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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: March ::
Re: Welsh in *1H4*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0221.  Saturday, 12 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Mar 1994 16:08:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0209  Re: Welsh in *1H4*
 
(2)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Mar 1994 18:04:07 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0204 Welsh in *1H4*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Mar 1994 16:08:55 -0500
Subject: 5.0209  Re: Welsh in *1H4*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0209  Re: Welsh in *1H4*
 
>I believe the Shakespearean company that performed `The Wars of the
>Roses' a few years ago (Michael Pendleton et al) did the Welsh scene in
>Welsh.
>
>Helen Ostovich
 
I recall the details of that production (The English Shakespeare Company, which
Pendleton co-directed with Michael Bogdanov; I believe *the wars of the roses*
played during the '88-'89 season); the scene was quite well-handled.  A soft,
gauzy, white drape fell from the flyspace (to cover the rigid metal catwalks
that formed the set for the rest of the play), and a white fur rug was on the
ground, for Mortimer to loll on during the Lady's Welsh song. There was a
rather suggestive vaginal shape to the the white backdrop (shades of Gertrude's
bed in Olivier's filmed *Hamlet*!) Lady Mortimer was a sexy red-haired wench,
throwing herself on Mortimer & weeping passionately, pouring out her
incomprehensible words with frantic intensity--so that the audience shared
Mortimer's frustrated desire to understand her. She played a harp during her
song--a real celtic fantasy! Glendower was properly dominating,
pseudo-mystical, and full of himself. In short, the directors conceived of
Wales in contradistinction to the "machismo" of the English warrior ethic--a
soft, seductive, foreign, feminine space, dominated by women, sorcerers, magic,
music, and theatrical spectacle.
 
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Mar 1994 18:04:07 +0200
Subject: 5.0204 Welsh in *1H4*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0204 Welsh in *1H4*
 
I actually performed this scene as Lady Mortimer, and indeed the "lady spoke in
Welsh."  This was some years ago, in a May Week production of 1 Henry IV at
Caius in Cambridge.  The director decided that my character was a violent Welsh
nationalist,  and had lines written accordingly.  For example: "how long have
you Lords of March been oppressing us over the borders?  You'd have thought you
guys would have learned how to speak Welsh by now!"
 
If I may say so, it didn't really work.  Since the audience didn't speak Welsh
either, I had to be openly contemptuous of Mortimer, which meant that he had to
be an idiot. I've always suspected that if there's a point to the scene, it's
that love only lasts between people who can't understand each other at all. (
Side note:  I later married the Lord Mortimer from this production.)
 
The New York Outdoor Production in the late Seventies/early Eighties also used
Welsh, and the effect was very good.
 
Melissa Aaron
 

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