1997

Fake/Real Identities, SHREW-inspired

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0767.  Thursday, 17 July 1997.

From:           Paul Silverman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 06:59:37 -0700
Subject:        Fake/Real Identities, SHREW-inspired

I'm doing a production of SHREW at the moment, and we've come upon a
curiosity in IV, 4 when Tranio is coaching the Pedant to disguise
himself as Vincentio. The Arden edition reads:

TRA:    Sir, this is the house. Please it you that I call?

PED:    Ay, what else? And but I be deveiv'd
        Signor Baptista may remember me
        Near twenty years ago in Genoa
        Where we were lodgers at the Pegasus.

TRA:    'Tis well, and hold your own, in any case,
        With such austerity as 'longeth to a father.

but notes that the Folio attributes the "When we were lodgers" line to
Tranio, suggesting that Tranio is supplying the Pedant with more
imaginary details (assuming no error of printing).

Despite the obvious problem that it's entirely conceivable Baptista has
never been to Genoa, leaving a huge danger of discovery (as I was quick
to point out, as I'm playing Baptista), we've remarked how modern a
concept this strategy of "Character Improvisation" is, in which a
character has to create a different person out of thin air AND supply a
new bogus history for that imagined identity.

The question then arose: examples of characters assuming imagined
identities abound, but it's almost always a masquerade as a non-existent
person. When else in Shakespeare does a character pretend to be someone
who actually exists, as the Pedant disguises himself as Vincentio? And
how does this change the approach to the subterfuge?

Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0766.  Thursday, 17 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Hiroyuki Todokoro <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 22:55:37 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello

[2]     From:   James P. Lusardi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 14:30:19 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello

[3]     From:   James Marino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 14:57:30 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hiroyuki Todokoro <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 22:55:37 +0900
Subject: 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello

>Does anyone besides me think Patrick Stewart strikingly resembles
>Michael Jordan?

That's what I always think!

Cheers,
Todok.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James P. Lusardi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 14:30:19 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello

On the suggestion that Othello may be North African, see not only the
references to Othello's blackness in the text of his own play but also
the exchange between Lorenzo and Lancelot G. in Merchant 3.5.35-41,
where the terms Negro and Moor are used synonymously (notwithstanding
wordplay).

Jim Lusardi, Shakespeare Bulletin

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Marino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 14:57:30 -0600
Subject: 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0758  Re: Patrick Stewart as Othello

Audience reaction aside, the race-reversal production may put the
emphasis back on Othello and at least slow the modern actors preference
for Iago which seems to arise not from an interpretation but simply
because there are more white actors than black in Anglo-American
theatre.

What often seems to be overlooked in favor of the attention to Othello's
blackness is his age.  After all, it is the first thing mentioned by
Iago "An OLD,black ram" and surely the tradition of May-January
cuckoldry must play some part in Othello's suspicions. His "for I am
declined/ into the vale of years-yet that's not much-" seems an anxious
turning away from an upsetting  thought. Brabantio list of conditions
that make Othello unsuitable and arouse his fears of witchcraft include
that of age, "inspite of nature, of years..." This raises the question
of just how old Othello is.  Isn't he at least as old as her father?  It
also raises an interesting question as to why Othello is so seldom
played old.  I think it not unlikely that he feels, as one
long-forgotten punster put it, the old Kraft Ebbing.

Regards,
James

Re: Characters and Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0764.  Thursday, 17 July 1997.

[1]     From:   Rick Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 09:51:40 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0760  The Can of Worms: Characters

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 07:52:13 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0760  The Can of Worms: Characters

[3]     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 10:32:51 CST6CDT
        Subj:   Hamlet questions

[4]     From:   Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 14:55:17 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0759 Re: Various Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 09:51:40 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 8.0760  The Can of Worms: Characters
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0760  The Can of Worms: Characters

Milla Riggio is of course correct that 1) the number of scenes of
deception *of the audience* in Shakespeare for which there is absolute
textual authority for the "sarcasm" or other performance-based tip-off
to the deception is zero, 2) any line can be read ironically, 3) it is a
truism of Shakespearean acting that, except in the cases of
pre-confessed manipulators (Iago, Richard III), characters say what they
mean and mean what they say.  On the other hand, there are accretions in
the form of production traditions: it is still considered "innovative,"
for example, to play Shylock's introduction of the "merry bond" as if it
were indeed "merry."

Continuity is, indeed, a modern concept, and the "real" architecture of
Elsinore is irrelevant to the fictive world of the play.  Hell, I can't
remember where the staircases are in the university library, and I've
been there a few hundred more times than the average London theatre-goer
had been to Elsinore.  But _Hamlet_ becomes a different kind of play *to
a modern audience* if plausibility is breached.  Not lesser, but
different: in the way that Aeschylus' _Choephoroi_, with its a-logical
recognition scene, is different from Euripides' _Electra_, which deftly
satirizes the Aeschylean version.  To be honest, it never occurred to me
that Hamlet might believe the person behind the arras to be other than
Claudius-but Andy White's musings that Hamlet must believe Claudius to
have teleported into Gertrude's chamber (my phrasing, not his) have
merit... if, of course, we accept the notion that fictional characters
"think."

Actually, I have a better solution.  What are Hamlet's words?  "How
now?  A rat?".  Given the fact that Shakespeare's characters always mean
what they say, it must be that Hamlet thought he was killing a rat.  The
scene in which he was appointed Royal Exterminator was inexplicably cut
from Quarto and Folio alike...

Rick Jones
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 07:52:13 -0700
Subject: 8.0760  The Can of Worms: Characters
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0760  The Can of Worms: Characters

>But a reading like the one below presumes
>some "textual" foundation for the assumption that Hamlet intentionally
>killed Polonius; that "textual" authority is in this case the
>application of a modern concept of continuity (Hamlet has just left
>Claudius; this cannot be Claudius.  WHY NOT?)

Besides an assumption of continuity, doesn't it also assume one or two
things about Wittenberg's architecture?  I mean, what's to keep Claudius
from getting to the confessional to the queen's bedchamber more quickly
than Hamlet, by an alternate route?

Cheers,
Sean.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 10:32:51 CST6CDT
Subject:        Hamlet questions

Hamlet's murder of Polonius is one of the more intriguing scenes of the
play: if we assume that Hamlet just dashed to Gertrude's room after
leaving Claudius at prayer, it does seem odd that he thinks it was
Claudius behind the arras. Since we don't know either the logistics of
the castle, or whether Hamlet made any other stops enroute, however, we
can certainly allow for the possibility that Claudius could have made it
there before Hamlet (Branagh's recent film, with all the secret
passages, made this seem very feasible).  The most persuasive argument
for me, in terms of believing Hamlet's suspicion/hope that it is
Claudius he has slain, has more to do with his state of mind. He is
coming to Gertrude following the moments of exhilaration after the play,
then the crucial decision not to kill Claudius at his prayers; he has,
he thinks, succeeded in catching Claudius out and is probably more ready
to act than he has been until this point: his impulse is allowed to play
itself out, and the final movement of the tragedy begins.

Chris Gordon

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 14:55:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0759 Re: Various Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0759 Re: Various Hamlet

Terence Hawkes' sometimes justifiable-depending-on-the-discussion
insistence on the non-reality of characters reminds me of the way
beginning actors struggle with S's texts: "Just tell me how you want me
to say it.  Why do I have to figure out why the character says it?"

Why, indeed?

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company

Lost Quarto of HAMLET

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0765.  Thursday, 17 July 1997.

From:           Paul Silverman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 06:47:46 -0700
Subject:        Lost Quarto of HAMLET

This recently discovered quarto edition of "Hamlet" follows other known
versions closely until Act V, Scene II, where it begins to diverge at
line 232, as will be seen:

KING            ...`Now the king drinks to Hamlet.' Come, begin,
                And you the judges, bear a wary eye

Trumpets sound.  HAMLET and LAERTES take their stations

HAMLET:         Come on, sir.
LAERTES:        Come, my lord.

Enter FRED, DAPHNE, VELMA, SHAGGY, AND SCOOBY

DAPHNE:         Wait!
SHAGGY:         Stop the fight!

HAMLET and LAERTES put up their foils

KING:           I like this not.  Say wherefore you do speak?
FRED:           Good lord, I pray thee, let thy anger wait.
                For we, in seeking clues, have found the truth
                Behind the strange events of latter days.
VELMA:          The first clue came from Elsinore's high walls,
                Where, so said Hamlet, Hamlet's ghost did walk.
                Yet though the elder Hamlet met his death,
                And perforce hath been buried in the ground,
                'Tis yet true one would not expect a ghost
                To carry mud upon his spectral boots.
                Yet mud didst Shaggy and his faithful hound
                Espy, with footprints leading to a drop.
                This might, at first, indeed bespeak a ghost...
                Until, when I did seek for other answers,
                I found a great, wide cloth of deepest black
                Discarded in the moat of Elsinore.
                'Tis clear, the "ghost" used this to slow his fall
                While darkness rendered him invisible.
FRED:           The second clue we found, my lord, was this.
KING:           It seems to me a portrait of my brother
                In staine'd glass, that sunlight may shine through.
FRED:           But see, my lord, when placed before a lantern--
KING:           My brother's ghost!
HAMLET:         My father!
VELMA:          Nay, his image.
FRED:           In sooth, that image caught the Prince's eye
                When he went to confront his lady mother.
                Nor did his sword pierce poor Polonius.
                For Hamlet's blade did mark the castle wall
                Behind the rent made in the tapestry.
                Polonius was murdered by another.
                The knife which killed him entered from behind.
LAERTES:        But who?
FRED:           Indeed my lords, that you shall see.
HAMLET:         And if this ghost was naught but light and air,
                Then what of that which I did touch and speak to?

The GHOST enters.

GHOST:          Indeed, my son.
SHAGGY:         Zoinks!
DAPHNE:         Jenkies!
GHOST:          Mark them not.
                Thou hast neglected duty far too long.
                Shall this, my murderer, live on unharmed?
                Must I remain forever unavenged?

SCOOBY and SHAGGY run away from the GHOST.  SCOOBY, looking backward,
runs into a tapestry, tearing it down.  As a result, tapestries around
the walls collapse, one surrounding the GHOST.

GHOST:          What?
FRED:           Good Osric, pray restrain that "ghost",
                That we may reach the bottom of the matter.
                Now let us see who truly walked tonight.

FRED removes the helm and the disguise from the GHOST'S face.

ALL:            Tis Fortinbras!
FRED:           The valiant prince of Norway!
FORTINBRAS:     Indeed it is, and curses on you all!
                This Hamlet's father brought my own to death,
                And cost me all my rightful heritage.
                And so I killed this king, and hoped his son
                Would prove no obstacle to Norway's crown.
                Then Claudius bethought himself the killer
                (As if one might be poisoned through the ear!)
                The brother, not the son, took Denmark's throne,
                And held to Norway with a tighter grip.
                I swore an end to Denmark's royal house.
                I spoke to Hamlet of his uncle's crimes.
                Then killed Polonius to spark Laertes.
                This day, with poison's aid, all might have died,
                And Denmark might have come to me as well
                As my beloved Norway and revenge.
                My scheme blinded them all, as if by fog
                But for these medd'ling kids and this their dog.

KING:           The villain stands confessed.  Now let us go.
                For much remains to us to be discussed.
                And suitable reward must needs be found
                For these, our young detectives and their hound.

EXEUNT OMNES.

Copyright 1993, Michael S. Schiffer.

Help with Thesis

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0763.  Wednesday, 16 July 1997.

From:           Karen Azzie Dempsey <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Jul 1997 15:41:37 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Help with Thesis

-Please Help-

I am looking for videotaped (VCR, Beta, Laser Disc) performances (both
amateur and professional) of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Macbeth, and Othello
in either the US or Great Britain in the past century for my thesis on
Shakespeare's women in performance. I am especially interested in early
productions of this century (prior to the late 1950's).  If you can
supply information, loan/rent tapes, or make copies please contact me by
email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at my home address: 1001 W.Clark
St. Apt. B1 Urbana IL 61801 or by phone at (217) 337-1084.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely Yours,
Karen Dempsey

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