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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0219.  Saturday, 12 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Timothy Dayne Pinnow <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Mar 1994 10:20:43 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0206  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
(2)     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Mar 1994 14:46:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0199 Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Dayne Pinnow <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Mar 1994 10:20:43 -0600
Subject: 5.0206  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0206  Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
Robert Cohen writes:
 
>Thus, if we must make variant-selection decisions in the absence of clear
>historical proof of authorial preference, let's at least decide with as
>sharp an eye on the stage as on the page.
 
I coudn't agree more with Cohen's statement; however, I am somewhat
confused by his suggestion that one should always choose what modern
editors consider the simplest choice for the audience when considering
performance.  As an actor, I find the diverging quarto and folio texts a
godsend (or maybe that should be a bardsend).  To be able to choose "if"
instead of "an" because it happens to have the correct aural sound for that
moment in the play is wonderfully liberating in a creative sense.  In other
words, I now find myself with the option of choosing which word will flow
better given this particular production and my particular conception of the
character.  And why in the world does "have" make action flow more easily
than "hath"?  If I were quite angry at another character, I would much
rather have the wonderful fricative sound of the hard "th"  than the more
difficult to punch through "v."
 
So I agree to keeping an eye to the performance of the text, but that does
not mean all performances have in common one "best" solution.
 
                                                Timothy Dayne Pinnow
                                                 
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Mar 1994 14:46:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0199 Re: Transmission of the Quartos
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0199 Re: Transmission of the Quartos
 
I agree with John Cox and others--these discussions are instructive.  Is it
possible that we are (perhaps unintentionally) squeezing two questions into
one?  Here is an amateurish attempt at separating the questions:
 
1.  What is the origin of these so-called bad Quartos of *Hamlet*, *R and J*
and *MWW*?  An actor's memory (faulty or otherwise?)  Many hands and
brains in the theatrical company (One of which hands and brains perhaps
belonging to old what's-his-name?)
 
2.  Questions of origin aside, are these quartos worth reading, studying,
publishing, or producing?
 
I do not presume to suggest a reply to 1 above, but to 2 I suggest that these
quartos are indeed worth reading and acting on the stage.  Like Steve Urkowitz,
I have worked with student and professional actors on these texts, and we have
learned much.  (See my article on the *King Lear* Quarto in rehearsal and
performance in a 1986 Autumn Shakespeare Quarterly.) Whether these quartos were
"written" by what's-his-name or not, no one benefits when words like "rubbish"
are applied to them, and no one benefits when essays about their theatrical
dimensions are excluded from the pages of SQ and its respectable sisters.  Let
us open these pages to all sorts of discourse, just as SHAKSPER bless it is
open to all sorts of discourse. Two cheers for civility, and a third cheer for
good humor!
 
David Richman
 

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