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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0492.  Saturday, 4 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Cary M. Mazer <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jun 1994 10:19:53 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0485  Qs: Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
 
(2)     From:   Jay Edelnant <
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        Date:   Frifsy, 03 Jun 1994 14:06:19 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Nudity in Shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   Michael Friedman <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Jun 1994 15:43:27 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   [Nudity]
 
(4)     From:   AL Cacicedo <
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        Date:   Saturday, 4 Jun 1994 0:35:18 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0485  Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
 
(5)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Saturday, June 4, 1994
        Subj:   Nudity in Performance
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary M. Mazer <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jun 1994 10:19:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0485  Qs: Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0485  Qs: Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
 
To Douglas Lanier,
 
When Ian McKellan played Edgar to Robert Eddison's Lear in 1974, in a
production by the short-lived Actor's Company that played in Brooklyn, he
stripped to the buff when he transformed himself into Poor Tom; then,
before the hovel, Lear upended him (and his loin-cloth) to demonstrate
how man was a forked animal.
 
Also, you will no doubt remember the sleep-walking scene from the Polanski
Macbeth which, perhaps not incidentally, was produced by Playboy Films.
 
Cary M. Mazer
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Edelnant <
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Date:           Frifsy, 03 Jun 1994 14:06:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Nudity in Shakespeare
 
The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis did a very revelatory MND in the early to
mid 70s with the fairies in costumes made of a strand of string.  Frank
Langella played Oberon and was later replaced by Len Cariou. I believe it was
not directed by Michael Langham.  To put some spin on the use of nudity, the
"chorus" of fairies was composed of young men and boyish young women all of
whom wore only the string in a kind of G-string, wrapped over one shoulder
effect, with some green and silver body make up but bare breasted and bare from
the rear.  From very close up, it was almost impossible to know the gender of
the actor four feet in front of you, which caused some concern among my
students.  The costumes were so flimsy that (on a tour of the wardrobe area) we
were shown life-sized cardboard clothes hangers over which the web-like string
were hung for storage because one of the actors had dropped one during
rehearsal and no one could figure out how to get it back the way it was
supposed to be, a la a cat's cradle tangle, or so the story went.
 
As I recall, Tovah Feldshu was an intern in the company and played one of the
fairies.
 
The production was under fire from the local authorities and was nearly closed,
it was reported.
 
Jay Edelnant
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Jun 1994 15:43:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        [Nudity]
 
Doug Lanier,
 
In Barry Kyle's 1978 RSC production of *Measure For Measure*, Barnardine
appeared stark naked, at least in the early performances of the production,
according to Graham Nicholls in *Measure For Meaure: Text and Performance*, p.
74.  Nicholls doesn't say why a change was eventually made, but perhaps someone
on the list will know.  See also Philip McGuire's *Speechless Dialect:
Shakespeare's Open Silences*, p. 66.
 
                                                Michael Friedman
                                                
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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           AL Cacicedo <
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Date:           Saturday, 4 Jun 1994 0:35:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0485  Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0485  Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
 
To Douglas Lanier:
 
The ART, in Cambridge, MA, did a *Lear* a couple of years ago in which Poor Tom
was entirely unsophisticated by clothing.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Saturday, June 4, 1994
Subject:        Nudity in Performance
 
In late 1990 and early 1991, The Shakespeare Theatre, then at the Folger, put
on a fascinating *Othello* that opened with Othello (Avery Brooks) and
Desdemona (Jordan Baker) in bed with Desdemona's nude back to the audience. The
production, directed by Harold Scott, was not as interesting for this opening
scene with nudity that clearly established the sexual nature of Othello's and
Desdemona's bi-racial relationship as it was for its casting of Iago and Emilia
with African-American actors.  Iago was wonderfully portrayed by Andre
Braugher, soon after his performance in *Glory*.  Emilia was played by Fran
Stewart Dorn, one of Washington's finest actresses, who moves between The
Shakespeare Theatre and Arena Stage to ply her significant talents.  I believe
Scott had a trial run at Yale Rep with at least Brooks, Jordan, and Braugher at
the end of the previous season.
 
Hardy M. Cook
Bowie State University

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