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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: November ::
Re: Hymen
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0859.  Wednesday, 20 November 1996.

(1)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Nov 1996 17:23 ET
        Subj:   SHK 7.0853  Re: Hymen

(2)     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Nov 1996 17:22:31 +1100 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Hymen

(3)     From:   Bill Houck <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Nov 1996 13:43:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0853 Re: Hymen


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Monday, 18 Nov 1996 17:23 ET
Subject: Re: Hymen
Comment:        SHK 7.0853  Re: Hymen

I hope that little-old-lady Hymen was from Dubuque, and properly shod for the
role.  An otherwise highly satisfying _As You Like It_ done by the Great Lakes
Theater Festival here in Cleveland nearly came off its rails at the entry of
Hymen-as-Dionysus (the Caravaggio one), a lissome youth wearing nothing but a
kind of market-garden cache-sexe (a Speedo swimsuit, I surmise, with shiny
fruit-like forms painted fruity colors sewed on to it), his Zonker-tan body
makeup liberally dusted with gold powder.  You didn't know where to look.  But
it is a very difficult scene to stage for our times (maybe for Shakespeare's);
I'd like to hear reports on treatments that SHAKSPER viewers thought
successful.

Theophanically,
Dave Evett

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Nov 1996 17:22:31 +1100 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Hymen

In a production of AYLI at the Sydney Theatre Company earlier this year the
role of Hymen was played as Shakespeare who was flown in sitting on a huge
quill pen, at a point where the actors/characters didn't seem to know what to
do next.

After speaking the designated lines for Hymen from high above the stage on his
quill, he threw down to the other characters a sheet of paper containing the
ending of the play, including the speech by Jaques de Bois with the astonishing
and highly improbable revelations about Duke Frederick. While the actor playing
Jaques de Bois read these lines out, the rest of the cast looked on in what
seemed like incredulity and derision at this feeble ending to the play, while
Shakespeare/Hymen simply looked apologetic as if to say that it was the best he
could do.

I was less than fully convinced by either this piece of staging or the
production as a whole, but at least it was a way of directly confronting one of
Shakespeare's bizarrely happy endings (_Cymbeline_ is another), rather than
just skimming over it and hoping nobody notices, which is what has happened in
most productions I've seen.

Adrian Kiernander
University of New England

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Houck <
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Date:           Tuesday, 19 Nov 1996 13:43:28 -0500
Subject: 7.0853 Re: Hymen
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0853 Re: Hymen

I saw Steven Pimlott's RSC  AS YOU LIKE IT twice last summer, as part of an NEH
seminar in Stratford. During a discussion on the play, Pimlott told us that he
wanted to create a Hymen that came from another world...and that the world of
the audience was a different world from the world of the play.

He agreed that it wasn't really working, and might be changed when the show
transferred to London. If anyone sees it there, it would be interesting to note
any changes.

I didn't think Hymen was the oddest thing about the production, however. Just
before intermission when Orlando and Adam make it to the court of the Banished
duke in the woods, ADAM DIES and Orlando goes off chatting with the Duke,
leaving Jaques to deal with the dead Adam. I had never noticed before that Adam
didn't speak in the second half of the play. Has anyone ever seen Adam killed
off in another production?

In the second half of the play, there is a huge mound of earth upstage with
dead flowers scattered around it. Orlando delivers his Rosalind love poems from
this mound. Pimlott and the actors insisted that this mound was not Adam's
grave, but it sure looked like it.

That steel floor was aparently very treacherous, especially when the fake snow
hit it, so they had to put a coat of grit on it to cut down on the sliding
action. Unfortunately the grit tends to rip tights and hands. it's a tough
business, acting.

Despite some strange elements, I liked AYLI best of all the RSC shakespeare
productions I saw last summer.

Billy Houck
 

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