1994

Qs: Nudity in Shakespearean Performance; Deaf

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0485.  Thursday, 2 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Douglas M Lanier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 09:58:22 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
 
(2)     From:   David Evett <R0870%This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday,  01 Jun 1994 14:21 ET
        Subj:   Deaf Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Douglas M Lanier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 09:58:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Nudity in Shakespearean Performance
 
As part of a larger study of how the body is foregrounded in Shakespearean
performance, I'm interested in getting information about the use of nudity (or
partial nudity) in recent Shakespearean performances.  I've already included
Zeffirelli's *RJ*, Branagh's *Much Ado*, and Greenaway's *Prospero's Books*, as
well as Marowitz's *Hamlet* and the LePage *MND* at the National.  Other
examples I might include? I've not uncovered (ahem) any critical work on this
topic--have I missed something?  I would appreciate any information,
references, anecdotes. Just keep the Bottom jokes to a minimum.
 
Cheers,
Douglas Lanier
University of New Hampshire
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday,  01 Jun 1994 14:21 ET
Subject:        Deaf Shakespeare
 
A bright, resourceful, hard-working and very ambitious deaf student just
starting out in our graduate program wants to do a project on presentation of
Shakespeare texts to deaf audiences.  He's a sometime actor, and has had some
practical experience, signing <Wiv> at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  He
knows of no effort by any deaf company to perform Shakespeare, supposing that
they have been intimidated by the sheer verbal complexity of the texts.  I
heartened him, I think, my calling attention to things like the Marowitz
collage <Hamlet> and Fred Kurchack's one-man adaptations, and to such
translations across languages, cultures, and media as the Kurosawa films.  At
any rate, although the project may eventuate in a deaf performance of some
kind, we want to start in the usual scholarly way with a survey of the
published resources, and would be very grateful for networkers' suggestions,
not only about deaf Shakespeare per se, but relevant work in the semiotics of
drama and translation. Mere references can be sent directly to me; I can
imagine that some of you have ideas about it that would interest many
SHAKSPERians and should be sent to Hardy.
 
Dave Evett

Re: Cordelia and Character

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0484.  Thursday, 2 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Martin Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 08:33:15 -0500
        Subj:   Cordelia
 
(2)     From:   Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 10:29:19 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0481  Re: Cordelia; Comedy
 
(3)     From:   Nick Clary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 13:13:08 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Cordelia, Character development, and Comedy
 
(4)     From:   James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 13:06:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   characters with character
 
(5)     From:   Timothy Dayne Pinnow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 12:34:42 -0500
        Subj:   Cordelia
 
(6)     From:   Rick Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 94 17:25:05 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0477  Cordelia
 
(7)     From:   Christine M Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 18:32:25 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Cordelia
 
(8)     From:   Luc Borot <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 2 Jun 1994 10:38:38 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0481  Re: Cordelia; Comedy
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 08:333:15 -0500
Subject:        Cordelia
 
Everything Terence Hawkes writes to Pamela Bunna about Cordelia is true, and
yet I hear the cry of a baby as the bathwater rushes down the drain. And I am
reminded about early twentieth-century discussions of "character" in Greek
tragedy, where learned scholars argued at length that discussions of the
"character" of Antigone or Medea were in principle misguided. No doubt they
were but the "private motives, or emotions" of a literary character are not so
easily banished.
 
In wondering about the "sincerity" of Cordelia, as Pamela Bunn does, one might
go to Hamlet for a moment. There are significant scenic resemblances between
the first appearances of Hamlet and Cordelia. A public scene of pomp,
circumstance, and fraud; a royal child that says nothing or very little. Hamlet
is goaded into extravagant speech by his mother and in his words about
trappings and suits of woe he flaunts an irreducible "me" that is contradicted
in the very act of utterance: we witness the highly rhetoric and constructed
search for an authentic self. Cordelia says nothing, partly but only partly
because she is a woman. Hamlet raises the question of authentic character in a
highly rhetorical display, and Cordelia raises it differently in silence. The
answer that there simply is no there there will not quite do.
 
There may not be development in Cordelia's character, but there is a problem of
disclosure, and if a modern student asks about it, the question is already
there in that odd entity we are no longer supposed to call a text.
 
Martin Mueller
Northwestern University
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 10:29:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0481  Re: Cordelia; Comedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0481  Re: Cordelia; Comedy
 
I am not a reactionary old fart, and neither is Terence Hawkes, whose advice to
the student in a "Performing Shakespeare" class was a splendid counterbalance
to the teacher, actor, scholar, reader who has never been encouraged to give
credence to the guides Shakespeare and other careful playwrights provide in the
actions, thoughts and feelings as represented in the lines characters utter (OF
COURSE they do it on a stage!) in situations. I have said it before, to little
notice: characters in Shakespeare ARE what they SAY and HOW they say it, and
the "how" is almost always thoroughly given. In Cordelia's case it is balanced
(nearly legal) and plain-spoken; how she speaks is how she thinks and feels,
basically. Her sisters' speech patterns are totally different from hers and
from each other's. I could easily go on as I have before...
 
As an actor, I know that it is possible -- even desirable -- to be at once a
person and an emblem. Most important, I know that it is totally wrong to give
an extra-textual life to a character in these plays, totally misleading I
should say. Who I am comes (with appropriate physical type) from how I speak.
An ability to respond to the feeling of the lines in the most fundamental way,
allowing their shape and texture to affect the facial muscles and therefore the
rest of the body, brings the character to artistic life.
 
The simplest instance of this is perhaps the slight pause at a line's end:
therein lies a great deal of a character's emphasis and focus. A look at
Cordelia's
                You have begot me, bred me, lov'd me: I
                Return these duties back as are right fit
shows that she has inherited a mite of her father's selfishness. We know this
from the final "I".  Again, I could easily go on... any actor with an inkling
of the rhetorical tradition in which these plays are so rooted will know this.
 
I apologize if my posting sounds simplistic and reductionist. I felt that
Terence Hawkes' letter needed reinforcement.
 
        Harry Hill
        Montreal
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Clary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 13:13:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Cordelia, Character development, and Comedy
 
In a curious coincidence, Norman Rabkin has some wonderfully interesting things
to say about the relationship between dramatized time and character in his
Appendix "Shakespearean Mimesis, English Drama, and the Unity of Time," printed
in *Shakespeare and the Common Understanding* (1967). Here we are reminded that
time is a dimension of character and that Shakespeare's portrayal of entended
time, especially in his mature work, may be an indication of his perception of
character as changing.  Let me share at least one paragraph with anyone who
does not have Rabkin's book handy:
 
        Our consideration of the problems raised in measuring Elizabethan
        drama by Sidney's standards leads us thus to realize that the
        hybrid nature of that drama, its fusion of conventions derived
        from divergent mimetic traditions, builds into it a kind of
        internal conflict between notions of character; it builds in
        as well a source of versatility unprecedented in theatrical
        history, and my help explain why the theater of Shakespeare
        and his contemporaries is able to present, with the aid of a
        finite number of conventions, such a varied set of personal
        visions of the human condition. By founding a play on
        conventions derived from the classical or medieval tradition,
        a playwright is enabled to embody a view of character as
        fixed or in process, of life as determined or free. By
        combining conventions, he is able to ascribe theatrically
        fruitful ambiguity to the human condition, and to find a
        vehicle most admirably suited to his own view.
 
This may or may not be particularly useful to Ms. Bunn--I hope it can be.  I
remember be greatly impressed by the book when I first read it.  I return to
it from time to time and continue to find it arresting.
 
Nick Clary
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 13:06:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        characters with character
 
Dear Professor Hawkes,
 
I am confused.  When you claimed that Cordelia cannot develop because she isn't
a real person, I felt a great emptiness somewhere in me.  I realized that, for
years and years I had mistakenly thought that the people (whoops! characters) I
had been reading about shared with me deep longings and hopes.  Suddenly, I
found myself alone among pasteboard emblems.  The contact I'd thought I'd had
with men and women of times and places far distant from myself vanished, and I
realized my awful aloneness in the world.  I began to question whether the
images I had in my mind of the people around me (whom I thought I knew) might
be equally false and flat constructs.  In the end, I came to understand that
even my own knowledge of myself is faulty and is, in fact, the creation of a
character.  With this heavy burden of falseness and emptiness on my soul, I
walked in the dark along the muddy Ohio, seeking in the shimmering reflections
some solace for my terrible solitude.  In the end, I drowned myself and am now
washing slowly along the bottom toward Louisville.  Fortunately, since I am a
character, all this hurt far less than one might expect.  Still, in my muddy
wanderings, I wonder whether there might not be more to life than flatness and
historicity.  What do you think?
 
Soggily yours,
James "Driftwood" McKenna
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Dayne Pinnow <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 12:34:42 -0500
Subject:        Cordelia
 
To Pamela Bunn--
 
First, let me encourage you to keep doing what you're doing--ask questions,
try to learn as much as you can--even when crusty old literary types sit
around and lie in wait for eager students like yourself to ask questions so
that they can jump at you in order to build themsleves up and tear you and
your teachers down.
 
Second, the problem I think you're running into in ACTING Cordelia is that
it is relatively impossible to play two emotions at one time.  In fact,
it's relatively impossible to play emotions.  Try concentrating on what it
is the Cordelia is *doing* not feeling.  What is she trying to accomplish
by her statements? whose behavior is she trying to affect?  How does she
want the whole situation to turn out?  All acting is interacting, so if you
can figure out what is going on between her and those around her, you'll
have some pretty big clues. Most of all, however, (and watch the literary
types jump on me for this one) don't allow yourself to get too caught up in
the thematic content of the play, except insofar as it helps you understand
the play and it's situations.  Themes are best left up to directors to
communicate--actors work in the moment-to-moment relationships.  Best of
luck--and don't ever stop asking questions.
 
                                         Timothy Dayne Pinnow
                                         St. Olaf College
                                         This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 94 17:25:05 EDT
Subject: 5.0477  Cordelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0477  Cordelia
 
We are all deeply indebted to Terence Hawkes for alerting us to the remarkable
discovery that fictional characters aren't real people.  Imagine! Surely none
of us could have come to this deep understanding of the ways of literature
unaided by his pompous pronouncements.
 
It is no doubt true that modern theories are often imposed on works which were
not designed to accommodate them.  It is also true that any modern actor who
chooses to play Cordelia solely in terms of her emblematic value to the play as
a whole will be out of a job in a big hurry: and rightly so.
 
My advice to Pamela Bunn is fairly simple.  It is impossible to play "hurt" or
"disappointed" or whatever.  A character who has been hurt wants to appear that
she wasn't hurt, or she wants to change the behavior of her adversary, or she
wants to make the person who hurt her feel guilty, or perhaps she wants
something else: these are playable, because they represent what the characters
WANTS.  The fact of the hurt is simply background.  As I tell students
repeatedly (some might say ad nauseum): Play the right verbs, and the
adjectives and adverbs will take care of themselves.  I realize that this is a
paper, not a performance.  Still, I'd take a long look at what Cordelia really
WANTS, the obstacles she must overcome, and the tactics she employs to overcome
the obstacles and achieve her objectives.  Is this straight from about the
third day of Acting I?  You bet!   But it's there for a reason.
 
What I urge Pamela NOT to do is to construct long character histories involving
manifold suppositions that are not supported directly by the text. These work
fine for (many) modern plays, but not (at least in my experience) for
Shakespeare.  If the information is important, it's right there for you. If it
isn't there, it's pretty much irrelevant.  (Obviously, there are exceptions --
some knowledge of what was expected of a princess, for example, is important.
What she had for breakfast or whether Goneril used to pull her hair isn't.)
Above all, I urge approaching the character in her own terms -- if you're doing
a character study, either for stage or page, the function of your character
within the framework of the play is irrelevant to your purposes.  [N.B. I am
NOT suggesting that this is irrelevant work, merely that it is irrelevant to
the project at hand.]
 
I've rambled long enough.  Send me personal e-mail, Pamela, if you'd like to
discuss this at greater length.
 
Rick Jones
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(7)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine M Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 18:32:25 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Cordelia
 
Well, here I go, blowing all my radical credentials, achieved over time with
much energy and cost. When I read a work of literature, or see a play, I do so
to learn more about what it is to be human. Thus the marks on the page (the
signs in the semiotic universe) do, in fact, become real for me in their own
way. Not perhaps as real as the students in my classroom, my family, my
friends; yet real enough so that when an actor brings one of them to life on
stage or screen, I might be moved to experience real emotions of my own in
response to her or his performance. The stories are what made me fall in love
with literature as a child: I became the characters about whom I read. The
stories, and the characters who inhabit them, are what still attract the
majority of undergraduates whom I teach and advise. This is not to say that
I/we don't deal with the other issues that Terence and others have raised,
since literature is much more than simply the stories (that's what reading
groups are for, I tell prospective majors). Nonetheless, if it weren't for the
stories, I wouldn't be here. (And good riddance, I hear a few voices saying;
but I want us all to be part of the enterprise, even as we argue.)
Affectionately, always, Chris Gordon
 
(8)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Luc Borot <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 2 Jun 1994 10:38:38 +0100
Subject: 5.0481  Re: Cordelia; Comedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0481  Re: Cordelia; Comedy
 
Dear all,
 
For a change, I think that we are ALL perfectly right and relevant about Pamela
Bunn's question. For a change, I agree with Terence Hawkes, when he reminds us
that there is no set and established psychology in a literary character, and I
would add, especially in drama. If there was such a thing as a set psychology
implied and imposed for a given character, where would be the
pleasure,challenge and art of acting? There would be no performance, only
liturgy, though I know many specialists of liturgical studies who would not
agree with this comparison... Terence is right as he makes the point that no
woman of flesh is on the page, or is prescribed by the text, whatever text is
chosen, and *Lear* is a text with lots of problems.
 
The character is, I think, an interface between the written text, the reader of
the text, and the theatrical interpreters, stage-directors, dramaturgs and
performers... and to make it more complex, the spectators. This conception of
the character is interesting because it makes the character a potential, an
open figure, and it also provides barriers: the chosen text is there to make
sure it is not thorough improvisation.
 
A character does not fully exist until it is enacted on a stage, or at least
until we readers try to put the pieces together to make it live in our brains.
 
So I think we all are right, but it does not mean that we shall ever agree, but
is there any alternative in this postlapsarian, sublunary world?
 
        Sublunarily and postlapsarianly yours,
                                                Luc

Re: Light and Heat; Iachimo

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0482.  Wednesday, 1 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Tuesday, 31 May 1994 22:26:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Let there be heat and light!
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Tuesday, 31 May 1994 22:37:53 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Jachimo/Iachimo
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Tuesday, 31 May 1994 22:26:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Let there be heat and light!
 
For David Evett:
 
Every time I make a choice, I create a hierarchy. There's nothing wrong with
hierarchies, David. Without them, cognition is quite possibly impossible.
George Lakoff, WOMEN, FIRE, AND DANGEROUS THINGS: WHAT CATEGORIES REVEAL ABOUT
THE MIND, found that categories are arranged hierarhically (well, kind of,
anyway). Members of a category are NOT equal; some members are better than
others. You might also find his work on metaphor helpful: METAPHORS WE LIVE BY,
with Mark Johnson. You see, I was using "heat" and "light" metaphorically!
 
Now, what did I "mean" by those metaphors. Well, I meant approximately what
Shakespeare meant by them. See Marvin Spevack, A SHAKESPEARE THESAURUS. "Heat"
means "vehemence" and "anger" (14.37, 14.29 in Spevack). And "light" means
"knowledge" (15.06).
 
What I meant was: maybe someone would bring some "knowledge" to the
interpretation of Adriana's difficult speech. How about it? What is Adriana
talking about?
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Tuesday, 31 May 1994 22:37:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Jachimo/Iachimo
 
Thanks to Diana Henderson for the John Pitcher reference. And John, as usual,
is right on the money. I forgot to mention the references to "jack" in 2.1.2
and 2.1.20 (Riverside ed.), in the scene before Jachimo pops from the box. This
seems to be a little proleptic nudge for the audience.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk

Women and Theatre and Black Theatre Network Conference

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0483.  Wednesday, 1 June 1994.
 
From:           Lisa Anderson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           TueSDAY, 31 May 1994 17:26:37 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Women in Theatre-Black Theatre Network Joint Conference
 
Conference Announcement:
 
      The Women and Theatre Program and the Black Theatre Network are
sponsoring "Breaking Barriers: Celebrating Women Making Theatre," a joint
conference in Chicago this summer at the Bismark Hotel.  BTN events begin
July 23rd and run through July 27th and WTP events begin July 24th and run
through July 26th.
      A day of joint scheduling Monday July 25th includes keynote
presentations by Glenda Dickerson of Spelman College and Clinton Turner
Davis from the Non-Traditional Casting Project.  The conference will also
feature performances and panels ranging in themes from the experiences of
women artistic directors to issues of subjectivity and the self as a site
of institutional structure.  In addition, WTP will be undertaking the
task of reimagining its future as it celebrates the twentieth anniversary
of its founding.
      To attend the conference you can register either through BTN or WTP.
For more information and registration materials through BTN call (313)
353 5591.  For more information and registration materials through WTP
call (614) 486-7358.

Re: Cordelia; Comedy

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0481.  Wednesday, 1 June 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH
        Date:   Tuesday, 31 May 1994 22:05:27 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Cordelia or Terence: human or emblem?
 
(2)     From:   Rex Bunn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 14:21:15 +1000
        Subj:   Re: Cordelia
 
(3)     From:   Lonnie J Durham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 03:15:20 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Comedy and Cordelia
 
(4)     From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
        Date:   Wednesday, 01 Jun 94 07:21:59 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0477  Re: Cordelia
 
(5)     From:   Kurt Daw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Jun 94 08:23:10 EDT
        Subj:   Playing Cordelia
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH
Date:           Tuesday, 31 May 1994 22:05:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Cordelia or Terence: human or emblem?
 
For Pamela Bunn:
 
Terence Hawkes writes as if he is an Old Testament prophet, and as if his
vision is the only vision. Of course, KING LEAR may be read thematically or
emblematically. But if Cordelia should be read as an emblem, this emblem dies
in the last scene of the play. And when Lear enters with her in his arms, we
have a reversal of the conventional pieta. Surely this is emblematic. Let's ask
Terence what this emblem meant to a Renaissance audience.
 
But there are other ways to read plays. (I've got words that jinge jangle
jingle.) You may, if you wish, take a dramatic character to present a real
human woman, with real human emotions and problems. Unfortunately, Renaissance
playgoers did NOT tell us exactly how they interpreted drama, but the few
descriptions that we have do not seem to be emblematic or thematic. Characters
are described as if they are real people. Am I wrong?
 
As Terence Hawkes implies, Knights is a very good reader of Shakespeare, but he
is not the only good reader. Now that I think of it, wasn't Knights a bit of a
Marxist?
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rex Bunn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 1994 14:21:15 +1000
Subject:        Re: Cordelia
 
For Terence Hawkes
 
Your students must adore you if you put them down so callously and
unnecessarily as you did my namesake, Pamela Bunn. Did you not notice
that her paper is for a Performing Shakespeare class? Pamela knows,
and I know, and you ought to know, that when an actor steps onstage in
the character of Cordelia, there is a real, live flesh and blood human being
called Cordelia whether armchair literary pontificators like it or not.
Pamelas question is a legitimate one for anyone involved in actual theatre,
where the luxury of believing in the fallacy of *neutral
performance* does not exist.
 
Rex Bunn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie J Durham <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 1994 03:15:20 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Comedy and Cordelia
 
Two things: first, regarding Terence Hawkes' advice to Pamela Bunn--hear,hear.
 
Second: regarding Elizabeth Schmitt's inquiry about good stuff on
comedy--I know it's not much in fashion, but I still find Northrop Frye's
discussions, both in the *Anatomy* and in "The Argument of Comedy," to be
very useful in class discussions.  He schematizes comedic forms and
conventions in a way students can easily grasp, and from there one can
point out all the departues, variations and inversions of (from) these few
simple schemes.  Of course the book of my old mentor, C.L. Barber,
*Shakespeare's Festive Comedies* isn't exactly chopped liver either.  I
know that C of E  isn't technically a festive comedy (nor is the wild sea
out of which the radical confusion arises exactly Frye's "green world")
but many of the same principles still apply.
 
For myself--I've had interesting times applying one of Levi-Strauss's (doesn't
THAT name seem quaint in these days!) old dichotomies: the raw and the cooked.
Ephesus is "overcooked," the meat is falling off the spit; Antipholus of E is
stuck in a pressure cooker in too-close proximity to a young and desirable
sister-in-law.  He is also over-identified: everyone knows him and what he's
supposed to be and be doing. He can't even be late for dinner.  The play's
action is to inject some of the "raw" world, the radical confusion (madness)
that comes out of the sea to reinvigorate a stifled society.  The "raw" comes
out in the ostensibly incestuous proposals of Antipholus.  Get the repressed
EXpressed in other words--the rage of A of E at his restricted identity and A
of S's terror of madness and foreigners (which is also the Duke's fear, making
him execute one for whom he has so much fellow-feeling), and the old
institutions (like marriage) can be re-invented.  I won't ramble any more, but
you get the drift. Good luck, Elizabeth.
 
Lonnie Durham
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Date:           Wednesday, 01 Jun 94 07:21:59 EDT
Subject: 5.0477  Re: Cordelia
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0477  Re: Cordelia
 
Dear Pamela Bunn,
 
Terence Hawkes warns you about mistaking the marks on the page for a "real"
flesh and blood entity like yourself (unlike me, though, a mere projection of
electrons emanating from some NYNEX connection in Greenwich Village).  The
marks on the page, nevertheless, may be mapped onto three and four dimensional
critters, and the projection may possibly create interesting simulacra of
"real" emotions and ideas and events.
 
The technical skills needed to accomplish such translation from script to flesh
seem to have shaped the profession of acting, directing, and playwriting in
many different cultures, in many different ways.  One of the repeated
discussions in written treatises on acting is how to project or to enact the
experience of juxtaposed emotional states: eagerness and reticense at once,
politeness and fury, a desire to stay and a compelling need to go.
 
A script can suggest "development" in a fictional character as the balance of
loyalty against rebellion, for example, shifts from the early part of a dialog
to a later one.  The opening scene in LEAR seems to be an demonstration of
family equilibrium: "How much stress can we apply to this daughter before she
falls off the balance-point?"  As with jugglers and acrobats, we watch to see
the breaking point, teetering over disaster.  (Not real disaster, just a
fictional disaster.)  Living creatures seem to take pleasures in such dynamic
displays, like dance, song, spicy food, body-surfing, and "learning."
 
Beth Goldring, "COR's Rescue of Kent," in Gary Taylor and Michael Warren, THE
DIVISION OF THE KINGDOMS (1983), looks at how the different printed texts of
LEAR offer different maps for an emotional/political/hierarchical journey to be
taken by Cordelia   (or by the artificial arrangement of signs on the page that
we encourage actors to "play" as if they were a real person's unrehearsed
spontaneous actions and utterances.)
 
You might look at Bertram Joseph, ELIZABETHAN ACTING, 2nd edition, and other
more recent studies of the craft to see how those folks talked about these same
issues raised by us today.  Same fights, different players.
 
                                        Essentially,
                                         Steve Urkowitz
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kurt Daw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 1 Jun 94 08:23:10 EDT
Subject:        Playing Cordelia
 
Re:  Terence Hawkes reply to Pamela Bunn on playing Cordelia.
 
As an actor and teacher of Shakespearean performance, I find Terence Hawkes
reply to Pamela Bunn a bit overstated.  While it is true that Cordelia is not a
real person, it is also true that actors playing her are.  To suggest that
Shakespeare's art is entirely emblematic is perhaps a perfectly agreeable
solution in a class focusing on literary analysis, but it wouldn't get one very
far in a performance class.  Actors who resort to emblematic performances, even
when citing historic precident, are apt to appear very wooden in a modern
production.  Actors do have to think about the emotional states they (as their
characters) are undergoing as they play a scene.  I may be wrong here, but I
understood Ms. Bunn's question to be in the context of writing about *playing*
the character.  I think that a "Cordelia" would indeed have to face the problem
of undergoing layers of evolving (and sometimes conflicting) emotions.  Finding
a way of keeping those clear to oneself, and to an audience, is a real actor
problem.
 
While I respect Prof. Hawkes's caution that sentimental character biography can
lead to terrible distortion of plays and characters, I would assert that his
position seems as reactionary and damaging in an equal and opposite way.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.