Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: December ::
Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0919.  Friday, 6 December 1996.

(1)     From:   Frank Whigham <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 08:38:03 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0916  Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

(2)     From:   Dale Lyles <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 14:32:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0916 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 08:38:03 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 7.0916  Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0916  Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

On deemphasizing Antonio's sexuality:

The production cut Antonio's final two lines in 2.1: "But come what may, I do
adore thee so, / That danger shall seem sport, and I will go." These always
seem to me the first unmistakable evidence of his erotic affection for
Sebastian, and I certainly experienced this cut as an explicit muting or
silencing, though other positive aspects of the production remain clear enough
(the handling of his exit, for instance). Why, though, disguise him with a
dog-collar and granny glasses in the arrest scene? This too seemed like a
desexualizing to me. Indeed, it always seems to me that Antonio is incapable of
disguise, sexually polymorphous (or heterodox, anyway) but (otherwise?) seen
instantly for who he is, whereas others' desires are generally veneered in some
way.

Did anyone see any sign that Olivia's desire for Cesario had any homoerotic
content, as is often thought?

Frank Whigham

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 5 Dec 1996 14:32:15 -0500
Subject: 7.0916 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0916 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

I've not yet seen the film, but look forward to it--TN is one of my favorite
scripts.

The comments about the Toby et al. being "too rough" on poor Malvolio takes me
back to the decisions we made in our production many years ago.  I had sat
through three gloomy, autumnal productions (one in Stratford) and was
determined to reclaim the comedy of the piece.

One of the decisions we made was that Malvolio deserved what he got.  He was
everything others here have said he is, and beyond that he was *simply
unsuitable* for Olivia.  I think I have mentioned before how the young actor
playing him carried an executive clipboard with him and wrote down all of
Olivia's many commands, and then he'd read them back when he needed them.  The
ring scene was a prime example of his prissy obsessiveness; he kept referring
to his notes and quoting Olivia's "exact words."  We said at the time that
Malvolio was the perfect assistant principal.

Olivia herself defines Malvolio for us when she says he's just too un-fun for
his own good.  She tells him in their first scene to lighten up, but he
doesn't.  In fact, he never does, and that's why he's deserving of punishment.
At the end, in our production, when he was reduced to helpless fury by the
whirligig of time, he spat out his threat of revenge and was greeted by a gale
of laughter from the cast--and from the audience.

The alternative, granting Malvolio "personal dignity," means allowing his "kind
of Puritanism" to gain a toehold in our existence.  We preferred to tell him to
"sneck up."  Yes, Toby and Maria knew they had gone too far, but it wasn't out
of pity for Malvolio--it was out of concern for their standing with Olivia.
Quash him and his kind, and quash them thoroughly.

I know it is incredibly unfashionable to minimize the melancholy of this play,
but you can take it from me that it can't be eradicated, even in our sunniest
of productions.  On the other hand, overemphasizing the pathos/bathos of
Malvolio, Andrew, Toby, and Antonio, seriously tampers with the very very funny
nature of the play.  It's perverse, almost as bad as making Pyramus and Thisbe
a serious attempt at poor-man's theatre.

Anyway, that's our take on the comedies here in Newnan--make 'em laugh.  If you
want to bother them, do Timon or Titus.

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

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.