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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: Tender Macbeth; Recent *Rom*; 1000 Acres; Brook
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0787.  Tuesday, 4 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Naomi Liebler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 3 Oct 94 23:58:00 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0770  Re: Character
 
(2)     From:   Michael Field <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Oct 1994 09:08:44 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Palestinian R&J
 
(3)     From:   Dave Collins <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Oct 1994 9:54:00 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0769  Re: 1000 Acres
 
(4)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Oct 1994 10:10:30 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0771 Videos: ACT *Shrew* and *MND*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Naomi Liebler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 3 Oct 94 23:58:00 EST
Subject: 5.0770  Re: Character
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0770  Re: Character
 
To ELEpstein who wonders whether anyone has "seen Macbeth as a "tender lover":
if by "seen" you mean "in performance, check out (literally, from your
neighborhood video store) the 1989 (+ or -) film adaptation, *Men of Respect,*
whose director's name I can never remember, but someone on this list will
surely do so. If memory serves, the lead was played by John Turturro. For my
(rental) money, it's a terrific adaptation. And this Macbeth is completely,
credibly, in love with his wife.
 
But ELEpstein's posting piques more curiosity: "a bored Inuit wanderer"? As
the query about *Macbeth* says, "Source here, if possible." Did you make that
up to make a point, or is there a specific narrative to which you refer?
 
--Naomi C. Liebler
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Field <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Oct 1994 09:08:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Palestinian R&J
 
Dear Kate Egerton,
 
The Washington Post ran a lengthy article with pictures about the joint
Israeli-Palestinian production of R&J several months back. I was directing R&J
at the time and so xeroxed the article and distributed it to the cast. I would
be happy to send you a copy if you wish.
 
In terms of production, what we found most useful was the observation of the
Palestinian Lady Montague that, for her and her compatriots, the emotional peak
of the play occurs just after the brawl, when Tybalt and Mercutio lie dead, and
Romeo is banished by the Prince.
 
Mike Field

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dave Collins <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Oct 1994 9:54:00 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 5.0769  Re: 1000 Acres
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0769  Re: 1000 Acres
 
I'd like to take a moment to respond to Stephen Buhler's request for a word or
two from people who had used 1000 Acres in class.  I taught the novel in a
course called "Visions and Revisions" in which we looked at pairs of texts
drawn (usually) from widely separated times and cultures to see how the "same"
story could/would be remade to reflect contemporary cultural conditions.
Other pairs we read were Beowulf/Grendel, The Scarlet Letter/S (Updike),
Dracula/The Vampire Lestat, The Return of Martin Geurre (text was the Harvard
UP version by Davis)/French film of the same name/Somersby.
 
But back to 1000 Acres.  The Lear/1000 Acres combination may well have been the
most successful pairing of the semester.  I've read 1000 Acres four or five
times now and I don't think I will ever read Lear again in quite the same way.
Of course, Shakespeare's play is still Shakespeare's play and Smiley's novel is
still Smiley's novel.  But the latter work does cause one to re-envision the
former.
 
As I prepared the course I went back to look for critical essays that defended
Goneril and Regan, essays of the sort I had read years ago but dismissed as
"fringe" material.  It's harder to do that now.  I discovered this time through
that there is and has been a thriving critical literature on Lear that delves
into the incest theme, on occasion tracing it all the way back to the fairy
tale roots of the story.  Of that I wasn't aware.  That alone has changed the
picture.
 
But perhaps the most significant thing for my students (and myself) was the
opportunity to see things, however confusedly, through Ginny/Goneril's eyes.  I
don't for a minute trust Ginny as a narrator.  She's too defensive, too anxious
to make excuses for herself.  In the opening pages, for example, she recounts
her jealousy of Rose's children and claims blandly "Well, I felt it and I set
it aside."  Trouble is, her actions later demonstrate that she doesn't.  She
has her own "sense of the right order of things" and works, perhaps
unconsciously or half-consciously, to implement that order.  She claims to want
no more than peace in the family circle, and perhaps she genuinely does, but to
attain that peace she makes some very hurtful compromises and hides truths
about her own attitudes (toward Rose, Caroline, her father) even from herself.
After the family spat about dividing the farm, for example, she has a perfect
opportunity to bring about a reconciliation. All she has to do is to call
Caroline.  But she keeps "forgetting," she keeps postponing, and the call never
gets made.  It's not her fault--it just "happens."  And so it goes through the
entire novel.
 
The upshot is that I'm not sure Smiley's Ginny is any more innocent of what
happens than is Shakespeare's Goneril.  What shifts is the perspective from
which we see her.  Realizing that she doesn't have the strength to "come out"
and fight for what she wants (and it is not altogether admirable, what she
wants), we may not approve of what she does, but we are more prone to
sympathize with the human weakness that is all too familiar to us from the
smaller (sometimes) failures in our own lives.
 
I think you and your students will both enjoy and learn a lot from the
comparison of the two works.  As my younger friends might say, "Go for it!"
 
--Dave Collins
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Tuesday, 4 Oct 1994 10:10:30 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 5.0771 Videos: ACT *Shrew* and *MND*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0771 Videos: ACT *Shrew* and *MND*
 
Regarding a video of the Brook MND, the answer to your question about a
commercially available video is a resounding "No."
 
The RSC, of course, has an extensive video archive, but that's pretty much the
only way to get it.
 
Also, a number of years ago (mid-late 80s) there was a BBC video series called
"Hands Off The Classics" which had an episode dedicated to the Brook MND, with
lots of neat footage.
 
Finally, anyone interested in that production should read David Selbourne's
"The Making of A Midsummer Night's Dream: An Eye-Witness Account of Peter
Brook's Production From First Rehearsal to First Night" (London: Methuen,
1982).  A nice account, although it doesn't address the question regarding
whether what Brook and Co. were trying to achieve is the same thing as what the
audience liked about the show.
 
If I'm wrong about the video, will someone please TELL ME and I'll not only eat
a healthy dinner of crow, but be first on the phone to order the thing.  I'm
sadly confident, however, that the thing isn't available.
 
Regards,
Brad Berens
Dept. of English
UC Berkeley

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