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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Elizabethan Stage; Afterlife; Plain Dealers; Sir
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0507.  Tuesday, 29 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Sean K. Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 1997 11:48:17 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0503 Qs: Elizabethan Stage

[2]     From:   Scott Crozier <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Apr 1997 12:20:23 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0504  Re: Afterlife

[3]     From:   Richard Regan <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Apr 1997 23:43:54 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0501 Re: Plain Dealers

[4]     From:   Chris J. Fassler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Apr 1997 08:15:01 -0400
        Subj:   Sir Thomas More


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean K. Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 1997 11:48:17 -0700
Subject: 8.0503 Qs: Elizabethan Stage
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0503 Qs: Elizabethan Stage

Hi, Maria.

A former professor of mine with an expertise in Middle-English drama had
a response to this issue.  I won't say who it was, lest I imbricate her
in an argument that I might be misrepresenting in the first place, but
here goes:

Basically, the mystery cycles were traditionally performed by guilds.
Guilds, of course, had all-male membership.  Therefore the stage was all
male.  When inflationary pressures combined with lowering wages in the
sixteenth century (for which, see C. S. L. Davies, R. B. Outhwaite,
etc.), these chaps found themselves out of work, or at least,
underemployed.  Being former guildmen, however, they did have another
skill-acting.  Acting as an economic activity, it should be recalled,
was closely associated with vagrancy (hence the fiction of being "the
Lord Chamberlain's Men," "The Admiral's Men," etc.)  So women were
excluded from the Elizabethan stage in part because of the tradition
deriving from the miracle plays, and in part because the problems of
economic competition which had led to exclusion of women from the guilds
in the first place, still operated to keep women off the stage later.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Crozier <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Apr 1997 12:20:23 +1100
Subject: 8.0504  Re: Afterlife; Ideology
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0504  Re: Afterlife; Ideology

Andrew White writes:

"Paul Hawkin's remarks on the 'reinvention' of great works like Hamlet
is well taken; my only concern is when artists and others, in the
process of reinvention, deliberately misread or ignore vital passages.
They will come up with a very interesting theory or production or two,
but its value in the long run will be severely limited."

Although this is written as an introduction to a discussion of
"reinventions" of Hamlet, it must necessarily be directed at all
"subsequent performances" to use Jonathan Miller's term. It is in this
sense that I would make the following comment.

Surely, unless a company were trying to replicate the original
production, contextual elements of the production at hand must play a
substantial role in the development of the performance.  If this means
applying an "interesting theory" or "deliberately misreading" then so be
it.  For if a performance does not speak to an audience now, then what
is its worth?  I am not advocating the modernising Shakespeare but I am
suggesting that if it is more appropriate to reinvent an element of a
play for a contemporary audience so that it has a similar effect to what
the original might have had at the plays inception, then so be it.
Brook's spinning plate "flowers" were a case in point.  Here he
"reinvented" magic for an audience who had lost the power to believe in
the efficacy of herbal drugs!  Spinning plates refound that belief.

Keep on "reinventing" I suggest!

Regards,
Scott Crozier
Head of English
St. Michael's Grammar School

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Regan <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Apr 1997 23:43:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0501 Re: Plain Dealers
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0501 Re: Plain Dealers

I think I saw a reference to Moliere in an earlier posting on the
subject, and the character that comes to mind is Jacques, the
coachman-cook in The Miser.  He begins as a plain dealer, speaking the
truth to Harpagon about how his master is "a universal laughingstock"
(in the translation used in a wonderful PBS production with Nigel
Hawthorne - Jim Broadbent is Jacques).  Beaten for his pains, he then
vows not to tell the truth any more, and becomed a duplicitous
time-server, deceiving both Harpagon and Cleante about the other's
designs, then accusing his enemy Valere of stealing the cashbox.
Exposed, he complains, "What can I do? If I tell the truth, they beat
me. If I lie, they hang me."

P.S.  Didn't his contemporaries call the author of The Plain Dealer
"manly
Wycherley"?

Richard Regan
Fairfield University

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris J. Fassler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Apr 1997 08:15:01 -0400
Subject:        Sir Thomas More

Colleagues,

Perhaps I missed it, but I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Scott
McMillin's __Sir Thomas More_ and the Elizabethan Stage_.  (I don't have
the book with me, so please pardon if I've mis-spelled the author's name
or mis-remembered the title.)

I find McMillin's discussion of the authorship and handwriting questions
an excellent corrective to our obsessions with authors and
personalities.

--Chris
 

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