1993

Cleo Laine, John Colicos, BBC Time-Life

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 386.  Wednesday, 23 June 1993.
 
From:           David McFadden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 1993 14:09:37 -0400
Subject:        Cleo Laine, John Colicos, BBC Time Lifez
 
1: This morning shortly after eleven on CBC Radio (AM version)
they played a recording of Cleo Laine singing Sonnet 18 set to
music by John Beckwith. Has anyone on line heard (of) this
recording, and if so do you know if Cleo has done anything else
along these lines? It was very pretty, and with a bit of a
bluesy beat. The program was a replay of an old Lister Sinclair
"Ideas" instalment, called "Nectar and Ambrosia--Part 3."
 
2: On CBC Radio about a few weeks ago they ran a wonderful new
audio version of King Lear, produced and directed by John Juliani
and starring John Colicos as Lear. Colicos was superb, his voice
subtly becoming less imperious and startlingly more human
from scene to scene, and Cordelia (didn't catch the name of the
actress) sobbed in a most heart-stabbing manner. The tape is
available for purchase by calling Vancouver: 800-665-5516 or
by fax at 604-948-0158. Don't have the price right now. (I
hereby affirm I have no connection, commercial or otherwise,
with this enterprise. I'm doing this for free.) A friend says he
met Colicos by  chance in a pub a few months ago and he not only
mentioned that he was doing a radio version of Lear but was so
enthusiastic about it he started delivering the "Howl Howl Howl"
speech in such a convincing manner that the entire noisy pub was
rendered silent.
 
3: Switching from the CBC to the BBC--I was chatting with Paul
Roberts of the BBC Toronto office this morning and he says the
BBC-Time Life Shakespeare video series (ca. 1980) will in about
18 months become commercially available first in the U.S., then
in Canada, rather than just through institutions etc. They'll be
about Can$50 per cassette, or a shade under Can$1,000 for the
whole collection. Most of you will be familiar with the series I'm
sure, but for those who aren't I should say that each play is given
in full, straightahead, no editing, and brilliant casting and sets.
I've only seen a few of them but so far but highlights have been:
a. Charles Gray's unforgettable portrayal of Pandarus in Troilus
and Cressida. Does anyone know anything else about the work of
this fine actor?
b. Ben Kingsley as one of the aggrieved husbands in Merry Wives.
c. The wonderful otherworldly setting in Comedy of Errors.
 
A long shot: Does anyone know of a superfluous set of these tapes
that could be sold on a second-hand basis? If so, I'm definitely
interested, since I lack institutional affiliation, though any
responses to this query can be e-mailed to me at:
<This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
 
--David McFadden

Collier Query

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 385.  Wednesday, 23 June 1993.
 
From:           Kathryn Murphy Anderson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 93 12:32:30 -0400
Subject:        Collier query
 
Recently while working on my dissertation I've come across several
references to Jeremy Payne Collier and his forgeries.  I'd appreciate
knowing some references to material that could help me get up-to-date
on Collier, his work, what he is believed to have done, and how it was
ascertained that he forged texts or data.  Thanks, SHAKSPERians.
 
Kathryn Murphy Anderson, English Department, Boston University.

Macduff

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 383.  Wednesday, 23 June 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Phyllis Rackin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 1993 10:13:51 +22306256 (EST)
        Subj:   Re. Macduff
 
(2)     From:   Herbert Donow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 93 09:44:03 CST
        Subj:   Macduff and Cleopatra
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Phyllis Rackin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 1993 10:13:51 +22306256 (EST)
Subject:        Re. Macduff
 
Maybe Macduff has to leave his family to join the army of righteousness
and his wife and children have to be killed because this is a play where
men are tainted by associations with women. Neither Duncan nor Banquo has
a wife, and the first credential Malcolm offers when he decides to abjure
what he calls the "taints and blames" he laid on himself to test Macduff
is, "I am yet unknown to women" (IV.iii).
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Herbert Donow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 93 09:44:03 CST
Subject:        Macduff and Cleopatra
 
Two brief observations: a) Macduff is a significant character who achieves that
significance rather late in the play.  Prior to the 4th act he is little more
important than Ross.  Questions about his character (why he abandons his family
and so forth and why he looms so large in Macbeth's mind) might have been
answered in a missing scene--one of those many of us believe were lost before
the printing of F1.  Macbeth, to his credit, was one who consulted with his
wife (unlike Brutus or Hotspur); Macduff, had we that significant scene to
prove it, neglected his wife and felt it unnecessary to share his thoughts with
her. Someone needs to write "Macduff" including all the facts that Shakespeare
undoubtedly intended to provide us but carelessly lost.
 
b) As one of late middle years, I have long been taken with Cleopatra.  She
appeals to us older guys.  Proof of her extraordinary powers lies in the fact
that the most lyrical piece of poetry in the play comes from the tongue of a
most prosaic solder -- Enobarbus -- as he describes "her infinite variety."
What can one say but "O, rare for Antony"?
 
Herbert Donow
Southern Illinois University

Re: Cleopatra

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 384.  Wednesday, 23 June 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Kay Stockholder <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 93 10:06:44 PDT
        Subj:   SHK 4.0379  Antony and Cleopatra Query
 
(2)     From:   Al Cacicedo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jun 1993 13:46:34 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: 4.0379, Ant and Cleo query
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kay Stockholder <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 93 10:06:44 PDT
Subject: Antony and Cleopatra Query
Comment:        SHK 4.0379  Antony and Cleopatra Query
 
For me the strength of the play lies in the imperfection of its lovers along
with the power of their love. Cleopatra is divided between her love and her
desire to survive, while Antony is divided between his fear of and desire for
the feminine in his world. Out of their self-division they each betray the
other, and themselves in the process. I don't see why one can't have sympathy
for imperfect figures; if we were called upon to give our imaginative
understanding only to perfect people we would not have much need of it. After
all, Antony and Cleopatra, apart from the placement in the world and perhaps
their love of self-dramatizing, are considerably more like most people than
Romeo and Juliet.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Cacicedo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 1993 13:46:34 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: 4.0379, Ant and Cleo query
 
     I think that *Antony and Cleopatra* is a difficult play in large
part because it presents so strong a female character in Cleopatra
that those virile Roman *viri* react with all too characteristic male
fear and loathing.  That perspective is the first thing we hear in
the play, and it's tempting to agree with what's said.  But to say
that Cleopatra is proof of Shakespeare's misogyny seems to me
wrongly to agree with the masculinist perspective of Philo and
Demetrius at the outset of the play.  She is a strumpet only if
one agrees that female sexuality ought to be licenced as Rome
licences it -- and, I think, the play does not look too kindly on the
Roman way of marriage.  Nor am I sure that Cleopatra is so careless
of her children as you suggest.  Octavius's almost voyeuristic
description of Antony and Cleopatra's public enthronement after
Antony abandons Octavia makes Antony the giver of kingdoms and
empery:  but the recipients are Cleopatra and her children.  Again,
to agree that those children are disgusting because they are
"unlawful issue" (3.6.7) is to think of Octavius as the defining voice
of the play.
 
     I'd pursue the idea of your astute student, and consider the way
in which Cleopatra uses her sexuality to counter the abysmally bad
political position of Egypt in a Roman world.  And I would also pursue
the idea that there's much of Venus in the presentation of Cleopatra.
Bevington is right that one can see Cleopatra's haling about of the
messenger as an example of eastern despotism; but compare the
meeting of Venus with Adonis in "Venus and Adonis" (especially
25-42) and you will see that love is not the "soft and delicate desires"
of male fantasy such as Claudio feels for Hero in *Much Ado* (1.1.303).
One can make the identification with Venus problematic, of course.
After all, Venus participates in characteristics of female power that
Janet Adelman, in *Suffocating Mothers*, identifies with male paranoia.
But, I think, the paranoia depends on the fact of female power.  In
other words, Octavius and the Roman world demonize Cleopatra because
she is so self-determining a woman.
 
     I agree with those writers who are unsure of Cleopatra's motivation:
does she only seek to manipulate Antony or does she love him?  But I
also wonder whether the two things are incompatible.  I do think,
however, that the end of the play presents a transcendental Cleopatra,
whose "immortal longings" (5.2.281) are real and, perhaps, definitive
of her relationship with Antony, the "Husband" (287) to whom she now
goes.  By the way, according to civil, or "Roman" law, the illegitimate
children of parents who end up marrying become legitimate:  so if we
take Cleopatra at her word, those bastasrd kids that Octavius abominates
become legitimate.  Anyway, if you're looking for misogyny in the play,
of course it's there in the language of Rome.  But the play presents an
alternative language that I find to be remarkably unmisogynistic.
Ultimately that language may simply mystify the real outcome of the
play -- after all, Cleopatra and Antony do end up dead while Octavius
lives on as the "sole sir o' th' world" (5.2.120).  Octavius is pitiably
prune-like -- nowhere more so than when he first sees Cleopatra and
must ask "Which is the Queen of Egypt" (5.2.112) -- but maybe world
empire requires a prune instead of a plum.  In any case, I think that
even Octavius' success is undermined in the course of the play.  So, as
Octavius foresees the "time of universal peace" (4.6.4) that his victory
will inaugurate, the play reminds us, as it has done several times
before, that "Great Herod" reigns in Palestine.  I imagine that any
Christian audience must hear in the name of Herod a reference to the
birth of that "one greater man," to borrow Milton's phrase, who will undo
Octavius much as Octavius has undone Cleopatra and Antony.
 
Just a reading from Reading, PA
 
Al Cacicedo (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
Albright College

SSE 1993 Season

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 382.  Wednesday, 23 June 1993.
 
From:           Blair F. Kelly <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jun 93 06:55:55 EDT
Subject:        [SSE 1993 Season]
 
I just finished seeing all three plays of the Shenandoah Shakespeare
Express's 1993 season.
 
Of the three plays, I thought that their Anthony and Cleopatra was the
best, closely followed by a good Midsummer Night's Dream.  I did not
enjoy their Romeo and Juliet as much.  (I freely admit that it is not
one of my more favorite of the Bard's plays.  But I keep going in the
hope that one of these times Juliet will wake up in time for a happy
ending!)  I felt that the performance was a bit rushed (which is a new
experience for me as usually I am yawning by the final scene).  Plus I
was put off by Mercutio's death speech - he hardly seemed hurt enough
to die a few minutes later.  I liked the balcony scene done with the
Folger's balcony, and wonder how it plays when the troupe is
traveling and does not have a balcony?  (At the Folger, Juliet was
able to pace and move about on the balcony.)  I did like Juliet's
raised eyebrows, tilted head, and lowered voice for the line "And what
satisfaction can you have tonight?"
 
All the acting by every member of the company was excellent.  (I will
not single out any performer as that would slight those whom I did not
mention.  They really are talented.)  I like this company's philosophy
of running each production as close to a running time of two hours as
possible, without intermission (or interval, as my British friends
would say).  (Question for the theater experts - In Shakespeare's time,
would productions have had intermissions/intervals?)  And of course,
their interaction with the audience really gets one involved if one
sits near the front of the house!  This year I felt that there was more
improvisation by the company than last year - I liked it.  A small
recommendation - instead of having someone in a suit introduce the
company, I would have preferred if the introduction had been given by
the swing actor/actress who was not playing in the performance.  I
really liked the introductions by the performers of their (multiple)
parts in Anthony and Cleopatra.
 
I highly recommend this company.  What plays are they thinking about
next season?  From seeing this company last year and this year, I would
say that they do best with the comedies and lesser known works of the
Bard.  It is hard for a traveling troupe to compete with the major
works against established theaters.  But then I am happy to be proven
wrong!

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