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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: *TN* Production
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0792.  Friday, 7 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Schalkwyk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Oct 94 11:35:18 SAST-2
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0780  Re: *TN*
 
(2)     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Oct 1994 13:05:41 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0768 Q: *TN*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Schalkwyk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Oct 94 11:35:18 SAST-2
Subject: 5.0780  Re: *TN*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0780  Re: *TN*
 
Tony Haigh's account of the "Indian" TN reminds me of a similar production that
I mounted some years ago under the constraints that all amateur directors
having to cope with the available amateur talent resort to in some way or
another.  (Invariably the number of people who turn up for the audition amount
to the planned cast-1!).
 
Anyway, on my first appointment to the Rand Afrikanns University in
Johannesburg I decided to do TN.  The cast-1 turned up for the audition, but
presented me with a problem I hadn't anticpated.  Since it was an Afrikaans
university, most of them couldn't speak English (not up to the required
standard, at any rate), two were bilingual, and two or three couldn't speak
Afrikaans!
 
Now, there is a superb Afrikaans translation of TN by the Afrikaans poet, Uys
Krige, but with the limited number of actors at my disposal I did not have
enough Afrikaans-speakers to do the play in translation.  The answer, after a
moment's reflection, was obvious: do a bilingual production, in which Orsino's
court spoke only English, Olivia's household only Afrikaans, and Feste and
Viola were bilingual, switching languages on the appropriate occasions.  In the
final scene Orsino and Olivia switched to the other language simultaneously at
the moment of "reconciliation", while Antonio, whose English was execrable,
stammered out his speeches in the face of hostile foreigners and then lapsed
into silence.
 
The production was a surprising success.  What was missing, of course, was a
sense of historical class, but since antagonism between Afrikaans and English
speakers is tinged with class bias in any case it was residually apparent.
Furthermore, for the first time in my experience audiences responded with
full-blooded mirth to the comic scenes because, thanks to Krige's skill, they
understood the jokes for the first time!
 
I was surprised to see, a few years ago, a very brief account of my production
by Philip Brockbank in the _Shakespeare Survey_.  However did he find out?  He
certainly wasn't in the audience.
 
I have been contemplating "writing up" the production for publication somewhere
for over ten years now, but finally abandoned the idea, feeling that it would
not be of much interest to non-South Africans. Am I right?
 
David Schalkwyk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Oct 1994 13:05:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0768 Q: *TN*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0768 Q: *TN*
 
Things to avoid in productions of Twelfth Night.
 
1.  Don't overdo the tormenting of Malvolio in IV.ii.  This seriously
unbalances this most delicately balanced of plays.
 
2.  Take Antonio's love for Sebastian with perfect seriousness.  Antonio has
some of the play's most majestic verse.  Don't play this relation with a
leer--and don't make Antonio come off as a besotted, deluded lover.
 
3.  Don't make Sir Toby so sodden that he can't think clearly and act
forcefully.  His energy must drive important segments of the play.
 
The best essay is still, I think, Joe Summers's "The Masks of *Twelfth Night*.
It is widely anthologized.  I have it in Leonard Dean's collection of
Shakespeare essays.  I I will also immodestly mention the bits on *Twelfth
Night* in my *Laughter, Pain and Wonder* University of Delaware  Press, 1990.
 
Good luck with the production.
 
David Richman
University of new Hampshire
 

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