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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Page and Stage,
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0328.  Thursday, 7 March 1997.

[1]     From:   David Skeele <
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        Date:   Thursday, 6 Mar 1997 14:27:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Rosalind and Celia; The Tempest

[2]     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Thursday, 06 Mar 1997 15:30 ET
        Subj:   SHK 8.032  Re: Homosexuality; Ro

[3]     From:   Scott Croizer <
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        Date:   Friday, 7 Mar 1997 14:38:07 +1100
        Subj:   Re: Mann's Remarks

[4]     From:   Lisa Hopkins <
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        Date:   Friday, 07 Mar 97 13:30:00 GMT
        Subj:   Marina


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <
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Date:           Thursday, 6 Mar 1997 14:27:37 -0500
Subject:        Re: Rosalind and Celia; The Tempest

Re: Mark Mann's Comments:

Thank you for clarifying your position, but I still feel you are
speaking in unsupportable generalities.  You still arrogantly insist
that you have a some sort of direct pipeline to "what is on the
page"-that you have an innate understanding of "the story Shakespeare
wrote."  There are (at the very least) hundreds of ways of interpreting
every scene, and every story contains hundreds of possible stories, all
with different nuances (and in some cases sharp divergences) of meaning,
all of which can be supported by a close reading of the text.  You
cannot claim primacy for your interpretation based on what "works on the
stage," either.  Whether or not something can be made to work on the
stage has almost as much to do with your own particular strengths and
shortcomings as a director, the cast with whom you are working, the
audience you are directing for, the space you are using, etc., as it
does with the particular words on the page.  Thus you cannot use the
fact that YOU found no use for homoeroticism between Celia and Rosalind
as evidence that it should be kept out of a different director's
production.  Try seeing the production first, and then decide if it is
appropriate or inappropriate-you may find that "Shakespeare wrote"
things you had never previously suspected were there.  I know that when
I go to see Shakespeare performed, it is my devoutest wish that I will
find such new insights.

Incidentally, I also speak from the vantage point of a director, and I
am also profoundly concerned with what "works on stage."   Like you, I
often end up dismissing mountains of literary criticism as unhelpful
when preparing a production, but I find I can never dismiss all of it.
Out of some of the most ethereal and rigorously theorized material may
sometimes come brilliant insights that end up being eminently
stageworthy.  But when I do find that one of these insights is both
revelatory and supported by the text, I do not turn around and attack
most other interpretations as not being what Shakespeare wrote-I realize
that, thankfully, there remains a multitude of equally well-supported
possibilities from which future directors may choose.

I think that in a sense we are not that far apart in opinion here.  The
problem, I think we both agree, is one of ill-conceived, unresonant,
restrictive,  simplistic directorial ideas diminishing the possible
power of a Shakespeare production.  Where you err is in your
self-righteous claim to knowledge of Shakespeare's mind and intent, and
your close-mindedness about the possibility that another director might
change your opinion.  I do not suggest that all readings are equally
permissible, only that you cast your net a bit wider when considering
alternatives to your favorite interpretation (also that you recognize
that your interpretation is, in fact, an interpretation).

Incidentally, I don't really see how one of the above-mentioned
directors can truly be said to "inflict damage."  They may waste your
money and your time, but nothing has been done to the text.  In fact,
nothing has even been done to your PERCEPTION of the text that can't be
wiped away by the next better production you see.

Anyway, thanks again for your response.

David Skeele

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Thursday, 06 Mar 1997 15:30 ET
Subject: Re: Homosexuality; Ro
Comment:        SHK 8.032  Re: Homosexuality; Ro

Will Mark Mann accept distinctions among It Won't Play and I/We Don't
Know How to Make it Play and I/We Don't Want to Make it Play?  A case in
point is distaste for the "action Hamlet," given that in his view it is
his inaction that drives everything, as though the text did not give us
a Hamlet who is quite active-being mad north northwest, probing
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, mocking Polonius, producing and rewriting
the Mousetrap, reeducating Ophelia, chastising his mother, killing
Polonius, arranging for the deaths of R. and G., challenging Laertes'
for the Deep Grief Prize: arguably emphasizing the one point on which,
to be sure, he is inactive, his failure to murder Claudius, by being
distinctly active, even hyperactive, on every other front, when he
could, after all, just lie around staring at the wall.  I think it'll
play.

Actively,
Dave Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Croizer <
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Date:           Friday, 7 Mar 1997 14:38:07 +1100
Subject:        Re: Mann's Remarks

In reply to Mark Mann's consternation about the influence of theory on
performance and the need for the primacy of the practitioner's
interpretation, surely Granville Barker's Prefaces, which in their own
time were detailed and perceptive works, are now out moded by both time
and performance practice. Or might he be suggesting that performances
should remain constructed by early 20th century principles ... or 19th
century principles ... or Elizabethan principles of acting and
production?

Regards,
Scott Crozier

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <
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Date:           Friday, 07 Mar 97 13:30:00 GMT
Subject:        Marina

Robert O'Connor finds it 'hard to imagine a performance of _Pericles_ in
which she would come across as anything but puritanical'.  Why is it
puritanical not to want to be detained in a brothel against your will,
and not to want to sleep with the men who assume that they can buy you
there?

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University

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