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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Parallel Scenes; Osric; Shakespeare in France
Shakespeare Electronic Conference: SHK 8.0225. Sunday, 16 February 1997.

[1]     From:   Bernice W. Kliman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Feb 1997 17:35:23 -0500
        Subj:   Parallel Scenes

[2]     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Feb 1997 21:55:17 +1100 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Osric

[3]     From:   Edna Z. Boris <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Feb 97 08:47:34 EST
        Subj:   Shakespeare in France


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Feb 1997 17:35:23 -0500
Subject:        Parallel Scenes

People have come up with some very interesting parallel scenes -- well
worth thinking and writing about. But only a few people have provided the
parallel STAGE productions that college students might perform. The problem
with parallel film scenes is that scripts would be hard to come by and a
staged version of a film would probably not work and be too expensive.  The
problem with parallel stage scenes (like Stoppard's "Dogg's Hamlet" or
"West Side Story" -- productions for which there are scripts (a key factor
here) -- is that the rights are too expensive for a small college budget.

So, I have a new question.  Does anyone know of any offshoots of
Shakespearean plays from out-of-copyright years, from the Restoration
through the early part of the 20th c.?

*All for Love* (*Ant*) springs to mind. Someone mentioned *Sauny the Scot*
(*Shr*). Another possibility is the ending of *Lear* and the Nahum Tate
ending.  The idea would still be for a team of college students to present
two parallel scenes, the Shakespearean and the non-Shakespearean, during
one evening.

Thanks to all for your suggestions,
Bernice

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Feb 1997 21:55:17 +1100 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Osric

The query abut Osric's hat reminded me of something we did in a production
of _Hamlet_ I was involved with many years ago. We were unhappy with the
idea of playing Osric as stereotypically effeminate, which I find both
offensive and boring (a lethal combination). A friend and colleague, Robert
Leek who was studying the stage history of several Shakespeare plays in the
Netherlands, suggested an approach which (I think) he had seen done in a
production in Amsterdam. Taking as a cue the statement that Osric is
"spacious in the possession of dirt", as well as the use of terms like
"beast" and "chuff", we played him as a kind of rugby-playing, country hoon
and wannabe courtier, presumably recently arrived in Elsinore from his
estate in the provinces, and trying too hard to behave appropriately.
Someone accustomed to plain speaking, and thinking he now needs to sound
more elaborate, but handling it awkwardly and tying himself in knots in the
process.

As far as I and I think many others were concerned it worked well, was
quite consistent with the lines spoken by and about Osric, and added a
fresh kind of humour to both the character and his mocking by Hamlet. (I'm
particularly disturbed by the implications of Hamlet using term "beast" to
describe a swishy Osric.)

It also added a different plausibility to his involvement in the duel-this
Osric was someone you might expect to be able to handle weapons. There was
also nothing ridiculous about his appearance in the final scene-here he was
in his element, and there was no distracting prancing or posing of the kind
that often happens.

It is of course replacing one potentially offensive stereotype with
another, but at least an unexpected one, and one which in a sense turns the
tables on the convention.

I'd be interested to know any information about the tradition of playing
him as an effeminate fop, which seems to be the default reading for most
productions I have seen. Was it ever thus? And what other approaches have
been found to be plausible? (I haven't yet had the chance to see the
Branagh version.)

Adrian Kiernander

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edna Z. Boris <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Feb 97 08:47:34 EST
Subject:        Shakespeare in France

The most authoritative source of information on translations of Shakespeare
into French was published in 1963 by the Centre National de Recherche
Scientifique; it is called TRADUCTIONS ET ADAPTATIONS FRANCAISES DU THEATRE
ETRANGER and is a list of all translations; M. Horn-Monval is the compiler.
 For the play HAMLET, the earliest translation was by Pierre-Antoine de la
Place in 1746.

Voltaire is generally credited with making Shakespeare known in France,
sometimes through favorable comments and sometimes through critical
comments.

One of the best studies on this topic is by Theodore Besterman; volume 54
of STUDIES ON VOLTAIRE AND THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY is called VOLTAIRE ON
SHAKESPEARE (Geneva: Institute et Musee Voltaire, 1967).
 

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