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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: May ::
Kiddieology; Shakespeare and Company; Music
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0364.  Thursday, 4 May 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 03 May 1995 13:55:25 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespearean Kiddieology
 
(2)     From:   Timothy Dayne Pinnow <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 May 1995 13:34:03 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare & Co.
 
(3)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 May 1995 19:00:16 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Original Music
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Wednesday, 03 May 1995 13:55:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: Shakespearean Kiddieology
 
Charles and Mary Lamb revisited: In the 23 April issue of the *NYTimes Book
Review,* Maxine Kumin reviews five books featuring adaptions of Shakespeare,
the dramatic tales as retold for children.  The texts reviewed by Kumin are by
Leon Garfield, Geraldine McCaughrean, Bruce Coville, Stewart Ross, and Julius
Lester.  Kumin remarks that "Every one of these books strikes me [i.e., her] as
useful and enjoyable..."  For example, in Garfield's retelling of ANT, the
"tale opens in a refreshingly straightforward manner: 'Three men ruled the
world: Octavius Caesar, Lepidus and Mark Antony.  Two were in Rome, where they
belonged; the third, to his shame, was in Egypt...in the luxurious net of the
harlot Queen.'...Mr. Garfield's adaptations are faithful to the original
plays...valuable additions to the canon for the young."  (Oh, please, dear God:
in future, spare us from such "useful and enjoyable ... additions to the canon
for the young": the little tykes who consume such slop might just end up in our
classrooms a dozen years from now.)
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Dayne Pinnow <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 May 1995 13:34:03 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare & Co.
 
Diane Mountford writes:
 
>Okay, I must jump into the fray with one more post about the Shakespeare &
>Company and EST question.
 
>I participated in a Shakespeare & Company intensive and summer training program
>in 1990, and came home a significantly better person. For me it was <a
>humanistic self-discovery process>, which has enriched my life and my work
>hundredfold.
 
>My experience with the "tough-it-out" approach had much more to do with
>emotional blocks than physical injuries. I know for myself that when I run into
>a big emotional issue, I try my best to evade it, and the teachers at the
>workshop were rather relentless about making me face my demons.
 
Forgive what may sound like a flame, but this to me sounds much more like
intensive in-patient therapy.  I'm curious as to why your message contains so
little about what you gained in terms of theatrical training.  I have been a
counselor as well as actor and have taught both disciplines at the college
level.  Whenever I hear of acting programs trying to "relentlessly. . .making
me face my demons" all sorts of red flags go up in my mind. Pushing a human
being through emotional blocks (which may have been placed there as very
necessary defense mechanisms) is to be done only be trained mental health
professionals and only in very controlled circumstances. There just ain't no
tellin' what you're gonna' find on the other side.  In my teaching, a student
who seems to be confronting those "demons" may well be asked by me "is there
something I can do to help you?"  but they will never be pushed forward at all
costs.  Many of them may even say, "I'm not ready to deal with this right now"
and that will be respected.  I'm glad you found something that you needed, but
I cannot condone the training of actors at the risk of mental health.
 
FLAME OFF,
Tim
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 May 1995 19:00:16 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Original Music
 
Bravo! for Eric Armstrong ("do the honorable thing -- HIRE A MUSICIAN" to write
music for JC or whatever show you're doing).
 
I am amazed that most of us, despite our desire to be truly creative in our
productions, to not merely re-create but to re-fresh our Shakespeare, so
automatically assume that recycled music is appropriate.  It seems obvious to
me that the only musical score that will do what music CAN do for the show is
music purpose written for it.
 
I confess a vested interest.  I'm a composer and I've written a full score for
every Shakespeare (every play of any kind, for that matter) that I've directed
in the last dozen years.  The computer and music/midi systems and the
incredible new synthesizers make this feasible artistically and financially. I
can go from the first glimmer of an idea to the finished performance tape
without help from musicians and recording engineers.
 
The two compelling reasons for original scores are:
 
        -  they can do more of what you want done, more precisely the
                way you want it done
 
        -  they are legal.  Every time we use canned music for our shows
                we're breaking the law, robbing a composer and some
                musicians.
 
The catch is this:  only a very small percentage of talented composers
understand the function of theatre scoring.  Most of them think of the music as
mini-concerts meant to be heard in the usual way.  A theatre composer knows
that the job is to manipulate the audience's feelings and expectations without
them realizing they are listening.  It's a very special art.  Be sure which
kind of composer you have before you make a deal.
 
Worse than canned music is NO music.  I've been using music so long that a play
without it seems sort of empty, unfinished.  Wagner was right about Total
Theatre.
 
Roger Gross
Univ. of Arkansas
 

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