The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0864. Wednesday, 20 August 1997.
Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 13:50:42 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: 8.0861 Re: Performance
Comment: Re: SHK 8.0861 Re: Performance
> John Owen wrote:
> >what I am getting at is that we expect the performer to try to
> >communicate, to possess an awareness of the medium in use and the
> >composition of the audience and be willing to adapt to these changing
> >circumstances-not merely memorize some strange, symbolic language of
> >recitation and bark it out on cue.
> This is why I enjoy the BBC/Time-Life video recordings so little, and
> Kenneth Branagh's films so much. The BBC versions seem riddled with
> what someone on the Shakespeare newsgroup called "terminal ingrown
> reverence", leading to a lifeless, formalised performance with very
> little passion. Branagh's films, on the other hand, are full of
> passion. I don't always agree with his interpretations, but I think
> it's clear that he loves the material and, in his own performances, has
> a good grasp of its meaning and how to convey that to an audience. He
> certainly is aware of his medium and how to use it to best advantage to
> reach the viewers.
> Tim Richards.
Mmm... I disagree. Well, somewhat. The quality of the plays in the BBC's
version are uneven. Some, like Two Gentleman of Verona, are pretty bad,
but I think that has more to do with the quality of the *play itself*
rather than the BBC's handling of it.
Others, like Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and Othello (Bob Hoskins as Iago...
wow...) are pretty damn good. They do keep fairly strictly to accent and
period, but that is part of what is so fascinating to me - that you can
keep to a formal system and still be expressive in the process.
I like Kenneth Branagh's films, too.. but when he plays fast and free
with the suntan oil (Much Ado) or brings in the audio mixing machine
(Hamlet) I just kind of roll my eyes and bear it.
(PS: where else are you going to find Cymbeline, or The Winter's Tale,
or Titus Andronicus performed? I really wish they would come out with a
NTSC version of the series, or better yet, put it on videodisc. I'd buy
it in a second.)