1997

Q: A Very Drab

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0122.  Friday, 24 January 1997.

From:           Diana E. Smith <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 24 Jan 1997 07:20:18 -0500
Subject:        A Very Drab

I wonder if someone could help me with Hamlet's lines "Prompted to my revenge
by heaven and hell,/Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words/And fall
a-cursing like a very drab,"

Why the comparison to a whore exactly? How is his "unpacking" similar to a
whore's? Are we supposed to consider the comparative "rightness" of their acts?
Please help.

Diana Smith

CFP: ENGLISH RENAISSANCE LITERATURE

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0121.  Friday, 24 January 1997.

From:           Evelyn Gajowski <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 21:10:38 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        CFP

Dear SHAKSPEReans:

Attached is a call for papers from the chair of the English Renaissance
Literature session at the Rocky Mountain MLA annual convention in October in
Denver, CO:

Regards,
Evelyn Gajowski

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
                   CALL                FOR                   PAPERS
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

                   ENGLISH RENAISSANCE LITERATURE

                ROCKY MOUNTAIN MODERN LANGUAGE ASSOC.

Proposals are invited for the RMMLA regular session entitled "ENGLISH
RENAISSANCE LITERATURE."  Please send 300 word abstracts before Feb. 15 either
by e-mail to <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> or by regular mail to

Linda Lang-Peralta
Department of English
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
4505 Maryland Parkway
Box 455011
Las Vegas, NV 89154-5011

The 51st Annual Meeting of RMMLA will be held in Denver, Colorado, on Oct.
16-18, 1997. Presenters must be members of RMMLA by Apr. 1, 1997. No papers may
be presented in absentia.

Cordelia and the Fool

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0119.  Friday, 24 January 1997.

From:           Syd Kasten <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 23:41:06 +0200 (IST)
Subject:        Cordelia and the Fool

Last week Bill Godshalk and Gabriel Egan took a break from their ideology
discussion for a brief look at doubling:

Bill Godshalk asked about virtuoso doubling,

>> For example, the actor who played Cordelia might double as the Fool.

and Gabriel Egan replied,

>Although they are unalike, this would be an example of thematic doubling if it
>used the two-in-oneness to suggest that the two characters share a similar
>relation to the father figure. .....

and goes on to point out that

>A. C. Sprague  rejected the doubling of Fool and Cordelia because the
>Fool was an important comedian's role, not a boy's, and Armin was too old to
>play Cordelia (p33).

My understanding of their interchange is that while all have noticed that
Cordelia and the Fool are never on the stage together, none of the above have
drawn the ultimate conclusion that the Fool and Cordelia, like Clark Kent And
Superman, are one and the same: that the Fool as we see him is really Cordelia
in disguise.  If this is one of those crank theories that periodically surfaces
accept my apologies and trash this letter now. Otherwise consider the evidence.

Act I scene 4, begins with the theme of disguise - the entrance of the Kent,
whose disguise is not penetrated by Lear.  We are then primed to the Fool's
entrance with a flourish of 50 lines, in which Lear repeatedly couples a call
for his Fool with a call for his daughter. Whithin this section one hears a
gratuitous comment by the knight on the change in the Fool's appearance since
Cordelia's departure.  Surely this is to prime us for a Fool that is other than
what he appears, and incidentally to make explicit retroactively an underlying
irony in Lear's call for his daughter/fool.  Cordelia is not a stranger to the
jester's craft.  Her answer to the king's request for flattery took the form of
a terse conundrum followed by a logical explanation.  The Fool that appears on
the scene continues the attempt to straighten out the king's thinking in the
matter of his divestiture, the reverence of a daughter being replaced by the
irreverence of a fool.

Further on in the play the author has provided a superfluous scene iii, act 4
in which nothing much happens except for a description of Cordelia's emotional
expressiveness.  This apparently does not appear in the Folio version.  No
doubt this scene is an extender to be used in case the actor has gotten tangled
in his stays or whatever while redressing to his Cordelia role on her way to
Dover and needs more time?

Finally, Lear is allowed to die in a state of clarity which goes unperceived by
those who surround him.  After recognizing Kent through a window in the clouds
of his psychosis, and Kent has recalled the period of exile by revealing
himself to be the faithful Caius as well, Lear, going back to that time, puts
two and two together to achieve a final appreciation of the depth of Cordelia's
devotion, a merging of fool and daughter: "And my poor fool is hang'd!"!

Kent and Edgar are not the only Shakespearian characters who handled banishment
by taking on a disguise.  In this case Cordelia would be expressing her courage
and foresight by keeping close watch over her father. It would seem from this
reading that the C and F roles were conceived as one, but for various reasons
(e.g. "Armin was too old to play Cordelia") they were separated, and this
became the tradition.

Perhaps someone out there can tell me how I arrived at this idea?  Have I seen
it done and forgotten?  It may be that the thought was seeded by a (supply your
own superlative) Granada production for television (1983) with Sir Laurence
Olivier as Lear, supported by an outstanding cast, and directed by Michael
Elliot.  Anna Calder-Marshal, playing Cordelia, and John Hurt, cast as the
Fool, in complexion and I don't know what other cues radiate to my eyes a
similarity greater than that to be found in most Viola and Sebastians I have
seen.  I wonder if the director, in choosing these two, wasn't intentionally
giving us a subliminal nudge towards a concept that has remained over the years
a subliminal ambiguity.

Or maybe I've been watching too much "Lois and Clark".

Sincerely
Syd Kasten

Re: The Mousetrap; Charles's Marginalia

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0120.  Friday, 24 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Scott Shepherd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 17:44:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0110  Re: Mousetrap

(2)     From:   Andrew Gurr <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 24 Jan 1997 10:53:24 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0106  Re: Charles's Marginalia


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Shepherd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 17:44:47 -0500
Subject: 8.0110  Re: Mousetrap
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0110  Re: Mousetrap

> All Claudius need do is"blench"...seems more powerful if the court is
> left ill at ease by the sudden stoppage of the play, rather than the
> disturbing outburst of their king.

According to R&G, the king is marvellous distempered and the queen has been
struck into amazement.  This is more than blenching.  And R&G talk about it in
public so it's no secret to the court.

(But the king's guilt *is* a secret.  And nobody seems to find the outburst
puzzling or suspicious.  It's apparently an understandable direct response to
the play and/or Hamlet's behavior.  Even hauling him off to England strikes
everyone as a reasonable step.)

> My second point is more on a theatrical pacing tack...it's better, I
> think, to have wait to reveal Claudius' heart with the "O my offense is rank"

Better or not, the king's heart is exposed before the Mousetrap ("How smart a
lash that speech doth give my conscience," etc, as he hides for the nunnery
scene).

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Gurr <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 24 Jan 1997 10:53:24 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 8.0106  Re: Charles's Marginalia
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0106  Re: Charles's Marginalia

We shouldn't be so Shakespeare-fixated. Charles wrote changes into his copy of
The Maid's Tragedy, improving the plot. Other Beaumont and Fletcher plays had
his attention too. Try the early quartos in the Bodleian. There's an article on
his changes to The Maid's Tragedy which I read years ago, I think in a
Festschrift volume.

Andrew Gurr.

Re: WT Productions and Intermissions

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0118.  Friday, 24 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Daniel Lowenstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 12:29:09 PST
        Subj:   Winter's Tale at Ashland

(2)     From:   David M Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 17:12:53 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0108 Re: WT Productions and Intermissions


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel Lowenstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 12:29:09 PST
Subject:        Winter's Tale at Ashland

Since Professor Louden has asked, I saw "The Winter's Tale" at Ashland last
summer.  One feature of the production attracted a lot of discussion.  When
Leontes would utter his jealous fantasies, his wife and his friend would be
bathed in a reddish light, and they would kiss and grope each other, generally
acting out Leontes' fantasies.  In a manner that I think would have been clear
even to an audience member who did not know the story, we were able to look
inside Leontes' mind.

I heard quite polarized opinions about this feature.  In my view, it worked
pretty well, because by showing us what Leontes thought he was seeing, it made
it easier for us to understand his actions.

On the whole, I thought the production was quite good.  The Hermione played her
role with great dignity, which is essential, though she was much too weepy in
the last scene.  The business about the sun god, which someone earlier
described on this list, struck me as idiotic.  But my tastes run strongly
against emphasis on magical or supernatural aspects of Shakespeare's plays.

I wonder if anyone on this list saw "The Winter's Tale" at Ashland in the late
1970s.  James Edmondson played Leontes and Le Clanche du Rand played Hermione.
It was the best production of any play I have ever seen.

                                Best,
                                Dan Lowenstein
                                UCLA Law School

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Jan 1997 17:12:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0108 Re: WT Productions and Intermissions
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0108 Re: WT Productions and Intermissions

Why do theatrical performances in our time require intermissions? Several years
ago, I heard Edward  Albee remark half-jestingly, and consequently
half-seriously that theatre is dangerous.  It stimulates the bladder and the
bowels.  Many movies are bland, stimulating the god Morpheus. On a different
not, try not to cut Cleomenes and Dion. You need a sense of he oracle's power
and wonder before the trial scene.  Cleomenes and Dion offer the first
suggestion that this tale may move in a wondrous direction.  Immodestly, I will
note that I talk a good deal about this play and this subject in Chap. 3 of
*Laughter, Pain, and Wonder* U. of Del. 1990.  I have greatly enjoyed recent
accounts on this list of *Winter's Tale* productions. David Richman

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