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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: March ::
Re: Character; About This List; Parodies
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0187.  Friday, 8 March 1996.

(1)     From:   Florence Amit <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Mar 1996 10:31:01 +0200
        Subj:   RE: SHK 7.0136 Re: Hamlet, Ophelia, and

(2)     From:   Charles S. Ross <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Mar 1996 08:45:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 7.0178  Re: About This List

(3)     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Mar 1996 00:54:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0183 Q: Performance of Parodies


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Mar 1996 10:31:01 +0200
Subject: 7.0136 Re: Hamlet, Ophelia, and
Comment:        RE: SHK 7.0136 Re: Hamlet, Ophelia, and

>I had thought that the "character" debate had really run itself into the
>ground, and was determined to exercise as much restraint as I could, lest I
>diorientate Steve Urkowitz more than is good for him. But Clark Bowlen's
>commnet crystallizes what a number of other contributors to the debate have
>edged towards: that there is clearly a confusion between reading a
>Shakespearean text, and the demands that actors might place upon it.
>
>Bowlen argues that "Playwrights must leave room for actors to create the
>emotional life of the characters within themselves out of their own flesh and
>feelings and imagination".  The most eloquent defence of this approach is, of
>course John Russell Brown's Shakespeare's Plays in Performance (1966).  What
>is, of course missing from assertions such as that of Bowlen that the actor
>suppies the same kinds of information about a "character" that a novelist
>supplies by other means, is any kind of statement about what it IS that is
>supplied.  The tacit assumption seems to be that either "Shakespeare" is the
>"character" behind his texts which it is the hermeneutic task of the critic to
>discover, or it is "the actor" who provides the insight into "character" out of
>her/his "own flesh and feelings and imagination".  In either case, whether the
>resource for this is Shakespeare's "genius", or the actor's inner life, the
>problem still remains: where do the "feelings and imagination" come from.
>Bowlen speaks as though they have some kind of independent existence amenable
>to empirical study.  My point is that like the concept of "character" they
>emanate from a constellation of ideological assumptions.  Simply to assert that
>a Shakespearean text (agumented by the actor's performance) is doing the same
>as a novelist but by another means exacerbates the very essentialist knot that
>I would like to see untied. That, of course, says nothing about the assumption
>that a Shakespearean theatrical representation is the means by which we locate
>some form of unchanging human nature, hence the actor can share with the
>dramatist the task of unfolding to the spectator what everybody always knew
>about the inner lives of individuals.  What Bowlen, and others seem unable or
>unwilling to concede is that their very notion of "character" imposed on a
>Shakespearean text produces an anachronism.

No, I cannot agree that it is just a toss up between an elusive person called
William or a boyant actor that we have when we look for character in the plays.
There is this aspect of the Luthern Hamlet or of Plutarch's Caesar: that the
characer is built up carefully layer upon historic layer with a great deal of
empathy and insight.  How does a poet empathize with someone he distains and
whose acts are abhorrent to him? It is too important to be left to the chance
actor. He studies more. He delves deeper. Iago becomes the disguised egocentric
pitting himself against all the "clowns" that he encounters. He is the
trickster of the Tarot pack and he is the representative of the collective
racial ego. The whole self in the middle is absent. Shakespeare is Jungian more
than Jung as he is Freudian more than Freud.

                                                            Florence Amit

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles S. Ross <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Mar 1996 08:45:45 -0500
Subject: 7.0178  Re: About This List
Comment:        Re:  SHK 7.0178  Re: About This List

I oppose splitting the list but I am in favor of brevity. Prof. William Ringler
used to say that scholars have a duty to say more and write less. This is
terrible advice for things like tenure and academic promotion, I have found,
but it strikes me as just right for SHAKSPER.

Charles Ross

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Mar 1996 00:54:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0183 Q: Performance of Parodies
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0183 Q: Performance of Parodies

'Goodnight Desdemona' is being revived in Toronto right now but I do not
believe it was ever a video.

Toronto comedians Wayne and Shuster did 'Julius Caesar' on the Ed Sullivan show
in the 50's.

Are you looking strictly for videos?

John Ramsay
Welland, Ontario, Canada

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