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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: May ::
Re: Volpone; Revenge Plays; Street Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0351.  Wednesday, 8 May 1996.

(1)     From:   William L. Taylor <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 May 96 05:57:29 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0346  Volpone

(2)     From:   Lisa Hopkins <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 May 96 11:51:00 0BS
        Subj:   John Ford and Tourneur

(3)     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 May 1996 16:23:49 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0345 Re: Street Shakespeare


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William L. Taylor <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 May 96 05:57:29 EDT
Subject: 7.0346  Volpone
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0346  Volpone

I agree with most of Georgianna Ziegler's remarks about the current production
of Volpone at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C., but I was not as
pleased as she with Pat Carroll's performance in the title role.  I thought I
saw qualities in Carroll that might have made her highly effective as Falstaff
in Merry Wives (for which I'm told she received excellent reviews), but being
"too nice" can destroy the role of Volpone, if it means dulling the satiric
edge and palliating the evil in the man.  I found Carroll rather bland--not a
desirable quality in Jonson!

I saw a preview performance, two or three days before the opening, and the show
has no doubt improved since then, but many of its problems are built into its
approach to the script.  As Ziegler points out, Michael Kahn has chosen to
exaggerate the animal-like qualities of the characters, and like Ziegler, I
found this highly successful, though some people will feel it is "over the
top." My own favorites were Ted van Griethuysen as Voltore, and especially
Wallace Acton as Mosca.  I would never have believed that a human being could
so effectively  imitate the movements of a fly!  Despite the animal imitations
of the rest of the actors, however, I saw no attempt on Carroll's part to
suggest the movements of a fox.  Normally, there would be so reason why she
should, but this production certainly calls for it.

Ziegler did not mention that the history of the transmigration of the soul of
Pythagoras in 1.2 has been cut, nor that the stress upon animality has led to a
deemphasis of monstrosity and deformity.  Perhaps Kahn decided to draw focus
away from Androgyno because of his androgynous Volpone. The character of Sir
Politic has been cut almost to nothing; the entire tortoise shell scene, and
much else, is gone.  Peregrine has been reduced to a foolish figure of fun,
stripped of his clothes and driven from the stage in embarrassment.  As a
result, most of the thematic reasons for the presence of the English characters
are gone.  Lady Would-Be has been retained for her comic turns and her role in
the trial--and for a curious bit of "comic" business in which Nano brings her
to a screaming orgasm under the blankets during her conversation with Volpone.

So although I agree with most of Ziegler's  positive comments, my admiration
for the production is qualified. I will be seeing it again May 17, and I look
forward to comparing its state now with what I saw a month ago.  In the
preview, the performance peaked in the first trial scene and slid downhill in
pace and intensity from that point on.  That problem should be solved by now.

Who else has seen it?  What did you think?

William Taylor
Seattle University

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 May 96 11:51:00 0BS
Subject:        John Ford and Tourneur

Is my computer playing tricks on me, or has someone really got an edition which
attributes The Revenger's Tragedy to Ford?  O brave new world, which has such
strange books in it...Would it be possible to obtain a precise reference, and
also information on what the other texts in the volume can possibly be?  (My
best bet is Hamlet...)

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Monday, 6 May 1996 16:23:49 -0400
Subject: 7.0345 Re: Street Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0345 Re: Street Shakespeare

How about involving the street audience in a game of "Name That Play"--"Alex, I
can name that scene in three lines...," that sort of thing?  You could begin
with the easy ones, like R&J balcony, etc., and then move on to the really
wicked ones, stuff from H6/2, if indeed you were interested in theatre of
cruelty.

This is an idea we've been batting around for a couple of years as a
possibility for the RennFest up the highway from us.  Feel free to take it to
the streets.

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

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