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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: April ::
Re: Insults; New 1st Folio; Don John; Lucrece
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0315.  Tuesday, 18 April 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Terry Craig <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 1995 12:27:55 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Shakespearean Insults
 
(2)     From:   Skip Shand <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 1995 13:39:10 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0311  New 1st Folio Facsimile
 
(3)     From:   Diane Mountford <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Apr 1995 19:38:10 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Don John
 
(4)     From:   Matthew Westcott Smith <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Apr 1995 10:50:10 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0283  Q: "The Rape of Lucrece"
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terry Craig <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 1995 12:27:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Shakespearean Insults
 
For Dan Colvin:
 
There's a Shakespearean Insult site in the Web:
 
  http://kite.resnet.cornell.edu/insult.html
 
Enjoy--
 
Terry Craig

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Shand <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 1995 13:39:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0311  New 1st Folio Facsimile
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0311  New 1st Folio Facsimile
 
Re Applause Folio Facsimile:
 
Better get it while you can, folks. The Applause facsimile is apparently in
large part a reproduction of Hinman's Norton choices, and Norton has, I am
told, seen to it that only copies now in the stores will be sold to the public.
(I don't have anything official on this, just conversation with one of those
usually-very-reliable sources.)
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Diane Mountford <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Apr 1995 19:38:10 -0400
Subject:        Re: Don John
 
I'd like to address Alexander Smith's post of last week regarding Don John and
the subsequent discussion of "vice" characters.
 
First of all, I need to enter a disclaimer, since what I have to say might get
me blasted like my post r.e. Isabella & the Duke after the curtain. Although I
see the necessity for literary criticism to consider only the portions of the
characters' "lives" that the author actually writes, I come to Shakespeare
primarily as an actor, and in fleshing out these characters on stage, I find it
desirable to consider the gaps, the before and the after. So, since this
question is specifically related to a performance, I will make so bold . . .
 
Don John does indeed disappear from the play after the wedding scene. When I
played the role, I found this quite satisfying, because at that point he as won
the game, acheived his nefarious plan, and he gets to quit while he's ahead
(unless he's seen at the end in chains). Structurally, I feel that after that
point in the play, Don John is unnecessary, as he has effectively cast his pall
over the proceedings, so his physical presence would be redundant. The driving
force of the play also shifts at that point from Don Pedro to Leanato, who has
no relationship to Don John. His being questioned at the end of the play would,
I think, make things dark again. I think Benedick knows this, and postpones the
questioning specifically for that reason.
 
Don John's motivation for villainy is related largely to the event which
immediately precedes the action of the play: his failed attempt to overthrow
his brother. Unfortunately, the references to this are so few and far between,
that I think this reality is a very difficult thing to relate to an audience.
Don John clearly states that much of his emnity is directed not at Don Pedro
(perhaps they really are reconciled?), but at Claudio ("[he] hath all the glory
of my overthrow").
 
In relation to the "vice" character issue: however useful such an idea might be
in literary criticism, it can do nothing but flatten a peformance. As a case in
point, check out Keanu Reeves in Branagh's film. Whatever you may think of his
acting (or lack thereof), the production treated him (the red, the greasiness,
the burning fires in the background) as a pretty one-dimensional
personification of evil, which I, for one, found to be the films biggest flaw.
The thing I love most about Shakespeare as a dramatist is that he seems
incapable of writing one-dimensional characters.
 
When I played Don John (at the much-discussed Shakespeare & Company, with the
character changed to be a woman, Dona Gianna [sacrilege, I know, but that's
what happens when there aren't enough women's roles to go around]), the two
main operating factors for me were lust after Claudio (I'd seen him on a
battlefield and knew the evil he was capable of--a much better match for me
that for the simpering Hero), and utter boredom. The prospect of being trapped
in this culture-less, bucolic town for a month was anathema to a high-class
lady from Seville. I found it interesting that the more I felt the more like a
trapped dog, a victim striking out at her oppressors, the more feedback I got
from the audience about how evil I was. Hmmm.
 
Best of luck with your production,
Diane Mountford
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Westcott Smith <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Apr 1995 10:50:10 EDT
Subject: 6.0283  Q: "The Rape of Lucrece"
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0283  Q: "The Rape of Lucrece"
 
To John Ammerman:
 
In your inquiry into the deeper significance of *Lucrece* (which, BTW, I wholly
agree is worthy of such a treatment) you may want to include a treatment of
Machiavelli's satirical comedy *Mandragola* which is based, it seems, on a
distinctly different view of Lecrece's *virtu*. My hunch is that Shakespeare
may have known of the play--we know he knew of Machiavelli--but do not know for
sure. In any event, the differing treatments are of profound singificance, at
least to my mind, for the emergence of Modern thinking seen in Machiavelli.
After all, the rape of Lucretia is, according to legend, the proximate cause of
the founding of the Roman republic, a topic near-and-dear to Machiavelli's
heart.
 
Matthew W. Smith
The Civic Education Project
Dept of Political Science
Kossuth University, Hungary
 

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