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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: APT; Movies; *H5*; Puns
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0664.  Monday, 4 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   John Boni <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Sep 1995 14:47:05 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0662 Q: American Players Theatre
 
(2)     From:   John Chapot <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Sep 1995 19:42:17 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0660 Shakespeare Movies
 
(3)     From:   Laurie White <
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        Date:   Saturday, 02 Sep 1995 10:16:13 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0661  Questions Regarding Grad/Undergrad Teaching
 
(4)     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Monday, 04 Sep 1995 10:10:56 -0100
        Subj:   SHK 6.0656 Re: Puns
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Boni <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Sep 1995 14:47:05 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0662 Q: American Players Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0662 Q: American Players Theatre
 
I attended two performances of this season's APT repertoire, on Sunday, August
20--*Twelfth Night*, and *Henry V*. It was a a very hot day at their outdoor
theater, so much so that when a heavy cloak was thrown on Feste to disguise
him, the audience groaned in sympathy for the actor. Severals years ago I
attended a very good production of *Othello* in similar heat there.
 
More important, I found both this year's productions competent.  The same actor
who played Sir Toby in the afternoon was Henry V in the evening. To me, that
was a stretch for him, one he accommodated rather well. However, the
interpretation of H5 was for me a bit of a problem.  Henry went from the bloody
leader to the very conversational lover or friend (with his close male
associates).  I think the attempt was congruent with the contemporary reading
of the play's strong ironies, a reading I share. But somehow for me it didn't
entirely come together.  (Had I liked it, I could have said "It worked," one of
our great cant critical phrases.)
 
The *Twelfth Night* for me was a sensitive revisiting of a play I hadn't seen
in eight or more years.  It had an excellent actress as Viola/Orsino, and an
amazing look-alike (aided by costuming) as her brother.  The performer playing
Maria was rather good, too.  During the interplay among Maria, Andrew, Toby,
and Fabian, I at times thought of the recent SHAKSPER thread about the
difficulty of playing 16th-17th century comedy and the efforts directors
employ.
 
I was pleased at both productions, and the whipoorwill in the trees during a
battle scene in H5 only added to the pleasure.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Chapot <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Sep 1995 19:42:17 -0400
Subject: 6.0660 Shakespeare Movies
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0660 Shakespeare Movies
 
Dont fret about Annette Benning in any classical role. She excelled for the
American Conservatory Theatre here during the 1980s as Lady MacBeth, Titania,
the ingenue in Moliere's School for Wives and many other roles. She's smart,
trained and talented.
 
John Chapot
San Francisco
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laurie White <
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Date:           Saturday, 02 Sep 1995 10:16:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0661  Questions Regarding Grad/Undergrad Teaching
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0661  Questions Regarding Grad/Undergrad Teaching
 
I am just finishing teaching HV to a Freshman Seminar of Honors students. My
course in entitled "Brits Go to the Movies" and includes HV along with
_Frankenstein_, _A Christmas Carol_, _A Room with a View_, and _Reamins of the
Day_.  I have taught this class twice before, and I think it still works:  that
is, I think focusing the students on the film to come at the end of the text
analysis enlivens them a bit.  In fact, sophisticated film reviews and
criticism are a wonderful way to talk about the play. Film reviewers of HV must
bring in the play, of course, and do it from an interesting angle.
 
Here are two good essays on the Olivier version:
 
James Agee, "Henry V" in _Agee on Film: Volume I (New York: Grosset and Dunlap,
Inc., 1958), pp. 209-12.
 
Bosley Crowther, "Henry V" in _The Great Films: Fifty Years of Motion Pictures_
by Bosley Crowther (New York: G.P., Putnams's Sons, 1967), pp. 165-68.
 
--Laurie White
UNCGreensboro
(
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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Monday, 04 Sep 1995 10:10:56 -0100
Subject: Re: Puns
Comment:        SHK 6.0656 Re: Puns
 
John Lee and Martin Green raise a series of interesting questions regarding
puns.  My original simple point was that the pun is a mark of linguistic
instability in what is otherwise a field of normative stability.
 
Perhaps I should try to specify the context for this assertion.  I am thinking
particularly about the ways in which in the modern world we fix meanings as in
dictionary definitions, standardized spellings etc. I want at this stage to
refrain from embracing the deconstructionist notion of the radical
undecidability of all language, even though generally, this is the result of a
particular, and, I think, rather partial, reading of Derrida.  My concern is
not to argue for or against linguistic stability ( John Lee's question), but to
try to locate and explain a set of historical phenomena which are inimical to
the linguistic processes with which we are familiar.
 
Martin Green is right in that not all puns are humorous, but I think that he
needs to take this observation along with the inconsistencies of spelling that
we find in renaissance theatrical texts.  If he looks AT the material of a
theatrical text, and not through it to some locatable meaning beyond it, then
he will find that deciding on what is a conscious playing with words is not
quite so simple a matter.  Green seems to confuse pun and metaphor at one point
in his reply, and he continues to assume that theatrical texts are truthful
records of stage speech, and that stage speech is dominated by an intending
presence.
 
The New Bibliography raises some questions about this.  May I suggest that
Green and Lee look at the debate in the last 2 issues of Textual Practice, but
also Stephen Orgel's contribution to the Stallybrass/Kastan STAGING THE
RENAISSANCE raises similar questions.  Margretta de Grazia's work, epsecially
her article (written jointly with Stallybrass in  SQ recently on "The
Materiality of Shakespeare's Text", and the Holderness, Loughry, Murphy reply
in Textual Practice 9.1 will help to provide a context for my question. From
there it would be useful to return to the quartos and Folio texts of
Shakespeare and to ask specific questions about the actual spellings
encountered there.  I am not suggesting that we dispense with the category of
puns altogether, or that somehow renaissance writers always played with
language without realizing it. The question of how CONSCIOUS this kind of
writing was is a vexed one and is well beyond the scope of this present
discussion. What I am saying is that given the current debate on what is now
referred to as "the materiality" of the text we may well need to revise our
view.
 
That is what I meant when I suggested that the simple labelling "pun" masks a
whole range of textual practices which, if we atend to them closely, will not
allow us to collapse cultural difference into sameness.
 
Cheers
John Drakakis
University of Stirling
 

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