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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: September ::
Comment: SHK
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 537.  Thursday, 9 Sept. 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Milla Riggio <
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        Date:   Thursday, 09 Sep 1993 09:55:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0535  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
(2)     From:   Bill Denning <
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        Date:   Thursday, 09 Sep 1993 02:56:59 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0535  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Milla Riggio <
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Date:           Thursday, 09 Sep 1993 09:55:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0535  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0535  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
On the questions of Shakespeare, politics, and culture, I want to weigh in,
albeit at somewhat lightweight poundage, on the side of Mssrs. Drakakis and
Hawkes, to this extent and in this way:  There are many "Shakespeares"
out there for each of us and the Shakespeares that I like only marginally,
if at all, include the one behind the altar, surrounded by incense,
and inviting -- through his many surrogates, of course -- mass
genuflection.  This is the Shakespeare to whom we build the monuments
being debated in this conversation, and the worship of THIS BARD tends
to result in over-elaborate and over-expensive productions, designed to
fill the citadels built to house them.  When I teach Shakespeare I
tell my students not to expect altars and incense and, I encourage them
to walk through the course with hobnailed boots.  In terms of
productions, I prefer performances like JULIUS CAESAR SET IN AFRICA,
a production Naomi Liebler led me to in the Village a couple of years
ago, filled with African dance, drumming, textiles, face painting and
resonant with the wonderful language that we do love so much to read
and hear.  But language, whether beautiful or not, is of course not
value-free; it comes with its own cultural baggage, and I prefer to
hear Shakespeare's language being created and re-created by voices
finding it for themselves in whatever large or small stage or space
they occupy.  I was blown away a year or so ago by Steve Urkowitz's
staging of the farce THE FOUR P'S.  Steve took four students
(including African-Americans and one Latino) who had never acted
before, and with good vocal training, engaged them in a production
that made this sixteenth-century farce sound more like modern
street drama than a "historicall recreated" monument to or
memory of the past.  In the process, Steve probably taught those
young men more about history than they will learn in most courses
they take -- about palmers and apothecaries and so forth.  Even the
sexist joke on which the play turns was defused by the sense of
its somehow being an insiders joke on oneself.  I took a bunch
of college students, who had staged OTHELLO, into an inner city
high school to play some scenes and we engaged in a terrific
conversation, particularly as it turned out about the women in
the play, most specifically about the way Cassio treated his
"ho'," who was, the students concluded, considerably more honest
"than those who thus abuse[d]" her.  This was an interesting
experience, mainly because it was FUN!  If these are plays,
than let's PLAY with Shakespeare, not worship him.
 
Those of us who work with early drama have for much too long
tended to equate "authenticity" with historical recreation.  We
could NOT achieve any such thing, even if we knew (as we never
will) what that means.  If we airlifted a Shakespearean
production into our very midst, from say 1596, it would be
altered by virtue of US:  who we are, the language we speak,
the clothes we wear.  So I favor drama that finds its place
among us, alive and lively.  As the Nike commercial say, I
like to see actors and students who JUST DO IT.  What this
may have to do with political correctness, I will let
others decide.  And here endeth the sermon for the day.
 
Best,
Milla Riggio
 
P.S.  If anyone wants to know, JULIUS CAESAR SET IN AFRICA is
available for touring to colleges and universities.  Naomi
Liebler and I have both hosted it at our respective academies,
with stunning success.  The choreographer, drummers, and director
will give acting, dancing, drumming workshops, and they will
fill YOUR theatres, or your cafe (it was originally staged in
the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York), or your black box.  They
bring 30 or so actors, drummers, and dancers, and the entire
experience is a real WOW.  If you want to know how to arrange
this, ask....
 
M.R.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Denning <
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Date:           Thursday, 09 Sep 1993 02:56:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 4.0535  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0535  Re: Shakespeare's Politics
 
Bernice Kliman asks:
 
>>On another matter: when did the idea of flaming enter our discourse? I mean
>>the use of the term?
 
I made use of the term about a week ago in a response to one of the messages
regarding Wannamaker's Globe.  I believe the exact phrase I used was, "IMHO
flame wars need not apply".
 
"Flame" is a termly widely used on Internet, netnews, and other electronic
venues to describe vituperative messages.  I felt that some contributors to
that discussion were descending into personal attacks.  "IMHO" is an acronym
for "in my humble opinion".  I don't know whether or not others have used the
term "flame" here.
 
Best regards, Bill Denning
 

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