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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0229  Tuesday, 17 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Michael Friedman <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 11:48:01 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[2]     From:   Stevie Simkin <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 17:05:58 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[3]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 10:25:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Titus for Cheap Laughs

[4]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:13:40 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[5]     From:   Harry Keyishian <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 15:32:08 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224 Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[6]     From:   David Skeele <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 20:46:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 11:48:01 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

For the stage history of *Titus*, see Alan C. Dessen's book in the
Shakespeare in Performance Series.  Also, I would check out any reviews
or analyses you can track down concerning Deborah Warner's RSC
production in 1987.

Michael Friedman

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Simkin <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 17:05:58 -0000
Subject: 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

Just wanted to put my oar in on Titus Andronicus - it is a fascinating
play, and the fact that it walks a thin line between the horrific and
the comic in no way undermines its status as a revenge tragedy.  All the
best revenge tragedies do this (The Revenger's Tragedy, The Duchess of
Malfi, The Malcontent, The Changeling, etc).  The technique is not lost
on modern Hollywood film-makers, who exploit a similar vein in what
William Paul has usefully classified as "gross out movies".  Paul (in
his book Laughing, Screaming) makes some interesting parallels between
movies in slasher, serial killer, and horror genres and early modern
revenge tragedies.

I currently teach a module called "Body Parts: Early Modern Tragedy and
Millennium Cinema" which looks at the two genres (revenge tragedies and
contemporary cinema of violence)  both independently and in parallel,
and examines such issues as censorship, representation of women, gender
and violence, and the issue of private revenge v. state justice.  It's
quite an experience,  teaching plays like this alongside films such as
Seven, Robocop, Straw Dogs and Taxi Driver.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 10:25:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Titus for Cheap Laughs

A young director in Washington, D.C. (now in St. Louis, MO I believe)
once staged a satiric TA, and with great results.  "Beat the Devil"
notwithstanding, and what a great flick it was, in practice it looked
more like Monty Python meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Stage blood was in great supply, and a subplot dealt with a hapless
custodian who eventually gave up trying to mop up the stuff between
scenes.  Front-row patrons were given tiny, plastic lobster-bibs before
the show started...

Heads flew, and those with amputated hands occasionally forgot and tried
to shake hands or give high-fives, with hilarious results (if you're
fond of that sort of humor; if not, not).  The climax was, and I am not
making this up, a huge pie-fight, with you-know-who's remains allegedly
being heaved to and fro.  Any resemblance to oatmeal dosed with red dye
was purely unintentional.

Cheers,

Andy White
Just finishing breakfast

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:13:40 +0000
Subject: 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

Mr Edward Ravenscroft doubted Shakespeare's authorship in the preface to
his own adaptation of the play in 1687, claiming that he had been "told
by some anciently conversant with the Stage, that it was not Originally
his".  To know that, Ravenscroft's conversant must have been around 120
years old at that time. People above a certain age should no longer be
trusted.  Ravenscroft himself is not trustworthy as a witness because he
needed an excuse for his adaptation.

Two contemporaries, friends and colleagues of a certain William
Shakespeare, have put "Titus Andronicus" into a collection of his plays
which we now call the "First Folio" in 1623: Why should they do that, if
TA had not been one of his plays?

Francis Meres speaks about Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" in "Palladis
Tamia: Wit's Treasury" in 1598.

Not all Shakespearean plays have their authorship so well confirmed. But
only plays which do not well fit into romantic or Victorian or other
notions of taste (of good and therefore Shakespearean style) are of
doubtful authorship. It is a pity that Thomas Bowdler did not live early
enough to write all the quartos in the first place.

Whether all plays attributed to Shakespeare were indeed written by a
player and playwright from Stratford or rather by somebody else who
happened to have the same name and happened to come from the same
place,  - whether they were written by the Lords Bacon, Oxford and Essex
together with Queen Elizabeth and King James, or whether they had been
mediated to Heminge and Condell by King Solomon: I do not care who their
"real" author was (although I believe that it could well have been
several and sometimes different people - actors and playwrights - who
worked together on one play) - all these plays now belong to the bulk of
writings which we have to attribute to the cultural icon "Shakespeare".
It is not "fair play" to exclude those plays we do not like.

Yours canonically, M. Marti

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Keyishian <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Mar 1998 15:32:08 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0224 Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0224 Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

In response to the recent postings on Titus Andronicus, I alert readers
to SHAKESPEARE'S EARLIEST TRAGEDY:  STUDIES IN TITUS ANDRONICUS by G.
Harold Metz (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1966), which
discusses authorship, textual and critical history, the play's
relationship to Nashe's UNFORTUNATE TRAVELLER, and its use of music;
also included, a stage history, 1970-1994.  Can be ordered from
Associated University Presses:  
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Harry Keyishian, Director, FDU Press

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Mar 1998 20:46:11 -0500
Subject: 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

>Incidentally, as I'm considering directing Titus, I would appreciate
>advice from any out there who've been involved in staging it.  Also,
>where does one look to research successful productions of the twentieth
>century (post-Olivier, I guess)?

A great place to begin is Garland Press' TITUS ANDRONICUS: A CRITICAL
ANTHOLOGY, edited by Phillip Kolin, which has detailed essays on such
productions as Peter Brook's, Deborah Warner's and even the University
of Vermont production mentioned in a recent post (if that was in fact a
Champlain Shakespeare Festival production).

Best Wishes,
David Skeele
 

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