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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: April ::
Re: London Theatre; Burial Customs; Don John
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0289.  Wednesday, 12 April 1995.
 
(1)     From:   David Meyer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 1995 16:36:45 +0059 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0285 Qs: Shows
 
(2)     From:   Jerry Bangham <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Apr 1995 15:16:24
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0275   Burial Customs
 
(3)     From:   Lonnie Durham <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Apr 95 02:28:36 CST
        Subj:   Don John and other Cacodemons
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Meyer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 1995 16:36:45 +0059 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0285 Qs: Shows
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0285 Qs: Shows
 
Re: London Theatre
 
My theatre friends say, always see whatever the National and the Royal
Shakespeare are doing.  Even if they are failures, they will fail in an
interesting and fashionable way, using the best actors, directors, and
designers. I can endorse that: I saw MERRY WIVES, at the National, a
traditional rendering suffused with beauty and charm, and low comedy that was
truly funny; THE TROJAN WOMEN, in a visually awe-inspiring production stuffed
with the latest in post-modern reference, including Menelaus as an admiral from
the American South, and Helen costumed as Marilyn Monroe. The press I saw was
quite hostile to this production, and there were many empty seats, but it is
well worth seeing -- a far better integration of the latest "ideas" about the
classics than the very similar staging of The Orestia at the Am. Rep here in
Boston. The RSC's Barbicon was dark while I was in London, but I caught their
Romeo and Juliet in Stratford. R&J are very young in it, and Romeo, though a
good actor, somewhat lacking in the charisma that makes
deathless-love-at-first-sight plausible, but the whole company is so good that
one is left with a renewed conviction of the validity of this play. When the
smallest-parted character is acted fully, the structure emerges so clearly.The
RSC's costuming is 1860's Italian, and the grown-ups seem firmly of their
particular distant time and place -- but the young people are painfully like
the ones who burst into tears in my office, or clown around in the quad. Beyond
these, I delighted in Stoppard's ARCADIA -- it is as good people have said it
is, and much less "difficult".  INDIAN INK is, I think, less accessible to
Americans, but still worth seeing. Also, the drama schools seem to be doing
their semester-end projects, demonstrating why the main companies are able to
cast so impressively.  I saw A CHASTE MAID IN CHEAPSIDE at the Guildhall, and
DR. FAUSTUS. RADA was doing MIDSUMMER. Cheap, and very well-done. The Irish
play at the Tricycle, AN EVENING IN NOVEMBER< AN AFTERNOON... may not be a
piece for the ages, but it deals with the political situation current in
Northern Ireland in a way that is brave and funny and moving and hopeful.  The
solo actor is brilliant.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jerry Bangham <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Apr 1995 15:16:24
Subject: 6.0275   Burial Customs
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0275   Burial Customs
 
>Can anyone clarify the practice of digging up old graves to make new ones as
>evidenced in the preparation of Ophelia's grave in Hamlet? I have done no
>research on the subject, but have read somewhere that it was customary to do
>this in London in Shakespeare's time due to the lack of Christian burial space
>in churchyards.  My students questioned the apparent lack of respect for one's
>ancestors, etc.
 
I'm sure that it is still done all over the world.  By Dickens' time, the need
for new graves in churchyards was so great that bodies were disinterred after a
few months!  This lead to the development of private for-profit cemetaries.
Kesnel Green was the first, Higate, perhaps the most famous.
 
I'm  not sure how widespread the practice is in the United States, but
certainly the famous New Orleans cemetaries recycle burial space.  I remember
visiting the cemetary island in Venice and seeing one section being prepared
for now occupants with a backhoe.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie Durham <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Apr 95 02:28:36 CST
Subject:        Don John and other Cacodemons
 
I think Lawrence Spivack had it right in *Shakespeare and the Allegory of
Evil*.  We ought to stop looking for novelistic interiority for these
characters.  They are all, to one extent or another, variations upon the Vice
figure.  As such, they are ratios of the unacknowledged envies, grudges, lusts,
etc. of the other members of the community. (I almost wrote "repressed
motives," but I've been following Fred Cruise in the NYRB.) Their (the Vice
figures') function is to tickle those motives to the surface so that they might
be expressed and exorcised.  Richard, Duke of Gloster, runs out of energy
simply because he exhausts the supply of rancor that has been so rife in the
earlier part of the play. It is his JOB to purge the kingdom of its baser
passions so that the new (Tudor) era may begin without the buden of those old
enmities. One of the best examples of the type that I know of is Diccon in
*Gammer Gurton*. If you want to know what Don J. is up to, look for signs of
sexual envy and suspicion in the other characters.  If it weren't there, the
Vice could not practice upon it.  Notice the immunity of Cassio to Iago's
attempts to suggest the riggishness of Desdemona to him.  Unfortunately, he
does turn out to have that little problem with liquor.
 
Greetings to all,
Lonnie Durham
 

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