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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Re: *Shrew*; *Rom.*; Boy Actors; Globe Project;
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0974.  Sunday, 4 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Ann Chance <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Dec 1994 14:31:12 +0800 (WST)
        Subj:   The reproduction of the *Shrew*
 
(2)     From:   Marcia Hepps <
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        Date:   Friday, 02 Dec 1994 12:41:43 EST
        Subj:   R & J
 
(3)     From:   William Proctor Williams <TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET>
        Date:   Friday, 02 Dec 94 11:12 CST
        Subj:   boy actors
 
(4)     From:   Paul Nelsen  <
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        Date:   Friday, Dec. 2, 1994 09:53:05 1994
        Subj:   Status of Globe project
 
(5)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Sunday, 4 Dec 94 16:47:27 CST
        Subj:   Dating Hamlet
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Chance <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Dec 1994 14:31:12 +0800 (WST)
Subject:        The reproduction of the *Shrew*
 
Unlike David Maier, I didn't have the opportunity to see the Tygre's Heart
production. However, I must admit that I have some difficulty in understanding
how all-female casting 'bypasses' the real moral problems that the play
presents - or perhaps *should* present - for a modern audience, any more than
an all-Jewish cast would solve the problem of anti-Semitic elements (another
can of worms?) in the *Merchant*.
 
Richard Jones remarks that this discussion is 'interesting at least in part for
what it reveals about us, as well as what it may reveal about the play.' I
agree: it does compel me to speculate as to the relative demographics of those
who are somewhat disturbed by the play and its persistent popularity, compared
with those who insist upon its production as a romantic comedy. Along with
Diane Henderson and Shirley Kagan, I am curious (and concerned) as to why the
'game' is still being played, and why, on the other hand, 'ideologically
correct' directors apply such extremes of energy and ingenuity in attempting to
rehabilitate this play. (Perhaps an examination of the '*Shrew* phenomenon'
could form a flip-side to Gavin Witt's study of Shakespearean fads?)
 
Apart from Kate, her taming, and her final monologue, I see profound problems
with regard to the other female characters, their relationships with one
another, and what each of them represents. I have often wondered about the
possible effect of playing Bianca and the Widow as feminist heroines, at least
partially at the expense of Katherina. (Has anybody ever seen this done?)
Perhaps some interesting ambivalences might be set up, in the recent fashion of
making it a 'problem play'.
 
One *Shrew* which I found interesting *and* entertaining was a 1985 production
by Britain's Medieval Players. It cross-gender cast the female characters and
their suitors: a six-foot-plus male Katherina playing opposite a diminutive
female Petruchio. The characters were played according to their gender, without
any intention of camp, and thanks to the extraordinary talent and sincerity of
the actor playing Katherina, audience members were moved to tears at the
spectacle of female frustration, anger, despair and helplessness at the height
of her 'taming'. The production was still - on the whole - a comedy, though a
rather dark one, and not romantic.
 
        Ann Chance
        University of Western Australia
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcia Hepps <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Dec 1994 12:41:43 EST
Subject:        R & J
 
First, unending thanks to all those out ther who offered so much help about
cutting the piece. I have done the cutting and am heading into auditions and
would very much like to correspond with any one out there who has directed the
piece and has anecdotes, pitfalls to avoid, words of wisdom,unanswered
questions etc. or from anyone who would like to talk about the piece. I am
doing it period because my school hasn't staged shakespeare (or any real period
plays) for many years but if I could do it modern dress with and unlimited
budget...
 
I think the Verona of the play is much like our society today. We've seen it
all done it all had it all and this is very little that affects us short of
good old fashioned blood and violence. In modern dress I would have film crews
abounding and use the currently popular video moniters and after Romeo kills
Tybalt I'd have him leave in a white Ford Bronco.
 
What d'ya think?
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <TB0WPW1@NIU.BITNET>
Date:           Friday, 02 Dec 94 11:12 CST
Subject:        boy actors
 
There has been a good bit of tosh on this list about boy actors in the pre-1660
English theatre:
 
     The Characters of Women, on former Theatres
     were perform'd by Boys, or young Men of the
     most effeminate Aspect.
                            Colley Cibber
                            +An Apology. . . . .+
 
     Much could be said for the resoring
     of the celibate stage.
               Harley Granville-Barker
 
Have a look at Michael Jamieson's piece in +Papers Mainly Shakespearian+ ed.
Duthie, Aberdeen, 1964.  And let us hear no more on this subject.
 
William Proctor Williams
Northern Illinois University
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Nelsen  <
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Date:           Friday, Dec. 2, 1994 09:53:05 1994
Subject:        Status of Globe project
 
Fred Wharton asked (about the current status of the International Shakespeare
Globe Centre project and about the prospect of future archeology on the Rose
and Globe sites.  I will return to London in January to investigate the matters
first hand ( I will write a report for the Winter 1995 issue of *Shakespeare
Bulletin*) but here is a summary of the current situation.  Following the
sadness of Sam Wanamaker's passing last December, the sudden death of Globe
architect Theo Crosby on 12 September jolted everyone concerned with the Globe
project.  Theo had suffered a coronary last February, received by-pass surgery,
and seemed to all last summer to be advancing toward full recovery.  His
vision. immense knowledge, wry wit, and resilient patience are missed but
substantial evidence of them are immortalized in features of the ISGC project.
Theo's able associate Jon Greenfield now takes the lead in overseeing the
completion of Theo's design and scheme for decoration.   The construction
process has taken far more time than previously predicted --  official opening
is now slated for August 1995.   Builder Peter McCurdy has fashioned each
member of the massive and complex oak frame with the fastidious care of a
cabinetmaker.  The last two of the fifteen audience gallery bays have been
appended to the thirteen standing last summer .  The roof covering many of the
bays is already covered with thatch and all fifteen will be completed by
January.   Exterior walls of thirteen bays have been painstakingly plastered
employing authentic historical recipes and methods. A giant disused hangar at
Greenham Common (where cruise missiles used to be kept just outside London) has
been rented to provide workshop space for McCurdy and  crew to craft,
undeterred by vicissitudes of weather, snug joinery for the puzzle of framework
that will comprise the five bays of  the stage house.  The stage and its canopy
are expected to be at least roughed-in by next August when a  brief  *Prologue
Season* will be mounted within the unfinished playhouse.  Painting,
ornamentation, and finish detailing will follow the *Prologue Season* next
fall.  Wanamaker had pressed to have the entire theatre ready and polished for
opening by 23 April 1995.  Delays have tarnished expectations of when it will
finally be done but they have not diminished determination to see the structure
accomplished with care for and pride in its details. An exhibition offering
background on the effort to rebuild the first Globe as authentically as
possible opened on the site last August and is attracting many visitors who pay
to be escorted along a guided tour.   Theatre consultant Michael Holder, who
has been  an advisor to the project since its inception in 1971, now serves as
Chief Executive.  Efforts continue also to raise funds to complete the complex
of buildings and exhibit spaces that will accompany the timber frame playhouse.
Readers who would like to receive a periodic newsletter from the ISGC may
subscribe by  joining The Friends of Shakespeare's Globe: the annual
subscription is ten pounds and should be sent to PO Box No. 70, London SE1
9EN.Further archeology on the original Globe site is unlikely in the near
future.  Convoluted political and financial obstacles block renewed excavation.
Museum of London head archeologist Harvey Sheldon was fired in 1990 following
his outspoken advocacy of the historical and informational value of carefully
managed digs on the sites.  One prospect is that success of the ISGC Globe as a
tourist attraction will encourage the presently reluctant powers to exhume and
enshrine whatever remains can be found.  As Sheldon has cautioned, however,
prudent planning must also resolve questions of how any remains, once
discovered, may be examined and preserved. What the remains may have to tell us
-- even how they might refute choices incorporated in the reconstructed Globe
-- must for now remain hidden but protected in the soggy clay beneath the
concrete surface of the Thames's south bank.I have recently learned, however,
that the near future may bring archeological developments on other fronts.  The
Rose Trust is actively collecting funds to complete archeological examination
of the 1989 site now encased beneath a concrete membrane in the basement of the
office tower built above it.  Plans call for removal and preservation of the
foundation materials, further stratagraghic studies of the site, restoration of
the foundation stones to their original position, and subsequent creation of a
public museum/shrine installed in the basement grotto of the Rose Court office
block. Of potentially greater interest is news that Benbow House, a building
resting on the ground where the Bear Garden and Hope  Theatre once stood, may
be razed for new development.  If the developer adheres to common practice,
archeologist will supervise and examine excavation of the site.  Valuable new
archeological evidence may be found.  Furthermore,  I hear that The Shakespeare
in Shoreditch Society is trying to raise support for archeological excavation
of the site of The Theatre .  The repercussions of the remarkable finds of the
1989 digs may yet shake further ventures into action.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Sunday, 4 Dec 94 16:47:27 CST
Subject:        Dating Hamlet
 
John Mucci claims that *Hamlet* was popular "long before 1600", the implication
being that Shakespeare scholars have blinded themselves to the evidence that
the consensus date of 1600-1601 for *Hamlet* is much too late.  I realize where
he's going with this, and for the record I feel I should make the following
points.
 
1) The references to *Hamlet* by Nashe in 1589 and Lodge in 1596, as well as
the 1594 entry in Henslowe's diary, merely prove that there was *a* play (or
possibly more than one play) called *Hamlet*, without any implication that this
was the same as Shakespeare's *Hamlet*; in fact, there are very good reasons
for believing that this was not the same play as Shakespeare's.  Nashe's 1589
reference, when looked at in context, is part of a veiled attack on a
playwright/translator who can be identified with a high degree of confidence as
Thomas Kyd; thus Kyd has usually been taken to be the author of the *Hamlet*
Nashe alludes to.  Lodge quotes the Ghost as saying "Hamlet, revenge", a line
which is not in Shakespeare's play, and he, like Nashe, seems to be ridiculing
the play  (he says the Ghost cries "like an oysterwife"); the post-1600
reaction to Shakespeare's *Hamlet* did not include ridicule.  There are, of
course, many other instances of multiple plays on the same subject and with the
same title, since Elizabethans, including Shakespeare, were constantly
recycling old ideas and plot devices.  There were at least a couple of other
plays on Richard II, one preceding and one following Shakespeare's; there was
at least one other play, possibly two plays, called *King Leare* or *Leir*
which are demonstrably distinct from Shakespeare's; there was *The Famous
Victories of Henry V*, which Shakespeare used in *Henry IV* and *Henry V*; and
so on.  There is no reason to believe that the Nashe-Lodge-Henslowe references
are to a play by Shakespeare, and good reasons for believing that they refer to
a now-lost play from the 1580s, probably by Kyd.
 
2) Gabriel Harvey's note does specifically refer to Shakespeare's *Hamlet*, but
Mr. Mucci's dating of it as 1598 is rather misleading.  Harvey wrote notes to
himself all over the margins and blank pages of books he owned, and the note
where he mentions *Hamlet* and *Venus and Adonis* is in a copy of Speght's
Chaucer which was published in 1598, so the note cannot have been written
before then.  However, there is good reason to believe that the note was
written later than 1598: the leaf preceding the *Hamlet* note contains a note
which alludes to the banning of Harvey's books (probably as a result of his
public feud with Thomas Nashe), an event which did not happen until mid-1599.
Elsewhere in the note Harvey refers to the Earl of Essex in the present tense;
this would seem to indicate that it was written before Essex's execution in
February 1601, though some people have disputed this.  So the note was probably
written sometime between mid-1599 and early 1601, in the middle of which falls
the consensus 1600 date of Hamlet.  There are other complications that I'm not
dealing with here, but these are concisely summarized in the introduction of
Harold Jenkins' Arden edition of *Hamlet*.
 
3) Finally, Mr. Mucci says that the Tudor arms appear at the beginning of Q2
*Hamlet*, and asserts that this indicates that the play was finally appearing
in the form in which the author intended it, and also that the play received
special allowances from the censor.  Neither of these claims has, to my
knowledge, been advanced by any (non-Oxfordian) Shakespeare scholar, for the
simple reason that there is no evidence to back them up. The Tudor arms, it is
true, appear buried in the middle of the ornamental headpiece which stretches
across the top of the first page of the 1604/5 Quarto of *Hamlet*.  These had
ceased to be the royal arms upon the death of Elizabeth nearly two years
before, and so there is no reason to believe that this headpiece constituted
any kind of a "royal seal of appoval"; the same headpiece appeared in many
other books printed by James Roberts and his successor William Jaggard,
including several of the surreptitious misdated Shakespeare quartos of 1619,
which surely did not have any official sanction.
 
That's enough for now.  I'm not trying to close the discussion; I just thought
the above needed to be said.
 
Dave Kathman

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