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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: October ::
Re: *Tmp.*; Prospero; *Prospero's Books*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0838.  Monday, 24 October 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Kimberly Nolan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 22 Oct 1994 20:37:45 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0834 *Tmp.* Productions
 
(2)     From:   James J. Hill, Jr. <
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        Date:   Saturday, 22 Oct 1994 20:41:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0831  Prospero
 
(3)     From:   Robert Lloyd Neblett <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Oct 1994 00:36:07 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   PROSPERO'S BOOKS
 
(4)     From:   Michael Skovmand <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Oct 1994 11:58:04 MET
        Subj:   Re: Tempest and Greenaway
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kimberly Nolan <
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Date:           Saturday, 22 Oct 1994 20:37:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0834 *Tmp.* Productions
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0834 *Tmp.* Productions
 
I can't recall the name of the actor, but in 1989 Baltimore's Center Stage
acted the "tempest" with a a Prospero who was 40ish.  He was quite good as I
recall though the production itself was forgettable.  Pipa Pearthree was an
energentic Ariel, but the the rest of the production escapes me except the use
of the trap doors through out the theatre which made for some magical
entrances.  Perhaps someone with a clearer memory of this production can fill
in the blanks. Nonetheless, the younger Prospero did shift the focus some what.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James J. Hill, Jr. <
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Date:           Saturday, 22 Oct 1994 20:41:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0831  Prospero
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0831  Prospero
 
While a great version of *The Tempest* has not yet been filmed, an MLA
publication "Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare's *The Tempest* and Other
Late Romances" [edited by Maurice Hunt] should be of some help in identifying
current filmed versions.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Lloyd Neblett <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 Oct 1994 00:36:07 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        PROSPERO'S BOOKS
 
Will someone please explain to me the animosity I have inferred regarding Peter
Greenaway's film PROSPERO'S BOOKS?  It seems as though some SHAKSPERians do not
wish to regard it as a valid interpretation of THE TEMPEST.  I highly disagree.
 You could hardly ask for a better Prospero than Gielgud.  Though it is highly
edited, the text is still present.  In fact, the text's creation is the
motivation behind the film's concept. And the Masque scene is done in the most
effective fashion that I have ever seen.  The film made me reevaluate my jaded
attitudes to the play and revitalized my interest in alternative modes of
Shakespearean performance.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Skovmand <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Oct 1994 11:58:04 MET
Subject:        Re: Tempest and Greenaway
 
Allow me to take issue with the easy dismissal by Thomas Hall and others of
Greenaway's *Prospero's Books* -his idiosyncratic rendition of The Tempest from
1991. While the film is obviously unsuited as a beginners' introduction to The
Tempest, it is brilliantly appropriate, at university level, as a provocative
critical statement about the central concerns of the play. It is not true to
say that there is nothing Shakespearean about it. Practically all the text of
the play is retained. Greenaway , however, uses two very unusual structuring
ideas, which the student/critic needs to unpack in order make sense of the
film. Both ideas are directly related to central themes of the play: one
structuring idea is to have Gielgud/Prospero/Shakespeare speak all the parts,
as far as the final reconciliation scene. The other -related- idea, is to
literalize the passage: *...Knowing I lov'd my books, he furnished me/From mine
own library with volumes that/I prize above my dukedom (I.ii.166-68)
Greenaway's is a 'strong misreading' which visualizes the well- established
idea of The Tempest as Shakespeare's artistic Autobiography and Last Will, a
dramatization of *Prospero's auto- critique of the autonomous imagination* - to
quote Claus Schatz- Jacobsen's article 'Knowing I Lov'd My Books: Shakespeare,
Greenaway and the Prosperous Dialectics of Word and Image' (SCREEN SHAKESPEARE,
Aarhus University Press 1994, DK-8000 Aarhus C (Edited - alas - by myself).
 
Greenaway's Prospero's Books, IMHO, is too cerebral (for all its nudity) to be
a great Tempest. But it is a beautiful and challenging film - AND eminently
teachable, in that it forces the student/critic into a stimulating process of
unpacking and unravelling which has all sorts of secondary rewards -
discussions of *faithfulness* to the text, of generic differences between
playtext/theatrical performance/ film, etc.
 
Michael Skovmand
Dep't of English
U. of Aarhus
Denmark
 

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