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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: September ::
Re: Bianca and More
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No.0746.  Monday, 26 September 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <ANNAL%
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Sep 94 14:09:14 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0738  Re: Bianca as Shrew
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Sep 1994 16:26:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0742  Re: Bianca
 
(3)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Sep 1994 12:56:00 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0742  Re: Bianca
 
(4)     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 22 Sep 1994 17:10:12 -0400
        Subj:   Bianca
 
(5)     From:   Jon Enriquez <ENRIQUEZJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Sep 1994 10:18:22 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Theatrical Collaboration (was: Bianca as Shrew)
 
(6)     From:   Edward Gero <
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        Date:   Sunday, 18 Sep 1994 11:31:17 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0734 Re: Bianca as Shrew
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <ANNAL%
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Sep 94 14:09:14 EDT
Subject: 5.0738  Re: Bianca as Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0738  Re: Bianca as Shrew
 
I think we also need to remember our own views of gender and shrewishness in
comparision with those of the (mainstream) Renaissance. What I am suggesting is
that an audience which believed that all women are at cursed by shrewishness
might be at least a little amused to see their assumptions come true in the
last act. Even the good Bianca, if given the chance, will prove herself in need
a shrew.
 
                       Just a thought from another lurker
                        Annalisa Castaldo
                        Temple University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Sep 1994 16:26:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0742  Re: Bianca
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0742  Re: Bianca
 
I'm not completely sure what Bernice Kliman means by her question, which I will
paraphrase to include us all: "How do we KNOW that what we read in a text is
exactly what is there?"  Is she suggesting that we need new glasses? Or is this
an extremely skeptical question?
 
I gather as I read along that she's talking about interpretation, the
interpretation of what's "there," rather than the material ink on the material
page. However, MY POINT was NOT that there is only one interpretation of
anything, but that we do in fact have a script to interpret. And I would be the
last one to believe that the brain is a blank tablet (or whatever image you may
wish to use). Norman Holland has convinced me that there is something there
before any cultural influences.
 
But Bernice seems to want to have it both ways: "Words on a page are not much
without what we bring to them," but what we bring to these words are
"preconceptions about woman's role." Now, either the brain is active and has
some freedom of interpretation, or it's merely governed by cultural
preconceptions and has no freedom of interpretation.
 
Which is it? I'd like to believe, along with Tom Loughlin and others, that it's
the first.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 21 Sep 1994 12:56:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0742  Re: Bianca
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0742  Re: Bianca
 
To Tom Loughlin:
 
Yes, language is rich, and it is subject to interpretation, all the way from
the concept "CHAIR" vs. the real object I'm sitting on, to the meaning of
"fire" and "smother" in today's postings.  Language is rich -- but it is not
arbitrary.  Playwrights choose their words carefully to contain in them the
actions and interactions they have imagined in the hope that actors will
present these actions and interactions before audiences.  These imagined
(inter-)actions and the performed (inter-)actions need not have a 1:1
neoclassic relationship to one another (take three steps downstage left and
raise your right arm...), but the deeper imagined movement of the soul, where
*logos* as spirit expresses itself in *logos* as word through *dia-logos* (two
souls, two words, in dialogue with one another) -- at that point, the imagined
and performed actions must be the same, or the performer has violated the
playwright's artwork and has cheapened his own.
 
Jim Schaefer

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Thursday, 22 Sep 1994 17:10:12 -0400
Subject:        Bianca
 
The conversation about Bianca's "shrewishness" has perplexed me on a number of
points, especially some of the comments last week about how Bianca ultimately
demonstrates her shrewdom/bitchiness.  I am surprised that so many readers seem
willing to accept the idea that Bianca is a shrew/bitch because she gets what
she wants: she outwits a moronic father and idiotic bunch of suitors, and won't
let a couple of bogus schoolteachers or "even" her husband order her around.
Without opening up the character connundrum, it seems that these stage actions
do demonstrate a resistance to arbitrary male tyranny, as do her surface
acquiescence and secret undermining of her father's rule.  (Sure, there are
problems with these tactics, but in a theatrical tradition where MARRYING to
one's own liking must stand as a sign of sexual liberation, I'll take
subversion where I can get it). I'm surprised at the willingness HERE AND NOW
to read Bianca's refusal to come running like an obedient BITCH (female dog)
when her husband calls as some indication of moral depravity, and even more so
by the assumption that the problems of this play are solved once the label of
shrew has been transferred from one sister to the other.
 
Is a fringe theater company called ARTS THRESHOLD still surviving in London?
They staged a *Shrew*  in 1992 that was wonderfully subversive, witty, and
funny, and showed that there are indeed other possibilities for Bianca than the
"Little Miss Nasty-Nice" one sees ad nauseum.  Like the ACT production, they
used masks and costume pieces that suggested a Commedia del'arte atmosphere,
and "characters" were thus clownishly exaggerated--caricatures, really.  The
potentially appalling "wooing" of 2.1., so often staged as a quasi-rape,
happened mostly off-stage, to crashing noises (more Buster Keaton than
Zeffirelli); the contrast between Kate and Bianca was also overblown: Kate was
a fierce and chunky lass as likely to scratch her bum as pick her nose in
public (now there's a definition of shrew for you), while Bianca was a
comically overdone femme fatale--one with the brains to have the entire city of
Padua on its knees.
 
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jon Enriquez <ENRIQUEZJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 21 Sep 1994 10:18:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Theatrical Collaboration (was: Bianca as Shrew)
 
I want to applaud and amplify Tom Loughlin's remarks in the latest installment
of the Bianca thread.  Jim Schaefer's and Arthur Pierson's remarks stimulated
much the same response from me.
 
Theatrical performance is a collaborative art.  It requires the combined
creative contribution of playwright, actor, director, and audience.  No single
member of that collaboration is necessarily superior to any other, and each has
different functions. It is inappropriate for an actor or director to insert
huge chunks of, say, Ibsen in the middle of *Shrew*; they have a responsibility
to respect the text.  However, they are perfectly justified in bringing their
interpretive abilities to the text that does exist. Indeed, they have a
responsibility to do so; I would not want to be in a company (as actor,
director, or playwright) with Arthur Pierson's Lady Mac if she truly had no
idea about Lady Mac's "character."
 
Now, it happens that this list mostly discusses textual and literary matters,
with an occasional slide over into performance issues.  Each, certainly, is a
legitimate field for exploration, and often they reinforce each other;
resolving the problem of solid/sulli'd is not just for textual fetishists but
also affects performance.  But the differences between the two types of
discussions are real.  We should remember the difference between saying
"there's no textual basis for it" and "it can't possibly be justified by the
text," let alone the difference between "the text doesn't have it" and "you
can't perform it that way."
 
Jon Enriquez
Georgetown University

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(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Gero <
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Date:           Sunday, 18 Sep 1994 11:31:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 5.0734 Re: Bianca as Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0734 Re: Bianca as Shrew
 
To whom it may concern:
 
I have been saving the Shrew discussion thread since the early days.  However I
am missing a few and wonder if you could send me any messages relating to PC
and ACT Shrews prior to August 29.  Our theatre is preparing for a production
this spring and this conversation would greatly enhance our pre-production
discussions.
 
Thank you,
Edward Gero
 
[Editor's Note: Why limit yourself to the most recent discussion?  By using the
DATABASE function, one can retrieve citations from SHAKSPER's entire six years
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PS: SHAKSPERean, please forgive the typos in my earlier announcement today. Too
little sleep, too much to do, and lots and lots of digests to get out. --Hardy]
 

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