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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: *TGV* Ending/Productions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0621.  Thursday, 17 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Kirsten Kern <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Aug 1995 20:50:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0619  Re: *TGV* Ending
 
(2)     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Aug 1995 16:15:42 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: TGV Ending
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kirsten Kern <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Aug 1995 20:50:23 -0500
Subject: 6.0619  Re: *TGV* Ending
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0619  Re: *TGV* Ending
 
In response to Chris S.'s question:
 
>I'm curious about why you'd have BOTH women not give their consent---I don't
>quite understand the logic. Is it because of Valentine's too quick forgiveness
>of Proteus?
 
In our production of TGV, we chose not to alter the text or switch around lines
as many have done in order to get around Valentine's puzzling offer of Sylvia
to Proteus as a gesture of forgiveness.  Instead, we made a big moment out of
it, staging as sort of ritual gesture with Valentine putting his arms around
Sylvia and gently but firmly giving her to Proteus with his lines "And that my
love may appear plain and free,/All that was mine in Sylvia I give thee."  It
is this evidence of Valentine's own "inconstancy" -- he who has appeared until
now to be the pillar of faithfulness -- that causes Sylvia to reconsider her
love for Valentine and sends Julia (now completely fed up with the fickle men
in this play) into a deliberate rage. It is interesting to note that in this
scene, all of the male characters change their minds about issues they have
held very dear for almost the whole play in a matter of seconds:  Valentine
forgives Proteus for almost raping his beloved after a mere 5 lines of apology
and then decides as quickly to give up this same beloved who he has called his
"essence" and his "life", Proteus decides he was wrong about being inconstant
and so quickly changes his mind again by switching his love back to Julia,
Thurio turns his back of Sylvia as soon as he thinks he might get beat up over
her, and the Duke dumps Thurio as his chosen mate for his daughter and takes
Valentine back into his good graces.  In our production, the final moment
reveals both women, not just Julia,  taking a stand against the inconstancy of
man.  We hoped also to show -- and I'm still not sure how successful we were at
this -- that the women had learned something about how they themselves had
participated in sustaining the culture that could create these kind of men. And
that by subscribing to the idea that "maids, in modesty, say 'no' to that/
which they would have the profferer construe 'ay,'" they were in essence
partners in their own oppression.
 
Hope that answers your question.  Sorry about the length, but brevity has never
been my strong suit.  We did shoot some video, but I haven't seen any yet.
E-mail me directly if you're interested in a copy when available.  By the way,
in case anyone was wondering after all this discussion of the last scene, our
production really was a comedy, and a rousing one at that.
 
Sarah Richardson
University of California - Irvine
Department of Drama

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Aug 1995 16:15:42 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        Re: TGV Ending
 
To Sarah Richardson (and anyone else with the interest and patience to read
this),
 
Thanks for your description of the ending of Two Gents. It is ferociously
difficult, as I know having directed the play a couple of years ago for the
Wellington Summer Shakespeare. The following description is probably going to
sound rather laboured, but it worked well and proved very popular, breaking
box-office records for the annual Summer Shakespeare.
 
So... In our production (which was set outdoors on a grassy plot surrounded by
huge trees) we went for comedy, certainly, but a very savage and satirical,
unromantic comedy. The design combined aspects of the Elizabethan and
contemporary periods, and we took as a starting point the idea of a world of
spoiled rich kids. This led us to the idea of playing it as Verona 90210. The
four young characters were selfish and stylish (and beautiful).
 
With regard to the final scene, one of my major concerns was that from the time
of the attempted rape until the end of the play Silvia has not ONE SINGLE word
of dialogue. This was something we took very seriously.
 
Shortly before the last scene Silvia was captured by the outlaws and tied up,
gagged and carried off stage. At the beginning of the last scene Valentine
entered as Outlaw Leader, fascinated by his own new image, and carrying a
pistol which he posed with. Astonished at his own ability to slip into this new
role, he began "How use doth breed a habit in a man..." At the end of the
soliloquy there were noises off (in the woods) so he hid and Proteus ran on
stage carrying the still bound and gagged Silvia, and accompanied by
Julia/Sebastian. (Julia was played as a kind of Vogue model wannabe who wanted
nothing more than a husband.)
 
Proteus loosened Silvia's gag, then went to untie her but was distracted from
this by her hostility towards him. After the brief argument he moved in for the
rape attempt, beginning by replacing the gag and pushing her to the ground.
Julia stood by dumbstruck. Finally Valentine burst out of hiding with his
Outlaw Leader pistol, aiming it at Proteus, who at once went to jelly. After
Proteus's pathetic attempt to excuse himself, Valentine levelled the pistol at
Proteus and tried to pull the trigger--but couldn't. Instead he collapsed into
Proteus's arms and forgave him, in a gesture of male solidarity. Then seeing
the bound and gagged Silvia as a rape-victim rather than the goddess he had
previously worshipped , he realised she was no longer what he
wanted/needed/desired and was therefore genuinely ready to give her away.
 
At this point Julia burst forward, furous with Proteus, and played the ring
trick. Proteus played  "Why this is the ring I gave to Silvia" equally angrily,
annoyed with his servant for making a mistake. She then revealed herself, and
on Proteus's line "How? Julia!" gave him a mighty slap across the face (which
often had the audience cheering).
 
At this point we had Julia trembling on the verge of some kind of understanding
about the nature of the patriarchal society they all lived in, and on the point
of making the kind of break that is suggested in Sarah Richardson's
production--but in this production her conditioning held good, and after the
proposal of marriage and a moment of hesitation she capitulated totally to
Proteus with the line "And I mine", with a silly giggle. Everybody was totally
engrossed in their own affairs that they forgot about Silvia, still bound and
gagged at their feet and growing increasingly desperate. This Julia had no time
for solidarity amongst women.
 
Then the outlaws arrived with the Duke and his entourage who had all been
captured. The Duke, who had been played very much as the patriarchal villain of
the piece, rapidly realised what had gone on and that he needed to act fast to
salvage what he could from the potential destruction of his most marketable
property, his daughter, who was by now almost catatonic from shock. So after
dismissing Thurio the Duke offered Silvia to Valentine, together with a gold
credit card which he drew from his wallet. In the meantime Silvia's nurse (who
had conveniently been captured among the entourage) administered a
sedative/tranquiliser to Silvia.
 
Valentine accepted the offer, and after a quick call on the Duke's mobile phone
a huge, white stretch limo drove onto the stage. The major characters got into
it (including the unconscious Silvia) and drove away smiling and waving like
royalty, followed by ecstatic outlaws.
 
Finally there was a rustle in the bushes at the back of the stage, and out came
a coldly angry Launce, last seen being fired by Proteus in 4.4. He had
undergone a transformation (personal and political) and was now dressed in
battle fatigues and a balaclava, holding the huge (Newfoundland) Crab on a
leather leash, and with a sub-machine gun. Slowly and deliberately he rolled
his balaclava over his face and walked off in pursuit of the repulsive group of
aristocrats who had just driven away, again often accompanied by the cheers of
the audience.
 
This sounds appallingly gimmicky I know, but it all went quickly, and was in
keeping with the general style of the production, which began at Valentine's
farewell party with both Valentine and especially Proteus drunk--swigging
champagne out of the bottle.
 
The rehearsals for the final scene were immensely difficult and often tense,
and the solution we ended up with was worked out painstakingly over weeks of
rehearsal. We were worried about the possiblility of falling into the trap of
glorifying or eroticising physical and emotional brutality towards women, but I
think the whole ending was sufficiently satirically comic and outrageous
(especially the limo) and the characters sufficiently repulsive and selfish
that this danger was minimised--but some people might disagree. In any case it
seemed to be received as a satirical image of a callous and sexist world (not
entirely unlike our own), and by the end the audience were laughing, cheering,
booing and on occasion calling out "Don't do it" to Julia as she was
considering Proteus's proposal. This was something we encouraged, initiated
partly through Launce's direct addresses to the audience, and helped by the
outdoor setting.
 
Like Sarah Richardson I'd be interested in other responses. I should point out
that my own thoughts were influenced by a private correspondence with Randall
Nakayama, and by information provided (after an appeal on SHAKSPER) by Jean
Petersen.
 
Cheers
Adrian Kiernander
Department of Theatre Studies
University of New England
 

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