Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: July ::
Re: Weimann's Locus and Platea
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0532.  Thursday, 6 July 1995.
 
(1)     From:   John Cox <COX@HOPE.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Jul 1995 10:59:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0530  Re: Weimann's Locus and Platea
 
(2)     From:   Peter S. Donaldson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Jul 95 13:16:15
        Subj:   Re:SHK 6.0526  Re: Weimann, locus and platea
 
(3)     From:   Skip Shand <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Jul 1995 11:39:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0526  Re: Weimann
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <COX@HOPE.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 04 Jul 1995 10:59:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0530  Re: Weimann's Locus and Platea
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0530  Re: Weimann's Locus and Platea
 
Dave Reinheimer is right that Weimann borrows the terminology of locus and
platea from early English religious drama, particularly *The Castle of
Perseverance*.  But Weimann has his own theory about the terms, and he carries
the theory over from religious drama to its successor on the London commercial
stage.  I'm working from memory here, not from the book, but I believe Weimann
suggests that the locus is not only theatrically but socially elevated: it's
the place where high society types are represented.  Its counterpart in the
commercial theater is the upstage area, thrones, etc.  The platea is the fluid
space surrounding the loci, and it is distinguished not only by being
physically lower but socially lower--the place of peasants, commoners, devils,
and vices, who are more apt to engage in direct address to the audience and are
therefore closer socially as well as theatrically to commoners in the audience.
 The commercial counterpart in London theater is downstage, which is also
theatrically and socially closer to the "groundlings."  It's a fruitful
insight, but exceptions to the general theory are so many as to make the theory
itself questionable.  For careful and painstaking elaboration of some of the
theory's problems, see the book by Hans Jurgen Diller that I mentioend earlier.
 
John Cox
Hope College
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter S. Donaldson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 04 Jul 95 13:16:15
Subject: Re: Weimann, locus and platea
Comment:        Re:SHK 6.0526  Re: Weimann, locus and platea
 
Well, here's a half remembered version of Weimann's locus and platea -- when
the weekend is over we can check out the book.
 
Weimann claims that the 16th century English stage inherits a kind of
doubleness from its medieval ancestry. Locus, the sacred "place" of medieval
drama  (Bethlehem or Jerusalem) translates spatially as the upstage area of the
Elizabethan stage.  Here the actors are more likely to inhabit their roles as
historical or fictional characters, and less as performers.  This is the space
of history, of representational closure, of theatrical and social decorum.
Platea -- roughly downstage -- is the margin of representation, where direct
audience address is common, where decorum (theatrical and social) is less
strict, and where the players are seen, or tend to be seen as performers, and
even, occasionally, as their real life (RL) selves.  This margin might, in
medieval drama, be the edge of the cleared space in a town center at which
audience and spectacle met.  At that margin, the role of a player within the
drama might merge with the actualities of the performance -- e.g. those who
played the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion might be those (larger) members of
the company who actually cleared and controlled the crowd.  Weimann's
distinction is also, roughly, a class distinction.  I've found all this very
useful, though I don't know if it holds water for the Medieval period, or, if
it does, whether the argument concerning the continuity of Elizabethan practice
with Medieval can be made convincing.  Perhaps Weimann's insight is not much
different from S.L. Bethell's "dual consciousness" of actor and role.  Weimann
attempts to historicize this notion, and to make it the basis of a theory of
double representation, and, in a later article (SQ 1991?) of "bifold authority"
on the Elizabethan stage.
 
Before Weimann, Olivier portrayed theatrical practice at the Globe in very
similar terms in his Henry V film, where, as I have argued, the locus/platea
distinction is mapped onto the relationship between film and theater.  One
distinction between the relatively indecorous theatrical space and the
solemnities of filmed epic is, for Olivier, the use of transvestite boys in
women's roles.  For the scenes in "France" he uses "real" actresses.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Skip Shand <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 05 Jul 1995 11:39:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0526  Re: Weimann
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0526  Re: Weimann
 
Michael Mooney has a very accessible applied take on Weimann's stuff in his
*Shakespeare's Dramatic Transactions* (Duke, 1990). The book presents
Weimann-based studies of R3, R2, Hamlet, Othello, Lear, Macbeth and A&C. It
does not, obviously, venture into a critique of Weimann.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.