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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: *MM* Ending; *TN* video; *WT* Productions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0206.  Tuesday, 14 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Saenger <
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        Date:   Sunday, 12 Mar 1995 08:58:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0201 Re: *MM* Ending
 
(2)     From:   Warner Crocker <
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        Date:   Sunday, 12 Mar 1995 20:44:38 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0201  Re: *MM* Ending
 
(3)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Sunday, 12 Mar 1995 17:03:50 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0204 Re: *TN* Video;
 
(4)     From:   Gail Lerner <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Mar 1995 09:44:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   WT productions
 
(5)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Mar 1995 13:58:25 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Plethora of WT
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Saenger <
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Date:           Sunday, 12 Mar 1995 08:58:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0201 Re: *MM* Ending
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0201 Re: *MM* Ending
 
What sort of marriage would the Duke and Isabella have? None. They are
characters. Our tendency in modern times is to treat them (and Juliet's nurse)
as real people with pasts, futures, and realistic emotions. Shakespeare's
endings are filled with arbitrary, bad matches -- Paulina and Camillo, Hero and
Claudio, or Touchstone and Audrey.  I believe he is making a subtle point about
the endings of comedy; after all, he entitled a play "All's well that ends
well," a phrase that is obviously ironic. All is not well that ends well;
Prospero and Vincentio claim that their deceptions are good, but I do not think
we believe them.
 
I believe that Shakespeare added touches of realism, which mislead modern
productions into overstressing them, and modern directors have as little
patience for ironic, arbitrary endings as they do for figuring out what a
figure is, or how iambic pentameter works.  Shakespeare's plays are elaborate
fictions. We live in an unjust world, and I think most productions should
comment on that.  If Shakespeare were alive today, he would address modern
concerns like racism, AIDS, feminism, etc. rather than those of his own time,
like early marriages.  But once in a while, I would like to see some awareness
that these plays are plays, and to let them do their strange magic.  And if a
fake-ish marriage leaves the audience unsatisfied, maybe it should.
 
Michael Saenger
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Warner Crocker <
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Date:           Sunday, 12 Mar 1995 20:44:38 -0800
Subject: 6.0201  Re: *MM* Ending
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0201  Re: *MM* Ending
 
I am execeedingly grateful for the responses to this issue so far and look
forward to more arriving. This past week was our spring break and the cast
participated in a week of 8 hour per day rehearsals. It was quite a journey.
And wrapping up today with a run/walk through of the play. The actress playing
Isabella had no specific direction from me on how to choose, but to go with
what she felt at the moment. She chose agressively not to accept the offer.
 
In discussing this after the rehearsal with the cast, she defended her choice
saying that she could not forgive the Duke/Friar for lying to her about her
brother's death. That incident and the Duke's immediate proposal stuck with her
to the end and she couldn't get by this.
 
I mention this because, as I stated in my initial post, my position is that she
could not accept. This act of the Duke/Friar affects me this way as well. It is
cruel, it is selfish. It is hard to forgive.
 
Again, I appreciate the responses generated on this thread and look forward to
more.
 
Warner Crocker
wcrocker@ix.netcom
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Sunday, 12 Mar 1995 17:03:50 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 6.0204 Re: *TN* Video;
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0204 Re: *TN* Video;
 
Regarding the following post by Kenneth Rothwell:
 
>Bradley Berens has a perfect right to denounce the 1970 Precision Video
>production of TN as "Awful," if that's what he thinks. I am a little put off,
>however, by his statement that I "forgot" to mention that it was "awful." I
>can't "forget" what I never thought in the first place. I remember happily
>screening it at the NFTVA in London several years ago and thinking that Alec
>Guinness as Malvolio and Joan Plowright as Viola and Ralph Richardson as Sir
>Toby were quite wonderful. Henry Raynor, the TIMES reviewer, was on July 14,
>1970 also naive enough to call Plowright's Viola "magical." Perhaps, as I
>think Viola herself, said "O time, thou must untangle this, not I,/ It is
>too hard a knot for me t'untie" (TN 2.2.40). Yours for more cakes and
>ale, Ken Rothwell
 
Ken, my apologies for that slip of diction: I in no way meant to suggest that
you thought the video was awful, and I am sorry if I managed to convey that.
 
I also did not mean to suggest that the production was awful, merely that the
video recording (as I experienced it) was difficult even to watch: bad
camerawork and distracting costumes were, to me, a serious impediment.  I also
think that Twelfth Night is a hard one to put on television or screen because
the intense realism of the medium makes the whole twins thing harder to
believe, no matter who plays whom.  The text was chopped a lot, too, but
Jonathan Miller (whose Merchant also played in the series) told me that was the
station and not the makers of the video.
 
The same summer the Twelfth Night played on BRAVO the Nunn Comedy of Errors
also played, but that was a taped performance with few pretensions to being a
screen version, and thus was easier to accept.
 
However, the point of this post is an apology, rather than a further
discussion.
 
Ken, once again I am sorry to have put you off.  Please forgive me.
 
Humbly yours,
Brad Berens
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gail Lerner <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Mar 1995 09:44:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        WT productions
 
Perhaps this information has already made its way around the net, but with the
flurry of interest in recent WT's around the country, I want to mention that
Ingmar Bergman is bringing his production of WT to the Brooklyn Academy of
Music this summer, May 31, and June 1-3. It is supposed to be a breathtaking
production, and John Lahr wrote an excellent piece on it for the New Yorker
about five months ago. At last count, tickets were still available. It's being
performed in Swedish, with simul-trans. available on headphone.  But it is
refreshing to hear Shakespeare in the original Swedish....
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Mar 1995 13:58:25 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Plethora of WT
 
The sudden abundance of productions of WT (which, for many years, has been
thought by many to be "unproducible") is easy to understand.  It fits an old
pattern in the theatre world.
 
Though we are all disdainful of our audiences because of their "title
dependence" (i.e., unless the script is certified by fame, most theatregoers
are hesitant to take the risk), many of us are guilty of the same thing in our
choice of scripts to produce.  We doubt our ability to know which scripts can
be made to work today.  When a more daring producer comes along and gives us
successful and highly-visible production of a neglected work, we are eager to
jump on the bandwagon.  It's an example of the "I can do that" syndrome.
 
In 1992, the Royal Shakespeare Company gave us Adrian Noble's brilliant
production of WT.  It so cut to the heart of the script, discovered the tone
and attitude of it so precisely, that WT suddenly seemed like one  of
Shakespeare's most speare's most interesting and producible and modern scripts.
 The word got around fast and directors all over the world wanted a piece of
that action.  (By the way, the "exit, pursued by a bear" scene, which even
those daring enough to do WT before Noble certified it usually cut, was one of
the most stunning moments of theatre in memory; a clear demonstration that
everything, anything is producible to a director with the right imaginings.
 
This happens all the time.  FUENTE OVEJUNA returned to the repertoire (I think
it was Cheek by Jowl that rediscovered this one for us).  The British theatre
provides more of these adventurous productions than the US, I think.  Or
rather, we hear more about the brilliant British productions than we do of the
great ones in the US outside of NY and Los Angeles because of the lack of real
national media in this country.  At any rate, most of the major resident
theatres in the US have been forced by funding problems to offer very
conservative seasons and US university theatres have never been noted for their
daring.
 
If we need an argument for government subsidy, we might find it in the fact
that the great subsidized theatres seem to doing the risky work for the rest of
us, truly opening the doors and leading the theatre world.
 

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