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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: September ::
Re: Chambers; Helena; DC Tempest; Spinoffs
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0939.  Friday, 19 September 1997.

[1]     From:   Edna Z. Boris <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 04:30:02 -0400
        Subj:   F. Owen Chambers

[2]     From:   Roger Gross <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 16:23:24 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0938  Q: Helena's Entrance

[3]     From:   Harry Teplitz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 16:39:26 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   DC Tempest -- another review

[4]     From:   Joanne Gates <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 13:55:06 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Queries on Other Shakespeare Spin-Off Films


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edna Z. Boris <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 04:30:02 -0400
Subject:        F. Owen Chambers

To answer Louis Swilley's question about F. Owen Chambers' handling of
"To be" and "nunnery," I must first explain that I've been looking for
evidence of stagings of Hamlet's monologue with Hamlet shown as aware of
the presence of Polonius and Claudius spying on him.  If anyone knows of
any such productions, PLEASE let me know.

Anyway, F. Owen Chambers has Polonius place Ophelia in an Oratory
upstage left where there is a book that is chained to a table, and that
is the book that she is to look at.  The King and Polonius then exit
right center and Hamlet immediately enters from left center with a
manuscript of the play scene.  After the first line, "To be, or not to
be, that is the question," the directions say that Hamlet "goes to
Curtains C & pulls them aside tosses Ms away to L & comes down to seat
R.C." ; then later just after Hamlet asks Ophelia where her father is
but before she answers, the directions say that he "looks up & sees
Polonius & king disappear behind curtains R. Entrance"-twice Hamlet
draws his sword and exits in pursuit of the King & Polonius, the first
time at "farewell" and the second time at "a nunnery, go"; his final "To
a nunnery go! go! go!" is said with Hamlet standing with sword drawn.

Chambers' making Hamlet so active in pulling the curtains aside and in
twice drawing his sword and running off stage is different from most
other productions I've looked at.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Gross <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 16:23:24 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0938  Q: Helena's Entrance
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0938  Q: Helena's Entrance

Ed Pixley inquires about Helena's entrance in 1.1.

There isn't enough textual info to compel any choice we might make.  My
choice has always (in 3 productions) been to assume that Helena was
looking for Hermia (or perhaps just looking for a good place to cry)
when she stumbles upon Hermia and Lysander in the midst of a bit of
coochie-coo.  She does an abrupt about face, hoping to escape without
being seen.  But she fails.

Roger Gross
U. of Arkansas

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Teplitz <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 16:39:26 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        DC Tempest -- another review

I, too, saw both the recent version of the Tempest by the DC Shakespeare
theater and their production 7 years ago.  My memory of the previous
show is a little dim, but from what I recall the new one is much
improved.

For one thing, they now have the benefit of a much larger and more
modern space.  The old show was set on a raked stage where the floor had
the design of a clock.  The library setting this time seems to inform
the text more clearly.  In fact, the design elements are really the star
of the new show.  It is a beautiful production, from the sunset lighting
of the rear screen to the movable walls of the library.

The acting in the show is very good, as is usual for the company.  The
actor playing Prospero (in both shows) is strong and clear.  He is a
little reserved for my taste, however, showing only hints of an inner
struggle.  My major complaint with the show is that I found Prospero's
character arc difficult to follow.  The events of the play were clear,
but not their motivation.  Ariel was clever and physical; I agree he was
a "Puck-like" spirit.  Caliban was intense, though his accent seemed a
little unstable.  He also suffered from being the centerpiece of a
concept that was not fully realized.  Stephano and Trinulo steal the
show in each of their scenes.  The various lords (King of Naples, Duke
of Milan, etc. ) are well played but a little indistinct.  Their
costumes are very similar, as is their bearing, and I wonder if those
not familiar with the script can really tell them apart.

Conceptually, the show is in a bit of a muddle.  As another post
mentioned, most of the spirits are played by African-American actors.
Certainly the Caliban scenes suggest that this was intended to be an
important theme-Caliban is not monstrous, only "primitive". In his final
scene, Prospero describes him as deformed, though he is in perfect
shape; the scene is staged with Caliban surrounded by fancily dressed
white actors, while Ariel watches from the side.  I think the show would
have done better to go further with the concept or otherwise not
bother.

One final note-after the breaking of the staff, the stage lights are
turned off and the work lights are turned on, eliminating the "magic" or
the theater and illuminating some of the audience.  I was particularly
fond of this effect, having done a similar trick in a production of
Hamlet this summer.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joanne Gates <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Sep 1997 13:55:06 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Queries on Other Shakespeare Spin-Off Films

The review of a new Verdi Macbeth in the Wall Street Journal reminded me
to ask:  PBS aired a spectacular Verdi Macbeth in the early '80s.  Scene
changes were done as erector-set constructions, magically dissolving and
growing, changing dimension.  Big duet between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth
took place on a human size chess board with her knocking over chess
pieces.  Does anyone know if this film is available?

Also, a "cats" special, I think on A&E gave brief mention to an Italian
director who had filmed a Cat version of Romeo & Juliet.  He chose for
his animal cast a breed of cats that could swim, and there was a brief
clip of a white cat plunging into water (the balcony scene??).  I'm
interested to know if anyone else has heard of such a film.

Joanne Gates
 

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