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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Q1 of *Hamlet*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0169.  Wednesday, 2 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Steven Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Mar 94 20:50:57 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0168  Q1 of *Hamlet*
 
(2)     From:   Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
        Date:   Wednesday, 02 Mar 94 07:01:28 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0168  Q1 of *Hamlet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steven Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Date:           Tuesday, 01 Mar 94 20:50:57 EST
Subject: 5.0168  Q1 of *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0168  Q1 of *Hamlet*
 
Though competent actors and competent playwrights only rarely produce rubbish,
even extremely competent and professional critics have been known to spout and
print and defend all sorts of refuse that after a year, or a generation, or a
century eventually gets recognized and usually forgotten.  The smart and
hardworking folks who brought us memorial reconstruction and tales of pirates
in the playhouse were, alas, blowing smoke.  By design or by accident, they all
all all without exception from Sir Walter Greg down to the latest innovators in
the gang misrepresented their data, hid or ignored or didn't notice
contradictory evidence, and built card houses suspended upon gossamer visions.
 
I encourage the SHAKSPER members to examine Patrick's work on RICHARD III, and
then I ask that you look at an essay of mine that painstakingly teases out the
sweet nothings that are wrapped in Patrick's tangles of imagined
derivations: "Reconsidering the Relationship of Q and F Richard III," ENGLISH
LITERARY RENAISSANCE 16 (1986), 442-66.  In it I take a while to demonstrate
just how D.L.Patrick and Antony Hammond read texts and declare passages
un-Shakespearean according to bizarre, extremely personal, and theatrically
maladroit literary values.
 
One of the odd aspects of Shakespearean textual studies is how essays that
challenge the fundamental paradigms of editing get marginalized unto
invisibility.  Arguments such as my "Reconsidering . . ." piece and others I've
done, adding up to a lot of pages of detailed grinding away at evidence,get
dismissed cavalierly in a sentence or a subordinated clause.  "We are not
convinced . . ."  Hey, Tony!  Why not, the next time you propound that a line,
a speech, a theatrical entry or exit, or a scene is "rubbish," why not try
reading it out loud, or with some actors?  I did.  It's a lot of fun.  Go
ahead.  F'rinstance, Tony, ask Patrick Stewart about how terrible Q1 HAMLET is.
When we worked over parallel passages from Q1, Q2 and F with Jean-Luc and five
trekking ACTER actors who had been playing the play, their jaws dropped open
with surprise and DELIGHT over the treasures of theatricality labelled so
stupidly and swept out of sight as rubbish. "Eeegh, feh! that's just another of
those enthusiastic amateurs.  What do they know.  They convince only
themselves . . ."
 
Phuiy.  Uh oh.  This irritability is only appropriate to discussions of
universals.  Sorry, out there.  The editorial/textual types are snarling.  Get
the kiddies inside; this may turn ugly.
 
                                      Urk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
Date:           Wednesday, 02 Mar 94 07:01:28 EST
Subject: 5.0168  Q1 of *Hamlet*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0168  Q1 of *Hamlet*
 
I think it is somewhere in Peter Hall's Diaries (1983), but I seem to recall
that Hall narrates that Ralph Richardson had periods when he lost the thread
and reverted to delivering lines that were Shakespearean but from other plays.
And I think Hall advised the other members of the cast to wait until he
recovered and then go on as usual, because the audience generally wouldn't even
recognize that he had jumped the points. [I've tried to find the anecdote
quickly in my copy, but I can't locate it]  My point: Anthony H is right that
there are more ways to handle a memory loss than relying on a prompter;
improvisation is one, and apparently a silent switch to another, perhaps
situationally similar part, is  a second way. Cheers.
 

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