The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0293. Friday, 28 February 1997.
From: Ron Ward <
Date: Friday, 28 Feb 1997 23:30:08 +1300 (NZDT)
Subject: 8.0284 RE: various
Comment: Re: SHK 8.0284 RE: various
Have just seen King John. Open air production in Wellington NZ. One of
an annual series of plays by the university. Nice to note that the
audience were mostly young; possibly largely English students (about 200
on the night I went; the season is about three weeks).I am reminded by
such nights that S. does the educating he always does so well, whether
he was university trained or not.
The Dell behind the Botanical house is very well suited to S. This
production utilised all the natural features of the place effectively
with very good lighting effects. My own particular interest was, as
always, the music. Began with rebec and cornamuse but it sounded as if
they were playing Phillip Brownlee compositions (the cornamuse player).
That seemed a bit of a strange thing to do with period instrument and
did not work either, because the cornamuse is not really an outdoor
instrument. The balance was not convincing. Phillip should have used
krumhorn or even recorder which he is something of an expert on. Scoring
always depends on whether you go for Elizabethan music which S was more
likely to have used in his productions, or 12th century instrumental
(minstrel music?) The singers of sacred music were effectively scattered
through the production (eg wedding of Louis and the English princess).
Mostly they sang well and added good atmosphere. The most spectacular
effect was achieved with a set of large Japanese drums played by a well
schooled team; and used with great effect in the later battle scenes.
Finally the use of electric guitar was innovatively done. It was used
more as a sound effect box with its screaming and wailing adding to the
drums with surprisingly good results.
KJ is full of great and memorable one liners typical of S (my favourite,
"New made honour doth forget men's names.") Falconbridge has
similarities with other later S characters. His whole job seems to
lighten the play which otherwise would appear to take a grim and
pessimistic view of human nature. Week willed and vacillating men and
possessive women all fight without scruple. I notice on the internet
that several other productions of KJ are going on. Anyone know how the
music was dealt with?