1994

Trial of Hamlet

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0173.  Wednesday, 2 March 1994.
 
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, March 2, 1994
Subject:        "Trial of Hamlet"
 
[FYI: The following appeared in *The Washington Post*, Saturday, February 26,
1994.  --HMC]
 
 
Backstage: "To Be or Not to Be Guilty"
By: Kara Swisher and Joe Brown
 
Since the world's best-known ditherer could never decide, it's time to bring
in a higher authority. Shakespeare's troubled Prince of Denmark will finally
get his day in court--literally--when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
presides over the "Trial of Hamlet" next month.
 
As part of this year's dinner party of the Shakespeare Theatre's Lawyer's
Committee on March 17, Kennedy will preside over a jury trial--litigated by
top-flight Washington attorneys--to determine whether Hamlet was insane when
he murdered Polonius.
 
The idea came from Kennedy, who is a big Shakespeare buff. Sources working on
the trial said he spends much of his minimal free time these days
orchestrating the event, and many lower-level lawyers around town are busy
researching the insanity defense.
 
"Hamlet is really caught in a coil of fascinating and deeply conflicted
emotions, and his most interesting riddle is his deeper motivation," says
Kennedy about his favorite Shakespearean tragic figure. "We learn more about
ourselves if we learn about Hamlet." Hamlet's murder of Polonius was selected
for the trial, he says, because "perhaps there are some better legal defenses
to the other murders that he commits."
 
Maryland law will be used in the trial, which will take place over about three
hours in one of the rooms at the Supreme Court, where the fund-raising dinner
will also be held. The jury will be selected from the 170 guests, who are
local lawyers who support the Bard and his local theatrical venue. And
considering the White House's own propensity for intrigues, perhaps it's not
surprising that three of the six lawyers chosen for the case have served as
counsels for Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton.
 
Since there's no doubt that Hamlet did in fact kill Polonius, says Kennedy,
the only question is his state of mind. So the only "record" used will be the
text of the play and the only witnesses will be competing psychiatrists (a
more modern twist).
 
"Hamlet will not testify, because an actor would have too much control over
how the thing comes out, with inflections, intonations and mood," says
Kennedy. "Anyway, we already have one of the best transcripts around from one
of the world's most famous writers."
 
Who, by the way, also scripted the line, "The first thing we do, let's kill
all the lawyers." But, Kennedy promises, that won't be held against Hamlet.

Re: Prospero, *The Tempest*, and Colonialism

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0172.  Wednesday, 2 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Mar 1994 22:47:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Prospero, the Colonial
 
(2)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>|
        Date:   Wednesday, March 2, 1994
        Subj:   Prospero and Colonialism
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <GODSHAWL@UCBEH>
Date:           Tuesday, 01 Mar 1994 22:47:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Prospero, the Colonial
 
Joan Hartwig,
 
I'm not going to help you much, because I think there's a whole literature on
Prospero as a colonist. I seem to remember murmuring something about that
twenty years ago, and nowdays it's a flourishing industry. I admit that I don't
know who said that Prospero was the FIRST colonist.
 
Cheers,
Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>|
Date:           Wednesday, March 2, 1994
Subject:        Prospero and Colonialism
 
As a start, I would recommend the following on the subject of colonialism and
*The Tempest*:
 
Barker, Francis and Peter Hulme.  "'Nymphs and reapers heavily vanish': The
        Discoursive Con-texts of *The Tempest*.  In *Alternative Shakespeares*.
        Ed. John Drakakis.
 
Brown, Paul E.  "'This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine': *The Tempest* and
        the Discourse of Colonialism."  In *Political Shakespeare*. Eds. Alan
        Sinfield and Jonathan Dollimore.
 
Cartelli, Thomas.  "Prospero in Africa: *The Tempest* as Colonialist Text and
        Pretext."  In *Shakespeare Reproduced*.  Eds. Howard and O'Connor.
 
                                and
 
McDonald, Russ.  "Reading *The Tempest.*"  In *The Tempest and After*.  SS 43:
        1991 as an alternative reading.

Rs: Ross; First Times; Most Popular; *MND* Video

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0170.  Wednesday, 2 March 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Jean Peterson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Mar 1994 16:53:39 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0166  [Re: Ross]
 
(2)     From:   Robert White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Mar 1994 17:22:38 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re:  First Times with Shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   Patricia Palermo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 01 Mar 1994 16:56:46 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0164  Most Popular
 
(4)     From:   Patricia Gallagher <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Mar 1994 21:08:21 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: *MND* on video
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 1 Mar 1994 16:53:39 -0500
Subject: 5.0166  [Re: Ross]
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0166  [Re: Ross]
 
RE: Sean Lawrence's query about Ross (i.e., is Ross indeed insidious?).
 
I think there is a tendency for directorial choices to enter the cultural
"life" of a playtext with surprising tenacity: Polanski's choices create a
whole tradition of sinister Rosses, and it becomes an assumption that the part
must be played in this way (his only questionable action, as far as I recall,
is misguidedly reassuring Lady Macduff that all will be well; this could be
played as simple bad judgement--judgement as bad, in fact, as Macduff's).
 
I know I've seen entirely too many stage Mercutios who aped John McInery in the
Zeffirelli film--copying not only stage business, but vocal patterns and even
appearance.
 
Which is why SHAKESPERIANS living near Washington D.C. must betake themselves
to the Shakespeare Theater to catch Barry Kyle's *Romeo and Juliet*--a fresh,
original, inspired and utterly exhilarating staging!
 
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 01 Mar 1994 17:22:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re:  First Times with Shakespeare
 
I am struck with the number of respondents who have stated or implied that
memorization was an important element of their first significant encounter with
Shakespeare.  For me, it was a twelfth-grade assignment to memorize certain
passages from _Macbeth_; and to this day when the "Tomorrow and tomorrow" lines
ring in my mind, they enchant me.  For other respondents, a more or less
successful debut on stage did the trick.  Memorization is out of fashion as a
teaching method these days, but I wonder if we might be missing the boat by
abandoning it altogether.  I know of no better way to get students to absorb
the rhythms and beauty of language.  I wonder how many SHAKSPERians require
memory work of their students and how successful they've been with this
approach.
        Robert A. White, The Citadel
        This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patricia Palermo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 01 Mar 1994 16:56:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0164  Most Popular
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0164  Most Popular
 
Don Rowan asks which of Shakespeare's plays might be the most popular. If the
number of words written about a given play are any evidence of its popularity,
then _Hamlet_ wins hands down.
 
Patricia Palermo
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patricia Gallagher <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 1 Mar 1994 21:08:21 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Re: *MND* on video
 
According to "Shakespeare on Screen" by Rothwell & Melzer, there is a
video of the 1935 "Midsummer Night's Dream" available for sale from
Warner Brothers (price $19.95).

Q: Housing in England

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0171.  Wednesday, 2 March 1994.
 
From:           Nancy W Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 1 Mar 94 20:25:58 EST
Subject:        Housing in England
 
Greetings!
 
I'd like to ask for advice from other list members.  My husband and I will be
going to England this summer (probably August-September) to do some research at
the Bodleian and the British Library, and we will be on a very tight budget.
Can anyone suggest where to go for inexpensive housing in or near (or between)
London or Oxford?  The ideal situation would be to find someone interested in
doing a home-exchange, but dormitories and spare rooms for temporary let would
be fine.
 
Please respond to me personally.
 
Nancy W. Miller
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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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