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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: February ::
Re: Cross-Dressing; Audio Oth; Bible; Sonnets
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0098.  Friday, 9 February 1996.

(1)     From:   Michael Yogev <
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        Date:   Friday, 2 Feb 1996 17:16:53 +0200 (WET)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0085 Re: Cross-Dressing

(2)     From:   Roger D. Gross <
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        Date:   Monday, 5 Feb 1996 17:56:41 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Audio OTHELLO

(3)     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Sunday, 4 Feb 1996 12:14:17 +0200
        Subj:   Shakespeare and the Bible

(4)     From:   Monique Quinta <
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        Date:   Saturday, 3 Feb 1996 23:44:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0083 Re: The Sonnets all of 'em


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Yogev <
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Date:           Friday, 2 Feb 1996 17:16:53 +0200 (WET)
Subject: 7.0085 Re: Cross-Dressing
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0085 Re: Cross-Dressing

Once more into this cross-dressing breach.  On a more contemporary level, I was
truly intrigued by the visible audience response to the Cheek by Jowls
company's performance of AYLI here in Tel Aviv last year.  An all-male cast,
the actors first all took the stage in an ordered series of rows, all
half-dressed in evening wear (white ruffled shirts, dress black trousers,
suspenders).  At this point, one of the actors who would play Jacques began to
declaim the "All the world's a stage, and the men and women..." upon which
those actors who would play women in the play shifted to a group stage-right,
and the men shifted stage-left.  They all exeunt here, and Act 1, Scene 1 began
with the two men playing Rosalind and Celia, dressed in long clinging silk
gowns, sitting on cushions and caressing one another through the opening
dialogues.  There was no attempt to give them breasts, and Rosalind was played
by a short-haired black man who wore a silk scarf banded around his head and
trailing down his side.  The combination of homoeroticism and racial difference
left many of the male spectators visibly squirming.  Just one of the many
superb bits put in by the director, Terry Donohue (I think??--don't have my
program here at the moment).

My point is that the audience reaction, then as now, to such cross-dressing
hinges very much on the contemporary conception (or lack of same) of
conventional vs. unconventional or even unnatural sexual conduct. I am not
convinced that the staging I describe above would have been nearly as
unsettling to Shakespeare's contemporaries as it was to my macho fellow
Israelis.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger D. Gross <
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Date:           Monday, 5 Feb 1996 17:56:41 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Audio OTHELLO

Tunis Romein is looking for an audio version of Olivier's OTHELLO. I can't say
for sure where to buy it now but there is a very good recording of that
wonderful production.  It was put out by RCA Victor in 1964.  The RCA number
for it is VDM-100.  It is a boxed set with the script as used in the production
and with a great book of pictures.

Good luck.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Sunday, 4 Feb 1996 12:14:17 +0200
Subject:        Shakespeare and the Bible

Most SHAKSPER correspondents seem to be taking the business about Ps. 46
seriously at one level or another.  Like John Cox, I first heard this
"attribution" more than a quarter century ago.  It was being taken then as a
spoof of the cryptograms that are sometimes proposed to prove Sh. was written
by Bacon or someone else.  The best such spoof is the essay published in the
1930s by Ronald Knox, the chaplain of the Catholic students at Oxford and later
translator of the Bible: "On the Authorship of *In Memoriam*".  With a lot of
cryptic gobbledegook and a perfectly straight face he demonstrates that *In
Memoriam* was not written by Tennyson, but by Queen Victoria as a love poem
addressed to Prince Albert. (Or was it the other way around?).  It seems
curious to me that Shakespeare should be seen by anyone as translating the
Psalms.  Richmond Noble demonstrated long ago (1935; *Shakespeare's Use of the
Bible and the Book of Common Prayer*) that Shakespeare was very fond of Thomas
Cranmer's translation of the Psalms, which he remembers in his many Psalm
echoes, while all the while drawing the rest of his Bible echoes first from the
Bishops' and (beginning in 1597) sometimes from the Geneva. (His memory of
Bishops and Cranmer together probably shows his childhood of attendance at Holy
Trinity, Stratford, where both were used in services.)  Many of Naseeb
Shaheen's significant points about Shakespeare's debt to the Bible first
appeared in Noble.  In his several publications on the subject, Shaheen credits
Noble generally but not in many particular cases, where the casual scholar may
credit Shaheen with Noble's insights.

John W. Velz
University of Texas

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Monique Quinta <
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Date:           Saturday, 3 Feb 1996 23:44:58 -0500
Subject: 7.0083 Re: The Sonnets all of 'em
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0083 Re: The Sonnets all of 'em

I'm entering this discussion late so if my suggestions are repeats of others
I'm sorry.

The problems that a performance of all the sonnets presents is very
challenging.

I say try it- regardless of running time.  But treat it as one single while
show rather than a collection of many individual sonnets.

This gives you much creative control over the final product.  Decide if its a
tragedy or a comedy.  Evaluate it the way you would a regular play.  Mix up the
elements so just about the itme you've got the audience rolling the aisles make
a sudden change and send them home crying.  Change the order if need be to
better bring about the ending you've chosen.

A few different treatments maybe: Use the redundancy Of subject that appears in
many of the sonnets with a comic twist perhaps by becoming more and more
weighed down with outlandish props mentioned in each of the sonnets.

Maybe create a few oddball characters who all cry out their woes with the
Bard's voice.

Choose a few that are not your favoirtes and have similar themes (in your
interpretation) and save some time by merely blurting out the first lines and
moving on the more moving pieces. (Also by your interpretation)

Apply the cross dressing discussion of late and deliver some sonnets as a woman
and reply with the next as a man.  Get sexually involved with yourself as the
two identities draw closer and closer.

And the possibilites are endless.  I suppose with all that  might be going on
with such a performance that many may be concerned that the beauty of the
poetry will be lost.  But the poetry can be saved by tying it into the chosen
theme.  Those sonnets which best describe the theme can be handled more
straight forward.  For example sonnet 18 can be treated with amusement at
another person's obsession with youth and beauty or as comforting words for one
on his death bed.  One may make light of the poetry while the other may heavily
weigh every word.

I would like to know what you eventually decide and how it turns out.
 

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