1998

Re: Shrew; Editions; Casting Oth.

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0231  Tuesday, 17 March 1998.

[1]     From:   J. Kenneth Campbell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 00:51:28 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0201  Re: Shrew

[2]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 16:48:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0227 Q: Editions

[3]     From:   Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:02:00 EST
        Subj:   Re: Othello Casting



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           J. Kenneth Campbell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 00:51:28 -0800
Subject: 9.0201  Re: Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0201  Re: Shrew

In every other Shakespeare comedy, it is the woman who are the wise
teachers. Unless you count MSND and MfM.  Shakespeare's writes one play,
within a play, twice, I might add,  Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> This point
comes through more clearly in "A Shrew," which continues Sly as an
occasional commentator on the play he is seeing (in brief segments which
are perhaps included to remind the audience of the context) and has him
appear, restored to his condition of a tinker, in an epilogue (after
Kate's problematical speech).  He then observes to the tapster, who has
also mysteriously reappeared, that he had a fine dream which taught him
how to tame a shrewish wife, and he will go home and practice his newly
learned skills on his own wife.  The joke is that we know he is doomed
to failure and will, in consequence, suffer even more, in which a man
teaches a woman and he is a sexist.

It is not good enough to simply work from what is on the page in one
scene, One must investigate the entire play, for all the pieces to fall
into place.

Before Petruchio enters Padua we get a good look at Kate.  I think we
will all agree she is not a happy lady.  Every man in town it seems is
afraid of her and in love with her sister.  Now, maybe today she would
have become a great feminist lawyer, and joined Gloria Allred's firm but
in Padua in the 16th century, she was sunk.

Indeed, she is so miserable that as she leaves the stage in II,1, she
cries out
"I will go sit and weep till I can find occasion for revenge" judging
from the pitch of the preceding scene, Petruchio who is coming on stage
as she leaves it must hear this.  Petruchio comes face to face with
Bionca at this time and is unmoved.  This is a man who wants a spirited
woman.

Which brings up the question; how does Petruchio get revenge?  Answer:
he takes your money.

When his best friend gets clobbered with a lute because Kate sees he is
only teaching her music to get close to her sister, Petruchio roars his
approval and swears he loves her ten time more then he did before.

After he shares his plan with the audience of how to woo this women,
upon Kate's entrance, he is so moved by her presents and beauty he has
to tell himself ,out load, to speak.  A theatrical technique used by
Shakespeare to denote love at first sight.  By the end of his first
speech he is on his knees proposing to her.

Kate is the one who mistreats him and when he beats her at word play as
is indicated by a break in scansion, she strikes him.   Does he hit her
back?  No! Petruchio only threatens to hand "cuff" her if she does it
again.

When next Petruchio appears he gives her a taste of what it would be
like to be married to the male version of Katerina.  He arrives late,
dressed outrageously and he appears drunk.  There is method to his
madness.  He reels off all the worst kinds of "state sanctioned"
marriages to Kate's horror.  He refers to her as "My goods, my chattel
etc. He thanks the guests for witnessing his giving himself away.   He
then,  takes up the role that men have afforded to their wives and
children since the beginning of time, that of protector.

He protects her from those who would steal her from him, he protects her
from those who would poison her, he protects her from those who would
make her uncomfortable while she slept and from those who would make her
a slave to fashion.

We must remember that Petruchio does not want to end victoriously he
politically begins his reign to end successfully, with successors,
(children).  He doesn't charge upstairs and demand his coital rights.
He even asks the audience if anyone has a better way to form a union
with this woman.

Kate in the next scene with Grumio admits she does not know how to
entreat "nor never needed that she should entreat." Petruchio simply
gives her the same lesson we would give any child, say please and thank
you, and you can have anything you want.  Treat people the way you would
like to be treated.

The climax of the play happens on the road back to Padua.  Petruchio
teaches Kate how to play together and how to have some good natured fun.

If you play with me, I'll be your best friend.  Kate demonstrates she
can play as well as anyone.  We now see the Shrew has learned to be
shrewd.

Vincento refers to her as his merry mistress.  Kate does not speak for a
long time afterwards.  Then, when she suggests to Petruchio that they go
in and find out how the subplot works out.  Petruchio demands a kiss and
Kate is only reluctant to give him one for modesty sake.   When she does
give him a small kiss it is a small surrender,  a surrender that
Petruchio seems very moved by.

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

What I do see in the text, is a speech that can be read as disturbingly
misogynistic.  Arguments can be and have been made, that Kate is being
ironic, or even sharing a tongue-in-cheek joke with Petruchio, to defend
Shakespeare's intentions-but at least they tend to be based on real
textual evidence, and not non-existent stage direction. Why else would
Shakespeare have her hand placed so?

What is there in Petruchio's previous behavior to suggest that, after
such an affront as toppling him over in front of his friends, there
wouldn't be fresh tortures-more food
and sleep deprivation, perhaps?--awaiting Kate at home?  When the rest
of the table at the marriage banquet for Bionca insult Kate, Petruchio
makes them pay with their wallets.
I believe Petruchio has no friends he prizes more then his marriage or
300 crowns for that matter.  Three hundred Crowns in today's currency is
a substantial amount of cash.  He must surrender to Kate here to win the
larger prize.  Kate as a fun loving equal.

If Grumio goes to Kate with the "intelligence" when she is summoned and
she knows there is "big money" riding on her return,  that is a pretty
good revenge.

Baptista sees where the power in his succession is going to reside and
throws in another 20,000 crowns.

One only has to look at the structure of her last speech to instantly
know she is up to something.  It is flowery and arch and not at all
Kate.  Shakespeare is too good a playwright to expect us to swallow
Kates words on face value.

Petruchio's actions that simply do not seem supported by the text.  The
most powerful production I have ever seen assumed that Kate, after
having suffered the horrific treatment that is now recognized as the
modus operandi of cults and other brainwashers, literally means every
word of her final speech (though such belief, in this actress'
interpretation, clearly came at great psychic cost).  It was a startling
and chilling interpretation, but the resonance of that final speech,
taken at face value, has never left me.

If we are to believe that this is comedy and a love story as I believe
it is then what is love but surrender of self for the protection of the
union.

I have seen productions where Petruchio kicks Kate away because her
spirit is broken and he know longer wants her.   That production made me
painfully aware of why A. A  Rowse had nothing but contempt for most so
called interpreters of the " text".  They had not the accents of
Christians, the gait of Christian, Pagan or men.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 16:48:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0227 Q: Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0227 Q: Editions

I used the Norton for my class last semester and found it quite good. I
taught an intro class and had very few English majors; most of my
students had only read two or three plays, and those mostly in high
school. From this I assume the notes would be sufficient for any group,
since they were fine for my class. The students actually liked having
the definitions separate from the explanatory notes.

The reason I chose the Norton was that it was the only text which had
both notes and the Quarto/Folio King Lear (in addition to the regular
conflated one). Is that important to you?

Annalisa Castaldo
Temple University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:02:00 EST
Subject:        Re: Othello Casting

Someone questioned why there was not the brouhaha over blackfaced
Otellos that there seems to be over similarly made-up Othellos.  Ken
Ludwig's *Lend Me a Tenor* seems to raise just such a brouhaha
everywhere it's performed with its dueling Othellos in blackface, even
though the makeup here is a blatant farcical device and not an attempt
to make a white actor into a black character.  Any postmodern
reasoning/analysis for this one?

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Co.

Re: Caesar's Will

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0230  Tuesday, 17 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 08:43:48 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0221  Q: Caesar's will

[2]     From:   Eric I. Salehi  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 14:26:10 EST
        Subj:   Re:   SHAKSPER Digest - 12 Mar 1998 to 13 Mar 1998

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 08:43:48 -0600
Subject: 9.0221  Q: Caesar's will
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0221  Q: Caesar's will

Considering the time-shortening techniques Shakespeare frequently
employs, it is certainly possible that Antony has had "time" to get a
copy of the will.  His position as a senator and Caesar's public
position could be construed as ample reasons for the availability of the
will to Antony, or to any other comparably lofty figure in the
government.  However, the issue here is not whatever is historically
accurate but what is formally sound.  Alone, after his inflammatory
speech to the crowd, Antony tells us he will "unleash the dogs of war."
I would say that, opportunist that he essentially is, he has had this in
mind ever since he was called by the senators to view the body of
Caesar.  Consonant with this - and with his brutal, self-serving
character to be elaborated shortly in the next scene -  would be his
having here duped the illiterate public with any piece of paper, perhaps
a scroll drawn from a nearby "newsstand".  Or some such directorial
invention to make the effective point.

Like any good playwright, Shakespeare was not so much interested in
being true to history as we was in building characters for a larger,
timeless argument.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric I. Salehi  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 16 Mar 1998 14:26:10 EST
Subject:        Re:   SHAKSPER Digest - 12 Mar 1998 to 13 Mar 1998

In a message dated 3/13/98 11:47:07 PM, Albert Misseldine
<This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
wrote:

<<Last evening the question(s) of Caesar's will came up. Like a lot of
other things, it seemed clear until we thought about it. Here are some
questions we need help with. Does Antony have the real will with him as
he talks to the crowd, or is he just waving a blank piece of
paper?....>>

As I recall, Joseph McCarthy's infamous list of "Communist spies in the
State Department" was actually a laundry list.  I think of Antony's will
as being much the same sort of list, pulled out of a hat with exactly
the same brand of political acumen.

Re: Anti-Semitism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0228  Tuesday, 17 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Marilyn A. Bonomi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 11:14:52 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 9.0220  Re: Anti-Semitism

[2]     From:   Stevie Simkin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 17:52:50 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0222  Re: Houses; Anti-Semitism

[3]     From:   Chantal Schutz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 18:05:58 -0500
        Subj:   Merchant of Venice


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn A. Bonomi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 11:14:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Anti-Semitism
Comment:        SHK 9.0220  Re: Anti-Semitism

Ira Abrams writes:

<<Shylock is not a verisimilar portrait (to Elizabethan minds) of a Jew,
but rather his Jewishness is ancillary to his outlaw status.>>

Ira, you  have it reversed here.  It is the FACT of his Jewishness which
MAKES Shylock the outlaw.  The rest simply follows from there.

This debate keeps getting too abstruse, too insistent on removing itself
from the text itself and the context in which it was written and
performed, too insistent on throwing about terms from critical theorists
rather than facts.

I will not rehearse all the factual evidence about Jews in Europe in the
Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  It's very old  news.

However, the Jew has been the archetypal outsider, and by extension the
archetypal outlaw, for... let me calculate... 3000 years?  Good enough
number, I think.  Except for a brief period in the last millenium before
the common era when there was an actual kingdom of Hebrew peoples, the
Jews have served the Western and Middle Eastern worlds as the perfect
target upon which to heap the scorn and contumely they otherwise would
have to heap only upon themselves.

Each culture, each era will bring a different reading to plays like MOV
and _Jew of Malta_ based on the specific place of Jew in that culture or
era.  But there haven't been ANY cultures or eras where that place has
been positive, much less exalted.

And don't say that it's any different today.  Listen to kids in any high
school in America talk.  Give it a week, and you'll hear one of them
discussing a great bargain that he or she made, and the kid will say,
"Boy, I really jewed him down on that one!"  I speak from experience: 32
years in a culturally advanced, politically moderate, East coast
southern New England suburban public high school where there are always
at least 5-10% Jewish students.

Why should Shakespeare's England be any different?  Why should
Shakespeare's experience of the concepts of Jew and Jewishness, his
world view be any different?  Why should a reading of Shakespeare's or
Marlowe's work EXCLUDE what we know both of history and of human nature?

I can't argue from a stance offered by ANY of the critical theories
current in literary analysis today; my exposure to them is too recent
and too much in the mode of awed student learning at the feet of
masters.  But I certainly CAN argue from the stance of a literate human
being aware of history and of human nature.

Was Elizabethan anti-Semitism different from post-Holocaust
anti-Semitism?  Certainly, as is just about any other early modern
sentiment going to differ from current millennial sentiment.  Does that
difference negate the existence of one or the other variety of
anti-Semitism?  No.

Is MOV a play ABOUT anti-Semitism?  No.  It's about lots of other
things, some of which Ira Abrams lists.  Does it take place within the
context of an anti-Semitism which shapes and indeed creates some of
these other things?  Yes.  I would argue the same way about _Jew of
Malta_ .

I'm fascinated by the discussion of whether Shylock may be offering
subversive discourses of various sorts.  I'm intrigued by the glimpses
into the Elizabethan mind we may be able to glean from a discussion of
these various discourses.  But I'm rather offended by people who cannot
recognize simple and overt anti-Semitism when they see it.

Let's keep talking, though.  It's much more fun than grading sophomore
essays on _Romeo and Juliet_ where students assert that Friar Lawrence
shouldn't have offered his potion because he couldn't know if it would
work, and proceed to write speculative fiction rather than literary
analysis!

Bemusedly,
Marilyn B.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Simkin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 17:52:50 -0000
Subject: 9.0222  Re: Houses; Anti-Semitism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0222  Re: Houses; Anti-Semitism

Glad that Larry Weiss and I are able to agree to disagree in amicable
fashion - but just to set the record straight, the statement that "A
blueprint must be followed as the draftsman intended; if it isn't, the
house falls down" may or may not be a dodgy simile, but it wasn't mine!


To respond to Ira Abrams on the issue of MV...

I don't think we can know to what extent Shylock and Barabas conform to
standard Elizabethan notions of the Jew, since of course all we have are
scraps of historical evidence to work from when trying to recover those
notions. There would be no coherent stereotype that all Elizabethans
subscribed to anyway, but I imagine that Shakespeare's creation and
Marlowe's creation may well have influenced the vast array of different
notions that would have been circulating at the time in a population
where actual Jewish presence was virtually invisible.  These plays would
refract as well as reflect the ideology of the time. I would be the
first to agree that the mindset of an Elizabethan is something that is
ultimately irrecoverable, though that doesn't mean it isn't worthy
trying.  Anyway, to pick up another of Ira Abrams' points,  if we cannot
recover that mindset, how can we argue  that it is actually much closer
to a modern one than your typical cultural materialist would claim?

No, Shylock does not drink the blood of Christians, though I am not the
first to note that his hankering after Christian flesh might echo the
myth, or else a similar one that claimed that Jews circumcised their
victims before killing them.  James Shapiro's book, which I continue to
recommend, has a chapter entitled "The Pound of Flesh" which as an
epigram quotes a line spoken by the Jew in the English translation of
Alexander Silvayn's *The Orator* (1596).... "What a matter were it then
if I should cut of his privy members, supposing that the same would
altogether weigh a just pound?"

Coincidence?  Possibly.  Though many commentators acknowledge Silvayn's
text as a possible source for MV.  I could also rehearse Shapiro's
argument about the close association of flesh and penis via Geneva
Bible, references in *Romeo and Juliet*, and so on, but will instead
recommend anyone interested follow it up in Shapiro's book (Shakespeare
and the Jews, Columbia UP, 1996).  Yes, we are dealing with fragments,
but Shapiro pieces together one possible coherent(ish) picture.

Finally, to reinforce the point, I am not arguing that MV is a play
about anti-Semitism.  I never said that I would wish to reduce the play
to "the persecution of Shylock", in Ben Schneider's words.  I simply
drew attention to the fact that we have to recognise the difficulties
inherent in reviving a text that emerges from an anti-Semitic society
such as Elizabethan England.  I agree that there is a lot more going on
in the play, but we have to acknowledge the sensitivity of the issue of
its anti-Semitism - many Jews do find the play offensive; an article in
the UK national newspaper today reveals results of a survey that
indicates teachers across the globe are dropping it from their curricula
because they believe it to be anti-Semitic.  (The survey was done by the
Globe, and I imagine more formal results might find their way to this
list in due course - if not, I will glean what I can from the paper and
post it on next week, if people are interested).

When I staged The Jew of Malta last year, one of the panellists at the
colloquium, a vicar, talked about considering picketing the theatre on
the first night (he decided not to and instead kept an engagement to
attend an event at a local synagogue).  I know that MV has stirred
similarly strong feelings.  Ira Abrams makes the point that an Arabian
performance context might well provoke very different responses, and the
idea is an intriguing one.  One thing no-one dared to raise at our
colloquium was the question of Israeli action in Palestine.

I'm not calling for a ban on these plays, simply an acknowledgement
(rather than knee-jerk denial) of their inherent difficulties.  Too
often (and this is not aimed at those who have been responding so
thought-provokingly to the debate on the list), people refuse to
coutenance the notion that Shakespeare could possibly write anything
that we could deem today as anti-Semitic. Or misogynist.  Or racist.  Or
anything else that could possibly be deemed offensive.

And despite Ira Abrams' puzzled response at my approach to these and
other early modern plays, I remain convinced that one way of doing this
is by finding out as much as we can about their meaning in their
original performance context, and judging as lucidly as we can their
potential for making meaning in the present.  Though as an academic I
perhaps have to lean closer to the former, and as a theatre practitioner
closer to the latter, the shuttling back and forth is what keeps me
interested...

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

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chantal Schutz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 18:05:58 -0500
Subject:        Merchant of Venice

In response to the threads on Merchant and casting, I would like to
offer the following information. Sorry if the posting is quite long, and
some of you have already received it on another list.

In advance of this summer's production of 'The Merchant of Venice',
Globe Education has launched its 'Shakespeare and the Jews' season with
a sell-out lecture by James Shapiro on 'Imagining Jews in Shakespeare's
England'. It continues today with the first play of the series: 'The
Custom of the Country'. The theme and the act that the GLobe chose that
play are already proving controversial: one article in the Jewish
Chronicle maintained that, however it is staged, the play remains
offensive to many Jewish people.  I, for one, always leave feeling very
unhappy and angry, except in the 1988 German modern-dress production by
Peter Zadek, where Shylock, played by the great actor Gert Voss, was so
like the other merchants that when Portia entered the court-room and
asked: "Is your name Shylock?", she spoke to Antonio - making the point
very neatly that the difference is in the eye of the beholder. I saw
this extraordinary production in Vienna in 1992, and I think it is still
revived at the Burgtheater every now and again.

Meantime, Globe Ed has also carried out an international survey of over
1000 teachers on 'The Merchant of Venice'.  The teachers came from a
wide range of countries including: UK, USA, Italy, Finland, Canada,
Germany, Australia, Eire, New Zealand, Switzerland, France and Austria.
Many are members of Globelink, the GLobe's international network of
schools and colleges. The survey has already elicited at least two
articles: one in the Times on Friday 13 (excerpts below), one in the
Jewish Chronicle.

The raw figures are as follows:

1.Have you ever read 'The Merchant of Venice'?
yes : 68%
no  : 32%

2.Have you ever seen a production of 'The Merchant of Venice'?
yes : 67.3%
no  : 32.7%

3.Have you ever taught 'The Merchant of Venice'?
yes : 29%
no  : 71%

4.Do you think that 'The Merchant of Venice' should be taught?
yes : 89.86%
no  : 5.4%
unsure: 4.72%

5.Do you think that 'The Merchant of Venice' should be played on stage?
yes : 97.3%
no  : 1.3%
unsure: 1.3%

6.Do you think that 'The Merchant of Venice' is an anti-semitic play?
yes : 17.8%
no  : 61.64%
unsure: 20.55%

Globe Education's conclusions are:

Well over half the teachers said that they had both read and seen 'The
Merchant of Venice', but only a little over a quarter said they had
taught it. This is quite interesting because almost 90 percent thought
it should be taught. Almost all of them thought it should also be done
on the stage. This raises questions as to why it is so rarely taught.

Only 17.8% of teachers believe that 'The Merchant of Venice' is
anti-semitic. Well over half did not. Of the 20.55 percent (almost a
quarter) who were unsure about the anti-semitic nature of the play, many
offered the belief that the anti-semitism was dependent on the
particular production and presentation of the work. Others who were
unsure said they personally did not believe it was anti-semitic, but
they could clearly see how others might feel that it is. Still there
were others who believed that only parts of the play were anti-semitic,
or that the issues surrounding this question were far too lengthy to
answer with a yes or no.

Teachers' comments on the question: Do you think that 'The Merchant of
Venice' is an anti-semitic play? include

- Yes, up to a point - also anti-Christian!
- No - or only in the sense that 'Othello' is anti-black or 'Macbeth'
anti-Scots
- Yes, only by 20th century perceptions
- No - though it does have anti-semitic elements and it provides an
excellent opportunity to discuss anti-semitism and the Holocaust
- Yes, but not 100 percent
- No, it's anti all religions
- Yes, to a certain extent
- No - talk about the problems!
- Yes, + feminist
- No, because of its historical context and time + the audience for
which it was written
etc

The Times article, by David Charter:
-----------------------------------------------
'One Teacher in 20 shuns 'Merchant of Venice''
-----------------------------------------------
David Charter on academic anger over minority who say that pupils should
not study 'anti-Semitic' play
...
The play about Shylock, the miserly Jewish moneylender who demands a
'weight of carrion flesh' from Antonio, the merchant, in settlement of a
debt, is on the current A-level syllabus. It has been the subject of
controversy since it was first performed in 1596.
...The reconstructed Globe commissioned a survey...Objectors said that
the drama could have a damaging influence on their pupils, or would
raise issues too complex to resolve for younger teenagers.
...
Those who shunned the play were criticised by Jean Aitchison, Rupert
Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication at Oxford University.
She said: "I would have thought that, if you start to worry about
historical plays that show prejudices, you are going to be left with
very little to see or read.  There are a lot of folk songs which are
anti-Semitic because there was a quite extraordinary rumour that went
around that Jewish women ate small boys. I have only seem productions
which make Shylock into a money-grabbing criminal, but you need to put
it in its historical context."
...
Richard Olivier, director of the Globe's forthcoming performance and son
of the late Lord Olivier, told a conference at the Globe yesterday that
the play was "dangerous" and offered no simple answers. "I believe that
theatre should be dangerous withouth being offensive. The Merchant of
Venice is exciting for that reason."

He also criticised those teachers who shied away from the play: "I
believe acting and the theatre to be an important form of education. It
offers the most powerful form of empathy. After my father played
Othello, he was certainly as far from racist as can be imagined."

James Shapiro, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at
Columbia University, told the conference that there were 50 productions
of the play in Nazi Germany, which invariably left out the intermarriage
of a Jew and Christian.

He added: "No one is cleaning up this play today. Offensive thoughts and
feelings exist in our society. The play offers an opportunity to take
stock of them."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Those of you who saw 'Henry V' last season at the Globe and remember how
the English audiences booed and hissed the French, however tongue in
cheek the actors may have felt that reaction was, will surely be
interested to see how they react next summer, when another German actor,
Norbert Kentrup, comes on as the Jew. Another exciting challenge for the
new Globe.

All the best
Chantal

Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0229  Tuesday, 17 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Michael Friedman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 11:48:01 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[2]     From:   Stevie Simkin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 14 Mar 1998 17:05:58 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[3]     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 15 Mar 1998 10:25:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Titus for Cheap Laughs

[4]     From:   Markus Marti <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 13:13:40 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[5]     From:   Harry Keyishian <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 15:32:08 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224 Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus

[6]     From:   David Skeele <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 16 Mar 1998 20:46:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0224  Re: Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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 <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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 <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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 <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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 <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Harry Keyishian, Director, FDU Press

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Skeele <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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

Q: Editions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0227  Saturday, 14 March 1998.

From:           Christine Gilmore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 13 Mar 1998 17:42:27 +0000
Subject:        Editions

Hello, SHAKSPEReans,

I'm about to order an edition for my Shakespeare I class; but I've
discovered that the Riverside Shakespeare is about $60 now and the
Norton Shakespeare is $45.  I've used the Shakespeare twice over; but
now I'm feeling that this is quite a lot of money to ask undergraduates
to spend (because I also want them purchase the Bedford documentary book
as well).  I have used the Oxford collected Shakespeare once before (due
to its $25 price); but the students found that the binding did not hold
up over the term.  Has anyone used the Norton Shakespeare in class as
yet? Are the notes sufficient? I received a review copy but found the
pages too paper thin?  Has this proved a problem for anyone?

Respond off-line, if you wish.

Thanks, cg.

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