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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: October ::
Enter Running
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1086.  Tuesday, 28 October 1997.

From:           Syd Kasten <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Oct 1997 00:00:05 +0200 (IST)
Subject:        Enter Running

A short while back the list discussed  the manner of Helena's entry in
the first act of Midsummer Night's Dream.  The implications of "God
speed" raised the issue and the true meaning of the greeting resolved
that discussion.

I was surprised that no one mentioned a passage where someone is indeed
meant to enter running.  Although there is no stage direction to that
effect, it is clear from the text itself that this was the author's
intention.

The play is Measure for Measure.  An hour having been set for Claudio's
execution, time and its passage become important factors in the play.
The disguised Duke has instructed  Isabella to make an appointment with
Angelo and having done so to meet him (the disguised Duke) at the door
of St.  Luke's church for further instructions. The Duke has arrived  at
the meeting point and from his question to Mariana we understand that
Isabella should have been there by then.  Isabella enters and this is
what follows:

        Act iv scene 2

         Duke: Very well met, and well come.
        What is the news from this good deputy?

         Isab. He hath a garden circummured with brick,
        Whose western side is with a vineyard back'd;
        and to that vineyard is a planched gate,
        That makes his opening with this bigger key;
        This other doth command a litle door
        which from the vineyard to the garden leads;
        there have I made my promise
        Upon the heavy middle of the night
        to call upon him.


         Duke. But shall on our knowledge find this way?

        Isab. I have ta'en a due and wary course upon't:
        With whispering and most guilty diligence,
        In action all of precept, he did show me
        The way twice o'er.

Isabella is clearly in a hurry when she appears: she doesn't respond to
the Duke's greeting with so much as a by your leave.  She immediately
launches into a description of Angelo's garden, or should I say lurches
into it.  I don't move my lips when I read, but I think there is
something in my temporal lobe that measures cadence. The first three
lines of her description of the garden lack the rhythmic flow one
expects from Shakespeare.  Each ends abruptly enough to stop the flow of
the narrative and have me take a second look (reading a play,as opposed
to watching a performance, allows instant replay). This is how the lines
fell into place:

        Act iv scene 2

                    ......

        Enter Isabella (running}

    "Duke: Very well met, and well come.
        What is the news from this good deputy?"

         "Isab. He hath a garden" (omits the implied "which is" for lack
of breath)"circummured with brick,(deep breath)
         "Whose western side is with a vineyard back'd;" (gets the whole
sentence in  before having to take a deep breath)

        "And to that vineyard is a planched gate," (another deep breath,
although the stop isn't as severe as the "ck"s of the previous
lines; she can afford to to pronounce the "e" in planched)

        "That makes his opening with this bigger key;" (Again stops to
take a breath, but she is getting her breath back: the "k" at the line's
end introduces a syllable rather than closing one.)

        "This other doth command a litle door
         which from the the vineyard to the garden leads;" (she is
finally able to utter two lines before stopping to breathe.)

        "There have I made my promise / ^ /  (pause for an unforced deep
breath)
         Upon the heavy middle of the night
         to call upon him.  / ^ / ^ /". (another u.d.b.)


         "Duke. But shall on our knowledge find this way?

         "Isab. I have ta'ena due and wary course upon't:
        With whispering and most guilty diligence,
        In action all of precept, he did show me
        The way twice o'er." (finally speaking freely and embellishing
her lines with adjectives and repetitions: 'due and wary', 'whispering'
and 'diligence')."

I went to the text of Midsummer Night's Dream to see if Helena was out
of breath. She wasn't.  I also went to the text Romeo and Juliet (Act 2,
scene 5) to see if the nurse was really out of breath as she claimed  to
be.  In spite of her having come "apace" I couldn't find any sign of
breathlessness, so I see her using bodily complaints to tease Juliet,
which is in keeping with the content of her lines. (On the other hand,
the expirative efforts of Lady Macbeth's "Help me hence, ho!" might be
an intimation of hyperventilation, a condition that can indeed lead to
swooning).

I have never seen M for M performed, so my first question is, How is
this passage treated in productions?  If it is done as I have described,
is there a term for this use of words?  Does it qualify as "business",
which I have assumed to be activities of the actor in ways not
prescribed in the text, but allowed? Does it qualify as "subtext" which
I would take to imply emotional undertones rather than physiological
ones?

I think the foregoing may have some bearing on the question as to
whether the text is primarily a script to be performed or narrative
literature that has its own value as an art form.  I think that author
has so chosen and arranged his words as to tickle the auditory, visual
and associative areas of the readers brain to evoke images, tones and
emotional responses at least as well as a novelist.

If this is all well rendered material from 1st year lit. you will have
trashed this by now, so there's no use apologizing.

Sincerely
Syd Kasten
 

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