1997

Re: Barrymore etc.

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0863.  Wednesday, 20 August 1997.

From:           Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 07:47:42 +0000 (HELP)
Subject:        Barrymore etc.

> Mike Jensen wrote:

> Performance style changes.  Each generation of actors believes it is
> holding the mirror up to nature>

Andy White wrote:

> This is based on what I could gather from the "Great Shakespearians"
> recording which is now available, featuring many of those named by Harry
> Hill.

Oh yes. In *The Companion to the Playhouse* (London: T. Becket & P.A.
Dehondt, 1764), the entry for Garrick makes clear that he was at once
the most naturalistic and technically superior actor that ever was. I
prize my copy of this two-volume theatrical dictionary for its announced
purpose of "For the more readily turning to any particular AUTHOR, or
PERFORMANCE".

Of the Gielgud-heavy offerings on the *Great Shakespeareans* compact
disc, I favour Arthur Bouchier's `Is this a dagger that I see before me'
for similar reasons: it *is* stagey, huge and full of `points' and
`effects', at the same time capturing so many essences of haunting
ambition and visceral/intellectual response to uncontrollable personal
and political impulses and imaginings that I can see only the most
literal of cinematic mirror-naturalists remaining unmoved.

        Harry Hill

A Software Query

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0862.  Wednesday, 20 August 1997.

From:           Barrett Fisher  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 08:52:17 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        A Software Query

Several years ago, back when Hypercard stacks were the "cutting edge"
(and before people began "pushing the envelope"), I purchased a site
license for software called "The Theater Game," developed by Larry
Friedlander at Stanford University.  It presents the user with several
options for creating different stages with a variety of props and
several characters, some of whom can adopt different positions
(kneeling, lying, standing, etc.).  The user can then design a scene,
record it, and play it back.  While the technology is rather crude and
has some severe limitations (e.g., characters cannot exit offstage, a
problem which some of my students solved by having them fly to the
ceiling!), I did encourage students to use it for a number of years.

I have never received notice of a revision of this program (it was
published in 1990).  Have any other SHAKSPERERANS used "The Theater
Game"?  Has it been upgraded?  I might consider using it again if new
technologies (e.g., CD-ROM graphics capabilities) have been taken
advantage of.

If this is not of general interest, please reply to me off list:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Barrett Fisher
Bethel College (MN)

Re: Barrymore

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0860.  Tuesday, 19 August 1997.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 17:52:16 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 8.0855  Re: Barrymore

[2]     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 20:10:20 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Tremolo and Vibrato


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 17:52:16 +0100
Subject: Re: Barrymore
Comment:        SHK 8.0855  Re: Barrymore

I am entirely sympathetic to (what is becoming) the two sides of the
vintage audio performance debate.  Without really meaning to be overly
Hegelian, both have a point.

Performance style changes.  Each generation of actors believes it is
holding the mirror up to nature.  Subsequent generations, looking back,
usually find vintage performances hammy.  John Owen's most recent
comments show a lot of sensitivity, cutting through current expectations
to find what worked in performances by both Meredith and Booth.

I am quite sympathetic to those who want to view Barrymore's
performances in context and give him all the breaks.  I find his filmed
scene from Henry VI, 3 hammy, but nonetheless stunning.  The set is
amazing.  His Hamlet screen tests are another matter.  One speech works,
kind of, and his is completely lost in the other.  By this year in his
life, he was wrong for Hamlet, on film at any rate.  He was too old, too
boozy, and lacked that unjaded quality.  Imagine him objecting to
Claudius' drinking?  It should have brought gales of laughter.

After a certain point in his career, Barrymore was so full of alcohol
and self loathing that he seldom gave a decent performance, coasting on
his reputation.  Eventually even that didn't help.  It is sad.  To my
ear, his LPs sound like Barrymore being a self-consciously great
ACT-TOR.  I don't hear Shakespeare, I hear Barrymore leaving the
speeches in tatters.

Yes, one should be fair to older styles of acting, but if John Barrymore
gives a performance that is self-absorbed, hammy, and slurred because he
was under the influence, it is fair to call him on it.  If that same
performance works for you, I won't understand it, but I would never
argue that it doesn't.  You are in the best position to know what works
for you, just as I am in the best position to know what doesn't work for
me.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 20:10:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Tremolo and Vibrato

With regard to Booth, there is an old cylinder recording of him as
Othello which indicates that he didn't use vibrato and tremolo, it's my
understanding that his was a more natural, self-effacing delivery in
some of the more heroic roles, to the degree that some couldn't hear him
well.

This is based on what I could gather from the "Great Shakespearians"
recording which is now available, featuring many of those named by Harry
Hill.

Andy White

Re: New Globe; Performance; Shrew

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0861.  Tuesday, 19 August 1997.

[1]     From:   Richard A Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 08:27:17 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0856  Re: New Globe

[2]     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 20:39:59 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   The Yank Invasion; Andy Replies

[3]     From:   Tim Richards <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 09:54:19 +0800
        Subj:   SHK 8.0855  Re: Performance

[4]     From:   Helen Robinson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 13:47:39 +1000 (EST)
        Subj:   SLY Scenes


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 08:27:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0856  Re: New Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0856  Re: New Globe

In a recent issue of Shakespeare Survey , R. S. White has a useful essay
detailing Marx's use of Shakespeare.

Richard Burt

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 20:39:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        The Yank Invasion; Andy Replies

My apologies, first of all; the server has been down for the better part
of a week, and I've had a couple drafts of my responses blown into the
ether before I could post them.

My thanks, first, to those of you who wrote me off-line.  Your replies
were quite welcome.

Mr. Egan:  You will be pleased to know that my reference to hooligans
was not a figment of my imagination.  The stoning of Wannamaker's house
in Southwark (funny, elitists usually don't live in run-down
neighborhoods, they stick to the swanky suburbs) is featured prominently
in an interview with Sam's daughter, which was published around the time
of the official opening.  I can try to find a citation, if you wish.
She recalls being horrified by the incident (a young person tends to
take attacks like this to heart) but her father took it in stride...

Mr. Drakakis:  I haven't been able to locate the book you cite; perhaps
you or others could post me a summary of what you found-off-list or on,
whichever you think is most appropriate.  I would especially be
interested to learn if by 'the wishes of the local populace', you mean
the wishes of certain self-appointed leaders.  Elitists come in more
than one stripe, and living near Washington, D.C. I have seen more than
one instance of a so-called leader claiming to stand up for the
downtrodden, without knowing or even caring what they actually wanted.
In addition, it would be interesting to know what alternatives the
Southwark authorities had, in terms of creating jobs and revitalizing a
neighborhood which had seen better days.

As for being "wholly dedicated to consumption", guilty as charged.  As
are the rest of us on this list, who certainly haven't shyed away from
purchasing computers with modems in order to be better consumers ... and
need I add that the gentleman whose works we discuss here worked as a
shareholder in a commercial entertainment concern?

Mr. Hawkes:  By all means, let's be sure to explore the context of
Shakespeare's and Wannamaker's actions.  But let's also understand at
the outset that we will continue to disagree as to motivations of these
persons.

Structuralism, etc., is fine by me, and I for one think that it's high
time we stopped putting these works on a pedestal, and analyze them as
the contemporary entertainment which they were designed to be.  Perhaps
that will be the best way to deflate the pretensions of those who push
these plays as 'superior' in any way.  They are great plays, not because
theyare superior, but because they simply work.  They have great drive
and intensity, and by reintroducing the context of an open-air,
broad-daylight playhouse, the full impact of these works can now finally
be explored.

This project is worthwhile precisely because even after the scholars are
done fussing over the thatching and such, it's the performers who will
either make it work or who will make this thing into a lime-and-plaster
white elephant.  As a performer, that's the aspect of it which thrills
me.

Andy White
Finally back On-line

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tim Richards <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 09:54:19 +0800
Subject: Re: Performance
Comment:        SHK 8.0855  Re: Performance

John Owen wrote:

>Perhaps
>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.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Robinson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 19 Aug 1997 13:47:39 +1000 (EST)
Subject:        SLY Scenes

I have only just caught up with my mail as I have been directing The
Taming of the Shrew at the Genesian Theatre in Kent Street Sydney.

I was particularly interested in Stephen Miller's "Query about A SHREW"
dated Wednesday 6th August. I have included the Sly scenes at the
beginning of the play and borrowed the epilogue from "A Shrew" which I
modified slightly. The main play is staged as part of Sly's dream rather
than a play within a play.

Many people have commented that this framework has enabled them to make
more sense of  Kate's final speech.

The production runs 'till Saturday 4th October and performances are on
Friday and Saturday starting at 8 pm and on Sunday at 4.30.

The play is set in the 1920s.

Regards,
Helen Robinson

Re: Richard in King John

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0859.  Tuesday, 19 August 1997.

[1]     From:   James P. Saeger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 10:47:36 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0857  Q: King John

[2]     From:   Paul Silverman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 09:00:03 -0700
        Subj:   Re: King John

[3]     From:   Jan Powell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 1997 23:36:46 -0700
        Subj:   Re: Richard in King John


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James P. Saeger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 10:47:36 -0400
Subject: 8.0857  Q: King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0857  Q: King John

>Is anyone aware of who the" Richard "is that is referred to twice in
>this play...(not the Lionhearted.. I am aware of those) but it seems as
>if the characters are saying "go tell Richard"

Philip Faulconbridge is knighted Richard Plantagenet at 1.1.162 and is
occasionally called Richard elsewhere in the play-perhaps the references
you mention are to him.  Hope this helps.

James Saeger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Silverman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 09:00:03 -0700
Subject:        Re: King John

>Is anyone aware of who the" Richard "is that is referred to twice in
>this play...(not the Lionhearted.. I am aware of those) but it seems as
>if the characters are saying "go tell Richard"

Without the actual lines it's tough to tell, but the other "Richard"
probably refers to Philip the Bastard, who, when recognized as Richard
Coeur-de-Lion's son, is renamed "Richard."

I, i 169...

KING JOHN:

        From henceforth bear his name whose form thou bearest:
        Kneel thou down Philip, but rise more great,
        Arise Sir Richard and Plantagenet.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Powell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 1997 23:36:46 -0700
Subject:        Re: Richard in King John

Virginia M. Byrne asks:

"Is anyone aware of who the 'Richard' is that is referred to twice in
this play...(not the Lionhearted.. I am aware of those) but it seems as
if the characters are saying 'go tell Richard'"

Philip the Bastard is occasionally called "Richard" in reference to his
father, Richard the Lionhearted.  Since Philip has been officially
accepted as the King's illegitimate son, calling him by his father's
name honors his royal descent, as well as providing a wistful echo of
the charismatic leadership now absent from the court.  But for the
unfortunate circumstances of his birth, Philip would be a brilliant
leader, certainly far superior to John.  The use of Richard's name for
his son who cannot rule intensifies the sense of yearning and
disappointment in the atmosphere of the play.  This surely rang true for
the Elizabethan audience, living in a rare time of relative peace and
prosperity, but without an heir apparent to the throne.

Jan Powell
Artistic Director
Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.