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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: *WT* Production
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0642.  Friday, 25 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Aug 1995 21:20:49 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0635  Re: *WT* Production
 
(2)     From:   John Chapot <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Aug 1995 01:58:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: *WT* Production
 
(3)     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Aug 1995 07:57:55 -0400
        Subj:   re: *WT*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Aug 1995 21:20:49 GMT
Subject: 6.0635  Re: *WT* Production
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0635  Re: *WT* Production
 
In the light of discussion of producing WT I  pass on my experience of
watching an amateur performance of the play in the open air in Christ Church
meadow in Oxford in about 1972. It wasn't a particularly remarkable rendition,
except that just at the moment when Hermione's statue appeared a low mist crept
across the meadow  so that she seemed to float in mid-air. A magical moment
indeed, but one that could not be replicated by human artifice, I think (dry
ice notwithstanding).
 
David Lindley
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Chapot <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Aug 1995 01:58:28 -0400
Subject:        Re: *WT* Production
 
Regarding the bear: I saw a very moving RSC WT at the Barbican in 1987. They
set the first half in the colors of winter: white/silver/grey. The royal family
and guests celebrating the holidays in the palace on an enormous
polar-bear-skin rug, head and all. This setting was kept for much of the first
half, except that the bear head was sunk into a trap for the jail and court
scenes etc, still leaving the texture of the rug as the groundcloth for all
scenes. After the Mariner gave the baby to Antigonus and the storm increased,
the head of the bead rose slowly, upstage center, drawing the groundcloth with
it, behind the unwitting man. As it reaching a terrifying height and the sound
and music peaked the man turned to face it and the lights came down. Whew. The
sheperds scene played as denoument into intermission.
 
Regarding Time: it began the second half, "framed" as a separate event in the
evenings proceedings. The actor was lowered in from behind the exact center of
the proscenium. 'Lowered in' is right - it was a creaky flying rig, flaunting
the convention. It was the same actor who subsequently played Autolycus.
 
Regarding Mamillius: if memory serves (a big IF in this case) the text had been
rearranged to put his tellling the tale ("once there was a man -") into the
group scene (I,II) prior to Leontes' breakdown (I,I had been cut) and the
child's speech seemed to launch all the dramatic action subsequent.
 
Best of luck with this wonderful play!
 
John Chapot
San Francisco
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Aug 1995 07:57:55 -0400
Subject:        re: *WT*
 
Oh, bears, Time, is it too late to switch to Hamlet?
 
Thanks for the input so far, everyone!
 
Okay, okay, we'll try Time in rehearsal.  I didn't want to cut the speech to
make the play more credible.  No amount of cutting will do that, and in fact I
regard its improbability as one of its glories.
 
Rather, my feeling was that removing the speech might assist my conceit of the
first half being in the Past.  However, other than a program note, there's no
real way to convey that.  I was hoping that cutting the major contributor to
the linearity between the halves might help.  We'll see.
 
Chris Stroffolino: Why would I want to make this into Much Ado when it is so
obviously different?  I never suggested that Leontes shouldn't completely and
utterly destroy his family.  All I asked for is input on how far we should go
before he loses the audience's sympathy for good.  And I will say that I think
it is incredibly important that they not lose sympathy for him.
 
I'll tell you why I ask: in reading reviews of recent productions [looking for
neat ideas, of course], the production which had Mamillius in his pajamas in
II.1 struck me.  They had staged that beautiful little scene in the most
intimate moment between parent and child: getting ready for bed. There's even a
bedtime story. ;)  And then the ogre-daddy breaks it up.
 
It seemed to me to be the most effective rendering of that scene I had ever
come across.  However, at the same time I realized that if *I* had seen that
scene, I would never have allowed Leontes to be forgiven in the final scene.
He killed that child, you see, and although we're careful not to bring it up in
the last two scenes, and most audiences will forget it in order to resolve the
play, this particular staging would have stamped Mamillius and his fate into my
brain, and I would have not thought the ending to be a decent resolution.
 
That's not an effect I'm willing to explore.
 
And as for the bear: I don't know yet.  The stage will have reached its nadir
at that point: all the costumes will have evolved into black, the stage will be
covered with great swaths of black cloth, the lighting will be almost
nonexistent, the sound system will be busy with storm, bear, bear hunt, etc. So
we can probably get away with very little, even nothing.
 
I did think it would be effective to have Antigonus draw the bear off from the
baby, although I'm sure that's old hat.
 
How has everyone else done the bear?
 
Dale Lyles
 

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