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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: June ::
Re: Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0527.  Saturday, 11 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Martin Zacks <lalalib%CLASS.ORG@Sdsc.BITnet>
        Date:   Thursday, 9 Jun 1994 16:32:06 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Nudity in Shakespearan Performance
 
(2)     From:   Christine M Gordon <
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        Date:   Thursday, 09 Jun 1994 20:08:34 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   nudity in shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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        Date:   Friday, 10 Jun 1994 08:50:36 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0517 Re: Nudity in Shakespearean Performances
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Zacks <lalalib%CLASS.ORG@Sdsc.BITnet>
Date:           Thursday, 9 Jun 1994 16:32:06 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Nudity in Shakespearan Performance
 
The nudity in Prospero's Books was the least of its problems. Not having the
actors speak the lines made for interesting tableaus, but lousy scenes. The
criticism I heard the most, and heartily agreed with, was not "gratuitous"
nudity, but "self-indulgent."
 
On the other hand, I know people who appear perfectly reasonable who sat
through it twice.
 
        Martin Zacks
        
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine M Gordon <
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Date:           Thursday, 09 Jun 1994 20:08:34 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        nudity in shakespeare
 
Since *Prospero's Books* is the only one of Peter Greenaway's films I have
seen, I can't speak to how it relates to the rest of his work. What I was aware
of as I watched it (and I've only seen it once at this point) was how
absolutely valid a reading it seemed. The nudity became almost immediately
irrelevant AS nudity; the juxtapositions of text and body throughout the film
offered a fascinating look into two artists' visions (three, if we count John
Gielgud). I found myself moved by it much more than I had thought possible, and
recommended it to the class I was teaching that term. After some of them had
seen it, the one questions they asked was "Why didn't you mention all the
nudity?" I hadn't mentioned it because it didn't seem gratuitous at all. I,
too, would be interested in seeing Jarman's version, since his interpretation
of *Edward II* was another of my more memorable film experiences of recent
years--I couldn't speak for fifteen minutes after that one ended. Speaking of
Jarman, does anyone know if his film interpretation of the sonnets (I forget
its title) is available on video?  (Another aspect of Greenaway's nudes that I
appreciated was their VARIETY; not everyone was young, lovely, and with a
perfect Playboy/girl figure.)
 
Vague memories of three other (theatrical) productions: I saw two *MND*
productions at the Guthrie: the 1972 version with the nearly nude fairy court
and the vaguely Jan Kottian (?) reading--very impressive and exciting (I wasn't
aware of any local controversy, but then I had just moved into town late that
summer and the run was well underway; their more recent production had no
nudity per se, though it did include a very dramatic "stripping" of Hippolyta
in the opening "pre-show"--her Amazon warrior garb was removed and she was
dressed in a suitably feminine gown; the actor playing her looked all the while
as if she were ready to murder the people engaged in doing this to her. She was
never nude, but did get down to some sort of bodysuit, very minimal. This was
an astonishingly powerful scene in terms of foregrounding the feminist reading
that was at least a part of the production's point.
 
In 1990, I saw the touring Renaissance Theatre Company productions of *MND* and
*Lear*: no nudes in MND, but Edgar as Poor Tom began with the barest of
loincloths, although he acquired a shirt soon thereafter. His first entrance,
though, did offer a vivid portrait of human fraility and vulnerability.
 
Chris Gordon
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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Date:           Friday, 10 Jun 1994 08:50:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0517 Re: Nudity in Shakespearean Performances
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0517 Re: Nudity in Shakespearean Performances
 
Noel Chevalier asks where the Jarman TEMPEST can be leased. So far as I
know it's available from Glenbuck Films (for "hire"), which is located at
Glenbuck House, Glenbuck Road, Surrey KT6 6 BT U.K. (1 399 0022/5266). In
the States it was for a time available from Kit Parker Films, 1245 Tenth
St., Monterey CA 93940 (800-538 5838). I've lost track, though, and the
last time I checked around no one in the U.S. seemed to have it in stock.
A close comparison of the Jarman and Greenaway versions would make a
fascinating study. I hope someone has time to do it. Ken Rothwell
 

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