1993

Re: Boys Playing Women

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 452.  Saturday, 24 July 1993.
 
From:           Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 23 Jul 93 19:19:02 EDT
Subject: 4.0443  Re: Boys Playing Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0443  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
Some further thoughts about boys or men playing women, and vocal qualities.
Male singers who sing counter-tenor parts, not monstrously but with real
strength, work in the range of female "traditional" alto and sometimes soprano
ranges.  Though I had worked with such singers for many years, I didn't ever
think about them speaking.  Then a few years ago I saw the Cheek By Jowl
all-male company playing As You Like It.  The actor playing Rosalind
cultivated the higher ranges of his voice, and he sounded -- but more
important, I guess, also acted -- convincingly female.  Hmmm . . . . is but
thinking makes it so.   "Twas a wonderful production, thrilling vocally, and
many occasional songs were performed a cappella by the company together wi'
lots of singers working in their falsetto ranges.  Those sounds were deeply
contrasted with the "natural" alto ranges of the actor playing Rosalind.    So
there are lots of different ways to achieve those effects, some comic, others
graceful.
 
           as ever, Steve Urkowitz "who can sing both high and low . . ."

Re: *Henry V* and French

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 451.  Saturday, 24 July 1993.
 
From:           Peter Ayers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 23 Jul 1993 08:24:59 -0400
Subject:        Henry V and French
 
With respect to Bill Kemp's recent comment, surely whatever else Henry is,
he is not monolingual; as Katherine points out in V.ii.188-9, his French
is better than her English, and certainly up to the task of defining his
own priorities in 180-4.  He claims linguistic incompetence here as
elsewhere, but here as elsewhere, it is a singularly disingenuous self-
definition.  The real issue seems to be power; Henry is now in a position
to make others bow to his language, literally and metaphorically.
 
Peter Ayers
Dept. of English
Memorial University

SSE Contest; *SQ* Teaching Shakespeare Issue

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 449.  Friday, 23 July 1993.
 
From:           Ralph Alan Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 22 Jul 1993 13:57:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        [SSE Contest; *SQ* Teaching Shakespeare Issue]
 
I'd like to make two announcements -- one sublime and one ridiculous and I
won't say which is which:
 
The Shenandoah Shakespeare Express would like to announce a contest for members
of SHAKSPER.  Each year we give our season a name.  This year's plays were
*Antony and Cleopatra*, *Romeo and Juliet*, and *Dream*, so we called it the
"Season of Love."  Next year we'll be doing *Othello*, *Much Ado*, and *Shrew*,
and we're looking for a name for the season (the name will go on T-shirts,
programs, etc.).  So far we've thought of the "Season of Bile," but we thought
we'd let SHAKSPER-ians suggest a name.  Winning entry will receive a T-shirt, a
season poster, and our thanks.
 
Announcement #2: In 1995 *The Shakespeare Quarterly* will be devoting one of
its issues to teaching Shakespeare.  Anyone interested in submitting an article
can send it to me, Ralph Alan Cohen
                   c/o Mary Tonkinson
                   *Shakespeare Quarterly*
                   Folger Shakespeare Library
                   201 East Capitol Street, S.E.
                   Washington, D.C. 20003
I will be abroad until January 1994, but I should be able to acknowledge sub-
missions shortly after that.  Our deadline will October 1994.

Re: SSE Contest

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 450.  Saturday, 24 July 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Bernice W. Kliman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 23 Jul 1993 08:43 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0449  SSE Contest
 
(2)     From:   Tad Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 23 Jul 93 10:45:26 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0449  SSE Contest
 
(3)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, July 24, 1993
        Subj:   SSE Contest
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 23 Jul 1993 08:43 EDT
Subject: 4.0449  SSE Contest
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0449  SSE Contest
 
Dear Ralph,
 
How about "The Season of Lies?" There are plenty in all the plays,
for both evil and well-meaning reasons. Have a good trip!
 
Bernice
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 23 Jul 93 10:45:26 EDT
Subject: 4.0449  SSE Contest
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0449  SSE Contest
 
How about "Season of the KnifeTongued"? Or maybe "With Tongues Like
Knives." It's a bit much to fit on a T-shirt, though. If you have to say
"Season of," it gets a little cramped. Good luck!
 
Tad Davis
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, July 24, 1993
Subject:        SSE Contest
 
I would suggest "The Season of Misunderstandings" or "The Season of
Misprision."

Re: Boys Playing Women

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 448.  Friday, 23 July 1993.
 
(1)     From:   William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 22 Jul 1993 20:58:23 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0443  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
(2)     From:   Tom Loughlin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 22 Jul 1993 10:40 pm EDT (Fri, 23 Jul 93 02:40:25 UT)
        Subj:   Boys Playing Women
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 22 Jul 1993 20:58:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 4.0443  Re: Boys Playing Women
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0443  Re: Boys Playing Women
 
At the 1992 Shakespeare and Renaissance Association of West Virginia meeting,
James Forse suggested that at least some of the major roles in Shakespeare's
plays were acted by mature female impersonators. I've skimmed the printed
essay, "ROMEO AND JULIET: A Play for All Seasons," in SELECTED PAPERS 16
(1993): 88-117, and I'm not sure the idea got into the printed version. Paul
Yachnin pointed out that other scholars (I can't remember whom) also espoused
the idea. If indeed mature female impersonators took the roles of, say,
Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth, then we would have to change our ideas of the boy
actors. They played only minor roles. In this case, THE CRYING GAME would give
us some grasp of what a female character looked like on Shakespeare's stage.
She looked and sounded like a mature woman. When Cleopatra thinks of seeing
"Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness" (Riverside V.ii.220), we do not
have irony, but the disdain of the female impersonator for a boy actor.
 
But is there any firm evidence (beyond the three bearded sisters) that mature
men played females on the Renaissance stage?
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Loughlin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 22 Jul 1993 10:40 pm EDT (Fri, 23 Jul 93 02:40:25 UT)
Subject:        Boys Playing Women
 
   I'd just like to inject a slight word of caution into the discussion about
boys playing women.  The original question, it seemed to me, based itself upon
the assumption that an attempt at verisimilitude was at the heart of Shake-
speare's theatre.  I find many time in talking to people in Shakespearean
discussion that the tendency to attach modern notions of theatre to the Eliz-
abethan stage is common.  When I teach Shakespearean acting, and even in my
attempts to direct graduate students in Shakespeare productions, I find that
the hardest habit to break is the habit of thinking realistically.  Thus, the
question "Did boys try to act or sound like women?" is a question which only
someone with a 20th-century notion of what theatre is would ask.
 
   Understand that I am not saying that the question is without merit nor is
unworthy of discussion or research.  It is one of those theoretical questions
to which we will probably never know the real answer.  What I am saying is that
ultimately I believe such a question would never have mattered to Shakespeare
or to his audience, since they had an entirely different understanding of the
theatrical event and its purpose and meaning.  Shakespeare was probably way
ahead of his time in that he had a very clear and advanced notion of "the
mirror up to nature," but even so that idea was clearly limited to speech and
action, not to scenery or other re-creative efforts towards "realism."

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