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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: September ::
Re: Bianca as Shrew
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 738. Thursday, 15 September 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Peter Paolucci <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Sep 1994 09:13:44 -0400
        Subj:   Bianca's Shrewishness
 
(2)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Sep 1994 09:33:06 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0734  Re: Bianca as Shrew
 
(3)     From:   Arthur Pearson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Sep 1994 10:35:25 -0600
        Subj:   Character
 
(4)     From:   Elizabeth Y. Zeria <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Sep 94 11:59:35 EDT
        Subj:   Linguistic Gaffe
 
(5)     From:   Elizabeth Y. Zeria <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Sep 94 11:19:58 EDT
        Subj:   Shakespeare as Actor
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Paolucci <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Sep 1994 09:13:44 -0400
Subject:        Bianca's Shrewishness
 
I don't think  Bianca's shrewishness is a red herring at all.  We come to a
more complete understanding of other facets of her personality only  in the
last scene and therefore, we come to know her in hindsight  -- for it is her
recalcitrance at the end of the play that casts a rather ominous shadow over
her earlier (and apparently) more genteel behaviour.  What remains a
wonderment for me, is that the "shrewish" side of her nature is revealed to
us only (in a sense) after it is too late -- that is to say, only after the
play is over.  I suppose  one could also argue that the shift in perception
of Biana from  a "daddy's girl" to shrew mirrors a shift in how we perceive
Kate.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Sep 1994 09:33:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0734  Re: Bianca as Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0734  Re: Bianca as Shrew
 
Yes, of course, Shakespeare above all wrote PLAYS for ACTORS to perform.  But
he WROTE them, and the actor and director who would interpret them must know
how to READ the action and relations Shakespeare encoded in his text.  It is
ABSOLUTELY WRONG, if anything in this sublunary world is wrong, to say that
Bianca or any other character -- in Shakespeare, in Strindberg, in August
Wilson's plays, in ANY play -- can be whatever an actor or a director wants.
If they wish to invent their own plots and characters and motivations, by all
means, they are welcome to do so, but let them bill themselves as playwrights
performing their own works, not as interpreters of other's imaginative
creations.
 
Jim Schaefer

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Pearson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Sep 1994 10:35:25 -0600
Subject:        Character
 
Concerning the needling conversation of character, re:  is she a shrew is she
not a shrew? and a character is nothing until an actor and/or director decides
who and what a character is.  Some several years ago I attended a performance
of Macbeth presented by a touring arm of the RSC.  In the post show question
and answer period, I was astounded that in the guise of "asking" a question,
audience members, in fact, told the actress portraying Lady Macbeth who Lady
Macbeth "really" was.  One relatively clear-headed audience member finally had
the gumption to ask said actress who she thought Lady Macbeth really was.
After pausing for a moment, the actress replied something to the effect, "I
really don't know.  It is not my job to decided WHO she is.  My task is simply
to play the scene.  I leave who she is to the audience to decide."  Words to
live (and act) by.
 
Arthur Pearson
Great Lakes Protection Fund

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Y. Zeria <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Sep 94 11:59:35 EDT
Subject:        Linguistic Gaffe
 
Well, perhaps not derivative -- shrew/shrewd, that is -- can any one help with
the precise relationship?  Afraid my etymological skills not well-honed these
days...and haven't access to an OED just now.
 
And with that admission, I WILL return to lurking/learning mode!
 
Liz Zeria
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Y. Zeria <
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Date:           Wednesday, 14 Sep 94 11:19:58 EDT
Subject:        Shakespeare as Actor
 
I think it not only unnecessary, but next to impossible to segregate discussion
of these plays into Actor vs. Scholar camps. I (obviously) agree with Bill
Godshalk that actors and scholars (that is, skillful actors and scholars)
approach these plays/texts in precisely the same way.  Both seek clues to
characterization, situation, etc. in the words provided by the playwright.  And
Shakespeare, as both actor and playwright, may reasonably be assumed to have
had a very vivid idea of how his words, characters, scenes would be played out
onstage.  I think we are not unreasonable, then, in thinking those words can
provide us with fairly vivid, perhaps even precise, clues/cues as to
characterization, setting, etc. It does, however, remain to us (and this no
writer can control or anticipate) to interpret the implications of character
and so forth in terms of our own perspectives (of culture/gender/ad infinitum).
 
And as for the implications of the term "shrew" and of the characterization of
Kate and/or Bianca as such:  perhaps it might be constructive to consider the
derivative of shrew -- shrewd. Perhaps we might consider Bianca more shrewd
than shrew, Kate more shrew than shrewd...at the beginning of the play at any
|rate.  By the end, I think those roles have reversed...with some very
interesting implications indeed!
 
Liz Zeria (sorry, having trouble getting back into the lair on this one)
 

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