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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: September ::
Re: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0639.  Monday, 2 September 1996.

(1)     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 10:02:46 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

(2)     From:   Mason West <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 16:00:21 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

(3)     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 19:16:40 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

(4)     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 20:03:36 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0638 Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

(5)     From:   Stephen Neville <
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        Date:   Sunday, 1 Sep 1996 08:15:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0638 Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 10:02:46 -0800
Subject: 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

This is for Ian Doescher, who wants to do a one-man show of STC's "Mariner."

Just remember that--for many of us who grew up with television--the rhythms of
the poem are more familiar as the tune to "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island."

        Good luck.

                --Bradley Berens

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mason West <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 16:00:21 +0000
Subject: 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

Hello Ian Doescher --

You asked:

    Can [a one-man show of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's _Rime of
    the Ancient Mariner_] work?  Is Coleridge's language not
    appropriate for entertainment beyond reading appreciation
    and analyzation?  I would be grateful for the opinions of
    SHAKSPERians, which I value highly.

I would enjoy seeing such a show. I think Coleridge's language is not so
removed from modern English as Shakespeare's, and Shakespeare remains quite
popular today despite the Elizabethan idiom.

If you watch _Out of Africa_, there's a scene in which Denys Finch-Hatton
(Robert Redford) shampoos the hair of Karin Blixen (pen name Isaak Dinesen,
played by Meryl Streep) while they are on safari. The script for this scene,
which I happen to have handy, reads:

    She's on a camp stool, in shorts and camisole, a towel
    around her shoulders. He's shirtless [in the actual film he
    did have a shirt on], suds to the elbows, having a fine
    time, reciting all the while.

                           DENYS
    "--Laughed loud and long, and all the while
    His eyes went to and fro.
    Ha, ha, quoth he, full plain I see
    The Devil knows how to row.

    Farewell, farewell--"

                           KAREN
    You're skipping verses.

                           DENYS
    I leave out the dull parts:
    "Farewell, farewell, but this I tell
    To thee, thou Wedding Guest:
    He prayeth well, who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast."

While Coleridge's conclusion, which became a kind of popular short verse that
stood alone, resonates with the love of nature that Finch-Hatton incorporated
into his philosophy of life, this scene also shows that Coleridge's audience
enjoyed, even memorized, _The Rime of the Ancient Mariner_ for recitation as an
entertainment in the days before radio and television usurped that function
within our culture. In short, you have excellent precedence for making a
one-man show of the poem.

-- Mason

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 19:16:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0638  Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

Of course it can "work" -- depends on the performer (and the audience).

C. David Frankel

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(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Aug 1996 20:03:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0638 Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0638 Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

Yes, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner can work as theatre.  It was performed at
the University of Toronto several years ago, and I don't remember much, but it
was enjoyable.  Perhaps someone else remembers?

Helen Ostovich
Department of English / Editor, _REED Newsletter_

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Neville <
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Date:           Sunday, 1 Sep 1996 08:15:30 -0400
Subject: 7.0638 Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0638 Q: *Rime of the Ancient Mariner*

I can see some problems with this idea, but that does not mean that it is not
possible.

Firstly, there are several voices in the poem. There is the narrator, the
wedding guest, the Ancient Mariner plus First and Second Voice in Part Six.
There is also another voice in the shape of the explanatory notes alongside the
text, though for a performance these can be discounted. These voices are more
easily portrayed by one person if the performance is audio only. Simon Callow
recently gave an excellent reading (performance?) of the poem, doing all the
voices,  on "Poetry Please!",  a BBC Radio Four programme. (I do not know if it
is commercially available, but it is very good).

Secondly, the poem is sited at a wedding feast, not on board a ship. Setting it
on board a ship loses what might be considered an essential dimension of the
poem.

This links with the third problem. The wedding guest is an essential character
in the poem He  "Listens like a three years child:/The mariner hath his will"
The poem is as much about the effect of the mariner on the wedding guest as
about the effect of the journey on the mariner. The wedding guest, remember,
has the last verse to himself "He went like one that had been stunned" etc.This
may be difficult to display visually. Dylan Thomas's poem "Under Milk Wood" was
a great success as an audio production, also for the BBC. A film was made of
that and, whilst it was enjoyable, adding a visual element to it was, for me, a
disappointment, as I had a mental picture of the poem that did not match what I
saw on the film. Conversely, people who saw the film first may well have their
subsequent reading of the poem "coloured" by what they have seen.

Finally, I do not think Coleridge's poem is for  "reading appreciation" only,
it can be just as (or more) enjoyable,  heard. Whether it "improves" by a
visual presentation remains to be seen.

Regards
Stephen Neville
 

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