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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Branagh's Ham.; MND Discussion; Cordelia and The
Shakespeare Electronic Conference: SHK 8.0218.  Saturday, 15 February 1997.

(1)     From:   Charles Costello <
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        Date:   Friday, 14 Feb 1997 11:24:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Branagh's Hamlet

(2)     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Feb 1997 14:00:37 +1100 (EST)
        Subj:   Re:  MND Discussion

(3)     From:   Brian Turner <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Feb 1997 21:19:12 +1300
        Subj:   Re: Cordelia and The Fool


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Costello <
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Date:           Friday, 14 Feb 1997 11:24:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Branagh's Hamlet

I think Branagh is a victim of his own capacious talent.  "To the full!"
appears to be his motto (and he delivers), and, as has already been noted in
this discussion, we get nothing tempered in his work.  It's like love without
seduction.  I feel my little sleep before the first intermission entirely
justified as a defensive action.

Though starring a far less skilled actor, I thought the Zefferlli version much
better.  The air of Gibson's castle was effectively close for the catching of
his conscience; God only knows where Branagh's conscience got to in that giant
playpen of his.

When I saw Branagh in a British t.v. production of Look Back in Anger several
years ago, I was greatly impressed by his performance.  He did not direct.  His
insistence now on going whole hog and directing as well as starring in
everything he does is a great loss to the world of drama.  Who knows, if he
would concentrate his talents on acting for another decade or two, he might
learn something about directing.  Then we'd be in for a real treat.  Get back,
Branagh!

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Feb 1997 14:00:37 +1100 (EST)
Subject:        Re:  MND Discussion

I've been distracted from the discussions recently so I'm not sure whether
anyone else has mentioned one of my favourite recent (relatively speaking)
approaches to MND, Louis Adrian Montrose's "Shaping Fantasies".

Montrose gives a fascinating reading of the play as (and I'm grossly
oversimplifying here) a male fantasy of revenge or retaliation against the
threat of female power, as epitomised in the figure of Elizabeth I. I've used
the article with several classes of students, and the response has often been
both stimulated discussion and some practical work in class which has
outstripped in its savage brutality any production I've ever seen, especially
in terms of stagings of Oberon's treatment of Titania. The most strongly
committed feminist students have usually responded the most enthusiastically to
this understanding of the play, and have recognised its depiction of
oppression.

The Athens/woods dichotomy barely gets a look-in in this reading--in fact both
worlds are paralleled, showing similar examples of the punishment and
humiliation of powerful female characters, starting with the subordination of
the Amazon Queen by her male Athenian conqueror. This is not the way to a happy
or pretty production, but surely those have passed their use-by date.

Montrose also glances at the fact that the "issue...create" as a result of the
nuptual activities in the best bride bed, despite Oberon's consecration (never
mole, hairlip nor scar...), is of course Hippolytus. Moles, hairlips and scars
are nothing to this boy.

Adrian Kiernander

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Turner <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Feb 1997 21:19:12 +1300
Subject:        Re: Cordelia and The Fool

Syd Kasten in  SHK 8.0119,  Cordelia and the Fool, says:

>Further on in the play the author has provided a superfluous scene iii, act 4
>in which nothing much happens except for a description of Cordelia's emotional
>expressiveness.  This apparently does not appear in the Folio version.  No
>doubt this scene is an extender to be used in case the actor has gotten tangled
>in his stays or whatever while redressing to his Cordelia role on her way to
>Dover and needs more time?

Syd expands on this in SHK 8.0167

I have done a little analysis of the (Pide Bull) quarto. There are three scenes
plus a speech of 13 lines amounting to 292 lines between the Fool's final exit
in Act 3, scene iv (scene 13 of the quarto) and the start of  act 4, scene iii
(scene 17 of q). This is about 10% of the play - a good ten to fifteen minutes
playing time. Why would Shakespeare wish to cater for such a tardy actor? Would
the theatre not allocate a dresser rather than ask their resident playwrite to
compose an irrelevant scene? I once stage managed a play where we effected a
costume change in 26 seconds. We didn't write in any extra dialogue, we just
had a couple of people from wardrobe backstage helping her with it.
 

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