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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: April ::
Re: Texts
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0306.  Monday, 22 April 1996.

(1)     From:   Milla Riggio <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Apr 1996 16:18:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Texts

(2)     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Sunday, 21 Apr 1996 22:43:19 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0304 Texts

(3)     From:   Peter L Groves <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 1996 16:44:22 GMT+1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0291  Re: Texts

(4)     From:   Eric Armstrong <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 1996 07:17:28 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0304  Re:Texts

(5)     From:   Scott Shepherd <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 1996 13:26:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0304  Re: Texts

(6)     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Apr 1996 13:55:38 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0304 Re: Texts


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Milla Riggio <
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Date:           Sunday, 21 Apr 1996 16:18:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Texts

In answer to William Procter Williams query about actors:  What exactly do you
mean by filtering the actors' attempts to get AT Shakespeare on the stage?  The
actors I've worked with are trying to GET Shakespeare on the stage.  A good
dramaturg can provide all the variant readings one could possibly find - and
should do so.  The dramaturg should also have a facsimile at hand, if possible
of every major early text, to provide options of punctuation, spelling,
possible punning, aberrant readings, whatever you like.  But why would modern
actors want to struggle to read the orthography, never mind the older
spellings, or early printed texts?  Perhaps an actor herself might want to
reply. Certainly in our Romeo and Juliet, it was the idea of the director that
his actors SHOULD have the experience of reading SOME early spellings, just to
keep them aware of the historicity of the play they were dealing with.  But
when we came to Juliet talking about "men as old as we," the carelessness of
our particular text came to haunt us.  Perhaps a more careful version might be
useful....Who's out there to answer Williams' question more authoritatively?

Probably my last word on this subject, you'll be glad to hear.

Milla Riggio

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Sunday, 21 Apr 1996 22:43:19 -0400
Subject: 7.0304 Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0304 Texts

William Proctor Williams suggests that using a facsimile of the Qs and Fs might
be an interesting way to get around the "filtering" involved in using edited
texts.

At least in our situation, using a facsimile would be counterproductive.  Why
would actors want to battle their way through difficult typography and
orthography?  As for relying on "filtered" texts, that's what the director
and/or dramaturg are for in our company, to alert actors to the fact that there
might be an important variant reading to a line.  Many's the time I've asked
actors to understand that other readings were possible, and many's the time
they've elected the variant reading because it made more sense to them.

Also, and I may really be out of my depth here, I can't see how a facsimile
would be any less "filtered," if we are to assume that at least some of the
variants are printers' errors.  (Or maybe that's Williams' point--that the
filtering done by a group of actors might be worthy of study...)

Finally, in 1981, I had the audacity to give the cast of *Much Ado* carefully
pasted-up sides instead of full scripts.  I have yet to hear the end of whining
over *that* experiment, although of course they learned their lines in record
time.  I shudder to imagine what would happen if I handed out a facsimile side!

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
Newnan, GA
http://shenandoah.peachnet.edu/~dlyles/nctc/nctc.html

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter L Groves <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 1996 16:44:22 GMT+1000
Subject: 7.0291  Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0291  Re: Texts

Michael Kischner asks, anent the Everyman *Hamlet*:

>'To the Celestial and my Soul's Idol, the most *beautiful* Ophelia -- ' That's
>an ill Phrase, a vile Phrase; *'beautified'* is a vile Phrase. . .
>Where can that "beautiful" (instead of "beautified") have come from? Neither Q2
>nor F1, I gather.

The answer is implicit in the question: it is from the execrable Q1 . Corambis
(Polonius) is quoting from Hamlet's letter:

    ...But doe not doubt I loue.
      To the beautiful *Ofelia:*
      Thine euer the most vnhappy prince *Hamlet*.
      My Lord, what doe you thinke of me?

No mention here of "beautified".  To import this obvious memorial
reconstruction/regularization into a modern text of *Hamlet* (and thus to make
nonsense of P.'s "beautifed") is surely to carry editorial incompetence and
folly to new and unexplored heights.

Peter Groves,
Department of English,
Monash University,
Melbourne,

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric Armstrong <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 1996 07:17:28 +0000
Subject: 7.0304  Re:Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0304  Re:Texts

Having worked as an actor and as a coach to actors of Shakespeare in Canada and
on faculty at the National Voice Intensive, which coaches actors in an approach
to Shakespeare, I have always used Folio texts, combined with something else,
usually Arden. I'm a fan, and I work with the Folio text from early days of
rehearsal.

Most actors I encounter are struggling to make sense of the text of ANY
edition. They like the convenience of an edition that stops them having to do
ALL the hard work of looking up words in the OED. However, many actors are
enlightened and inspired by looking at the layers of meaning they find in the
OED. In fact, not having editorial content challenges many actors to do the
homework they need, instead of relying on the homework the editor thought they
needed.

Using "original" texts is nothing new in the actors world. Recently it has been
popularized by such "controversial" figures as Neil Freeman of the University
of British Columbia. His proposition that punctuation, capitalization,
orthography and "long-spellings" are actor-information, a "secret code" left
for us to figure out by Heminge and Condell, is often supported by actors while
being despised by academics. His slightly more respected (that's debateable
too) British counterpart, Patrick Tucker, who is popularizing a form of
Shakespeare performance derived from Elizabethan practice, has also brought
back the Folio texts. The inexpensive Applause Facsimile comes from Doug
Moston, who worked with Tucker in NYC.

Whether you go with a "philosophy" (ie Freeman or Tucker) or not, I would say
that many actors LOATHE reading the "funny letters", and are pleased to see
editions with modern typography at least. (Neil Freeman sells an edition that
he has developed with modern typography.) Also, the very cramped facsimile page
may be hard to read on the first go, but it is handy if photocopied and folded
in half - fits in the hand just nicely and because it is so compact, you can
get a big scene on one page of paper. But there is no room for blocking notes,
acting notes, etc. so it is far from perfect.

Getting back to "editors choices", I think that actors like to feel in control.
If there are choices to be made about meaning and interpretation, they want to
be consulted - the more information they have, the happier they are. I
particularly like the fact that Arden tells you when it deviates from Folio,
quarto and all those - so I can make the choice myself. I play with the
suggestions of Freeman and Tucker, and see what works for me - I find it
informative and liberating. Understanding rhetoric, dialectic, word play... all
these are made easier when working with the Folio - the punctuation really does
help you see how ideas may "flow" through the argument.

I hope this helps you see how actors might approach working with the
"originals".

Eric Armstrong
School of Dramatic Art - University of Windsor, Canada.

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Shepherd <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 1996 13:26:30 -0400
Subject: 7.0304  Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0304  Re: Texts

>What do you on the list, who work with the stage regularly, think?

I think the old folios and quartos, rife as they are with compositor errors,
apparent misreadings, printer emendations, and all those premodern
typographical habits whose subtle significances are wildly disagreed about,
especially by nonscholars, make bad scripts for performance, since they involve
actors and directors in a lot of editorial wheel reinvention that has nothing
to do with acting or directing.

Rather than discard centuries of textual study directors can construct a script
of their own liking from a selection of editions and facsimiles. The Arden is
handy in this regard since it tends to discuss its editorial decisions, giving
readers some basis for making their own.

To me most versions, being intended for readers, are overpunctuated for actors
and contribute to the fractured momentumless delivery we are used to hearing on
the stage. I always eradicate semicolons and decimate commas before starting
rehearsal.

Scott Shepherd

(6)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Apr 1996 13:55:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0304 Re: Texts
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0304 Re: Texts

In response to Wm Proctor Williams about use of folio facsimiles for production
texts. In my SUNY-Oneonta production of +The Scottish Play+ in 1989-90, on the
advice of Alan Dessen and Neil Freeman, I used the first folio as text.  Not
having a scanner, I typed the Riverside edition into my computer, then with the
folio in front of me, edited the entire work to the folio conventions. In my
margins I noted all editorial changes, especially in line-length, but also in
much of the spelling and punctuation.

This edited version then became our text. During the first week of rehearsals,
together as a company we worked our way through the text, with Riverside,
Pelican, and Arden beside us, taking advantage of the scholarship thus
available, but having the early printing to offer us our own options in the
reading of the text.

I highly recommend this process.  The cast, many having their first experience
in Shakespeare production, thrived on the process.  Among other things, it took
away the fear of treading on hallowed ground. Though we could use, we did not
rely upon the experts.  We had to make our own choices among many
possibilities, including choices that the experts had rejected in their
editorial wisdom.

It was fun to have Seyton not make an exit and reentrance before announcing the
Lady's demise.  How did he know?  The question led to an interpretive choice
that is not prescribedby the folio, but one that seemed to make sense. He
became an in-house representative of the dark forces,frequently watching the
Thane and others, to make sure that they were taking the bait, moving toward
their own damnation.

Birnham Wood, in our production made up of boughs of Scotch Pine, not only
transformed the color of the show, which remained until the end, since the
folio gives no direction for their removal, but in our small Elizabethan
Playhouse reconstruction, added a marvelously fresh aroma, a true breathing of
life into Scotland by Malcolm's reclaiming of his rights.

I know that this process is followed fairly commonly today, and I do not
presume to be original in its use.  But for those unaware of its potential,
start with Dessen's and Freeman's wonderful scholarship, and then try it.
 

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