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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: August ::
Re: Shakespeare at Stratford; Shakes&Co
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0819.  Wednesday, 6 August 1997.

[1]     From:   Tom Simone <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 09:42:42 +0100
        Subj:   Alex Jennings in Stratford

[2]     From:   Don Rowan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 14:22:16 GMT-400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0818  Q: Shakespeare at Stratford

[3]     From:   Virginia M. Byrne <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 18:01:11 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0818 Q: Shakespeare at Stratford

[4]     From:   G. L. Horton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Aug 1997 10:01:38
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0816  Re: Actors at Shakes&Co. , New Globe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Simone <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 09:42:42 +0100
Subject:        Alex Jennings in Stratford

This is a brief reply to the inquiry of Sylvia Schmidt about Alex
Jennings.  I have also seen him in PEER GYNT (fabulous John Barton
production at the Swan in 94), DREAM, MEASURE, and also his first RSC
lea, I believe, as Richard II in ?1992.

This year in Stratford he is doing both Benedick in ADO and Hamlet.  I
found the ADO to be a very good production, a bit melancholy, but that's
ok given the tragi/comic mix.  There was large unit set that seemed to
represent vanishing sight line a la renaissance perspective.  The visual
theme of on stage portraits was interesting with one rather vulgar and
cheap usage to depict the supposed infidelity of Hero.

Jennings was  a strong and engaging Benedick although I found the
Beatrice of ?Sinead Redman to be unconvincing.  The 82/83 production
with Jacobi and Sinead Cusak is my favorite version.

The HAMLET, directed by Matthew Warchus, is certainly untraditional with
a modern setting, deletion of 1.1, and the use of various cinematic
images.  The opening with Hamlet pouring a libation at his father's tomb
with a loudspeaker voice over of Claudius' opening lines of 1.2 was
startling to a traditional Shakespearean like myself.  On the gray wall
backdrop there was a large projection of a home style movie of old
Hamlet (the splendid Edward Petherbridge) and the young boy Hamlet.  I
learned at a workshop that the boy in the movie is Alex Jennings's son.

My first response was guarded, but I found that Jennings delivered an
amazingly articulate and passionate Hamlet.  By far the best portrayal
of Hamlet I've ever seen.  And while I am generally a supporter of
Branagh's film efforts, I found Jennings a clearly superior Hamlet.
Speaking of film, I found a notable influence of the Zeffirelli HAMLET
on various aspects of this production, partly echoed by the recurring
film elements.

Part of the strength of this HAMLET  was its defamiliarizing the play
for devotess of the play.  It seemed like a different work in many ways
than I read in the text(s), but I ultimately found that good.  This was
an unconventional but passionate and intelligent encounter with HAMLET
with a superb Hamlet.  I would consider going back to England to see it
again.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Rowan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 14:22:16 GMT-400
Subject: 8.0818  Q: Shakespeare at Stratford
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0818  Q: Shakespeare at Stratford

Dear Sylvia: I would be extremely grateful if you could send me your
reactions to the MND at Stratford. I am an Associate Editor of the
Variorum MND responsible particularly for staging and stage-history.
Anything you can tell me about the production, which for a number of
reasons I shall not be able to see, would be most welcome. D.F.  Rowan,
"Don", 
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 .

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia M. Byrne <
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Date:           Tuesday, 5 Aug 1997 18:01:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0818 Q: Shakespeare at Stratford
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0818 Q: Shakespeare at Stratford

I saw Alex Jennings in both also...didn't care for him...hated his
Hamlet too frenetic...Benedick a bit better but I was tainted after
seeing his Hamlet and being disappointed...best Hamlet I've seen was in
Boston two seasons ago ..Cambell Scott...did you see the mysteries this
year?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           G. L. Horton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 05 Aug 1997 10:01:38
Subject: 8.0816  Re: Actors at Shakes&Co. , New Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0816  Re: Actors at Shakes&Co. , New Globe

Steve Neville said
>What impressed me most, however,
>was Edward Petheridge's portrayal of Krapp in  Beckett's _Krapp's Last
>Tape_  a mere hour and a half after his fine performance as Cymbeline.
>Brilliant.

I just saw Shakespeare & Co.'s (Lenox, MA)  and     go from Hal and
Hotspur in Henry4 pt 1 to Jerry and Robert in Pinter's "Betrayal", from
performances scaled for an outdoor stage the size of a football field to
the intimacy of Wharton's drawing room theatre, seating perhaps 50.  I
also saw the student company's MND, and a small-cast WT.  All
excellent.  I will be reviewing these productions for AisleSay, but I
write slowly (about 1 review per week) and I want to recommend them to
SHAKSPERians while there is still time to see them all.
 

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