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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Qs: Nobody and Somebody; Doubling; Portia
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0070.  Thursday, 16 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Jan 1997 11:37:45 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Nobody and Somebody

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Jan 1997 20:02:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0056  Re: Virtuoso Doubling

(3)     From:   Louis C Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Jan 1997 09:20:26 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: Brutus' Portia


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Jan 1997 11:37:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Nobody and Somebody

Does anone know of a modern publication of the 1592 play NOBODY AND SOMEBODY,
mentioned in THE TEMPEST? I'm interested in mounting it next year some time.
The only edition I've ever seen was in an antique book in Stratford.
felicitations,

Billy Houck
Arroyo Grande, California

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Jan 1997 20:02:28 -0500
Subject: 8.0056  Re: Virtuoso Doubling
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0056  Re: Virtuoso Doubling

Some time ago, Gabriel Egan in a TLS review suggested that Shakespeare's
company went in for "virtuoso doubling."  I can't at the moment find the
review, so this reconstruction is from memory. He asserted that the company
used doubling that demanded extraordinary acting skill, not the easy doubling
of minor roles. For example, the actor who played Cordelia might double as the
Fool. I don't think Gabriel used this possiblity, but I think it's a fair
example of virtuoso doubling.

My questions are two:  (1) Is this paraphrase essentially correct?  (2) If so,
what hard, material evidence do we have for the assertion that the company
specialized in virtuoso doubling?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis C Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Jan 1997 09:20:26 -0600 (CST)
Subject:        Re: Brutus' Portia

In *Julius Caesar*, Portia comes to her husband Brutus on the night of the
meeting of the conspirators and shows him how she has stabbed herself as a sign
of her constancy and her ability to keep any secret Brutus tells her!  We can
just imagine how, say, Woody Allen (as indeed any sane person) might react to
this ("What!? Couldn't you have just said, 'Cross my heart and hope to die'?").
 But in every production I have seen, Brutus reacts as though he thinks she has
done something admirable, and promises to tell her what he and the other
conspirators are up to.

Shakespeare doesn't think she has done something admirable; he thinks she is
seriously unbalanced, as is evidenced by her later scene of distraction with
her messenger and the Soothsayer, and, later, by the report, given by Brutus,
that she has committed suicide by swallowing live coals!

Brutus does not acknowledge her insanity (perhaps does not see it?).  If so,
what does this say about *him*?

Is Brutus' attitude here at one with his blindness to Caesar's serious personal
faults - if, indeed, he is so blind (In this remark, I do not refer to Brutus'
clear estimate of Caesar as a danger to the state, but to his reading of this
fearful, pompous, bragging tyrant as a great man.)

In the productions I have seen, these facts about Portia have been brushed
over, and the consequences for the character of Brutus ignored. (Further, there
has been no hint of explanation of Brutus' pretending - so unlike him - to his
generals that he has not heard of Portia's death until they tell him of it!)

I would appreciate any observations about the above, based on the argument of
the play, not on what history tells us - Shakespeare distorts or omits matters
of history to make his artistic point.

For the solution of these problems and explanation of these things, the play
awaits a competent director, one who accepts the lines as they stand, but -
somehow, I know not how - interprets them to give us satisfactory answers to
such questions as I ask above.  The answers lie in the kind of interpretation
exampled in the Gielgud scene I mentioned in an earlier mailing; but convincing
interpretation cannot be "spotty," as the Gielgud scene was, it must be carried
consistently throughout the play.

L. Swilley
Houston TX
 

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