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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: *AYL*; *WT*; Tennyson
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 706, Thursday, 21 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Sarah Richardson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 23:04:16 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0689 Re: *As You Like It*
 
(2)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 23:14:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0702  Re: *Winter's Tale*
 
(3)     From:   Snehal Shingavi <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Sep 95 20:25:29 CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0702  Re: *Winter's Tale*; Tennyson
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sarah Richardson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 23:04:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 6.0689 Re: *As You Like It*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0689 Re: *As You Like It*
 
With regards to a production of AYLI. Sarah Cave recently wrote:
>
> The Corporate America as Evil worked in some ways, but for the most part I
> believe that Shakespeare should not be "conceptualized." The most powerful,
> emotional productions in my experience have been simply costumed, barely
> constructed, and heavily textual.
>
> Isn't it all about words?
 
I hate to stir up a big ruckus about what was probably an entirely innocent and
heartfelt observation, but does anyone else's hackles go up over comments like
these?  While I respect the aversion to over-conceptualized productions and
desire to make sure that concept doesn't overwhelm content, I simply don't
believe it is either possible or desirable to produce Shakespeare that isn't
conceptualized.  Nor do I understand what it means to simply perform "the
words."  The underlying supposition, I assume,  is that the text is already
endowed with some fixed meaning and that if we just let the words alone, that
meaning will be transmitted to the audience.  Any mode of theatrical production
that you may choose is at some level a CONCEPT -- whether you put your actors
in blue suits or doublets or just stand there and speak the words -- and to
deny that is to deny your responsibility to the material and how it is
presented.  I have always instinctively felt this way and have in recent months
had my thought reinforced my Charles Marowitz's book RECYLCING SHAKESPEARE.  He
writes that "a director...who chains himself to unwavering fidelity to the
author and pursues his work in selfless devotion to the 'meaning fo the text'
is unknowingly abdicating a director's responsibility.  Since the only way to
express an author's meaning is to filter it through the sensibility of those
artists charged with communicating it,"fidelity" is really a high-sounding word
for 'lack of imaginative output'.  The director who is committed to putting the
play on the stage exactly as it is written is the equivalent of the cook who
intends to make the omelette without cracking the eggs."
 
As an example, while working on a production of TGV this summer, we had a great
deal of disagreement within the cast of how to deal with the final scene.  One
member of the cast in particular lamented the desire of others to really
wrestle with the gender issues -- the attempted rape, the women's silence, etc.
He kept saying, "Why do we have to make it so politicial? Why can't we just do
it the way Shakespeare wrote it?"  Because, simply leaving the text alone (if
that is even possible) makes a political statement about the assumed content
therein, whether one wants it to or not.  And, we have no idea precisely what
Shakespeare intended this scene to mean -- to assume so is pure arrogance --
nor are we playing to an Elizabethan audience with Elizabethan sensibilities
about the relations between men and women.  And let me say, our production was
indeed simply costumed, barely constructed and highly textual -- and one could
certainly make the argument that our decision to perform in that way was highly
conceptualized as well.
 
Lastly, I believe that one of the things that makes Shakespeare so compelling
to us still is that he was not just a great writer, he was a great dramatist --
it's not just "the words" but his dramaturgy.  His plays provide a canvas upon
which innovative, adventurous artists can paint new masterpieces.  And
unfortunately, that usually involves the laborious, complicated and risky act
of developing an interpretation or, if you will, a "concept."
 
Sarah Richardson
University of California - Irvine
Dept. of Drama

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Sep 1995 23:14:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0702  Re: *Winter's Tale*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0702  Re: *Winter's Tale*
 
Dear David Lyles--
 
Do audiences laugh during the line about Hermione's statue being wrinkled--- In
the BBC version (even) the scen was played really well-- I thought---Prolixenes
(sic) and Leontes were whispering in each other's ears--as if it were AN ART
GALLERY-- it was funny, but also showed them AS FRIENDS for the first time--
and thus undercut the potential bathos in the humour of the scene (which I
think is intended--or if not intended, at least justified). Chris stroffolino
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Snehal Shingavi <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 20 Sep 95 20:25:29 CDT
Subject: 6.0702  Re: *Winter's Tale*; Tennyson
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0702  Re: *Winter's Tale*; Tennyson
 
Without trying to make it sound like I am an idiot ... I think, and still do,
that Tennyson is attempting to find the language necessary to deal with his
relationship with Hallam.  Primarily because his death has affected Tennyson so
profoundly, but also because of the fact that images of his presence (and
subsequent absence) haunt the poem.  While not attempting to sound like a
moronic academic, I promise you that the use of the term "homosocial " is not
merely and attempt to score points and sound as if the argument is something
more than it is.  This is mere speculation on my part, and it was just a gut
distinctive response to the section.  Your interpretation (Mr. Green) does make
a great deal of sense, but I was merely curious of the implications that a
comparison has on the reading.
 
Perhaps I should explain (because that seems to be the problem).  In sections 4
and 5 and 6 Tennyson deals with Hallam as a lover (a metaphor he twists to
explain his intimacy with Hallam because there are no appropriate tropes to
connote the intimacy shared by males in society without receiving strange
glances in the very least) and attempts to bridge what I call "the homosocial
gap" because he has no way of confronting and dealing with the feelings of loss
or absence in his life without comparing them to other tropes of relationships.
 Consequently, the attempt to connect his position to *Lear* and to Gloucester
(who does die near the cliffs, predicting the end, reflecting on his life,
talking about his relationship with his son, thinking about the kingdom) is an
attempt to find other ways in which Tennyson could have attempted to describe
his relationship with Hallam.  I thought that this could be a father/son
relationship or a fri endly political conversation because when Gloucester dies
he doesn't know its his son he's talking to, but if this seems farfetched to
you, I can understand because it was just something that I was thinking about.
The crisis/anxiety in his career comes from the fact that Hallam (perhaps his
best friend and most favorable critic) is dead and so a source of positive
feedback as well as inspiration is dead, Not to mentio Tennyson's own attempts
at dealing with the changes in literary circles (as his career begins in the
romantic tradition and ends in the Victorian).  "Is this the end?" refers,
Then, to the end of life (he deals with Hallam's body) and the end of his style
of writing  (he sees a change in himself) and the end of his ways of thinking
(consider the borderline existentialist views propounded in the middle
sections) ... now while it is clear that you think me an psuedo-academic
wannabe intellectual who throws around big words to sound "hip" believe me, All
i wanted to do was test an idea, which may be wrong if your interpretation is
correct.  I will admit to some stubbornness in still pushing to find some sort
of support for my interpretation.
 
If you still think that this is very farfetched, consider this section in
relation to the earlier sections that deal with Tennyson's inaccessibility to a
coherent discourse and inability to convey precise emotions through language.
Then consider the problem in *LEAR* which centers itself around the breakdown
of a discursive currency (cordelia views language differently than her father
and sisters).  Then consider the nature and circumstance of Gloucester's death
(he lost his sight, he thinks he lost his son, He is old, the state is going to
collapse around him).  Then consider what it must have felt to be Tennyson
trying to deal with the death of his very close friend and attempt to move
beyond a preoccupation with death and construct art in a meaningful fashion.
It maybe that my conjectures are pure academic masturbation in which case I
apologize for spewing all over everyone's screens, but I tend to think that the
coincidences and similarities (plus Tennyson's awareness of Shakespeare) lend
itself to an interesting reconstruction of the ways in which his own diffracted
and dissociated psyche (Tennyson does seem to have an out of body experience in
section 12) attempts to find solutions to profound problems
 
For a further reading which suggests a connection between King Lear and
Tennyson's In Memoriam can be found in Act 4 scene 6 Gloucester says "What is
he dead?" recalling the "Comes he thus ... Is this the  end?" of In Memoriam.
Also, Gloucester has the same sort of dissociating experience that Tennyson
experiences : his mind drifts from his senses. perhaps this is a stretch ...
but even so, I think it's interesting
 

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