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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: July ::
Re: Adriana; Teaching *Lr.*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0570.  Thursday, 20 July 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 19 Jul 1995 09:13:43 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0565 Qs: Adriana
 
(2)     From:   Mary Jane Miller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Jul 1995 08:59:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0560  Qs: Teaching *Lr.*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Wednesday, 19 Jul 1995 09:13:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 6.0565 Qs: Adriana
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0565 Qs: Adriana
 
To Sarah Cave,
 
I found your question fascinating because I've seen COMEDY several times and
been in it once and have never found Adriana shrewish.  She is a SAD character
who thinks that her husband has betrayed her (and with her own sister), but she
has never engaged anything by my profound sympathy.
 
In 1984, as a youngster really, I took a six week "how to act Shakespeare"
seminar at the Will Geer Theatricum Botannicum in Los Angeles.  This is an
annual summer program with well regarded L.A. actors and directors teaching, a
lot of fun.  The final project was a collection of scenes, and one of the
actresses (whose name I have, sadly, forgotten) was assigned Adriana's
magnificent "Ay, ay Antipholus" monologue.  The actress had just been through a
bad breakup when her boyfriend or husband had left her for another, so she was
having trouble with the speech.  The director, Nan Martin, suggested that she
try a modern paraphrase.  The results were shockingly powerful, and used the
word "fuck" quite a bit.
 
Now, remember, I was young and inexperienced.  When the rest of the class was
asked for commentary I said something about being surprised by the vehemence
and all the profanity.  The actress and all the other women in the class all
looked at me with a kind of tender pity for my youth: "Brad," the actress said,
"it's all ABOUT fucking.  That's what you think about, that he was there
fucking someone else."  I bowed to what was obviously the greater authority.
 
So.
 
In the full productions I've seen, and the one I acted in, my experience of
Adriana is that she is profoundly sympathetic.  She is not another Katherine
from SHREW, and one of the best indications of this is that her relationship
with her sister Luciana is so generally positive, unlike the Katherine/Bianca
relationship.
 
There is one problem with Adriana: she isn't all that funny.  There's a
difference between a character being likable on stage--in terms of how the
audience approves or disapproves of the characters actions--and a character
being attractive on stage because she or he has good schtick.
 
(I'm prepared for people to have reactions to this last paragraph.)
 
Adriana is, in my experience, not at all unlikable but not as attractive as,
for example, the Dromios because in a slapstick farce Adriana is the one really
serious character.  She has a depth to her, especially during that monolog,
that eludes the others.
 
But she's not a shrew.
 
Sarah, does this help?  Everybody else, reactions?
 
Sincerely yours,
Brad Berens
U.C. Berkeley
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Jul 1995 08:59:21 -0400
Subject: 6.0560  Qs: Teaching *Lr.*
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0560  Qs: Teaching *Lr.*
 
Perhaps this is relevant, John.
 
Many years ago at a conference, several University teachers were comparing
notes over supper. I said how much I loved teacking King Lear. Most of the
others who were in their later 40's, not their early 30's like me (then!), said
they found it very tough to teach. They said very frankly that they fund it too
painful [perhaps it was closer to their experience as they faced aging
parents?].
 
At 53 I still love teaching the play, partly because it gains in depth for me
every year. But I find it harder now to refrain from saying to my 20-21 year
old students - "wait for it. It will make much more sense later on."
Truthfully, I can't imagine trying to teach the play to most kids of 15 or 16.
 
One suggestion: King Lear by Alexander Leggatt looks at many performances of
Lear - some available on video. [Shakespeare in Performance, Manchester U.
Press (in US & Canada St. Martin's Press) 1991]. I assign as 3 short seminar
topics analysis of 3 versions (Olivier, Hordern, Scofield) of Act. IV vi). Act
I would be another choice. Discussion is usually lively. I don't give them this
reference until later.
 
Mary Jane Miller
 

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