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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: Anti-Semitism; Casting; NYSF Mac.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0226  Saturday, 14 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Ben Schneider <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Mar 1998 10:51:04 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0220  Re: Anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Friday, 13 Mar 1998 20:30:29 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Casting, Orchestra-wise

[3]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 00:42:14 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0207  NYSF Mac.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Schneider <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Mar 1998 10:51:04 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 9.0220  Re: Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0220  Re: Anti-Semitism

My message of 12 March is ambiguous.  I meant that MV is about music,
merriment, gratitude, trust, above all trust, friendship, AND
sacrificing what you love most (life, wife).

Sorry for any confusion I may have caused.

Yrs
BEN

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Friday, 13 Mar 1998 20:30:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Casting, Orchestra-wise

The quote from Ozawa leads to an interesting question for me.  I frankly
don't care what color the actor happens to be, what matters is dramatic
ability.

The practice for orchestras in the U.S. (can't speak for elsewhere) is
to blind-test musicians.  This means playing behind a barrier, so the
musical director doesn't recognize his first cousin, or cherished
nephew, or the guy who handed him a few hundred bucks five minutes
before.  Ozawa, under those circumstances, is able to genuinely hire
someone who has the sound he is looking for.

Contrast that practice with what we have on the stage; lazy directors
who cast solely on the basis of our street appearance, often ignore our
inability to handle the role because we 'look' like the character.

I say we get out those masks, and see who can really act, then take off
the masks and note the surprise on each other's faces when we find out
who the real talents are.

Cheers,
Andy White
Arlington, VA

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 00:42:14 EST
Subject: 9.0207  NYSF Mac.
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0207  NYSF Mac.

Charles Weinstein didn't much like the MACBETH at the Public. I agree, a
lot of effort seemed very misguided.  But it wasn't one of those
"never-again" ghastlies.  If you have tickets, don't bestow them on
unpleasant cousins.

MacB and Lady were interesting to watch, usually workaday, sometimes
very strong, not embarrassing or snoozifying. The scenes around the
murder of Duncan worked well, I thought.  Macduff was pretty good.  But
one actor turned in three (or was it nine) really awful performances:
this guy's Duncan seemed to come out of a production of Oliver Twist.
He then played the voices of all the apparitions (sounding like a
variety of painfully aggressive headache-remedy pitchmen).  Next, with a
dopey hat and body-padding shaped like a L'i'l Abner Shmoo, he played
the Doctor.  Imagine Harpo Marx?  And finally he came on as Old Siward.
Great with a sword.  Not with all those annoying words.  the handsome
blonde Malcolm would have been considered excellent in any good
university production.  Nicely batty Porter.  Witches, poor dears, had
energy and not a clue about what they were up to.  And they had no
cauldron, no vile stuff to throw into it either.  But they did have a
couple of Operation Rescue shock-'em-to-ya' fetuses to play with as
apparitions.

I think the production went seriously off track passing through all the
areas that George Wolfe usually hits with great accuracy and imagination
when he's functioning as a producer.  The directorial adjuncts who
supervised the costumes, stage fighting, lighting, and music seemed to
have faxed in their contributions from  distant continents.  The
director had no destination to move the piece towards.  A few possibly
"interesting" ideas, that turned into dead flat actualities.

Leather costumes?  Sure, why not?  But they all looked like they were
shopped at the same Leathers-R-Us end-of-season sale.  Same problem with
the military cutlery.  Nicely "real" swords, but without variety. ("Send
up ten-or-a-dozen generic swords-all from the same box.")  For some
reason, everyone in Scotland and England wears the exact same brand and
style of modern black brogans: kings, generals, rebels, witches,
murderers, doctor, nurse, same-same.

Rugged set.  Massive  3x12" rough plank flooring.  Lots of clear space
to move through.  Very dim lighting that seemed  often to aggravate the
static delivery of speeches and dialogue.

But by what it lacked, the production reinforced my sense of what the
play needs to work onstage.  Duncan and Malcolm and the others have to
shine over Macbeth's murk.  The Good guys need white hats to distinguish
themselves from the Wickeds.  And if the Wickeds don good-guy robes,
they shouldn't quite fit.

One final note.  The tyrant's head that gets carried in.  The prop-shop
photorealistic  severed simulacrum is appropriate in movies.  Suggestion
seems better (to my admittedly squeamish sensibility) than
verisimilitude.  Though I know the Elizabethans played with real
sheep-guts and blood onstage, the most gruesome AND effective severed
head I ever saw onstage was a thunking clump of "something bloody"
inside a burlap sack, tossed onto the stage.  Different strokes for
different folks?

I guess MACBETH demands its modesties of production as well as its
outrages. This production tries hard, too hard.
 

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