Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: Shylock and Sellars' *MV*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0784.  Tuesday, 4 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Ron Moyer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 3 Oct 1994 17:07:05 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Shylock; Sellars' MV
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Oct 1994 20:30:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shylock
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Moyer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 3 Oct 1994 17:07:05 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Shylock; Sellars' MV
 
Have been away from the office for a while; some responses to last week's mail:
 
To Rick Jones:  You suggest that you would like to play Shylock's "Hath not a
Jew eyes" speech "in full righteous dudgeon";  the old texts tend to support
your instincts: while this speech is frequently (usually?) given a careful,
balanced--sometimes sentimental--treatment in modern produc- tions as an appeal
to a common humanity, the speech is a rationale for revenge;  while modern
editions of MV usually divide the speech into controlled, balanced, even terse,
statements (the Riverside is typical in breaking 3.1.53-73 into *fifteen*
sentences), the quarto presents the same speech as a roiling outpouring of fury
in a mere *four* tumultuous sentences ("To bail fish with all . . . we will
resemble you in that" is presented as one sentence).  WS's scenic architecture
in the Q seems carefully to juxtapose the strongest verbal expression of rage
(3.1) with the stronest verbal expression of love (Portia-Portia in 3.2).
 
Re Peter Sellars' production of MV at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago: The
production began previews on Friday, 30 Sept; will open about a week/week and a
half later; after the Chicago run, it will be performed in the RSC/Barbican
Centre's international "Everybody's Shakespeare" festival and in Hamburg and
Paris.  The production uses an uncut text, bare stage (to the cyc, with no wing
masking), a few tables and chairs, full size coffins for the three caskets,
several microphones (table stands, floor stands, shotgun, and body mics; nearly
all of the dialogue is openly amplified), a live TV camera, and 6-7 large TV
monitors showing various combinations of live onstage images (mostly actor
closeups) and taped, "atmospheric" footage (ranging from a mysterious estate to
the LA riots).  Sellars refers to MV as "the most astute and shockingly frank
analysis of the economic roots of racism that we have" and has chosen to invite
"African-American actors to take the roles of the Jews, Asian actors to play
Portia and her court, and Latino actors to play the Venetians [in order to]
begin to touch the texture of life in contemporary America" (quotes from the
Goodman's "OnStage").  I found the presence African American actors playing a
policeman in the law court and a servent at Portia's court to be confusing in
the context: are they meant to be Jews or African Americans (the latter,
apparently, since Portia's maid sings gospel).
 
While Sellars' writing emphasizes economic themes, the production dwells more
on sexual imagery (perhaps to focus on themes of faithfulness/jealousy): the
Antonio-Bassanio relationship--and Solanio/ Solario--is emphatically
homoerotic, which Portia magically realizes before the end to 3.2; Launcelot
Gobbo and Jessica mime fornicating as 1.3 occurs elsewhere onstage--allowing LG
to be, later, portrayed as a bitter, vicious, spurned lover; in the sour Venice
(Calif) of the production, all the principles are left adrift at the end,
wandering the stage in mutual isolation.
 
The production includes some powerful actors, some intriguing ideas and images
(including the references to documentary television interviews of major
characters); it is clearly spoken.  It is also deliberately slow-- dress
rehearsal on the 29th running 4:12, including one 20 minute intermission;
important lines are repeated two or three times.  It is an interesting
production, certain to provoke discussion.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 04 Oct 1994 20:30:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shylock
 
Recently Rick Jones asked us why Shylock offers Antonio the merry bond, and
also why Shylock reverses his decision not to dine with the Christians. Could
it be that he really does want to make friends? Richard Levin (the younger) has
suggested that Shylock really does want to make friends with Antonio -- no
matter what Shylock may say. And perhaps the merry bond is a peace offering,
i.e., if you offer me your heart (the  flesh nearest thereto), I will lend you
money without interest. His decision to dine with the Christians may suggest
that he is ready for integration -- though not perhaps the kind that Antonio
gives him in Act IV.
 
What changes Shylock's mind is the "kidnapping" of his daughter and the theft
of his jewels -- especially those of sentimental value. The Christians have
invited him to dinner only so that they can rob him, or so he may think.
 
Do you think you could get those thoughts and feeling across to an audience?
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.