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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Re: Icarus; Kent; Images and Clips; BBC *Lear*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0981.  Tuesday, 6 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 04 Dec 1994 23:35:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Icarus
 
(2)     From:   David Small <DavidSm+aFOXNY3%
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Dec 94 14:41 EST
        Subj:   SHK 5.0943  Kent's Fate -Reply
 
(3)     From:   Matthew Henerson <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Dec 1994 16:29:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0973  Q: PD Images, Clips
 
(4)     From:   Elizabeth Schmitt <E2E3SCHM@UNTVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 06 Dec 1994 09:39:19 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   BBC King Lear
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 04 Dec 1994 23:35:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Icarus
 
In scanning Don Foster's list of Icarus allusions, I didn't see DOCTOR FAUSTUS
which contains one in the first Chorus (20-22): "Till swoln with cunning, of a
self-conceit,/His waxen wings did mount above his reach,/And melting, heavens
conspired his overthrow."
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Small <DavidSm+aFOXNY3%
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 >
Date:           Monday, 5 Dec 94 14:41 EST
Subject: Kent's Fate -Reply
Comment:        SHK 5.0943  Kent's Fate -Reply
 
As to Kent's fate, I've always assumed that his last lines merely address his
awareness of his age and mortality.  "After what I've just been through. .   ."
 
I remember another line in the last scene when someone enjoins Lear to look up.
 There are many interpretations of this, such as "look up from Cordelia's
body." or "For the gods' sake -- don't die!"  One production I saw had the
entire company (alive at that point) look up at the sky as the lights went down
to black, the implication being that this was one of the solar eclipses alluded
to in the opening scene.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Henerson <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Dec 1994 16:29:51 -0500
Subject: 5.0973  Q: PD Images, Clips
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0973  Q: PD Images, Clips
 
In re: Michael Martin's inquiries about stills and A/V material on the plays
and productions.
 
There's a wealth of material available in books, on video tape, and
increasingly on CD Rom.  Check out A.R. Braunmuller's (sp?) recent *Macbeth*
which includes the Trevor Nunn's roundhouse production of the play in its
entirety (Ian McKellen and Judi Dench as the Macbeths) as well as clips from
the Polanski film and Kurosawa's *Throne of Blood*.  Since I'm sure Mr. Martin
will receive all kinds of information on all sorts of formats, I will confine
myself to talking about audio recordings of the plays.
 
If you're going to explore audio Shakespeare, it helps to have a record player
that will accomodate LP's, and if you have one that plays the old 78's so much
the better.  Going chronologically therefore: there are several records and one
CD that I know of which feature a collection of recordings from the turn of the
century through the 1930's.  Real old wax cylinder (I have no notion of how to
spell that word) stuff.  Performers on these discs include Edwin Booth, Ellen
Terry, Lewis Waller, Frank Benson, and John Gielgud in several recordings from
the late thirties.  The CD is callen *Great Shakespearians*.  Tower Records has
carried it, so if its available, somebody at one of the larger stores should
know how to order it.  These recordings most often involve actors reading lines
from roles they have played on stage, and all are monologues.  I know of no
recordings earlier than 1940 which involve more than on speaker at a time.
 
In the forties, Maurice Evans, and Laurence Olivier released 78 discs on which
they read excerpts from plays in which they had recently performed. Olivier
produced a "soundtrack" of his *Henry V* which included several Henry speeches
lifed directly from the film as well as some Chorus material which Olivier
himself read for the recording.  He released a similar 78 set for *Hamlet*, and
the two recordings became the two sides of an LP released in the mid-fifties.
Maurice Evan's recordings include excerpts from *Hamlet*, *Macbeth* with Judith
Andersons, and *Richard II*.  Everything on these 78's eventually found its way
onto LP's.  Also, I know of at least two recordings of full productions done on
78's.  The first of these, Paul Robeson, Jose Ferrer, and Uta Hagen in
*Othello* is easy to find.  I have only seen one copy of Orson Welles' Mercury
Theater production of *Twelfth Night*.  I have never heard it, and it has
never, to my knowledge, become available in any other format.
 
Between the late fifties and the early seventies, one label, Argo, released the
entire cannon on LP, and two others, Caedemon and Living Shakespeare, released
close to twenty plays each.  These three labels used exclusively English
actors.  A fourth, Spoken Word Recordings (or something close to that), used
some recordings by Christopher Casson's company and some Irish recordings from
the Gate with Hilton Edwards, Michael MacLiammoir, and occassionally Milo
O'Shea.  Argo, Caedemon and some of the Irish recordings are complete while the
living Shakespeare series is condensed into one hour-long disc per play.  To my
knowledge, none of these recordings represent actual staged productions
although leading actors frequently record their more successful roles.  The
Argo *Much Ado* features John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft, and the cast of
Caedemon's *1 Henry IV* includes Anthony Quayle as Falstaff, Michael Redgrave
as Hotspur and Harry Andrews as Henry IV.  Only Richard Burton's Hal is missing
to complete the core cast of the 1951 Stratford histories cycle.  Burton, turns
up as splendid Coriolanus for Caedemon, by the way, and Gielgud's Angelo and
Leontes are also part of the series.  Other actors record roles they never
played.  Caedemon's Romeo is Albert Finney, and Ralph Richardson plays the Duke
in *Measure for Measure*.  The Living Shakespeare series preserves pieces of
Donald Wolfit's Lear, Vivien Leigh's Cleopatra, Sean Connery's Hotspur, Sybill
Thorndyke's Volumnia, and Peter O'Toole's Petruchio.  The Argo recordings used
stars for the principal roles, but drew their supporting casts from the Marlowe
Dramatic Society at Cambridge.  Look at the cast list (or listen for the
voices), and you'll find Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen, and even John Barton and
Peter Hall is smaller roles.
 
Finally there are recordings of actual productions and radio recordings. The
Old Vic's *Romeo and Juliet* with Claire Bloom and Alan Badel, the National
Theater's *Othello* with Olivier, and Gielgud's New York *Hamlet* with Burton
in the title role are all available on LP.  Radio recordings include three from
Brannagh's Renaissance Theater Company: *Hamlet*, *Romeo and Juliet*, and most
recently *King Lear*, as well as some curios from the fifties in which
Hollywood stars recorded one hour condensations of the plays.  A small,
recently-released box of tapes from this series includes Humphrey Bogart's
Hotspur, Tallulah Bankhead's Viola, and Edward G. Robinson's Petruchio.  There
are also several BBC recordings released through the Mind's Eye catalogue.
Highlights from this series include Alec Guinness as Lear and Paul Scofield and
Nicol Williamson as Othello and Iago.
 
Many public libraries have incomplete sets of Caedemon and Argo recordings
while University collections have more, and frequently provide the equipment
necessary to listen in case your stereo system no longer includes a turntable.
Used record and book stores will also occasionally see some of the out of print
material while Barnes and Noble, Borders, and other large chains carry many of
the Caedemon recordings (rereleased on cassette) and all three of the
Renaissance Theater titles on cassette and CD.  Most of the Argo titles are
still available on cassette in England.  The RSC Bookstore is your best bet
here, although some of the original Argos have been re-recorded with newer and
tonier casts.  (Ian Holm is Iago; Janet Suzman is Rosalind etc.)
 
Sorry to have gone on at such length,
 
Matt
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Schmitt <E2E3SCHM@UNTVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 06 Dec 1994 09:39:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        BBC King Lear
 
Several months ago I asked if anyone knew how to obtain a copy of the BBC radio
recording of KING LEAR featuring John Gielgud in the title role. I am pleased
to announce that it is now available as part od the Renaissance Theatre Company
series. The boxed cassette set retails for $25 and is being sold at Brentano's
and Waldenbooks. I'm sure the other chains will catch on. Thought it might be
something peolple might add to their holiday shopping lists.
 
Elizabeth Schmitt
University of North Texas
 

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