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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: March ::
Re: Audience Participation
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 197.  Saturday, 27 March 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Rick Jones <
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        Date:   Saturday, 27 Mar 1993 10:52:57 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0193  Audience participation
 
(2)     From:   Ed Pechter <
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        Date:   Saturday, 27 Mar 1993 16:45 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0193  Staging *TGV*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <
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Date:           Saturday, 27 Mar 1993 10:52:57 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 4.0193  Audience participation
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0193  Audience participation
 
Adrian Kiernander writes:
 
>I'd be interested to know whether this is the only time in a
>play of the period (outside prologues and epilogues, like Puck's or
>Prospero's, which are a special case) where a character addresses the
>audience directly and what's more gives them a task, which is of course no
>more than their normal but usually unstated task--to act as judge.
 
A variation on the theme would be in Peele's _Arraignment of Paris_,
in which a single audience member, the queen, is awarded the prize
because she shows all the attributes of all the goddesses in the
contest.  There was almost certainly a performance history independent
of the Court: exactly how the denouement was handled in the absence
of Elizabeth is the subject of some dispute.  One theory (I'm afraid I
can't remember the source) is that there may have been a direct
address of the audience, suggesting that they help poor Paris
decide... with, perhaps, a "plant" in the audience to steer the
thinking toward Elizabeth.  Sounds a bit strained to me, especially
given the amount of improvization this would require of boy actors,
but I don't have a better solution for what might have happened at the
pre-court "dress rehearsals".
 
I know this isn't exactly the same phenomenon, but it came immediately
to my mind as being in some way analogous.
 
Rick Jones
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pechter <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 27 Mar 1993 16:45 EST
Subject: 4.0193  Staging *TGV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0193  Staging *TGV*
 
In response to Adrian Kiernander's question about characters
addressing the audience directly and asking them to act as judge:
You might consider Hippolito's aside in *Women Beware Women*,
1.2.150 ff.  It ends:
 
          Feed inward you my sorrows, make no noise,
          Consume me silent, let me be stark dead
          Ere the world know I'm sick.  You see my honesty;
          If you befriend me, so.
 
According to Frost's (Cambridge) and Loughrey and Taylor's
(Penguin) editions, "you" refers to his sorrows.  They don't tell
us how they know this.  They just announce their solution to a
problem they haven't even acknowledged to exist (though of course
their felt need to write a note proves that it does).  Like kids
in Art Linkletter, editors say the darndest things.
 
Mulryne is more helpful in the New Revels:  "It is not clear to
whom this is addressed.  It cannot be Isabella; it is unlikely to
be the audience; the immediately preceding 'you', his 'sorrows',
would not give a particularly apt sense.  He perhaps invokes
Heaven as the power that imposes his 'honesty' of silence."
 
Well, maybe so, though I don't understand why the audience is
unlikely as the object of address.  Without a gesture upward (the
kind of stage direction Dover Wilson used to invent with
wonderful facility), it seems to me hard to imagine a performance
where some sense of "you" as us, the audience, wouldn't come
across.
 
I think Adrian Kiernander's right, that we are implicitly asked
to engage directly with many--most?--asides and soliloquies; I
suspect there are others like Hippolito's which make this
explicit, and maybe less ambiguously.
 

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