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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Apparitions ; Miranda and Prospero; Woman as
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0267.  Monday, 24 February 1997.

[1]     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Feb 1997 10:42:25 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0262 Re: Macbeth Apparitions

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Feb 1997 14:08:36 GMT
        Subj:   Miranda and Prospero

[3]     From:   Mikko Nortela <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Feb 1997 16:32:02 +0200 (EET)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0243  A Woman as Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 Feb 1997 10:42:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0262 Re: Macbeth Apparitions
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0262 Re: Macbeth Apparitions

When a group of my students performed this scene a couple of years ago,
the actor playing the apparitions was inside the cauldron (actually a
table turned on its side and draped with black stuff); she appeared as
or held up the various apparitions (bloody babe, tree limb, etc.) but
for the line of kings, and mirror was lifted up and Macbeth peered in.
We knew what he was seeing!  This tactic was very simple, but it worked
magically in a darkened room.  I don't know about outdoors. The circling
of the witches and the atmosphere of dread helped a lot.

Helen Ostovich
Department of English / Editor, _REED Newsletter_
McMaster University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Sunday, 23 Feb 1997 14:08:36 GMT
Subject:        Miranda and Prospero

Last week I saw the Shared Experience Company's production of The
Tempest, at the end of a very long tour.  There were many interesting -
even controversial - features of the production, but their emphasis
might provide some suggestions for Magdalena Viana.

In the first place they introduced, before the opening storm scene, a
dumb show in which Miranda and Caliban sported one with the other -
Miranda was clearly sexually attracted to a (not very monstrous)
Caliban, placing his hand upon her breast.  They were interrupted by
Prospero, and the play then continued with the storm.

This rather dodgy addition (which necessitated Miranda speaking her
condemnation of Caliban in 2.1. hesitantly, as if under her father's
orders) nonetheless fitted with the whole emphasis of the production
upon Prospero's need to renounce his control over a dearly-loved Miranda
as she grew up (and this Miranda was costumed in a brief shift for the
greater part of the play, emphasising her sexuality).  Where, I think,
this became interesting was in the way it brought out the parallel
between Caliban and Ferdinand that is explicit in the play's
presentation of them both entering bearing logs, and built on it to
underline the way in which Prospero's anger at Caliban's attempted rape
is close to the insistent policing of Ferdinand's sexual advances upon
his daughter.

But the picture was further complicated by the use of a female Ariel.
Like many recent productions - that of the English Shakespeare Company
in 1992, and, famously, the RSC production in 1993 for example, there
was frequent suggestion of Ariel's unwillingness to serve Prospero
further.  But where the RSC made Ariel greet his freedom with a spit (at
least in the earlier days of the production), and the ESC had Ariel
moving like a zombie throughout the production, only breaking into a run
at the moment of liberation, this production clothed its Ariel in a
tight tabard with long drooping sleeves, and when Prospero finally
granted freedom Ariel tore off this constraining garment, undid her
hair, and contemplated the freed body with evident delight and
amazement.  To the audience the sexual body thus revealed brought
Prospero's affection for his 'chick' Ariel into relationship with his
love for his daughter - and underlined  his regret at having to
surrender both.

This was emphasised all the more by Caliban's 'I'll seek for grace'
being followed by his creeping over to Prospero who, kneeling on the
stage, cradled him in his arms - acknowledging 'this thing of darkness'
as 'his' in unambiguously emotional/psychological terms.

The suggestion that the threat of incest and the need to avoid it is
one of the play's motors is not, of course, a new one.  Ruth Nevo
suggested as much in Shakespeare's Other Story  some time ago.

David Lindley
University of Leeds

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mikko Nortela <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Feb 1997 16:32:02 +0200 (EET)
Subject: 8.0243  A Woman as Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0243  A Woman as Hamlet

I have tried to find time for finding an exact pages I'm referring to.
But there will never be a minute in my calendar...

If I remember it right (which I in this case believe I do), there is an
interesting add to this discussion in James Joyce's Ulysses (Chapter 9,
so called Scylla and Charybdis -episode). In early 20th century some
woman even performed the whole Hamlet by herself in Ireland! There they
have, of course, a very strong tradition of one-man-performances, but
the idea of Hamlet being played all alone! And by a woman.

Sounds interesting, and if someone has more information from this, I'd
be more than happy to know about it.

Mikko Nortela
University of Jyvaskyla

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