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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: August ::
Re: New Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0808.  Friday, 1 August 1997.

[1]     From:   Thomas F. Connolly <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 10:21:02 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0804  Re: New Globe

[2]     From:   Jay Johnson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 12:17:46 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0804  Re: New Globe

[3]     From:   G. L. Horton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 11:49:04
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0804  Re: New Globe;

[4]     From:   Gerda Grice <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 16:33:52 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re:  New Globe

[5]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Friday, 1 Aug 1997 04:59:54 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0804 Re: New Globe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas F. Connolly <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 10:21:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0804  Re: New Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0804  Re: New Globe

Having just come back from seeing Christopher Plummer's performance I
must take issue with the high praise given here. Plummer IS very good,
but the "play" is wretched. We are treated to slabs of ham dressed with
the dried out cloves of Shakespearean quotation, seasoned with the
unappetizing salt of profanity.

It is quite clear that the playwright created a play with stop watch in
hand.  It has no beginning, middle or end.

For Shakespeareans though, Plummer's costume and "Richard" make-up are
an object lesson in travesty.  For Barrymore-fans this is an accurate
recreation of the nadir of the Great Profile's career.  Thus it is less
than pleasant.

I repeat though-Plummer's choice to give an impression of Barrymore
rather than an impersonation gives the evening some liveliness.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jay Johnson <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 12:17:46 -0600
Subject: 8.0804  Re: New Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0804  Re: New Globe

My recent experience at the New Globe was very positive.  I stood in the
yard a couple of weeks ago for an afternoon performance of "The Winter's
Tale" and, though I thought the production was stunningly misguided in
many respects, I enjoyed the experience immensely.  There were many
standers who couldn't stand still for the full three hours, but the
shifting and moving didn't distract me particularly.

I also saw the other production, "Henry the Fift," but from the top
gallery directly in front of the stage, and that experience was
magical.  The "Red Company" doing Henry made, I felt, all the right
choices, and seeing it from that perspective-looking right into the
cannon's mouth, as it were-was perfect.  I came away a Big Fan of the
Globe!  I'd go back any time!

Jay Johnson
Medicine Hat College
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           G. L. Horton <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 11:49:04
Subject: 8.0804  Re: New Globe;
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0804  Re: New Globe;

John McWilliams <
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>To go back to the old debate about The New Globe, I went yesterday and
>it was fairly poor. They performed 'The Winter's Tale'
>Has anyone seen anything else there that worked better?

I saw Henry5 the first week of July.  There was no "great" acting in it,
but competence, clear diction, presentational style.  I was much moved
by the performance, and I was not the only one in my section of the
audience in tears. I was in the 3 rd row of groundlings, and many of the
actors made eye contact with me, as well as directing certain
appropriate lines to other individuals in the audience. We groundlings
plopped ourselves down on the dirt or walked away to lean against the
wall during the short act breaks, rising and reassembling when the
players came out again.

The players began ritually, with drumming, and Rylance delivered part of
the Prologue in his shirt before donning his costume as Henry5.  The
story-telling speeches were shared among several actors subsequently.

I was most impressed by the "sermon" aspect, and how the reverence that
attaches itself to a "pilgrimage to Shakespeare's shrine" became part of
the experience of the play.  We spectators were visible to the actors
and to each other at all times, and a huge component of the dramatic
event.  It is a very different feeling from the passive ideal of most
modern performance-all I would compare it to is The Living Theatre in
the 60's, and my church's productions of parts of the Cycle Plays at
Christmas. As audience, we were assumed to want seriousness and
enlightenment as well as entertainment, and the actors were very
conscious of fine-tuning our responses, cueing laughs and commanding
attention.  Those "tourists" unwilling to cooperate, left.  But there
was always the possibility and the danger that an unruly or displeased
audience could take over, and that tension, too, was part of the
experience. The long rationalizing speeches (often cut) were not played
per usual as psychological "symptoms" or interest-based
manipulation-although some of this shading remains-but as "expert
opinion": this is how the church, the law, the French nobility, the
yeoman soldier, etc. thinks the matter through. Implicit is one's duty
as audience to think it through for one's self, as the play unfolds and
in the months to come.

Admirable characters base their actions on such thought, the others on
whim, vanity,  or self-interest.  There is much weakness and
foolishness, but almost no vigorous villany (which is why some feeble
attempts by members of the audience to "act Elizabethan" and boo the
French quickly petered out).

The outcome of the battle, however, is not rational but miraculous, not
explicable as the result of French sin or error or of English merit or
planning. Henry and his army looked stunned to be alive, and it took
them a while to realize that it was over and that they have won.  "Non
nobis", indeed.

I've never particularly liked Henry, either as king or as slumming Hal,
and as an American democrat I certainly think Henry had no business
whatsoever invading France! If God gave Henry victory to enforce his
Divine Right to both thrones, well, God sinks in my opinion.  But the
performance made my anachronistic mind set irrelevant.

I was struck anew by how rooted the plays are in the Mystery Cycles, and
how they incorporate medieval drama's metaphorical reach and didactic
intent, as well as its "Vice" comedy.  It was the utter seriousness that
I found so touching: souls matter, souls as well as bodies are at stake.

The doubling might have made more use of wigs and beards, to piece out
the actors' varying abilities to alter themselves from the inside out
-- we have plenty of evidence that players of the Globe's period did
so.  The boy who played Katherine was quite convincing as a very young
princess, the man who played Dame Quickly was fine, too.  The
30-something six foot plus baritone Queen of France was very beautiful
but too strange, skirting drag and raising considerations best stifled
as alien to the world of the play.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gerda Grice <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jul 1997 16:33:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re:  New Globe

I saw the Old Globe production of _The Winter's Tale_ in early June,
when it was still in previews, and my impression of the overall effect
and effectiveness of the production was totally different from John
McWilliams'.  I didn't feel that the venue was Disneylandesque, and I
wasn't at all bothered by the to-and-froing of the standees.  If
anything, I felt it added a dimension to the experience.

As for the performance-well, it certainly wasn't the most polished
production of a Shakespeare play I've ever seen.  Certainly, it was far,
far less "well-dressed" and, in the case of some of the performances at
least, not nearly as well acted as the production of _King Lear_ with
Ian Holm at the RNT that I also saw when I was in London in the spring.
But faults and all, the Globe performance of _The Winter's Tale_ moved
me to tears more than once, while the RNT _King Lear_, for all of Holms'
theatrical pyrotechnics, never moved me at all.  I also found that the
Globe's _The Winter's Tale_ created more of what used to be called
"poetry of the theatre" than the RSC's Stratford-upon-Avon production of
_Cymbeline_ did.  (Incidentally, though, I did find the RSC's Cloten
excellent.  His name, unfortunately, escapes me for the moment.)
Somehow, for me anyway, the magic of _The Winter's Tale_ shone through
more brightly in this production than it did in other, in many ways
superior, productions of it I'd seen previously.

Gerda Grice
Ryerson Polytechnic University
Toronto, Canada

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Friday, 1 Aug 1997 04:59:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0804 Re: New Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0804 Re: New Globe

Dear Globe-Watchers,

In the current issue of EMLS I speculate about the identity of the
opening date and premiere play at Shakespeare's Globe in 1599:

           http://unixg.ubc.ca:7001/0/e-sources/emls/03-1/sohmjuli.html

I'd be glad of comments, particularly opinions contrary, either via
SHAKSPER or direct to 
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All the best,
Steve
 

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