1995

Re: Productions; Biographies; Importance

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 740. Saturday, 30 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Kathleen Kendrick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 15:38:46 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0684 Conferences; CFP; Announcements
 
(2)     From:   J.H.Sawday <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 12:09:29 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0730  Shakespeare Biographies
 
(3)     From:   Marcello Cappuzzo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 18:28:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathleen Kendrick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 15:38:46 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0684 Conferences; CFP; Announcements
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0684 Conferences; CFP; Announcements
 
To Fiona C. Quick @ U. of Minnesota.  Shakespeare Rep. Co. will be producing
Othello, Twelfth Night and Richard III this season. Othello runs from 10/13
thru 12/10 and seems the only play that will accommodate your time schedule.
Call (312) 642-2273 for more info. TN runs from 01/17 thru 03/03/96 and RIII
from 04/10 thru 05/26.  They perform at the Ruth Page Theater on the near north
side of Chicago and they are absolutely marvelous!!
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J.H.Sawday <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 12:09:29 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 6.0730  Shakespeare Biographies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0730  Shakespeare Biographies
 
Simon Malloch asks (27 September) for comments on two recent Shakespeare
`Biographies': Phillips and Keatman, _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_ (1994) and
Wilson, _Shakespeare: The Evidence_ (1993). I don't know the second work, but
earlier this year I was asked to take part in a BBC local radio discussion
programme with one of the authors of _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_. A lively
discussion ensued. _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_ is (at best) a fantasy work
pretending to offer a series of astounding revelations (eg. Shakespeare was a
double-agent, or even a double; he was disfigured by a theatre fire, etc. etc).
All this is pretty harmless fun - the sort of stuff one can feed to an
undergraduate lecture on the theme of `potty theories concerning WS'. Where,
however, _The Shakespeare Conspiracy_ was deeply dishonest was in its jackets-
off, sleeves-up, style of delivery. Essentially, the book raided the standard
`academic' work on Shakespeare (Schoenbaum etc), in order to present `facts'
which have long been in the public domain (even the 2nd best bed was trotted
out) as astonishing revelations which these two tireless authors had excavated
through their own honest labour. The `conspiracy' was in the authors' claim to
have rumbled the cover-up which generations of self-serving academic
researchers had perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. But, of course, it was
only thanks to the largely unacknowledged work of those academics who were
castigated in the book that Phillips and Keatman were able to retrieve the
materials which they employed in their construction of this fantasy. No doubt
the two of them have made a tidy profit out of their endeavour (good luck to
them!), but one wonders about the ethical standards of the publishers involved.
 
Jonathan Sawday
Department of English,
University of Southampton
Southampton, Hants. UK
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcello Cappuzzo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 18:28:29 +0100
Subject:        Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
        "And as to Cappuzzo's knee-jerk response--when, if I may borrow my
        collegue's idiom, will professors learn to read tone?  Hughes'
        comment, far from deriding the Spanish language, was suggesting
        that, without the lone contribution of Shakespeare to English belles
        lettres, the richly- ornamented works of the Spanish Golden Age
        would have lured us all into embracing that literature rather than
        that of the English Renaissance, and consequently the SHAKSPER group
        would possibly be the DEVEGA group."  (Brian Corrigan, Sept 28)
 
I am afraid I cannot agree with Corrigan's interpretation of Stephanie Hughes's
recent posts on the "Importance of Shakespeare".  In her second message (Sept
26), Ms Hughes made it clear that
 
        "The point I was trying to make [on Sept 8] had little to do with
        Shakespeare's works, or the standard English lit. canon, but with
        the language itself. [...] These [WS's] plays and poems have had a
        certain life and influence in terms of plot, style, entertainment
        value, etc., but the language he created to express them has had a
        life far beyond the works themselves."
 
It seems to me that Ms Hughes has never, in her recent postings, focused her
attention on WS the *artist*;  she has never said, I think, that WS contributed
to literature qua literature more than Sidney or Marlowe or Jonson...or Lope de
Vega:  what Ms Hughes has certainly said is that WS "created" a language, that
"the creation of a language is on an altogether different level from anything
else," and that the language WS created is modern English, i.e. "the second
most spoken language in the world today, and the most important in every other
way".  "Had he [WS] never been born, [...] we might be making these posts in
Spanish."  To me, this last sentence means--approximately--that since WS did
come into the world, and since he did create the English Language, it would be
a nonsense (perhaps even a *sin*) to discuss WS (if not *any* subject) in
Spanish or in any other (*minor*) language.  My most recent post to this List
may have been a "knee-jerk" reaction, but not, I think, as erroneous or erratic
a response as it appears to professor Corrigan.  What I objected, and still
object to is the idea--somehow present, I suspect, in Ms Hughes' interventions,
in both of them--that the English language is of a superior, a-historical,
metaphysical, divine nature, and that therefore this language *and*
(necessarily) the culture of which this language is the "medium" have a
superior role, a *mission* to perform in the world at large.  For this idea and
for its various implications I have no respect, nor do I think I have to show
any.  However, since my mother tongue is not English, and I cannot be sure that
my way of reading Ms Hughes' "tone" is correct, I offer her my apologies.
 
I apologize also to professor Corrigan.  I must confess that, when I first read
his post, I thought that the passage I have already quoted meant
--approximately--this:  "thanks to WS, whose contribution made English belles
lettres of the Renaissance into the most important literature of the period,
which in turn is the most important of all literary periods, we do not run the
risk of being lured into embracing the literature of the Spanish Golden Age or
any other minor (?) or foreign (?) literary production...:  we have SHAKSPER,
why on earth should we engage in a discussion on DEVEGA?"  This was my
interpretation at first sight.  Now I'm not so sure that this reading is
legitimate.  Again, there may be, there *must* be something in the tone of
Corrigan's text that I am not able to grasp--and perhaps not only in its tone,
even in its literal meaning: for example, when professor Corrigan says "we,"
"we all," etc., whom exactly is he referring to?  I feel I'd have something
else to confess and...other misreadings, other suspincions to apologize for.
But let's relax--today is Friday!  Have a joyful weekend.
 
Marcello Cappuzzo
University of Palermo

Qs: Food Imagery; Summer Shakespeare in Toronto

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 739. Saturday, 30 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Roland Nipps <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 95 17:41:21 EDT
        Subj:   [Query]
 
(2)     From:   Patti Friesen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 07:54:21 -0400
        Subj:   Shakespeare Festivals Toronto?
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roland Nipps <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 95 17:41:21 EDT
Subject:        [Query]
 
I am presently working on my graduate thesis at the University of Rhode Island.
The work involves studying Shakespeare's use of food imagery in the
Bollingbroke tetralogy. I hope to show how a study of this imagery compliments
existing scholarship on how man, as a microcosm, reflects the communal
ordering of human experience. I would appreciate hearing from anyone with
relevant materials. Thank you, Roland Nipps.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Patti Friesen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 07:54:21 -0400
Subject:        Shakespeare Festivals Toronto?
 
I am interested in taking a holiday to Toronto next summer.  Could you please
send me some info on the Shakespeare festivals and plays that will taking place
in the Toronto area in the summer of '95?
 
PF

Re: French/English Scenes

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 737. Saturday, 30 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 17:05:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0733  Re: French/English Scenes
 
(2)     From:   David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 95 15:13:12 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0733  Re: French/English Scenes
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 17:05:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0733  Re: French/English Scenes
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0733  Re: French/English Scenes
 
Sometimes you learn things by appearing in public with your pants down. Thank
you, folks, for pointing out my nudity so gently.
 
Yes, of course, continental or French scenes are important in defining the
structure of an English scene.  And they are important in rehearsal -- as you
say.
 
Blushingly yours,  pantless Bill
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 95 15:13:12 EDT
Subject: 6.0733  Re: French/English Scenes
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0733  Re: French/English Scenes
 
Thanks to the theater types who have more or less come in on my side in
opposing Bill Godshalk's (d)(r)elegation of "French" scene divisions to
literature not theater.  Such divisions in fact represent traditional "French"
theatrical practice (I'm using quotation marks here because I suppose it also
the practice in the traditional drama of other Continental cultures), the
practice of Corneille, Racine, Moliere, and their followers (that being, as we
know, a neo-classical tradition based on the theatrical practice of Aeschylus,
Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plautus, Terence, and Seneca), in which a
relatively small number of characters typically converse among themselves for
several minutes at a stretch, until the arrival of a new character initiates a
new grouping and initiates a new stretch of discourse.  But the dynamics of
that structure are deeply theatrical in more ways than the matters of
convenience to which the theater types have referred (ease of organizing
rehearsals and so on).  Consider the development of WT 4.4 in perceptual terms.
 Autolycus has ended 4.3 by singing a song about sad and merry hearts. As he
goes out (up left?)--and modern directors may well have him still on stage when
the next bit starts--in come two both feeling both sorts at once, Perdita and
Florizel (up right?).  They move (down center right?), and talk together for
about 50 lines--two and one-half minutes, give or take, in which (chiefly,
though other things go on) Perdita explains their dilemma and Florizel
announces his plan for resolving it.  Lacking further fresh matter, the two of
them would be forced, as Rosalind teaches Orlando, to either kissing or
entreaty, and us spectators to looking elsewhere out of embarrassment or
boredom; but suddenly there is movement elsewhere on the stage (up center?):
our eyes are compelled to attend to it, and the arrival of a largish group of
new characters gives new matter to not only the couple but us, including, to be
sure, further development of the dilemma (streaked gillyvors and short- lived
primroses and what not--now, alas, I take it, wilting on Dale Lyles'
cutting-room floor), but especially, from a purely theatrical point of view,
the suspense engendered by the presence of Polixenes and Camillo (down center
left?), disguised (for which we have been prepared by 4.2), raising the
possibility of a highly dramatic confrontation between father and son (now a
little farther down right?) which it will be an important part of Shakespeare's
dramaturgy here, by means of the shifting centers of attention which are our
present topic, to prolong for another couple of hundred lines.
 
In other words, the physical entrance of the new characters, making the new
French scene, has refreshed the activity of the play and the interest of the
audience.  And that should be the result of every new arrival, even if it's
just a servant sticking his head through a door to announce that So-and-So is
waiting without.  From a purely literary point of view, we might in fact relish
an even longer appreciation of Perdita's charms than Florizel gives us
(136-146; has she moved down right to join him, reminding us of the opening of
the English scene?); theatrically, however, we need to get on to the admiring
comments of Polixenes and Camillo (spatially balanced against the lovers?),
which play so elegantly against the confrontational expectations aroused by
their arrival, especially when echoed and amplified by the bucolic jocularities
of 181-341-- and against which Polixenes' rage, when it does flash out, with
its wonderful echo of Leontes' corresponding rage in the first half, will play
in its turn.
 
I take this play among visual and verbal elements, words being uttered from and
toward particular points in space, to be at the base of the theatrical as
distinct from the literary experience, and French scenes, because they
articulate it a little more fully than English ones, to be correspondingly more
theatrical.  (It could, of course, be argued that the primal theatrical
experience is the arrival of that first actor on the bare stage, and the bare-
stage-to-bare-stage convention of English scene divisions therefore more
theatrical than the French.  But of course we are not so much interested in
settling this not-terribly-important dispute as in the discussion it provokes.
I hope.)
 
Frankishly,
Dave Evett

Re: Antonio and *MV*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 738. Saturday, 30 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 18:15:06 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0726  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
(2)     From:   Stanley Holberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 22:31:22 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Reply to SHK 6.0732
 
(3)     From:   David Schalkwyk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:31:16 SAST-2
        Subj:   Re: Merchant of Venice
 
(4)     From:   Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:56:17 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0732  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 18:15:06 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 6.0726  Re: Antonio and *MV*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0726  Re: Antonio and *MV*
 
Two recent postings have questioned how Antonio could be against or detached
from materialism if he is THE merchant of Venice (and a proto-capitalist,
etc.).  I don't mean to suggest throwing out any of the interpretations of his
character offered in these postings. Sometimes symbolic or thematic threads in
a play may be at cross purposes with character development, and even when all
threads seem headed in the same direction, Shakespeare's plays are notoriously
open to various interpretations.  But to consider Antonio simply another money
grubber ignores the contrast between his generosity (lending money gratis,
etc.) and Shylock's stinginess.
 
What I offer here is another way of looking at Antonio's "getting on Shylock's
case" for "breeding money."  Maybe it's not just one greedy money maker bashing
another.  Antonio tells Shylock that Jacob's breeding of sheep does not justify
usury since what Jacob did was a "venture ... / A thing not in his power to
bring to pass, / But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of heaven" (1.3.91-93).
The word "venture" is used repeatedly in the play (along with the related word
"hazard").  The words are associated with courtship and marriage ("He who
chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath") as well as with Antonio's
sending out of ships.  Antonio's point seems to be that there is a difference
between (1) making money by binding people legally to pay you what you lent
them plus interest and (2) making money by "venturing" and--not having the
"power to bring to pass" what one hopes will happen--having to trust in heaven
or providence. By analogy, courtship and marriage are also "ventures" requiring
trust.
 
It seems to me the play is trying to portray two approaches to life: one
associated with Shylock and based on control and closure ("Bind fast, bind
fast"), the other associated with Antonio et al. and based on trust and
openness.  Of course, this simple dichotomy is complicated and made ambiguous
by the suggestion that the Christians are hypocritical and, in their openness,
too free and loose and easy ("prodigal," profligate, untrustworthy, etc.) and
by the suggestion that Shylock's controlling impulse also makes him in some
ways more reliable than the Christians (not to mention their persecution of
him, etc., including Antonio's remarkable lack of generosity in this one case).
 But the dichotomy is still an important part of the structure, the play of
ideas, in *MV* and I'd hate to lose it by explaining Antonio's speech away as
simply nonsensical or hypocritical.
 
If Antonio is a materialist, he is one in a very different sense than Shylock
is.  For Antonio, material things are for giving and enjoying.  For Shylock,
they are for gathering, for guarding, for lending, yes, but only with
guarantees.  For Antonio, since you never know what will happen, you may as
well "venture"; for Shylock, since you never know what will happen, you'd
better be careful.
 
Bruce Young
 
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From:           Stanley Holberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 1995 22:31:22 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: SHK 6.0732
Comment:        Reply to SHK 6.0732
 
Bill Godshalk's trenchant questions about the merchants of Venice almost answer
themselves.  Isn't the main difference between Antonio and Shylock one of
degree rather than kind?  They're both in the business of buying cheap and
selling dear.  Antonio does it with merchandise, Shylock with money.  It is
hard to imagine that Shakespeare did not grasp this fundamental reality.
 
--Stanley Holberg
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
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From:           David Schalkwyk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:31:16 SAST-2
Subject:        Re: Merchant of Venice
 
Piers Lewis's comments about the difference between Shylock and Antonio set me
thinking about the _Jew of Malta_.  Barabas is certainly the kind of grand
merchant adventurer that Antonio is in MV:
 
But now how stands the wind?
Into what corners peers my halcyon's bill?
Ha! to the east?  Yes.  See how stands the vanes?
East and by south: why then I hope my ships
I sent for Egypt and the bordering isles
Are gotten up by Nilus' winding banks;
Mine argosy from Alexandria,
Loaden with spice and silks, now under sail,
Are smoothly gliding down by Candy shore
To Malta, through our Mediteranean sea.
 
                                    (I.i.38)
 
No "water rats" here!  Would it be useful to compare the two plays, and their
respective representations of merchants and Jews?
 
David Schalkwyk
University of Cape Town
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:56:17 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0732  Re: *MV* and Antonio
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0732  Re: *MV* and Antonio
 
Piers Lewis suggests that the "much admired" poetry of the line "enrobe the
roaring waters with my silks" splendidly celebrates Antonio's risk taking and
adventuring.  Antonio is a "lord of commerce" who sends his argosies hither and
yon taking risks that Shylock would ridicule.  Antonio's Venice is a city of
merchant adventurers and a contrast to Shylock's Venice of usury and money
grubbing.
 
However, all that glitters is not gold.  Precisely the Bards point in this
instance, I think.  For example, the speech that contains the line cited is one
of two speeches given by two gentlemen of Venice that (so saith M. M. Mahood in
the intro to the New Cambridge edition) "so strangely trivialize and
fictionalize the hazards of sea trade. Antonio's argosies are seen as
comfortable burghers or the water pageants of the tranquil Lagoon, tempests are
represented by a storm in a soup bowl, disasters at sea are reduced to
picturesque conceits such as "enrobe the roaring waters with my silks"
Salrino's shipwrecks come from the world of Greek romance, in which the
venturer always swims ashore to win and heiress, rather than from Shylock's
world of calculated risks where ships are but boards, sailors but men" (25).
 
In other words, the two gentlemen offer a very comfortable version of what it
might be like to be a merchant.  They are no more interested in the reality
than they are interested in Antonio's feelings. Another reason, I think, to pay
attention to Antonio's isolation.
 
Antonio's reply to all this is, of course:
 
"Believe me, no.  I thank my fortune for it,
My ventures are not all in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place;  nor is my whole estate
Upon the fortune of this present year;
Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad."
 
Of course, after he dismisses these two, he tells Bassanio that his fortunes
are, indeed, all at sea and that he has neither "money nor commodity." That is,
he is, in fact, a merchant adventurer. He knows the reality -- and the reality
is not as comfortably romantic as the "reality" imagined by the two gentlemen.
He pretends to them that he is only taking a calculated risk and obviously
resents their romantic impositions and refuses to become a means through which
they can safely live out their fantasies: he refuses to be a
Merchant-Adventurer in the grand A. L. Rowse sense for them.
 
But, for some reason, he has taken a great risk and for some reason he wants to
keep this secret -- not only from the fellows at the exchange but also from the
glittering hangers on, Venetian aristocrats.  If he is, by risking all on the
throw of a die, enacting the myth of Venice, he is strangely secretive about
it.  More evidence, I think, for his isolation and alienation. He is isolated
both from the money grubbing of Shylock  and from those who want to celebrate
the myth of the Merchant Adventurer through him and who, of course, would treat
his ruin only as an occasion for gossip and celebration -- for the myth
requires the occasional ruin, silks prettily enrobing the waters, to maintain
its splendid force for those who are safely disatanced from the actual
consequences.
 
Taking the risk that he does is actually a symptom of alienation from the myth
and from the values of Venice, and not a celebration of them. Risking all for
Bassanio is another instance of this alienation.
 
Or -- restating my case anent Antonio as a fairy tale embodiment of the
Merchant Adventurer.  If Shakespeare wanted to employ the myth in an uncritical
way he wouldn't have put the usual version of the myth in the mouths of two
characters whose glassy essence seems to be superficiality and then, at once,
had Antonio undercut them by lying to them.  Inside the glittering gold casket
of the myth is a carrion death.
 
And, just to complicate things, it isn't at all clear to me that Shakespeare's
contemporaries would be all that ready to celebrate the Merchant Adventurer --
or believe that he really existed. The actual Merchant Adventurers, of course,
presented themselves as patriots and risk takers.  There were plenty who didn't
believe this.  They were resented by retailers, accused of impoverishing the
realm by trading english bullion for trinkets and foreign gee-gaws, keeping
prices artificially high, of refusing to take risks by restraining free trade,
of creating and sustaining a taste for foreign fashions, of monopoly, of undue
influence in the government, -- all of these accusations came to a head in a
Report on Free Trade drawn up in the House of Commons in 1604. There might have
been much less unstinted admiration for "Lords of Commerce" by Shakespeare's
audience than is often suggested.

Re: Conversations (in medias res)

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 736. Saturday, 30 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Snehal Shingavi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ITY.EDU
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 95
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(2)     From:   Imtiaz Habib <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 95 20:42:21 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(3)     From:   Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 95 23:02:20 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(4)     From:   Ed Pechter <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:07:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(5)     From:   Jean Peterson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 12:33:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
(6)     From:   Anna Cole <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:58:12 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Snehal Shingavi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 95 15:06:42 CDT
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
Oothello is a play about deception and secrecy.  A lot of the unknown/untold
action of the play helps the audience to understand exactly why relationships
break down ... theirs starts to break down along the same lines. The Anthony
Hopkins as Othello production of this is very interesting in that respect: the
way that it uses whispering and turning away and movement really makes you
reconsider why the end is the only possible ending/outcome for the play.  I
also think that it is *just* a structural device, so it doesn't sound like
actors enter stage having a conversation about nothing ... it makes things
follow/flow more smoothly.  Also, the play is about uncovering motivations: for
evil in Iago, for jeaousy in Othello, for loyalty in Desdemona.  Attemping to
think about what's missing helps you think about what isn't (missing).
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Imtiaz Habib <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 95 20:42:21 EDT
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
Hamlet and Lear also have a lot of that verbal "medias res" effect. Macbeth, it
seems to me,is an exception, and so is Antony and Cleopatra to a large degree.
 
Actually, remember also the beginning of The Merchant of Venice and As You Like
It.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <SURCC@CUNYVM>
Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 95 23:02:20 EDT
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
Conversations on entering . . .
 
This is a leverage trick that Shakespeare uses from the earliest plays onward.
In effect, it forces the actors to be "in  character" or "in action" even
before they move into the playing space.  The dramaturgy sometimes seems to be
about hurling actors in through doors in as many different ways as can be
managed.
 
It will be fun to watch experiments about the effects of beginning to talk at
or just before passing through the doors on the Globe reconstruction.  Mark
Rylance, are you tuned in?
 
                Accellerating,
                              Steve Urkowitz
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pechter <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:07:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
Amy Hughes's suggestion is interesting.  There are other plays that begin or
begin scenes in the middle of things in ways that create a felt need to reach
back to something earlier.  Antony & Cleopatra's "Nay but," for instance, but
then you quickly find out what they're talking about.  Hamlet begins with
references to "this thing" that are tantalizing & anxiety producing.  The final
scene of the same play begins with Hamlet asking Horatio to "remember all the
circumstance," presumably of an earlier conversation--a matter not clarified,
if at all, till much later in the scene.
 
But maybe Othello's a special case.  There's an old SQ article that points out
that the question "what is the matter?" recurs like a litany in the play.  The
strategy Amy Hughes points to seem to have the effect of putting us in the
position of asking "what is the matter?"  Add the emphasis upon "foregone
conclusions," the idea that belief depends upon some pretextual matter prior to
conscious understanding:  This accident is very like my dream, belief of it
oppresses me already.
 
How to perform this--you tell us.
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 12:33:30 -0400
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
>Something I am noticing about the play is the fact that a good number of the
>scenes begin in mid-conversation. I am curious about the implications of this
>decive. Is it one Shakespeare often uses?
>
>Unlike any other play (to my knowledge), OTHELLO, indeed, opens in
>mid-conversation.
 
Look at *Antony and Cleo*-- "Nay, but, this passion of our general's o'erflows
the measure"--like *Othello*, not only in mid-converse, but mid-argument!  Same
thing in *Two Gentlemen*--"Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus"--also a
continuation of an argument that began "offstage."  Not to mention the brawling
start of *Shrew*, with Sly & the Hostess going at eachother in vulgar slang in
continuation of a verbal battle (and more--"You will not pay for the glasses
you have burst?") we've not witnessed the beginning of...there are probably
other examples that don't come as immediately to mind. So, yes, it's a
frequently used device...
 
WHY is an interesting question. In *A&C*, you can make a case for the play
itself as an interrogation of boundaries, "o'erflowing" even its own starting
point, (and certainly *shrew* plays with fictions and borderlines in similar
ways).  Maybe too a dramatic usage of the literary concept of "in media
res"--starting in the middle of things because it's a more interesting and
exciting point to take the plunge.  And I wish I could remember which of my
wise Shakespeare profs. of the past told us to regard the opening exchange of
most Shakespeare plays as the "DNA particle" in which the "imprint" of the
whole can be found--a principle I've found to be pretty much accurate.
 
How this will translate into theatrical terms is still another question. Keep
us informed!
 
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 
(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anna Cole <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 1995 11:58:12 GMT
Subject: 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0735  Q: Conversation in *Oth.*
 
With reference to Amy Hughes' query regarding Shakespeare's predilection for
opening a scene ostensibly in the middle of a conversation,  surely there is no
better way to engage an audience immediately with the play's action?
 
                                            Anna Cole

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