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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: Conversations (in medias res)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0742.  Monday, 2 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Bill Liston <
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        Date:   Saturday, 30 Sep 1995 15:44:51 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0736  Re: Conversations (in medias res)
 
(2)     From:   Shirley Kagan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 30 Sep 1995 13:35:27 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0736 Re: Conversations (in medias res)
 
(3)     From:   Nina Walker <
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        Date:   Sunday, 1 Oct 1995 11:44:53 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   SHK 6.0736  Re: Conversations (in medias res)
 
(4)     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Oct 1995 13:07:31 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Conversations in MV
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Liston <
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Date:           Saturday, 30 Sep 1995 15:44:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0736  Re: Conversations (in medias res)
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0736  Re: Conversations (in medias res)
 
Isn't Shakespeare's practice of bringing characters on stage in
mid-conversation largely a consequence of having neither a curtain nor variable
lighting, both of which enable a dramatist to begin a scene with a tableau or
some other static situation?   And doesn't a certain modicum of realism require
walking characters to be talking, and to have been talking?  Wouldn't it be
absurd for characters to signify by their movement that they have to get to a
certain spot on stage before beginning talking, and that they have not talked
beforehand, knowing that they could not until they attained that spot?
 
Bill Liston
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shirley Kagan <
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Date:           Saturday, 30 Sep 1995 13:35:27 -1000
Subject: 6.0736 Re: Conversations (in medias res)
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0736 Re: Conversations (in medias res)
 
In response to Amy Hughes query: from a purely practical/directorial point of
view, it seems that starting a scene mid-converstaion is a plea for speed on
the playwrights part.  It has a sort of "lets get on with it" ring that begs
you to keep pushing forward.  Do you find that this is so as you direct the
play?
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nina Walker <
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Date:           Sunday, 1 Oct 1995 11:44:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Conversations (in medias res)
Comment:        SHK 6.0736  Re: Conversations (in medias res)
 
Re: Entering into the midst of conversation
 
I point this out to my students often and, it seems to me that it is a device
Shakespeare uses *more* often than not. The simple explanation is, that while
we are presented with the explicit action, we are invited to think about the
implicit context of the action. Much has gone on before and just as importantly
much will go on after. I'm reminded that when Hamlet dies, time does not stop
and the play ends with the entrance of Fortinbras, insinuating not only the
future but the immediacy of it--just as the immediacy of the past is insinuated
by us coming into the middle of conversation. What happens on the stage is the
consequence of what went on before and up until the moment we entered. It's a
perfect device to set up the audience particularly where conspiracy is afoot.
The more classic chorus introduction of *HV* gives way to the rather
conspiratorial mid-conversation of Canterbury and Ely in opening Act 1. It
makes for an interesting comparison of techniques.
 
Nina Walker

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Oct 1995 13:07:31 -0400
Subject:        Re: Conversations in MV
 
This may be simply a personal preference for quick pacing, but I've found very
few scenes in Shakespeare that can't be begun even as the actors walk onstage.
Remember, the Globe didn't have dimmer boards, and even if we do, there is no
deadlier rhythm than lights-out-lights-up.
 
I'm not taking the time to go and check my impressions, obviously, but I'd bet
that many if not most scenes begin, if not in the middle of a conversation,
then at least in immediate response to something that has occurred just
offstage.
 
Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
 
P.S.  Yes, the gillyvors are gone; but now Perdita wants them back.  What's a
director to do?
 

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