Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: December ::
Re: Lyly
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1218.  Monday, 8 December 1997.

[1]     From:   Ivan Fuller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 6 Dec 1997 13:52:30 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1216 Lyly

[2]     From:   Adrian Kiernander <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Sundayy, 07 Dec 1997 10:41:51 +1100
        Subj:   Re: Lyly


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ivan Fuller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 6 Dec 1997 13:52:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.1216 Lyly
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1216 Lyly

In response to Rick Jones' question about GALLATHEA's popularity, I can
only speak for my reason for selecting to stage the script.  The reasons
are myriad:
1) My theatre program is predominantly female, and while we all know
that the script was written to be performed by males, there is no
denying the practical appeal of discovering an Elizabethan script that
can have more than two juicy female roles.
2) I found the script absolutely hysterical without having to filter it
through my own knowledge of Elizabethan society, customs, language,
etc.  In other words, and to use a word that I've noticed several people
on this list frown upon, it's extremely accessible on its own merits.
3) I was charmed by what I found to be a unique love story.  Two young
women disguised as boys who meet in the forest, fall in love (nothing
original there), but when their true identity is revealed-THEY DON'T
CARE!  Wow!  Now that's timely stuff indeed.
4) The script conjures up all the popular characteristics of MIDSUMMER
(even the phrase "cheek by jowl"...hmmm...) in a clever plot that, while
a bit shallow, should still be great fun for audiences simply because
its something new (for them, at least).
5) Uncut the production should only run 75-80 minutes. Pragmatics,
pragmatics, pragmatics.
6) And have I mentioned the fairies, nymphs (stoicly guarding their
virginity), Cupid (out to destroy their stoicism...among other things),
Diana (sounding like a drill instructor), Neptune (spying in the
shadows), Venus (arriving deus ex machinistically [have I just created a
new word?]), and an unseen, but ever-present, sea-monster ready to
devour the sacrificial virgin.
7) And all of the above easily attained without the need for elaborate
sets, costumes, fly space, wing space, recorded sound...just a passion,
a board, and audiecne, and the intent to have a jolly good time!  THAT'S
why I'm staging GALLATHEA.  Feb. 20-22, 26-28. Augustana College, Sioux
Falls, South Dakota.  Come on over!

Ivan Fuller, Chair
Communication & Theatre Dept.
Augustana College

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Adrian Kiernander <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sundayy, 07 Dec 1997 10:41:51 +1100
Subject:        Re: Lyly

To Rick Jones

You ask list members to "speculate on the radical change in
[_Gallathea_]'s status within the Lylian canon.  Surely questions of the
mutability of gender are part of the answer, but I don't see them as
sufficient to account for the degree of change."

As one of those responsible for putting _Gallathea_ on the stage
recently, I can confirm that it is in my case very simply attributable
to questions of the mutability of gender. Lyly's plays were not included
in any course I took as a student, nor in any of the courses I inherited
when I first started teaching. All references to him that I came across
were in connection with _Euphues_, and I understood them as somewhat
sneering and dismissive. I was not encouraged to, and didn't, follow
this up. So my first introduction to the plays came from references in
recent critical works in the context of gender studies, and these of
course were focused on _Gallathea_. These references intrigued me, I
read the script, experimented with some of the scenes with students in
class, and decided to direct the whole thing when the opportunity arose.
Simple.

But not entirely. I think there are two things at work here. One is the
recent interest in gender, and particularly the double-cross-dress motif
which is so elegantly treated in _Gallathea_, but the other I believe is
the move, which I signalled in my last posting, away from a default
Naturalism on the stage. As a student in New Zealand in the late '60s
and early '70s the underlying assumption of my university training was
that substantial and serious theatre (and other forms of representation)
had an "organic" and "natural" structure (though these were perhaps not
the terms used), and that anything that was written according to some
kind of external aesthetic pattern was inevitably flawed, frivolous and
trivial.  There are modernist assumptions about form following function
(i.e.  content) at work here. The idea that (decorative!!!) form should
be independent of, or even worse precede, function was unacceptable.
(It's not exactly a question of pure Naturalism either-Brecht and Arden
were acceptable. I suppose it had something to do with writing having to
be obviously grounded in some social reality rather than abstract
fantasy.)

For example I remember a lecture on Spenser referring to the idea that
there was a mathematical pattern underlying the construction of _The
Faery Queen_; when this idea was raised in tutorials my tutor (someone I
still greatly respect) appeared horrified that anyone could even suggest
such a thing. The conflict was resolved, in my mind at least and I
suspect in those of my fellow students, by the fact that the lecturer
was elderly and therefore easily perceived as old-fashioned and
pre-modern while the tutor was young and therefore at the cutting edge.
On this question at least, I think, subsequent events have reversed that
particular judgement.

One of the important changes has been a recognition that parallels and
engagements with a lived reality can in fact be derived from more
abstract and fantastical forms of representation, so Lyly can now be
seen as perfectly engaged and political rather than merely escapist.

If this has any validity, it should have some bearing on Rick's
questions about canon formation.

Adrian Kiernander
Department of Theatre Studies
University of New England
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.