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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: April ::
Re: Thersites in BBC Production
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0311.  Tuesday, 5 April 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
        Date:   Monday, 04 Apr 94 12:40:04 EST
        Subj:   Re: Thersites in BBC production
 
(2)     From:   Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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        Date:   Monday, 4 Apr 1994 16:19:39 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0306 Thersites
 
(3)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Tuesday, April 5, 1994
        Subj:   Thersites in BBC *Tro.*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas L. Berger <TBER@SLUMUS>
Date:           Monday, 04 Apr 94 12:40:04 EST
Subject:        Re: Thersites in BBC production
 
I have Charles Gray playing Pandarus, Anton Lesser as Troilus, John Shrapnel at
Hector and someone with 3 names as Thersites, an actor who names himself "THE
INCREDIBLE ORLANDO."  Do you suppose that, like The Incredible Hulk, he suffers
from a credibility problem?
 
Later, Tom
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth S. Rothwell <
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Date:           Monday, 4 Apr 1994 16:19:39 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0306 Thersites
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0306 Thersites
 
Dear Bill, Thersites was played by The Incredible Orlando (Jack Birkett)
in the 1981 BBC TROILUS. Charles Gray played Pandarus. See my (w.
Annabelle Melzer) SHAKESPEARE ON SCREEN: AN INTERNATIONAL FILMOGRAPHY AND
VIDEOGRAPHY (New York and London, 1990), Item #638, pg. 299. The
Incredible Orlando, you may recollect, played the loathesome Caliban
in Derek Jarman's 1980 movie of THE TEMPEST. Yours until Albuquerque,
Ken Rothwellon,
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Tuesday, April 5, 1994
Subject:        Thersites in BBC *Tro.*
 
Having written my dissertation, "Reading Shakespeare on Television," on
adapting Shakespeare to that medium, I have a complete set of *The BBC
TV Shakespeare* editions.  Henry Fenwick writes the following about
Jack Birkett, "The Incredible Orlando" in the *Troilus and Cressida* volume:
 
                Miller's casting of Thersites is probably the most startling
        element of the production.  "He's often seen as just a scaborous
        misanthrope and can be rather tiresome," Miller explains.  "I saw
        him in my mind's eye as being like one of those extremely satirical
        camp theatre dressers, trying to hasten those great stars onto the
        stage, who has the burden of seeing the show goes on while these
        tempermental stars emote in their dressing rooms."  He had seen
        Jack Birkett, who bills himself as "The Incredible Orlando", on stage
        with Lindsay Kemp's troupe, then saw him playing Caliban in Derek
        Jarman's film of *The Tempest*.  Also influenced by *MASH* and "that
        wonderful figure of Klinger, I took courage from the line where Ajax
        addresses him as 'Mistress Thersites' and thought, 'Well, let's have
        him in a dress' -- not drag, but a rather tatty old dress with his
        bald head and hairy chest -- a bizarre, camp, surrealistic role."
                Birkett is indeed an outrageous figure.  A dancer and a
        mime, now blind, he has a line in extreme camp which is funny and
        breath-stopping.  "Instead of being a scurvy railing knave, in the
        production he's a scurvy railing bitch -- a bit of a cow, really,
        no loyality to anyone.  I found the character like that!  She owns
        herself and doesn't answer to anyone."  (p. 24)
 

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