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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: April ::
Re: RSC MND
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0277.  Friday, 12 April 1996.

(1)     From:   Jeff Myers <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Apr 1996 13:32:44 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0272 Re: RSC MND

(2)     From:   Clark Bowen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Apr 1996 10:54:30 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 7.0272  Re: RSC MND

(3)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Apr 1996 14:31:37 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   OBERON-PUCK

(4)     From:   Stephanie Hughes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Apr 1996 20:18:07 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0272  Re: RSC MND

(1)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeff Myers <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Apr 1996 13:32:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0272 Re: RSC MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0272 Re: RSC MND

> Furthermore, Oberon's fetish for
> voyeurism and ready disposal of his wife to an animal raises questions in my
> mind at least about why he wants the Indian boy in the first place.
>
> Regards,
> Scott Crozier

I wasn't aware that Bottom was an animal.  I thought he was a human with an
ass's head placed on him as a trick.  In other words, the animal in him is an
imposition by another being.  That he is less than human is implied by
creatures who are themselves not human, as well as the class-biased and not
particularly more human or enlightened aristocrats in the play.  Or are Oberon
and Titania human?  If not, their comments about each other's supposed affairs
with humans (a different species?) betray concerns not about inter-species sex,
but about infidelity.

Jeff Myers

(2)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clark Bowen <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Apr 1996 10:54:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0272  Re: RSC MND
Comment:        RE: SHK 7.0272  Re: RSC MND

Drawing attention to the play as a play is not a recent development.  Brecht's
rival, and probably his model,for self-conscious theatricality is Shakespeare.
At the very peak of audience involvement, whether tragic/horrific or comic,
Shakespeare draws attention to the theatrical event.  A brutal murder,stage
blood everywhere, probably on white togas, and we get Cassius:" How many ages
hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet
unknown?" [_e.g._ Elizabethan England] and Brutus:" How many times shall Caesar
bleed in sport?"  Or in the midst of laughter at the totally gullible Malvolio,
we get Fabian: "If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an
improbable fiction."(III.iv.29-30).

(3)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Apr 1996 14:31:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        OBERON-PUCK

In response to Scott Crozier's question as to where does PUCK fit into in all
this. Well, I wasn't keeping up with the earlier posts, so I may be missing
things, but to me PUCK is increasingly seen as the figure that severely
qualifies Oberon's claims of omnicience, etc. The fantasy of male dominance
over Titania, being part of it. That he gets the last word in the play is
significant. It's weird that Oberon wants the changeling as henchemen because
he already "has" PUCK as henchman, but what is the nature of such "having"? If
"having" the "changeling" is anything like having "puck", then the patrairchal
version of the fairy plot seems increasingly a cover up (and I would say this
is seen in the mainplots too. Jack may "hath" Jill, but what helena says about
demetrius "mine     own and not mine own" seems to get the last word). Also,
since the fairies do not quite live in human time, there's the possibility that
puck IS the changeling....Anyway, that's where I take some of these thoughts.
Thank you Scott for your intelligent questions, Chris Stroffolino

(4)---------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Apr 1996 20:18:07 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0272  Re: RSC MND
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0272  Re: RSC MND

Shirley Kagan and Scott Crozier:

Regarding use of sexual innuendo in playing Shakespeare for grammar schools,
this is probably not an issue. I was thinking of some sexual business I have
seen in productions for adults, but when I think of the productions I have seen
for children I realized that actors that do school productions do it for love,
both of Shakespeare and of children, not for money (since there is no money for
such productions generally), and that all true actors are close to children in
spirit anyway, at least, all that I've known, and all good actors tailor their
performances to their audiences, so that any business I have ever seen in such
performances was totally a propos.

Shirley; I don't disagree in principle with your enthusiasm for "breaking the
frame", but I don't agree that it is much of a shock for an audience to realize
that it is really sitting in a theater and not frolicking in the forest of
Arden after all. It seems to me much more of a challenge to break an audience
away from the grip of "reality" and transport it to another time and place and
keep it there long enough for the catharsis to occur that is the reason why we
are willing to go to the trouble and expense of going to the theater in the
first place. I don't agree either that breaking the frame is a recent
development. Surely Shakespeare was doing just that with the Christopher Sly
business in Shrew, the wedding party in MSND, the various prologues and
epilogues. The various dances and feasts that occur in the holiday plays were
(in my view) originally breaks in the action during initial Court productions
during which the audience of courtiers was brought into the dancing and the
feasting to some extent.

If you'll pardon a reminiscence: a production of Trojan Women by Andre Serban
in NYC in the 60's was done in a warehouse-like space, where the audience stood
herded together in the middle of the floor, and the action took place in,
around, and above us. The dialogue was entirely in Greek (don't remember
whether it was ancient or modern, in any case, none of us understood it). We
were herded from one part of the floor to another by cruel soldiers, and some
of us almost got run over by a huge cart. The Trojan women moaned, screamed,
shrieked, and spat, above our heads. I spent most of the time wishing I were
anywhere but there, except for one sublime moment, when a woman was killed, and
fell down a sort of wide gangplank, subtly letting herself slide, as though in
slow motion. There was a lot of discomfort for the audience, but no catharsis,
at least, not for me. (But as you see, I never forgot it.)

Scott; I applaud your thinking in regard to the underlying meaning of "the
forest of sexual license and magic," and the relief of the lovers to find
themselves at the end back on solid ground. Well said.

Stephanie Hughes
 

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