Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Re: *Hamlet*: Dumb Show and Stage History
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0987. Wednesday, 7 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Thomas Berger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Dec 94 08:35:22 EST
        Subj:   Re: *Hamlet*: Dumb Show
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 06 Dec 1994 22:34:56 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   HAMLET on stage
 
(3)     From:   Don Foster <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Dec 1994 09:22:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0977  Re; *Hamlet*: Stage History
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Berger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Dec 94 08:35:22 EST
Subject:        Re: *Hamlet*: Dumb Show
 
Regarding Claudius' inability to "see"/understand the dumb show: Perhaps
Hamlet's advice to the players is relevant here.  Suit the action to the word,
the word to the action.  Actions without words may have no meaning, just as
words without actions.  Claudius catches on later in his prayer scene, when he
realizes that words without thoughts, while perfectly acceptable for earthly
E-Mail (QED), are not likely to get on the celestial network. Tom Berger
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 06 Dec 1994 22:34:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        HAMLET on stage
 
As Gary Tayler has remarked, we can't rely on 16th and 17th century references
in judging the popularity of a play. TROILUS AND CRESSIDA is a good (if
unusual) example. In one state of the first quarto, it is claimed that the play
was acted by the King's servants at the Globe; in another state, it is calimed
that the play was "neuer stal'd with the Stage." Which of these claims do you
prefer? Tayler rather likes the first, and other scholars the second.
 
And so the first performance of HAMLET may have passed without any extant
contemporary comment. However, the 1603 quarto claims that it was acted
"diuerse times" in London and at the Universities. Although the players may
have been officially prohibited from acting at the Universities, that doesn't
mean that they didn't sneak in a performance or two -- as they did at other
times when they were officially prohibited from acting!
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Dec 1994 09:22:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0977  Re; *Hamlet*: Stage History
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0977  Re; *Hamlet*: Stage History
 
To Dom Saliani:  I'd say that we're ALL perplexed by the textual problems posed
by Q1 _Hamlet_.  And yes, it is certainly possible that a quarto was printed
that we no longer have (e.g., the lost Q0 of _Love's Labor's Lost_ and the lost
quarto of _Love's Labor's Won_).  But I think you are mistaken is asserting
that _Hamlet_ "does not appear to have been performed in England till about
1619-20."  We have few eye-witness accounts or recorded performances for
Elizabethan plays generally--but we have ample evidence of _Hamlet_'s success
on stage. Indeed, in the years 1600-1618 there are probably more allusions to
_Hamlet_ than to any other Shakespeare play.  Examples include Dekker's
_Satiro-Mastix_ (1602), Jonson, Chapman, and Marston's _Eastward Hoe_ (1605),
Dekker's _Westward Hoe_ (1607), Armin's _Nest of Ninnies_ (1608), and various
others (See the _Shakespeare Allusion Book_). Several of these early allusions
refer to _Hamlet_ as performed, as in Dekker's _Bel-man's Night-walkes_ (1612):
"But if any mad Hamlet, hearing this, smell villainie, and rush in by
violence..." Both Q2 and F1 _Hamlet_ preserve evidence of ms. markings by a
playhouse bookkeeper, and the F1 additions concerning the war of the theaters
was clearly interpolated as a matter of topical interest to theatrical
audiences ca. 1601. The multiple reprints of the play likewise point to its
popularity on stage.  Given the demonstrable resonance of "Hamlet, revenge!"
(supposed by most editors to derive from the ur-_Hamlet_), it seems more likely
that multiple versions of the play were staged after 1600 rather than none at
all. We have also the testimony of stationer's blurbs advertising (rightly or
wrongly) the correspondence of the printed scripts with the play as popularly
acted. What more could we ask for by way of evidence that _Hamlet_ was acted
before 1619?
 
Don Foster
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.