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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: Teaching; Importance; "Conceptualized"
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0723. Tuesday, 26 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Marcello Cappuzzo <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Sep 1995 23:44:25 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Ethiop)
 
(2)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Sep 1995 00:47:32 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0713  Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   David Skeele <DBS@SRU>
        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Sep 95 10:10:43 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0713  Re: "Conceptualized" Productions
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcello Cappuzzo <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Sep 1995 23:44:25 +0100
Subject:        Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Ethiop)
 
Tom Ellis (23 Sept) is absolutely right.  My comment of 22 Sept on his
students' laughter was based on a silly mistake of my memory, according to
which the class, *after* laughing at the "Ethiop," had suddenly realized that
this time the "other" actually coincided with the "self".  To put it in Ellis'
own words, in my memory this was a typical case of "laughter engendered by an
ethnically abusive epithet"--a decidedly "mean-spirited laughter".  I apologize
to Tom, to his students, and to the List.
 
Marcello Cappuzzo
University of Palermo
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Sep 1995 00:47:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0713  Re: Importance of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0713  Re: Importance of Shakespeare
 
Marcello Capuzzo;
 
Thank you for your thoughtful response to my post regarding the importance of
Shakespeare. I don't in the least disagree with your feeling that we should
welcome the recent additions to English literature from the many cultures who
have embraced the language. The point I was trying to make had little to do
with Shakespeare's works, or the standard English lit. canon, but with the
language itself. It is my belief, based on a good deal of reading in both
literature and history, that Shakespeare was a culteral watershed, that is, he
collected the myths, fables, obsessions, of his time and rendered them in a
newly minted language, made up of what he heard from his fellows, read in
ancient texts, heard at his nursemaid's knee as a child, slang, Latin, Greek,
French, as well as various dialects, which he used in his plays and poetry.
These 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 is as though I were to
create a new medium for covering a canvas, better than either oil or acrylic,
with which I painted a number of pictures. These pictures merit attention based
on their artistic qualities, but the medium I invented has gone on to be used
by scores of other artists, many great and all very different. What Shakespeare
did for English was done by Dante for Italian and Ronsard and the Pliade (sp?)
for French; it happened when it did because of the process of European
communities forming into nations, turning away from their common language of
Latin to create literatures and cultures for themselves out of their own
vernaculars. To compare the value of one nation's music with another nation's
art is to compare apples and oranges, but certainly the creation of a language
is on an altogether different level from anything else. Certainly Shakespeare
did not set out to create a worldwide language; but I must repeat, had he never
been born, had Sidney, Raleigh and Bacon been the best writers of their time,
we might be making these posts in Spanish.
 
Stephanie Hughes
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <DBS@SRU>
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Sep 95 10:10:43 EDT
Subject: 6.0713  Re: "Conceptualized" Productions
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0713  Re: "Conceptualized" Productions
 
I have enjoyed the recent discussion on "conceptualized" vs. "unconceptualized"
Shakespeare, and I agree heartily with Sarah Richarson that the latter cannot
really be said to exist.  I think that in general the word "concept" tends to
get bandied about rather irresponsibly.  Usually the person employing the term
in a pejorative sense means "bad concept" and is referring to a concept which
trivializes the text or condescends to the audience.  Any director who seeks to
bring coherence to a production by foregrounding some idea or theme that they
take to be important is using a "concept" (though I should qualify this by
noting that in the Postmodern age, one might validly use a concept which
deliberately seeks to foster incoherence), no matter how invisible that concept
may be to the audience.  I also believe that the term "traditional" is often
grossly misused--when used to describe the practice of using historically
"correct" costuming and scenery, it is both inaccurate and unfair.  It is
inaccurate because it implies an unbroken line of scenic antiquarianism from
Shakespeare's day to our own, when in fact it is a relatively new practice, one
that didn't achieve much popularity until the 1850s with Charles Kean.  It
doesn't seems to have  become de rigeur until the 1870s with the Duke of Saxe
Meiningen, and it could be argued that its primacy as an approach was
challenged as early as 1912 by Granville Barker's fantastical Winter's Tale and
Twelfth Night (certainly by Barry Jackson's plus-fours Hamlet in 1925).  Thus,
in the grand scheme of things, "traditional" Shakespeare really doesn't
constitute much of a tradition at all.  On the other hand, the term is unfair
because it denigrates some really fine historically-accurate productions,
implying that directors who clothe their characters in pumpkin-breeches and
ruffed collars are simply blindly following tradition, and are incapable of
finding any innovation in their interpretations of the plays.
 

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