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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare on the Great Lakes
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0289.  Friday, 28 February 1997.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 15:05:22 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0282 Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

[2]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 19:00:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0282 Shakespeare on the Great Lakes


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 15:05:22 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 8.0282 Shakespeare on the Great Lakes
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0282 Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

Quite interesting, that note about a young man and his companions
reading and quoting our man on the lakes in the mid-1800's, because it
reminds us into the humility of knowing that our man's stuff seeped
everywhere, with the colonisers and the habitues of the music halls, the
factory floor, the fishmarket, the church and synagogue, the public
pools of towns and cities, debtors' prisons, the workhouse and the
poorhouse.
My mother left school when she was 15, my father at 14. She would quote,
after her favourite "It was the schooner Hersperus, etc...", an amazing
amount of our man, as would my father who went barefoot until 12, slept
in the same bed with three brothers and a sister and became a lab
assistant before leaving to fight the Mersemetrou in 1915 in Egypt, and
could quote "Now is the winter....", "Farewell, a long farewell to all
my greatness", "All the world's stage..." among other chestnuts; later
in his life when he was director of a chemical factory, I heard some of
his workmen exchanging quotations beside the controls of a flash roaster
that prepared sulphuric acid for fertilizers. My Uncle Duncan, a reader
of electric meters, did the same, as did my Auntie Lily who played the
organ at the crematorium and other places where they sing.

Now, the last of these memories are of the fifties, the first of the
forties. To today. My French Canadian neighbours in Montreal do it, my
friends in Norwegian mountain villages do it, I heard a German
hitchhiker get quite far with "Sein oder nicht sein; das ist hier die
Frage". The ones for whom it is far less of a habit have been, I think,
my students, but I intend to ask them tomorrow, and tomorrow.

The young man on the Great Lakes had grown up in a society that played
the piano in the parlor, knew ny heart great swatches of the Book of
Common Prayer including of course many of the Psalms of David, took
"elocution" for as long as they went to school, went to the theatre and
the music hall to see melodrama and hear comics and soubrettes just as
today they watch the soaps, the sitcoms and the emergency-room series of
playlets and get their Holinsheds and laughs from CNN and Dave
Letterman.  Tout ca change....

We'll be OK.

Harry Hill

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Feb 1997 19:00:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0282 Shakespeare on the Great Lakes
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0282 Shakespeare on the Great Lakes

It's not that surprising, in fact you'll find in reading about Edwin
Booth's early career that when he made his grand tour of the Gold Mining
country in the 1850's(?) he got pelted regularly if he tried to improv
his lines, or if he went blank.

Seems even the prospectors had Shakespeare in their homes, along with
the KJ Bible, and knew the stuff by heart, or at least the greatest
hits.  I believe this is before anyone got the bright idea of
expurgating the texts, even.

Andy White
Arlington, VA
 

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