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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: Portia's Voice; Welsh; Fortinbras at Winnipeg
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0070.  Saturday, 4 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Naomi Liebler <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Feb 95 11:16:00 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0065  Re: Portia's Voice
 
(2)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Feb 1995 10:10:04 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0066 Re: Mrs. Mortimer's Welsh
 
(3)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Feb 95 11:00:16 -0500
        Subj:   Fortinbras in the Winnipeg *Hamlet*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Naomi Liebler <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Feb 95 11:16:00 EST
Subject: 6.0065  Re: Portia's Voice
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0065  Re: Portia's Voice
 
An addendum in support of Phyllis Rackin's notice re Portia's diminished
"musicality": When Portia and Nerissa enter the scene at around line 95 or so,
P. says, "Music! hark!" and Nerissa points out to her that "It is your music,
madam, of the house." I've always thought this was a bit peculiar: why wouldn't
Portia recognize her own musicians? why would she be surprised that there
should be music coming from her house? My guess has been that she, too, "hath
no music in [her]self," ironically pointing to the insistence the play makes on
hierarchical "difference" between the (best of?) the Venetians and Shylock.
This eradication of "difference" (as I read it) underscores the artificiality
of Shylock's demonization.
 
Also, if I may, a belated response to Grace Tiffany's richly-informed
discussion on _Oedipus Rex_ et alia: Brava! Moreover, the idea of "harmatia" as
"missing the mark" (to return to THAT one again) is well-supported in the plot
and story of Oedipus. From the time Oedipus learned that his doom was parricide
and incest, he did all he could to avoid fulfilling it--he left Corinth where
his "parents" (as he thought) lived, and made his way to Thebes. In other
words, he aimed to do the right thing, to avoid the extreme sin that was his
destiny, and "missed the mark." That is why the play's tag is "Count no man
happy until he has seen the end of his days"--the tragic core of hamartia is
that we sometimes DO not (not to say CAN not) avoid evil. We take aim, and
sometimes we miss. The fact that Oedipus takes responsibility for his actions
also marks him as heroic in the tragic mode: as king, as son, he DID the deeds
that brought the plague upon Thebes. Responsibility is not the same thing as
"guilt" in the emotive frame. None of this "my client couldn't help himself,
milord; he was doomed to do what he did" that we might hear from defense
counsel today.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Feb 1995 10:10:04 +0200
Subject: 6.0066 Re: Mrs. Mortimer's Welsh
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0066 Re: Mrs. Mortimer's Welsh
 
I would never suggest draining away the Celtic issues in Henry IV:1, nor
reducing it to the level of soap opera.  Surely, though, this does not obviate
the difficulty of this director's rendition of the play:  THE AUDIENCE IN
CAMBRIDGE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. A "seduced" or "bewitched" Mortimer, a
Mortimer who has been seduced by Welsh and is therefore no longer "really
English"  makes as effective of a political point.  It also happens to coincide
with the cynical reading of personal relationships I cited earlier--that
linguistic and indeed political unity are inimical to romance. I think that's
pretty political.
 
Melissa Aaron
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Feb 95 11:00:16 -0500
Subject:        Fortinbras in the Winnipeg *Hamlet*
 
Dan Colvin asked me about the director's handling of Fortinbras in the Manitoba
Theatre Centre's production of *Hamlet,* since I  indicated that the play ends
with Horatio's "good night, sweet prince" line. Fortinbras _was_ in the
production: we had Horatio's description of the political situation in the
third scene, and saw Fortinbras himself in 4.4 as he embarks on his Polish
invasion. So he did provide a foil to Hamlet as intended; I thought this made
Hamlet's "How all occasions do inform against me" one of the more powerful
soliloquies. I have to admit that I wondered how they would end the play, and I
think in this case they made the right choice. True, we lost both the
ambassadors from England and Fortinbras, but the moment they chose worked very
well for this production. You definitely got the sense of the Danish situation
being national/political as well as  personal/familial. Gene Pyrz played
Fortinbras (as well as Barnardo and a sailor) and came across as brash,
energetic, and non-intellectual, so although the part was small, it had its own
special impact.
 
Chris Gordon
 

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