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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: Casting; Malvolio; Chronology
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0156.  Friday, 3 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Christina M. Robertson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Mar 1995 16:35:08 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0150 Re: colorblind casting
 
(2)     From:   Michael Saenger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 Mar 1995 14:41:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Malvolio
 
(3)     From:   Pat Buckridge <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 1995 11:56:25 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0151 Chronology
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christina M. Robertson <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Mar 1995 16:35:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0150 Re: colorblind casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0150 Re: colorblind casting
 
A production a few years ago at the Georgia Shakspeare Festival placed a very
talented black actor in the role of Caliban in _The Tempest_. The play was
performed entirely for comedic effect, but this angle complicated it because
there are significant interpretations of Caliban as a displaced minority
(black, Native American, etc.) One didn't know if we were to take it in a
socio-political context, and therefore sympathize more with his enslavement, or
to simply ignore his race and concentrate on him as a fine actor. I suspect the
latter was the intention, but it made the part a bit painful to watch,
considering the farcical atmosphere that surrounded it.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Saenger <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 Mar 1995 14:41:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Malvolio
 
On the question of Malvolio, I published a brief note in Shakespeare Newsletter
1993 (43), 67, ("Manningham on Malvolio") drawing attention to an overlooked
line in the famous diary account, which I took to be a statement on Malvolio:
"Quae mala cum multis patimur laeviora putantur" -- "Those evils which we
suffer in the presence of many are made easier" or "...are made more foolish."
 
Since publishing the note, it has occured to me that the line approximates a
quote that is echoed numerous times in the play -- "(Malvolio) hath been most
notoriously (i.e. in front of many) abused." In a subsequent SN, John Hale
wrote suggesting that the line might be suspect since the diary was originally
brought to light by John Payne Collier, who was at times guilty of forgery.
(The obvious response is if he had forged the line, why did he not "find" it?)
I merely took the line from a published transcription, so I leave it to
holographic experts to sort this out (no doubt they will).  What I would like
to know is how are people receiving this?  My note is not too long, but
probably too long for this medium.  I am proposing entering what is essentially
new evidence into Shakespearean criticism, and I would be eager to hear
positive, negative, or other feedback.
 
Michael Baird Saenger
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Buckridge <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 1995 11:56:25 +1000
Subject: 6.0151 Chronology
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0151 Chronology
 
I do hope some of you scholars out there are preparing your detailed critiques
of Dan How's Handy Dating Kit for Shakespeare's plays.  If the orthodoxy really
wants to maintain its credibility (which I sometimes doubt) it should not be
left to authorship-skeptics like myself to point out such elementary truths as
the following:
 
1.The earliest quarto you find is not necessarily the earliest published.
 
2.There is no necessary correlation anyway between dates of publication and
dates of composition for any of the plays.
 
3.Dramatic settings do not reflect theatrical environments. (On reading this
handy hint my jaw - to borrow a Kathman hyperbole - hit the floor).
 
4.Dating by style and versification is entirely circular (hence entirely
useless), except in those rare instances where external evidence gives an
approximate date for a particular recognisable style - e.g. Euphuism - and even
then judgments (i.e. guesses) have to be made about how much of the play it
dates.
 
And of course (as the scholars would know) it's even more complicated than
that, since such styles are often only recognisable because they're parodies.
How long after a style was seriously fashionable would a parody be likely to be
written?  On the evidence of the Euphuistic parody in _Love's Labour's Lost_ it
seems we might have to allow ten to fifteen years! The Elizabethans liked their
topical satire well-matured.
 
Pat Buckridge
 

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