Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0204. Tuesday, 8 March 1994.
Date: Monday, 7 Mar 94 20:28:51 CST
Subject: Welsh in 1H4
I just saw my first live production of 1 Henry IV, and having studied a
bit of Welsh several years ago, I was curious to see how they would
handle the Welsh scene, where Glendower and Lady Mortimer are speaking
Welsh and Lady Mortimer sings a Welsh song; I knew that the text of the
play merely says "the Lady speaks in Welsh" and so forth. Well, my
Welsh is rusty and was never that good to begin with, but the actors
playing Glendower and Lady M were clearly speaking real Welsh, and saying
appropriate things. I did some research afterwards and found that Welsh
boy actors were fairly common in Shakespeare's London, and that other
plays of the time often have bits of Welsh in them. The 1936 Variorum
edition of 1 Henry IV gives an English translation of Welsh lines that
someone (I forget who) had written, but I gather that in the 18th and
19th centuries the Welsh scene was usually eliminated entirely.
Aparently the Welsh scene has been done with authentic Welsh in British
productions with Welsh actors in the cast --- for instance, the 1951
Stratford production with Richard Burton as Hal and Hugh Griffith as
Glendower, with the latter writing out Welsh dialogue for Lady Mortimer.
What I wanted to ask (in my roundabout way) is, how has this scene
been treated in recent productions, especially American ones, that
SHAKSPEReans have either seen or acted in? Is it cut entirely? Altered
in some way so that Glendower and Lady M don't have to actually speak
Welsh? Done with authentic Welsh? If the latter, what do the characters
say in their Welsh dialogue? I'm curious about this. Either respond
to me directly or to the list; if I get a significant number of direct
responses I may post a summary.
University of Chicago