors Through the Plays
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0147  Tracing Actors Through the Plays
 
 
To follow up with a little additional help for Roy Flannagan, T.J. King has a
book entitled *Casting Shakespeare's Plays: Actors and Their Roles, 1590-1642*
published by Cambridge University Press.
 
                                                        Michael D. Friedman
                                                        Friedman@Scranton
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Ross Schneider <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 1993 12:26:29 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Various responses
 
For Luc Borot--
 
     The question you raise (6 Mar) as to whether Shakespeare isn't following
Marlow's course in the *Jew of Malta* of inviting us to compare the behavior of
the Jew to that of the Christians, to the disadvantage of the Christians --
this question has been answered definitively, in my opinion, by Allan Dessen in
"The Elizabethan Stage Jew and Christian Example:  Gerontius, Barrabas, and
Shylock." *Modern Language Quarterly* 35: 232-9.  He agrees with you actually,
but, if I remember, views Shylock as a shame to mercenery Christians in
general, not specifically to the Christians in the play (whom I argue are not
mercenary).  On this point also we should be sure to note what  David Banks
said in his communication of 26 Feb:  "One's impression of most of these books
[in the *Short Title Catalogue*] is that their references to Jews have the
purpose of amendment *of Christians*.  May this be an important part of MV
too?"
 
 
For Roy Flanagan--
 
     You ask (7 Mar)  "has any scholar speculated very carefully about which of
the various actors acted the various parts":  I just found this item in a list
of books by Columbia PhD's:  T. J. King.  *Casting in Shakespeare's plays:
London Actors and their Roles, 1590-1642*.  Cambridge UP 1991.  From 1660-1800
the record of casting (and much more) on the London Sage has been published in
11 volumes.  During the 70's this record was computerized here (Lawrence
University), and the resulting data base is now searching for a home where
someone will maintain it and make it available to scholars in theatre history
or whatever.  It seems likely right now that the Electronic Text Center at
University of Virginia will provide this home.
 
     After about 1705, London Stage records are nearly complete, and one can
trace the actors of a role and the roles of an actor in order to see if there
are any trends.  Actually I have analyzed the roles of the actors in MV.  The
first post-Restoration Shylock, as is well known, in Granville's adaptation
*Jew of Venice* (1701) was played by Dogget, a clown.  After that, when it
isn't Macklin, as I remember, it was often the company's fop.  Macklin (see
*Dictionary of Actors*) as far as I can make out, terrorized the audience with
his lust for vengeance, but it's hard to tell what his conception of the
character was.  Antonio is more interesting:  Quin, the actor who played him,
played Kent, Brutus, Cato, Timon, and several other "noble Romans," and also
some malcontents like Jaques and Wycherley's Plain Dealer.  In fact "Plain
Dealer" fits his type best, and in many ways so does Antonio, much too plain in
his opinions of Shylock.  Bassanio remarks that "in [Antonio] the ancient Roman
honor lives more than any man in Italy."   The answer to Roy's question, then,
is that, for the 18th century, casting does throw some light on plays, but it
is not generally definitive.  The trouble is that if an actor is too rigidly
typed, he can only work the plays in which his type appears.  The fop roles by
themselves would keep Colley Cibber busy maybe less than half the time.  So to
make a living he plays the villains in tragedy as well, and of course Richard
III.
 
 
For Jeff Nyhoff--
 
     You ask about the impact of computer technology on scholarship in dramatic
literature and theatre; how has this technology assisted one's scholarly work?
(7 Mar)  The London Stage data base described above has had very little use (1
query a year).  I attribute this to three factors:  1) reaserch in theatre
history has dropped off radically in the past decade.  2) Scholars in
literature and theatre are computer-shy.  Afraid that the price of tooling up
is not worth the possible payoff.  3) Scholars don't now work on topics of
research suitable for analysis by means of the London Stage DB.
 
     However, I think my computer helps me a tremendous lot in Shakespeare
research.  In the 70s I became a great admirer of optical scanning and now the
state of the art has reached take-off speed.  What I do is scan primary works
and pertinent criticism.  To save time I don't scrutinize these works until I
proofread and mark the scanner output.  I end up being quite familiar with the
material and having my own index to my own special topics.  And of course, even
with so crude a tool as WordPerfect search, I have an index to every word or
phrase in the work.  When it comes time to write, one just electronically
assembles all the relevant passages in the electronic texts and ties them
together in some sort of argument.  Maybe it would be faster just to take notes
in the old way, but one learns as one goes and I don't always mark what I
should have.  "I never know what I think until I see what I write," as the
famous lady is supposed to have said.  Computer search of my online sources can
almost always answer the question I too often have: "Now where did I read
that."
 
 
For Piers Lewis--
 
     On 6 March you made this very acute comment on which I can't resist
expanding at some length:
 
     Money is too powerful, too mysterious, and too important to be treated
     [lightly].  Shakespeare knew that too, deep down, which is why in all
     honesty he makes Shylock so intensely alive that the other characters seem
     unreal by comparison--to us at any rate for whom the aristocratic ideal,
     largely taken for granted in this play, has faded away.
 
I fix on "the aristocratic ideal," and I whole-heartedly agree that it has
faded away:  Marx, Weber, Habermas, and Polanyi (for example)  have commented
on this phenomenon at length, and it is well understood in sociological
circles. *Reciprocity* lies at the core of pre-capitalist ethics, and rather
astonishingly, we are now having some kind of a renaissance of reciprocity
awareness.   Anthropologists have been talking about it for fifty years (Evans-
Pritchard, Mauss, Sahlins); and now, in the 90s, philosophers (Becker);
biologists (Alexander, Cronin), and even mathematicians (Axelrod) have
discovered it.  Years ago, putting together Cicero's *De Officiis*, which I had
to read in another context, and the emphasis on friendship in MV, I thought I
sensed reciprocity in MV.  I began reading Roman morality, for some reason not
a topic of modern Renaissance scholarship, and it began to look as if Seneca's
*de beneficiis*, Englished in the late 16th century, might be the basis of
aristocratic behavior in MV.  If anyone is interested in more detail and
documentation of this hypothesis, I'm sending an article, forthcoming in
*Restoration*, called "Granville's *Jew of Venice*: a Close Reading of
Shakespeare's *Merchant*," to the Shaksper fileserver.  The focus in this piece
is a bit fuzzy, however, and I'm working on a new approach via *The Crisis of
the Aristocracy*.  Meanwhile, I invite and welcome any criticsm of this article
and/or hypothesis, hostile or friendly.  Thanking you in advance, I am,
 
Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER
 
PS.  Unfortunately I am leaving on a trip tomorrow and won't be back until 3
April.  I will be silent until then, but look forward eagerly to perusing any
comments these remarks may generate.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.