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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: December ::
Re: Fate in *Rom*; *Pericles* Productions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 1013.  Tuesday, 20 December 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Naomi Liebler <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 Dec 94 09:51:00 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.1012  Re: Fate in *Rom*
 
(2)     From:   Tom Dale Keever <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Dec 94 02:42:04 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.1012  Re: *Pericles*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Naomi Liebler <
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Date:           Monday, 19 Dec 94 09:51:00 EST
Subject: 5.1012  Re: Fate in *Rom*
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.1012  Re: Fate in *Rom*
 
On "Fate" in R&J: as Steve Urkowitz says, a serious and sad question. But not,
I think, one that Shakespeare embraces in R&J or anywhere else. The Kid- Romeo
(pre-marriage, indeed, pre-meeting Juliet) consigns his fate to "[Him] that
hath the steerage of my course," but by the end of the play,
Romeo-the-Married-Man "shake[s] the yoke of inauspicious stars" from his
"world--wearied flesh." The sine-qua-non of tragedy, as Aristotle reminded
everyone (and Shakespeare would have learned from Seneca if not indeed from
Aristotle) is "hamartia,' missing the mark. It's an action, not a
characteristic. And if R&J don't miss the mark, then they aren't the subjects
of tragedy. Melodrama, maybe (See R. B. Heilman's oldie-but-still-goodie,
*Tragedy and Melodrama.*), but not tragedy. Human action, social (or
anti-social) behavior, communal and individual, is what brings about the fatal
events of tragedy. Papa Capulet says that quite clearly at the end: the dead
kids are "poor sacrifices of our enmity." That's OUR ENMITY, not fate, not God,
not aything but the plaguey feud. "Star-crossed lovers" indeed--but
star-crossed means unfortunate, not doomed, in Elizabethan cosmology. Tragic
heroes, from Oedipus on, take responsibility for their actions. Yup, even
Oedipus, and he WAS fated to do all those terrible things. But he never copped
a plea, and neither do Shakespearean tragic protagonists.
 
Yours in hamartia,
Naomi Liebler
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Dale Keever <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 20 Dec 94 02:42:04 EST
Subject: 5.1012  Re: *Pericles*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.1012  Re: *Pericles*
 
The most inventive PERICLES I recall was Toby Robertson's staging at Jean
Cocteau Repertory.  This was largely an adaptation of a production he had
earlier done in London, but I don't know what company he worked with there.
Casting one of his Cocteau players, David Fuller, in the title role, Toby then
staged the play again for The Acting Company.  This production, which I never
saw,  was mentioned in an earlier post.  (There may be an archival video of
that touring version.  Inquire at the NY Public Library's Lincoln Center
Library of the Performing Arts.)  Toby's Cocteau staging was startling and fast
moving and benefitted from the small cast's tightly knit ensemble work.  It
made me sorry I was no longer one of them - I had left the company the season
before.  The lengthy narratives were enlivened by Craig Smith's fascinating
Gower, resembling Joel Gray's sinister MC in Cabaret, and the brothel was
dominated by Fuller's outrageous, cross-dressed, black-nyloned Bawd.
 
This was Robertson's first work in the US after years of experience in England,
most notably with his university class mate Ian McKellan in their memorable
EDWARD II, later filmed.  As he took his unflagging inventiveness to other
theaters he was dogged by critical comparisons to a then-emergent wunderkind
he'd never heard of named Peter Sellers.  As it happened the first Sellers work
I saw was his controversial PERICLES at Boston Shakespeare Company. Though I've
admired much of his work since, particularly his operas, at that point in his
career Sellers still had much to learn.  Where Robertson's outrageous rompings
had seemed effortless fun, Sellers' show make me feel like he was dragging us
from one over-cooked concept to another and demanding we be impressed.  I admit
it had its moments and I left thinking I'd seen the beginnings of a promising
talent, but hoping it would hurry up and mature.
 
( When I talked with Robertson earlier this year he had just returned from
staging LEAR in Israel.  He had suggested THE REVENGERS TRAGEDY might be an
appropriate choice there in the current climate, but was over-ruled by the
producers. )
 
I saw the NY Shakespeare Festival's PERICLES and thought it was pretty dismal.
What I heard both from published and first hand accounts of the National's
recent production made me move it down so low on my list of shows to see there
last summer that I didn't get to it.  Did anyone else?
 

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