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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: *Hamlet* Questions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0225.  Sunday, 19 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Tad Davis <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Mar 1995 14:25:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0221  Re: *Hamlet* Questions
 
(2)     From:   Diane Mountford <
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        Date:   Saturday, 18 Mar 1995 00:29:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: *Hamlet* Questions
 
(3)     From:   Deanna Gregg <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Mar 1995 15:49:06 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 6.0217  *Hamlet* Questions -Reply
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tad Davis <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Mar 1995 14:25:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0221  Re: *Hamlet* Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0221  Re: *Hamlet* Questions
 
Timothy Dayne Pinnow writes:
 
> Even Elizabethan rapiers were much wider than most of us imagine.  The
> typical double wide epee rapiers most modern productions use are
> historically incorrect.  The Elizabethan rapier was as much as 1.5 inches
> wide at the base.
 
I did a paper once about the use of rapiers in the private lives of Elizabethan
theatre folk. Ben Jonson killed the actor Gabriel Spencer in a rapier duel
(Spencer wasn't the first man he'd killed). Some time before that, Spencer
himself had killed a man by thrusting him between the eye and the eye-socket
with a rapier that was still in its scabbard (the victim "languished" for three
days before expiring). Two of the Queen's Men went after each other with
rapiers in the dead of night on tour, apparently not long before arriving in
Stratford in 1587; one thrust the other through the throat, fatally. (There's
been speculation that this sudden opening gave Shakespeare his main chance.)
Certainly Christopher Marlowe was involved in more than one brawl; one street
incident involving another playwright left a third man dead.
 
The rapier was a fearsome weapon, long, two-edged, and deadly. One playwright,
Henry Porter, lamented the loss of good "sword and buckler" men since the
advent of this new weapon. (Porter himself was later "spitted like a cat or a
coney" on the point of a rapier.)
 
The most dramatic was the "Affray at Norwich" involving the Queen's Men in
1583. A play was in progress at the Red Lion Inn in Norwich when a man named
Wynsdon tried to crash the gate. He overturned the cash box, spilling coins on
the ground. Two of the actors, including Tarlton, leaped off the stage, swords
in hand -- unbated swords -- and went after him, cracking him across the head
with a sword hilt and sending him reeling into the street.
 
At that point the man's servant, George, intervened, throwing rocks at one of
the actors to drive him off. One rock connected, "breaking" the actor's head. A
bystander, a servant with another man's livery, drew HIS rapier, cried out,
"Wilt thou murder the Queen's Man?" and slashed George across the back of the
knee, hamstringing him. George lay bleeding to death in the street while the
actors and the servant who'd come to their aid walked away. The Queen's Men
promised their new friend protection if he got into trouble. After George the
servant died, an inquest was held. Halliwell-Phillipps published the
depositions as an appendix to his "Illustrations of the Life of Shakespeare."
Unfortunately the disposition of the case wasn't included.
 
I wonder if it says anything that Richard Burbage's weapon of choice was a
broom?
 
Of course a warrant was issued once for Shakespeare's arrest for threatening
death and maiming of limbs during a dispute over the Swan theatre. No doubt a
trumped-up charge.
 
     Tad Davis
     
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Diane Mountford <
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Date:           Saturday, 18 Mar 1995 00:29:22 -0500
Subject:        Re: *Hamlet* Questions
 
Changing the subject from weaponry and Claudius' excuse, but, hey, it's a
question about *Hamlet!*
 
I'm currently in rehearsal for an all-female production of *Hamlet* with the
Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, in which I play Horatio.  Does anyone
know where I can find Peter Brook's "Open Letter to Horatio?"  Someone told me
about it, and in my quest to find the colors and life in the guy, I thought it
would be interesting to find why someone found him too colorless to strut and
fret his hour on the stage.
 
I'm also looking for a good reference on Renaissance theological beliefs about
ghosts. Anyone have any suggestions?
 
Thanks,
Diane Mountford
(
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P.S. for those of you who are interested, the show opens April 19 and plays
Wed.-Sun. through May 28 at the Gascon Center Theatre.  Call Theatix at (213)
466-1767 for reservations, or e-mail me for more info.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Deanna Gregg <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 17 Mar 1995 15:49:06 -0800
Subject: *Hamlet* Questions -Reply
Comment:        SHK 6.0217  *Hamlet* Questions -Reply
 
 
The song sounds very much like the mini-play acted by the Reduced Shakespeare
Company.
 

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