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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re; *WT*; *Cor.*; *MV*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0716, Monday, 25 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 1995 14:44:56 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: *Winter's Tale*
 
(2)     From:   Bernie Folan <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Sep 95 13:32:08 gmt
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0708  Re: *AYL*
 
(3)     From:   Stuart Rice <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 1995 17:32:10 EST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0712  Re: Antonio
 
(4)     From:   Donald Foster <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 Sep 1995 13:04:52 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Antonio
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 1995 14:44:56 -0700 (MST)
Subject:        Re: *Winter's Tale*
 
In response to Dale Lyle's posting on *Winter's Tale*:
 
The decision to have Mamillius kneel in the first half seems to me a brilliant
stroke.  I'd have to see your production to be sure, but I suspect it will, as
you predict, make the ending more resonant.  I think it will also help a modern
audience share more fully in a feeling Shakespeare's original audience probably
had: a feeling that combines a sense of wonder (the "resurrection," etc.) with
the familiar.  By foreshadowing the blessing ritual in the first half, you'll
help give your audience more of a sense that it was part of daily life, and it
will come less out of the blue at the end.
 
On laughing at the "statue's" wrinkles: I seem to remember a bit of laughter at
this point.  (I may, though, be remembering more the reaction from students in
class than from audiences.  But I think I've heard laughter in both cases.)   I
think a bit of laughter--not too much, not too uproarious--is fine.  One thing
I love about the final scene is the way it combines pathos, wonder, joy, love,
and humor.  You don't want any of the ingredients, especially the minor ones,
to overwhelm the rest.  But I think this is one point at which a touch of humor
comes in.
 
On the length of IV.iv:  In the production I worked with, this scene was
greatly reduced in length.  We cut lots of lines and some of the action (such
as the dance of "twelve Satyrs").  In a way, I regret that we had to cut so
much.  We lost some good lines, some that resonate with others in the play.  We
lost a bit of the depth the scene can give Florizel and Perdita.  And though
our production as a whole flowed very smoothly, and few would have noticed any
problems in IV.iv, the scene as we did it seemed a bit more disjointed than
others.
 
On the other hand, even with the heavy cuts, it still seemed long. My view is
that it's supposed to.  If it weren't long, it would be hard for us to *feel*
that 16 years have passed.  I think we need a nice stretch of stage time
between the Sicilian action of the first half and our return to Sicily in V.i.
Another reason for the length of IV.iv is that it ought to convey a sense of
abundance--of life, energy, motion, and all the variety that makes up both the
human and the natural worlds.  There are references to sea, sky, earth,
animals, plants, etc., etc.  And, set in the outdoors, the scene also has a
feeling of openness (and with all the young people in it, of youth) that helps
clear away the somber, claustrophobic feeling of the first half.
 
Having said all of that, I still sympathize with your feeling that people may
run out screaming.  The scene probably needs some trimming, but it's hard to
know where to trim and when enough trimming is enough.
 
I'll be interested to know what you end up doing.
 
Bruce Young
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernie Folan <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Sep 95 13:32:08 gmt
Subject: 6.0708  Re: *AYL*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0708  Re: *AYL*
 
Peter Schmuckal wrote:
          >>I just had to respond to this post since I think it really
          >>hits the mark. As an actor who performs Shakespeare
          >>frequently, I can concure that it is impossible to just
          >>"say the words."  The words themselves are only a small
          >>part of the presentation.  What is is underneath the words
          >>and what the character is trying to accomplish by saying
          >>those words is what acting is all about.  You must make
          >>decisions about what the character is trying to do at any
          >>given point.  If the actor doesn't make choices and
          >>understand completely what is being said and why he/she is
          >>saying it, then you can bet the audience won't either.
 
This made me think of a the ending of a recent production of CORIOLANUS I saw
in London at the Barbican theatre.  It was an incredible performance of a play
that I wasn't yet familiar with.  When I got home I read various bits of the
play in particular the stage directions for the very end after Aufidius and the
people have killed Caius Martius and Aufidius asks for assistance to bear his
body away.  In the Penguin edition I had the directions were simply 'they
assist' and his body is carried off.
 
In the production I saw Caius Martius is struck by Aufidius but slain by the
common people.  When Aufidius tries to get hold of his body after expressing
his grief and commending Caius Martius' nobility, the dead body falls on him
pushing him to the floor. When he asks for assistance, the people walk away and
Aufidius is left centre stage cradling the body.
 
This was a very striking, highly emotive ending that fit so well with the
performances and relationships depicted that I was quite surprised to discover
that it wasn't the usual or rather common ending to the action.  However I felt
that its ability in reinforcing two themes which came across strongly from this
performance was wonderful and so I felt that the director had used real
artistic sense in his interpretation. The two themes I mention are
 
1) that Aufidius was the only person who really understood Caius Martius, his
faults and strengths and his emotional fetters and so was hit hardest in a way
by his 'enemy's' death.
 
2) As sworn lifelong enemies, the death of Caius Martius made Aufidius'
existence redundant and superfluous.  His greatest challenge and force was gone
and this realisation for me was wonderfully illustrated by this final scene.
 
Finally I must clarify the reasoning for this, my first post (so sorry if it's
not the kind of thing...).  As Peter says there must be more than just the
words.  The words are the canvas on which the actor paints his masterpiece.  If
an actor really can interpret the words there is no need to alter them, just
breathe life into them.  Shakespeare wrote for the stage and for living actors
after all.  (I realise I may well have moved away from the actor's to the
director's role so forgive me).
 
          Bernie   {
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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Rice <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 1995 17:32:10 EST
Subject: 6.0712  Re: Antonio
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0712  Re: Antonio
 
I think that casting the relationship of Bassanio and Antonio as "homosexual"
misses the point.  I think that there is a valid argument for a "homoerotic"
interpretation, especially if you choose to see the play as being a Christian
allegory.  Under this interpretation, Antonio becomes associated with Christ
(so his opening scene becomes an allusion to Gethsemane [is that the correct
spelling?]) and Shylock expands to encompass the "Christ-Slaughterer."
Bassanio, therefore, becomes the disciple/friend.  As such, his love becomes a
material expression of a deep rooted spiritual faith.  Examples of this in
medieval art include the sculpture of John resting his head on the bosom of
Christ.
 
Stuart Rice

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Donald Foster <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 Sep 1995 13:04:52 +0100
Subject:        Re: Antonio
 
On the homoerotic and antisemitic in Antonio:  One of my undergraduate students
at Vassar (Alexandra Scott) puts it this way:
 
"In *The Merchant of Venice*, Shylock is the embodiment of the archetypal
'other.'  His actions (practicing usury, demanding Antonio's flesh out of
spite) and his beliefs (Judaism) are the antithesis of the credos of
Christianity and generosity idealized at Belmont.  While Shylock is in many
ways a despicable figure, Antonio's violent animosity towards him cannot be
accounted for by his purported reason: that Shylock is a Jew, and charges
interest.  Antonio is in every other aspect of his character both generous and
loving; his spitefulness towards Shylock seems inconsistent with his nature.
If, however, one accepts the suggestion that Antonio's emotions towards
Bassanio are romantic rather than platonic, then Antonio's dislike of Shylock
makes more sense.  Aware of the 'otherness' of homosexuality in himself,
Antonio sees Shylock as the embodiment of what he could be: an utter outcast,
irrevocaubly marked as different.  Antonio fears this spectacle of otherness
and, because of his fear, loathes what he sees.  He hates Shylock because he
himself is like Shylock; in the end, neither of them fully belongs anywhere in
the play."
 
Don Foster
 

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