Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: May ::
Re: Subtext (Character)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0543.  Wednesday, 7 May 1997.

[1]     From:   C. David Frankel <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 6 May 1997 23:34:09 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0537  Re: Subtext (Character)

[2]     From:   Harry Hill <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 07 May 1997 08:35:27 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0537 Re: Subtext (Character)

[3]     From:   Gabriel Wasserman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 06 May 1997 21:59:34 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0537  Re: Subtext (Character)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 6 May 1997 23:34:09 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0537  Re: Subtext (Character)
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0537  Re: Subtext (Character)

I'd like to add a comment to this thread, taking off now on the question
of whether or not characters have minds and what it is that audiences
experience in the presence of the actor.  I agree with much of what Cary
Mazer says in that regard:  the audience experiences the character
through the "personation" of the actor and, in that respect, probably
attributes to the character (and actor) whatever notions of
"person-ness" may be current in that audience member's mind (even if
contradictory or contested).

As far as the play goes (and now I'm primarily talking about how, as a
theatre practitioner, I think about these things) I tend to talk about
it in terms of three different "worlds":   1) the fictive world in which
we pretend that the characters are human beings.  Questions about this
world might include things like "What will Nora do now that she's left
the doll house?" "How did Hamlet feel when he sent R&G to their death?"
and so on.  2) the dramaturgical world in which we can look at
characters (and other aspects of the play) from a functional
perspective.  Questions about this world might include things like "Why
does Romeo have two best friends with contrasting qualities?" "What is
the scene between the 2 guys sent to the oracle in Winter's Tale doing
in the play" and so on. 3) the theatrical world of specific
productions.  Questions here will  overlap with the fictive and the
dramaturgical worlds, but they will always be answered by reference to
the choices made by directors, actors, designers and others in specific
circumstances.  Some questions might be "how does this particular
spatial arrangement affect the reception of the play?"  "What difference
does it make if I play this part as a tired man?" and so on.

I'm sure these distinctions have been made before, and probably better.
They help me, though, and they provide a framework for my students to
think about plays in a somewhat different way than they are used to.

C. David Frankel
University of South Florida

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 07 May 1997 08:35:27 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 8.0537 Re: Subtext (Character)
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0537 Re: Subtext (Character)

Cary Mazer's infuriation can only be palliated at length, and perhaps
best by a new paper coming out in *Performing Arts International* that I
may not promulgate except privately. *`The Motion Of Our Human Blood
Almost Suspended': The Desirable Consciousness of the Actor* is
available to those interested, by e-mail at my address above.

Harry Hill
Montreal

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Wasserman <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 06 May 1997 21:59:34 -0400
Subject: 8.0537  Re: Subtext (Character)
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0537  Re: Subtext (Character)

> David Jackson wrote:
> >I want to emphasize that I was talking about what was going on
> >in the mind of the CHARACTER, not the actor playing the character. As
> >long as the actor is doing his or her job, there is always a delineation
> >between the two.

Are you sure?

> I don't have a clue what's happening in the mind of a character; and I'm
> quite prepared to join Terry Hawkes in questioning whether a character
> has a mind at all.

What do you think of this quote from Leonard Bernstein?

"Doug Hofstadter ( http://www.cs.indiana.edu/people/d/dughof.html ) is
rapidly becoming the Hamlet of our times: whatever he says is both exact
and double-edged, reassuring but provocative, poetic and
self-challenging.  His scariest insights and most agonizing intellectual
probings are graced like Hamlet's, with humour, affection, and a kind of
mad musical charm."

But remember--Hamlet doesn't have a mind, right?

>I *only* know about a character-that character only
> *exists* as a person-when that character is played by an actor.

Would you say that that character is the *same* character when being
played by two different actors?  By the same actor under two different
directors?  What about when we read a play?  Is Oberon just saying "Get
me that flower" when we read, but talking about something else [Q.E.I,
or perhaps something else?] when we see a performance?
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.