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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Re: *Hamlet*: Stage History and Dumb Show
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0992.  Thursday, 8 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Dec 1994 18:10:18 +0001 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0987 Re: *Hamlet*: Dumb Show and Stage History
 
(2)     From:   David Joseph Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Dec 94 18:04:27 CST
        Subj:   Hamlet stage history
 
(3)     From:   David Levine <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Dec 1994 22:03:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0977 Re; *Hamlet*: ...
 
(4)     From:   Bernice W. Kliman <KLIMANB@SNYFARVA.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Dec 1994 21:56:08 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   dumb show
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Dec 1994 18:10:18 +0001 (EST)
Subject: 5.0987 Re: *Hamlet*: Dumb Show and Stage History
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0987 Re: *Hamlet*: Dumb Show and Stage History
 
Re Hamlet performances as commonly known by 1604:  Yes, Don Foster is quite
correct, and his list can be made longer.  There is an extended parody of
HAMLET in John Day's LAW TRICKS as well.
 
Helen Ostovich
McMaster University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Joseph Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Dec 94 18:04:27 CST
Subject:        Hamlet stage history
 
Just a couple of brief notes on the *Hamlet* discussion:
 
1) I don't think Nashe in 1589 is necessarily referring to a printed version
of *Hamlet* at all; in fact I think the reference to "tragical speeches"
makes it more likely that he's talking about a performance of some sort.
Nashe's meaning is usually rather slippery, but I do think the case for
Kyd as the target of this whole passage is pretty strong as these things
go.  Nashe writes of "trivial translators" who make use of Seneca; Kyd's
*Cornelia* was a translation from French of an imitation of Seneca by
Garnier.  Nashe writes of those who "leave the trade of Noverint [i.e.
scrivener] whereto they were born" (Kyd's father was a scrivener) and likens
his target to "the Kidde in Aesop", a likely pun on Kyd's name.  If the
whole passage is about Kyd, I think Nashe is probably implying that Kyd
wrote the *Hamlet* in question.  But I wouldn't bet my life on it.
 
2) I believe Harold Jenkins in the Arden *Hamlet* attributes the Harvey
quote to sometime between 1598 (or more likely mid-1599) and early 1601,
not simply to 1598 as both John Mucci and Dom Saliani have stated.  And
I don't think it's really "obvious" that Harvey is referring to a written
text rather than a written performance, but that's a subjective matter.
I won't try to argue about it.
 
3) Yes, there are parallels between King James and Hamlet; there are also
quite a few, of at least as convincing a nature, between the Earl of Essex
and Hamlet. And I don't want to get into the whole Polonius/Burleigh issue
again.  I just don't think we can take alleged parallels of this nature,
400 years later, and use them as "proof" that some play could not have
been performed publicly, or before the king, or whatever.  Don Foster has
ably summarized the evidence that *Hamlet* was performed between 1600 and
1619; the lack of explicit records of actual performances doesn't mean
much, since most such records have been lost (most of the King's Men's
records perished in a fire around 1619 or so).
 
Yes, there are plenty of problems surrounding *Hamlet*, just as there are
similar problems surrounding many other Elizabethan plays, by Shakespeare
and others.  That's just the way it is, and we do the best we can with
the evidence we have.
 
Dave Kathman

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Levine <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Dec 1994 22:03:03 -0500
Subject: 5.0977 Re; *Hamlet*: ...
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0977 Re; *Hamlet*: ...
 
I hate to sound like a broken record, but Brian Vickers, in Appropriating
Shakespeare, does a wonderful number on Cavell's Shakespeare essays.  After
this, it's hard to take Cavell remotely seriously......
and he shouldn't be......
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman <KLIMANB@SNYFARVA.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Dec 1994 21:56:08 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        dumb show
 
Many of us recall the dumb show of Richardson's *Hamlet* with Nicol Williamson:
It was done in a kind of speedy Punch-and-Judy style that confused Claudius
and certainly confused me until I had seen it many times at slow speed.  The
whole murder was acted out and the betrayal by Gertrude that Richardson chose
but it was not easy to decipher.  Many productions of course decide to use
one or the other, and maybe that's what Shkespeare's compnay did also,
depending on the audience.  Just a guess.
 
Bernice W. Kliman
 

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