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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: November ::
Re: Soliloquies; Robert Stephens; *Shr.*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0927.  Wednesday, 29 Nov. 1995.
 
(1)     From:   W. Russell Mayes, Jr." <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 1995 10:52:10 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0922  Re: Soliloquies;
 
(2)     From:   Thomas G. Bishop <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 1995 11:27:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Robert Stephens
 
(3)     From:   Charles Boyle <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Nov 1995 17:29:31 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   shrew
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. Russell Mayes, Jr." <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 1995 10:52:10 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0922  Re: Soliloquies;
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0922  Re: Soliloquies;
 
Regarding "To be or not to be," the real question might be whether it is
accurate to call it a soliloquy.  Most of Shakespeare's soliloquies occur when
a character is alone on-stage.  They would not have to (since soliloquy means
speaking to oneself), but since most of his are of this type, it might be
better simply to call the most famous soliloquy a major speech instead.  Then
there would be no problem having Ophelia, Claudius or Polonius overhear it.
Another point, which I am sure has already been made, is that the textual
condition of this scene, and _Hamlet_ in general, is a mess and thus it is
difficult to know the relationship between this speech and the ensuing
discussion with Ophelia.
 
W. Russell Mayes, Jr.
University of North Carolina at Asheville

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas G. Bishop <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 1995 11:27:12 -0500
Subject:        Re: Robert Stephens
 
In re Robert Stephens list of performances, I dont recall seeing it mentioned
that he was also Polixenes in the BBC version of WT, nor, and more importantly,
that he was in the NT Cottesloe's version of "The Mysteries" back in 1986,
which is also available on video. In that deeply wonderful sequence, he first
plays Herod, and then outHerods himself as Sir Pilate. I thoroughly recommend
them for anyone interested in how the ambience of medieval drama can be fused
with modern working-class culture, or indeed for anyone interested in the
resources of the modern theater.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Boyle <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Nov 1995 17:29:31 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        shrew
 
If it's dangerous to speculate on the author's intentions I'll just have to
risk it. One of the ways I work with these scripts is as a director and I've
found they are awfully funny if you at least try to hear the line the way the
author heard it. In the theater, if you're going to bring the play to life, you
can't afford the theory that this can't be done. If the actors don't get the
joke, there's no way they can tell it to the audience - and then you have to
fall back on a lot of yelling and running around to put the show across. So my
issue is not to be right, but to find the truth of a scene. If I'm wrong, I
change my mind.
 
So I agree Shakespeare is one of the most ironic writers going, but that
ability to stand back and laugh at the things he most cherishes doesn't mean he
doesn't believe in those things. If this author doesn't believe in love and
truth - truth is one of his words for God - he's got me fooled.
 
I certainly agree Katharina is playing a game with Petruchio in the
"sun\moon...budding virgin" exchanges, but I think it's something they are now
playing together. I remember at the beginning of their courtship when he
covered her protests with the excuse that "Tis bargin'd 'twixt us twain, being
alone, That she shall still be curst in company." Good joke. So now, no longer
curst in company, what is she like when they're alone? Still the contrary?
Another good joke. Find the humor and you've usually found the hurt and
humanity in the scene.
 
This "you lie and I'll swear to it" intimacy does have a disturbing echo in
some of the closing sonnets, 147 or 152 for example, which could be mined for
the dark side of such a union. In these it is clear Shakespeare has been in
Katharina's shoes before someone - the Dark Lady one would suppose - but what
he objects to is not the submission but the betrayal.
 
But that's the Sonnets. Shrew, for all its Punch and Judy rough-house, is a
hopeful romantic comedy about a good match. If Katharina's being sarcastic here
and he can't hear it, he's too dumb for her and there goes the hope.
 
To me a sour ending for Shrew falls short of what the show can deliver. At the
very worst they deserve each other, even better, they tame each other. Best of
all they've discovered the real thing, her final speech showing him the way.
Katharina can always put such spine in her offering that he and we can be
assured the shrew will return should he break the faith. But say she's mocking
him already or truly broken now and this marriage is crap from the get-go and
Shakespeare merely a cynic.
 
Charles Boyle
 

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