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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: What is this list for?
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0818.  Thursday, 19 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 1995 16:27:05 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0812  What is this list for?
 
(2)     From:   Janet MacLellan Winship <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Oct 1995 17:24:48 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Much Ado Moment
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 1995 16:27:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0812  What is this list for?
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0812  What is this list for?
 
Tom Clayton writes:
 
>This is getting better than bear-baiting!
 
How true!  And how funny!  This quip gave me the only laugh of the day.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet MacLellan Winship <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Oct 1995 17:24:48 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Much Ado Moment
 
SHAKSPEReans,
 
To the question, "What is this list for, exactly?" I would like to reply that
one of the things I find most useful and enjoyable about SHAKSPER is the way in
which it facilitates the sharing of noteworthy playgoing experiences amongst a
geographically farflung community of informed and appreciative auditors.
 
I imagine that each of us has had "epiphanies" of sorts when watching or
staging Shakespearean productions. A friend of mine refers to it as the "Aha!"
experience. It can be provoked by directorial or acting or design decisions
that we feel are inspired *or* by those that we feel are completely wrong and
off-base. In either case, the decision made prompts us to examine, clarify, and
perhaps rethink our own established interpretations of lines, scenes, or even
whole plays.
 
This experience is not limited to the kinds of productions that make it into
the reviews in _Shakespeare Quarterly_. It happens just as often when watching
small-scale professional, community, and student productions. There are far
more productions out there than one person can see, and I greatly appreciate it
when a SHAKSPERean shares his or her reaction to a thought-provoking casting,
design, or staging decision in a play I personally cannot attend.
 
In this spirit, I would like to offer a brief observation on _Much Ado About
Nothing_, performed this week by the Trinity College Dramatic Society at the
University of Toronto (outdoors, in the college quadrangle).
 
In 4.1 (the rejection scene), most of the _Much Ado_s I have seen have had
their Heros break down very quickly after she is accused and have isolated her
on stage with Beatrice as her only champion. This production featured a
surprisingly strong Hero who, though weeping, stayed on her feet and even
advanced towards Claudio, reaching out for his cheek (trying to bring him to
look at her?) as he delivered, "Oh Hero, what a Hero hadst thou been..." Since
she had moved forward out of reach of her family to do this, and since
Claudio's rejection left her standing almost alone on stage, her swoon was
highly dramatic: her friends had to run to try to catch her. Note the plural:
this Hero was supported not only by Beatrice, who held her hand; but also by
Ursula, who held Hero's head in her lap while entwining her shoulders in a
fiercely protective maternal embrace (illuminating in a moment for me just
*who* this Ursula was, in terms of her relationship to Hero); and by Margaret,
who guiltily reached out for her shoulder. For me, this staging made for a
striking moment of female bonding in response to the cruelty arising from the
male bonding of Don Pedro and Claudio (once they believe their honours have
been compromised). In addition, this Hero received a great deal of silent
support from the various members of Leonato's household, who remained on stage
after the exits of Claudio et al and were all privy to the faking-Hero's-death
ruse. Balthasar in particular made for a very strong choric presence during
this scene as he stood with his guitar directly upstage of Hero and her
friends; the tension between him and Claudio as he sang later at Hero's "tomb"
was palpable. (I should mention that Balthasar was a very strong presence
throughout this play: the first Balthasar I've seen who actually stole the
"Sigh no more" scene from Benedick.)
 
Cordially,
Janet MacLellan
University of Toronto
 

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