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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: December ::
Re: Lori Berenson; Politics and Ossified Art
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0955.  Tuesday, 17 December 1996.

(1)     From:   Kezia Sproat <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Dec 1996 18:13:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0909 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

(2)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Dec 1996 18:56:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0951 Re: Politics and Ossified Art


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kezia Sproat <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 15 Dec 1996 18:13:47 -0500
Subject: 7.0909 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0909 Re: Trevor Nunn's *Twelfth Night*

In the context of our list's conflict between Marxists and non-Marxists, and
seeing Bernice Kliman's response to the Nunn 12N, and among a group who know
Lear and tragedy, I am impelled to note a young American woman, who I
understand is a friend of Bernice's, who may have been, as I was years ago,
sympathetic to Marxist ideas, and is perhaps for that reason (but there's
little reason at all) at this moment freezing and starving slowly in an
unheated prison on top of a mountain in Peru. As a mother of two daughters, I
beg Marxists, capitalists, men, students, all, on behalf of Lori Berenson's
mother, whom I don't know at all but (if the Associated Press report recently
published in the Columbus Dispatch is true) who was allowed only one-half hour
in one year to visit, and then could only see her child through two dirty
curtains. Bernice Kliman: How can we help now?

Kezia Sproat

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 15 Dec 1996 18:56:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0951 Re: Politics and Ossified Art
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0951 Re: Politics and Ossified Art

Mason West asks:

>I realize that Andy White's point addressed how modern performances can address
>contemporary injustices, but might Shakespeare have had such plans in mind when
>he wrote Merchant or even, say, the Bollingbroke cycle?

The more I read his work, the more I am convinced that he spent a great deal of
his time taking contemporary issues head-on.  Hamlet for me is a case in point,
since so many of the Dane's traits (in contrast to the original legend) match
up with those of his recently beheaded advocate, the Earl of Essex.  It seems
to me a rather interesting attempt to mourn the passing of a man who was so
admired by so many, and yet who had such deep flaws that it was almost
impossible in the end for him to overcome them -- Melancholy being one of
Essex' biggest problems ...

As for Merchant, there is the distinct possibility that he wished to raise the
issue of anti-semitism in England (hence he puts it in Venice -- 'in the most
choice Italian' as Hamlet might say) or in general.  When the Stratford
festival staged it this year, they placed it in the modern equivalent of
Renaissance Venice, videlicit Fascist Italy of the 1930's. The hatred of Jews
was universal, even among those whom one would normally identify as romantic
heroes and heroines.  If you refuse to edit out certain sequences, include all
the ugliness of the trial and then go straight to Act 5, there is an almost
Brechtian effect on the audience. You want to be happy for the young couples,
but the knowledge of their inner ugliness makes it almost impossible.

Not that you sympathise entirely with Shylock either.  He's an extremely bitter
man from the start, and at least initially a part of you can't blame Jessica
for running away.  If this is a comedy in the ha-ha sense, I don't get it.  If
it's a comedy in the 'at least they get married' sense, then I buy it.

Andy White
Urbana, IL
 

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