1998

Announcements

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0211  Wednesday, 11 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Abigail Ann Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, March 10, 1998 11:58 AM
        Subj:   Tempest Conference

[2]     From:   Jose Ramon Diaz Fernandez  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 06:51:21 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare on Screen Conference Announcement

[3]     From:   Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 17:22:18 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   EARLY THEATRE 1 (Fall, 1998)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Ann Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, March 10, 1998 11:58 AM
Subject:        Tempest Conference

'THE TEMPEST' IN THE OLD WORLD AND THE NEW:
A University of Maryland Colloquium

SATURDAY 4 APRIL 1998
Language House, St. Mary's Hall
University of Maryland

PARTICIPANTS:
Crystal Bartolovich      Lisa Jardine
Eric Cheyfitz            Barbara Mowat
Merle Collins            Joseph Roach
Joan Dayan               William Sherman
Donna Hamilton           Alden Vaughan
Peter Hulme              Virginia Vaughan


REGISTRATION: $5 (includes coffee, lunch, and tea).

TO RESERVE A PLACE OR FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Dr. William Sherman
Department of English
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
(301)405-7634
"This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."

Sponsored by the College of Arts & Humanities with the assistance of the
Dept. of English, the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese, the Comparative
Literature Program, and the Center for Renaissance & Baroque Studies.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jose Ramon Diaz Fernandez  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 06:51:21 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare on Screen Conference Announcement

Dear Colleague,

The English Department of the University of M=E1laga (Spain) is at
present organizing a conference on Shakespeare on Screen for next year.
Please find enclosed a copy of the announcement which will appear in
several periodicals in the next few months. We would be really grateful
if you could inform other colleagues who might be interested about the
celebration of this event.

SHAKESPEARE ON SCREEN : THE CENTENARY CONFERENCE. To commemorate the
first one hundred years of filmed Shakespeare, the English Department of
the University of M=E1laga (Spain) will be organizing a three-day
conference on the third week of September 1999. The conference will deal
with all aspects of film and TV Shakespeare. Plenary speakers will
include Kenneth S. Rothwell and Anthony Davies. Suggestions for papers,
round tables, workshops and sessions are welcome. Deadlines : 31 Dec.
(abstracts) and 1 April (papers), although early submissions are
encouraged. Please send all requests for information, one-page abstracts
and/or twenty-minute papers to : Jose Ramon Diaz-Fernandez, Dept. of
English and French, Faculty of Arts, Univ. of M=E1laga, M=E1laga - 29071
(SPAIN). Fax : 34-5-2131843. Email : jrdiazfernan=40uma.es.

Thank you very much in advance. We look forward to hearing from you.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 17:22:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        EARLY THEATRE 1 (Fall, 1998)

ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW JOURNAL

Early Theatre: A Journal associated with the Records of Early English
Drama (acronym ET/REED, ISSN 1206-9078) will appear annually beginning
in the fall of 1998.  Early Theatre is a peer-reviewed journal with a
nine-member international editorial board.  The first volume will
contain articles and notes on a variety of cultural and theatrical
concerns, such as:

John J. McGavin on early Scottish attitudes to plays and performance in
"The Kirk, the Burgh, and Fun"

Robert Tittler on new biographical material concerning "Henry Hardware
of Chester and the Face of Puritan Reform"

W. R. Streitberger on household and court preparations involved in
"Devising the Revels"

David Mills on travelling players in Chester

James Stokes on the waits in Lincolnshire

Dominick Grace on the apothecary scene in Romeo and Juliet

Early Theatre is also experimenting with a new reviewing format.  For
the first issue, several scholars, including Barbara Palmer, David
Bevington, Garrett Epp, Peter Meredith, David Mills, and Ralph Blasting
will participate in a forum reviewing the York Cycle in performance, in
Toronto (June) and in the city of York (July), with comments on various
aspects of staging, special effects, and treatment of text.

We invite you to show your support for the new journal by subscribing to
Early Theatre for an initial one- or two-year period.  Our new
publisher, McMaster University Press, will be taking over the
subscription lists in May, and we anticipate that the cost of the
journal may increase within the next two years.  If you wish to
subscribe now, at the current prices, you may do so by sending a money
order or VISA credit card information, using the order form and address
below.  If you prefer to be billed later by the press, please indicate
on the order form.  We would be grateful for your reply by April 15.

We are now accepting articles and notes for Volume 2 (1999).  Requests
for the ET style sheet may be addressed to the editor at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and submissions may be sent to:

Helen Ostovich
Editor, Early Theatre
Department of English
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L9
Canada

*************************************************************************

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Return this information by mail to:
Dr Arleane Ralph   <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Records of Early English Drama,
150 Charles St West,
Toronto Ontario
Canada M5S 1K9.

Re: Casting

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0210  Wednesday, 11 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Mark Perew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 12:19:41 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0207  Re: Casting

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:    Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 17:52:20 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Casting; DWEMs

[3]     From:   Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 21:28:46 -0500
        Subj:   Thoughts on Interracial Casting With Particular Regard to
"Othello"



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Perew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 12:19:41 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.0207  Re: Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0207  Re: Casting

On Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998, Matthew Gretzinger wrote:

>The pink-clad Richard III of "The Goodbye Girl" is amusing, but not
>because of "the absurdity of grossly revising [the] character."  The
>character there is not revised-it is interpreted, and, to my thinking,
>poorly interpreted.  That I think it is mis-interpreted makes me laugh,
>but does not lead me to think that excesses of interpretation should be
>discouraged.

How much interpretation creates an excess?  Currently Santa Ana College
is doing Two Gentlemen of Verona.  The director has chosen to set it in
1962.  Verona is a cold wintery place and Milan is southern California
(a device lifted straight from "Where The Boys Are").  Proteus and
Valentine are college fresmen.  Antonio and Panthino are jazz
musicians.  Speed is a Miss Hathaway ("Beverly Hillbillies") type
woman.  The Outlaws are surfers.  The Duke is now the Dean of Milan
University.  Eglamour (the part I play) is now the Registrar of the
University.

The play is heavily underscored with music from the early 60's.  Julia's
entrance as Sebastian is emphasized by the opening lines of "Walk Like A
Man", for example.  Valentine's speech to the Duke in III.i on how to
win a woman is done as a recitative to the music of Floyd Cramer's
slip-key "Last Date".  The Host (a janitor) and Eglamour make unscripted
entrances and provide vocal do-wah backup to Valentine.  (So far the
audiences have loved this little addition, but the purist in me
cringes.)  Launce's dialogue on the woman he loves is underscored with
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" and his first entrance with Crab is to the
tune of "Puppy Love" (although I tried to get the sound designer to
change it to "Tears of a Clown".)

The text is not heavily altered.  The director has added only a few
words here or there for clarity.  However, politically correct deletions
of references to Speed being "swinged" have been excised along with all
references to either Jews or Christians.

Does this constitute excessive interpretation?  I think it does.  The
story does work, in the end, but I agree with Kurt Schlueter's comments
that placing the tale in a contemporary setting loses more than it
gains.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 17:52:20 -0500
Subject:        Re: Casting; DWEMs

Matthew Gretzinger and Stevie Simkin have, each in his own way, joined
issue in a fashion which admits of no further meaningful disputation.
Thus, Mr. Gretzinger say:

> I believe that the "dimensions" of a text are limited only by the
> interpreters involved, whether the interpreters be readers, actors, or
> audience members.  I don't believe that authors are capable of crafting
> texts that exclude the new "dimensions" that future interpreters will
> bring to them  ... Certainly, there are things that are "not in a
> play."  However, those
> things will be different from interpreter to interpreter, won't they?

No they won't.  But there is no way I can reply to this, as it proceeds
from a belief system so profoundly different from my own that points I
find unanswerable are meaningless to Mr. Gretzinger.  There is no
arguing with someone who believes (or purports to believe) that James
Earl Jones may validly be cast as Juliet by a producer whose imagination
has a wider scope than mine (or Mr. Gretzinger's).  To him the
characters are, indeed, "shapeless and infinitely malleable."  But I
believe that when Shakespeare wrote "black" he meant "black," or perhaps
"grey" or "brown"; and he clearly excluded "white."  To argue otherwise
is to deny the meaning of English and to deprive the texts of their
function as even "blueprints."  A blueprint must be followed as the
draftsman intended; if it isn't, the house falls down.

Stevie Simkin, on the other hand, invites a discussion far broader than
the limited issue I raised of not evaluating literature with reference
to the racial or sexual attributes of the authors.  I argued only that
an author's race, sex, etc., should neither detract from nor enhance our
evaluation of his or her work.  That point should not be subject to
dispute, and Simkin does not contradict it directly.  Instead, in a
clever twist to evade having to embrace even-handed criticism, Simkin
says that he would "continue to play the devil's advocate here and ask
what is the basis" of proper analysis.  I shall not take that bait,
which I suspect was on purpose laid to make me mad.  I know the twisted
paths into which fruitless and ultimately unresolvable discussions of
the criteria of literary worth can lead, and I shall not go there.  That
way lies madness.  I deliberately sought to avoid such a diversion by
arguing only that, whatever the criteria by which we evaluate literary
works, they must be applied without regard to the personal attributes of
the authors.  Again, does Simkin disagree?

Simkin very candidly makes my point for me when he admits that he is
considering the possibility that Olivier might have been disqualified by
virtue of his race from playing Othello.  Does this mean that he will
also consider that maybe Laurence Fishburne is disqualified by his race
from playing Iago?  Perhaps Matt and Stevie ought to argue with each
other instead of me.  After all, I'm just the troublemaker who offered
to hold everyone's coat.

Larry Weiss

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 21:28:46 -0500
Subject:        Thoughts on Interracial Casting With Particular Regard to
"Othello"

1. Othello is a fiercely difficult role.  The number of actors in a
given era who can do the part justice is always minuscule.  By barring
White actors from the role we sharply reduce or even destroy our chances
of seeing a great Othello in our lifetimes.  That's not a sacrifice I'm
willing to make.
2. The color bar has certainly reduced the number of "Othello"
productions.  The RSC hasn't mounted one in 10 years.  The National
Theatre is currently mounting one for the first time in 18 years.
3. For some reason these constraints don't seem to apply in opera, where
White tenors blacken up to play Verdi's Otello all the time. Why is this
practice tolerated?  Why hasn't there been a public outcry against it?
If we can stomach it at the Met, why not on the legitimate stage?
4. If called upon to justify their use of White tenors in blackface,
opera impresarios would probably claim that great tenors are extremely
rare, and that to require only Black tenors would virtually eliminate
"Otello" from the repertoire.  I submit that the same considerations
should apply to the theatre.  Acting is not something "anyone can do";
great acting even less so; great Shakespearean acting still less.  When
a distinguished tragedian appears on the scene-an event surely as rare
as the appearance of a great tenor-we do ourselves a cruel disservice by
denying him access to a great role.  Why should we be deprived of Derek
Jacobi's Othello, or Ian McKellen's?  Yet under present circumstances we
are.  I call that a shame.
5. There has been discussion of Black actors donning whiteface to play
White roles.  The idea is not outlandish:  I once saw Shirley Verrett
play Verdi's Desdemona that way.  I have no objections to the practice,
provided that White actors are afforded an analogous privilege.  Those
who find blackface or whiteface to be offensive or demeaning should
remind themselves that acting is supposed to be an art of
self-transformation, including physical self-transformation.  The
aesthetic pleasure derives from how well the actor impersonates or
embodies a human being entirely different from himself.  I refuse to
believe that this pleasure is illegitimate when racial impersonation is
involved, or that a great actor cannot give a great performance of a
character from another race.
6. For the record, I think that Olivier's Othello was a courageous and
magnificent performance, and not at all racist or condescending.
7. When Seiji Ozawa was asked which of two candidates, one White and one
Black, he would hire for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he replied "The
better one."  Precisely.

Re: Aesthetic Effects!

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0208  Wednesday, 11 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Si Mealor <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 15:49:38 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Aesthetic Effects!

[2]     From:   John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 11:26:16 -0500
        Subj:   esthetic response

[3]     From:   Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 10:21:22 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0206  Qs: Aesthetic Effects!

[4]     From:   Lisa Hopkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 15:39:00 -0000
        Subj:   Fainting and the Globe

[5]     From:   Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 14:01:00 -0500
        Subj:   Fw: painting fainting


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Si Mealor <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 15:49:38 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 9.0206  Q: Aesthetic Effects!
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Aesthetic Effects!

Regarding being overcome by aesthetic beauty, it's called Stendhal
syndrome, after the 19th century French author who was overcome in a
museum in Italy. I don't have precise details, having been overcome this
afternoon by the unaesthetic nature of teaching Stendhal to unwilling
undergraduates.

On a tangent, how is Stendhal's _Racine et Shakespeare_ viewed by people
on the list? Has anyone ever found it useful in teaching about Racine,
Shakespeare or Stendhal?

Simon Mealor

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Cox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 11:26:16 -0500
Subject:        esthetic response

Regarding Scott Crozier's question about the physiological
manifestations of esthetic response, Pepys mentions becoming "really
sick" in his response to the music accompanying the angel who appears in
Dekker's and Massinger's *The Virgin Martyr*.  No mention of a medical
diagnosis, but if you're collecting examples, this is one.  See *Diary*
for Feb. 27, 1668.

John Cox

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 10:21:22 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 9.0206  Qs: Aesthetic Effects!
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0206  Qs: Aesthetic Effects!

It was, I believe, Balzac who suffered from the nervous disability-akin
to anxiety/panic disorder-in Florence when he visited the enormous
church housing the tombs of Dante, Michelangelo, Rossini and other
artists. Similar effects have been experienced in that very building,
including an attack during my own visit fifteen months ago.

The physical symptoms-external and visible signs, as Archbishop Cranmer
wrote in *The Book of Common Prayer, of an inward and spiritual
state-have happened to people in Venice as well, and Rome of course, and
in the great Bavarian baroque abbey of Ottobeuren; I think Balzac called
the syndrome a disease "caused by a surfeit of art in foreign places".

It's a concomitant of being moved, of course. I experienced it watching
Paul Rogers' Macbeth when I was quite young.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lisa Hopkins <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 15:39:00 -0000
Subject:        Fainting and the Globe

I wonder whether what Scott Crozier is thinking of is something which I
think may be called the Stendhal Syndrome, believed to affect
particularly travelers to Florence.  I did once read a report about it
in a newspaper, but it's a long time ago and I don't remember the
details.  And for the Globe motto, 'AGIT histrionem' seems to ring a
bell, though again that's all I recall.

Lisa Hopkins
Sheffield Hallam University
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tanya Gough <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 14:01:00 -0500
Subject:        Fw: painting fainting

We're not entirely sure, but there may be reference to the condition
Scott Crozier describes in J.K. Huysman's book "A Rebours" ("Against the
Grain" Dover).  It describes the protagonist in a state of ecstasy or
rapture in the presence of beautiful art (Moreau's Salome in this case).

Tanya (and her ever helpful partner John)
Poor Yorick
Stratford, Ont.

Re: Motto

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0209  Wednesday, 11 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Lawrence Manley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 10:34:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto

[2]     From:   Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 10:35:09 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto

[3]     From:   Kent Vandenberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 09:10:13 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0206  Help with Motto

[4]     From:   Peter L Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Mar 1998 15:17:13 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lawrence Manley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 10:34:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto

See E.R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, ch.
7.5.  Curtius argues that the Globe motto (totus mundus agit histrionem)
is from John of Salisbury's paraphrase of Petronius in the Policraticus
(quod fere totus mundus iuxta Petronium exerceat histrionem).

Lawrence Manley
Yale University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 10:35:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto

Isn't "totus mundus facit histrionem" simply a telescoped version of
Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women
merely players" (AYL 2.7.138-9)?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kent Vandenberg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 09:10:13 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.0206  Help with Motto
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0206  Help with Motto

The motto was "Totus mundus agit histrionem."  Ernst Schanzer reviews
the evidence in "Hercules and his Load," _Review of English Studies_,
n.s., 19 (1968): 51-53.  He doubts that the Globe had as its emblem
Hercules holding the world because he finds no correspondence between
the picture and the motto, and because "a picture of Hercules carrying
the terrestrial globe offends against bothy mythology and common
sense."  I have argued that the paradox of holding up the world while
standing on it is precisely what makes the emblem expressive.  By
picturing a literal impossibility, it invites interpretation as a symbol
and application as a metaphor.  While its range of significance is
large, all of its meanaings are related to the new mode of subjective
freedom implicit in the Renaissance concepts of the poem as heterocosm,
man as actor, and the world as stage.  The emblem pictures our capacity
to contain in thought the world that actually contains us, reversing the
usual relation of microcosm to macrocosm.  In Whitney's _Choice of
Emblemes_ (1586), a man is pictured carrying a large globe on his back
to demonstrate that worldly greed is contrary to the true nature of
things, and that ambition is ultimately impossible.  The motto there is
"Nemo potest duobus dominis seruire" (No man can serve two masters).
Mercator offers a more heroic reading of the emblem in his "Preface upon
Atlas": Atlas is pictured lifting the world because he is the founder of
astronomy and cartogoraphy and is the first maker of globes.  See also
William Cuningham's _Cosmographical Glasse_ (1599), which show3s Atlas
kneeling and holding a globe encased in a large armillary sphere.  On
the frontispiece of Ralegh's _History of the World_ (1614), History
holds up the globe while trampling Death and Oblivion.  Schanzer himself
cites the title page of Lafreri's atlas (ca. 1570), which shows Atlas
holding the earth.  There are a few references that seem to associate
Hercules or Atlas with the Globe: in _Hamlet_, in Marston's _Antonio and
Mellida_, and in an elegy on Richard Burbage.  In _Playhouse and Cosmos:
Shakespearean Theater as Metaphor," I offered the following conclusion:
"If Shakespeare's theater had this emblem-I have not, of course,
_proved_ that it did-the globe carried by its Hercules or Atlas is the
theater itself.  The emblem symbolizes the achievement of the players in
sustaining their own theatrical realm and holding it up as an equivalent
of the real world.  The motto-for it _is_ appropriate-proclaims this
equivalence: Totus mundus agit histrionem" (p.  38).

Kent van den Berg

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter L Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Mar 1998 15:17:13 +1000
Subject: 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0206  Q: Help with Motto

> "The Classics list has been arguing about a Latin motto supposedly
> painted on the Globe-"totus mundus facit histrionem" or some such. They
> want to know where it came from and what it's supposed to mean (it's
> pretty bad Latin). Do you know? "

Bad Latin it may be, but don't blame the Globe, whose motto was "Totus
mundus agit histrionem": 'Everyone's an actor', or less literally, 'All
the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players'.

Peter Groves, Monash Univ.

Re: Casting; Fletcher; Shrew; NYSF Mac.

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0207  Tuesday, 10 March 1998.

[1]     From:   Matthew Gretzinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 09 Mar 1998 13:41:43 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0194  Re: Casting

[2]     From:   Jonathan Hope <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 11:18:52 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0203  Fletcher and others

[3]     From:   Stevie Simkin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 09:49:56 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0201  Re: Shrew

[4]     From:   Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 9 Mar 1998 18:56:07 -0500
        Subj:   Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett in Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Gretzinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 09 Mar 1998 13:41:43 -0500
Subject: 9.0194  Re: Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0194  Re: Casting

Re/the casting thread, I think that I can see Larry Weiss' point (and
no, I did not have to employ "thought process[es] similar to [those]
used by psychiatrists who try to enter their patients' delusions.")
However, I'm not sure that I entirely agree with him.

I believe that the "dimensions" of a text are limited only by the
interpreters involved, whether the interpreters be readers, actors, or
audience members.  I don't believe that authors are capable of crafting
texts that exclude the new "dimensions" that future interpreters will
bring to them, and I believe in the right of an interpeter to accept or
reject the various meanings that have attached themselves to a text over
time.  I don't believe any text has meaning unto itself, lacking an
interpreter.

Certainly, there are things that are "not in a play."  However, those
things will be different from interpreter to interpreter, won't they?
Some feel that The Tempest is about colonial expansion-some don't.  Some
think that certain of Shakespeare's characters are homosexual in nature-
some don't.  Some think that The Merchant of Venice is Anti-Semitic-and
some don't.  Who is to say, with authority,  which interpretations are
"incorrect" or "un-Shakespearean" and which aren't?

The point is about freedom of choice in interpretation.  The text
remains the starting point of any interpreter.  So, yes, to me, it IS
absurd to cast Shirley Temple as Lear, or for the fat bearded bald man
to play Juliet, because I can find no basis in either text for these
choices.  I cannot see what, if anything, of interest, would be
revealed.  Perhaps I lack vision, or perspective-someone else may not be
so limited.

The pink-clad Richard III of "The Goodbye Girl" is amusing, but not
because of "the absurdity of grossly revising [the] character."  The
character there is not revised-it is interpreted, and, to my thinking,
poorly interpreted.  That I think it is mis-interpreted makes me laugh,
but does not lead me to think that excesses of interpretation should be
discouraged.  Richard, I worry not (my personal Richard), will be
himself again.

Larry Weiss points out that Miller's Death of a Salesman was not written
for me alone.  Of course it was written for no one "alone," but for
everyone, and it is (or will be) the property of posterity.  As such it
"means" whatever the actors and audiences need it to mean, at the time
of interpretation.  What Miller wrote cannot be changed (except perhaps
by Miller).  What use (for good or for ill) his words are put to,
however, is not up to him, nor to Weiss, nor to me, nor to anyone
"alone."  It is, of course, a "different play," each and every time it
is re-staged, indeed, each time it is re-discovered by a new reader, a
new audience member, or a new generation.

Mr. Weiss says that "a white Othello is not the play Shakespeare wrote."
He says that Shakespeare told a "certain story," and that the Patrick
Stewart Othello is a "different story."  I question the first statement,
but wholeheartedly agree with the second.  I don't know that Shakespeare
told a "certain story."  He wrote a play.  A play is a blueprint, not an
end in itself.  The story is told in performance, or in the mind of the
reader, as she imagines the characters, the words, and the action.

The Stewart Othello is a different story. Isn't that one of the reasons
Shakespeare has survived?  Because his plays can be constantly reborn in
new ways, telling new and different stories, to suit new and different
generations, cultures, audiences?

Patrick Stewart's production is just as deserving of being called
"Shakespeare's" as any production of the play since Burbage's time.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 11:18:52 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 9.0203  Fletcher and others
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0203  Fletcher and others

As someone who has also read through the Fletcher canon, best wishes to
Drew Whitehead, but let's drop the Beaumont please - it may look like a
useful shorthand, but it misrepresents the canon badly.  Massinger has a
better claim to be remembered as Fletcher's 'other', and there were
enough other others for 'The Fletcher canon' to be the best
formulation.  I know the Cambridge edition uses the B-word, but more
shame to them and their misguided, overpriced books.

As to which plays you should read, it is harder to think of plays that
aren't relevant, rather than ones that are, but you might want to look
at the 1619-22 plays as a group (including Custom of the Country, Island
Princess, Sea Voyage etc).  Gordon McMullan's The Politics of Unease in
the Plays of John Fletcher (1994:
Massachusetts) has a very handy chronology of the canon on pages 267-9,
and should provide ideas and starting points generally.

I'm told, by the way, that the success of their current Henry VIII
(coming to the US soon), has prompted the RSC to look at the Fletcher
canon with a view to more productions.  The John Fletcher revival is on
its way.

Jonathan Hope
Middlesex University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stevie Simkin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Mar 1998 09:49:56 -0000
Subject: 9.0201  Re: Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0201  Re: Shrew

I'm sorry that my comment on Shrew caused misunderstanding

> If Stevie Simkin, in writing that "When we start reading 20th century
> psychology in Shakespeare instead of a reflection of common practices in
> early modern England ... the attempt to turn a blind eye to the play's
> misogyny looks more like self-mutilation with a sharp instrument," he
> means that all attempts to psychologize automatically turn Kate into a
> masochist, I'm afraid that I have to disagree.

I agree entirely that "Turning her into a victim of Petruchio's depraved
psychology still leaves her a victim."

My comment about the sharp instrument was intended to say that when we
apply 20th century psychology in this way, we are not so much turning a
blind eye as deliberately blinding ourselves to what the text
represents.  The production I saw I felt was deeply problematic in that
it attempted to "excuse" Petruchio's behaviour by saying he had an
unhappy childhood.  This seems to me to be the worse kind of casuistry.

I'll try and be less clever-clever and more transparent in future!

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

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 9 Mar 1998 18:56:07 -0500
Subject:        Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett in Macbeth

The New York Shakespeare Festival production of Macbeth starring Alec
Baldwin and Angela Bassett is sold out for its entire run, including the
previews.  But "sold out" is always a relative term, and a few tickets
will usually turn up on the day of performance.  Should you try to get
one?

No.  The production is truly awful:  dully directed and wretchedly acted
by an unrelievedly mediocre ensemble.  Deprived of his cinematic
whisper, Baldwin reveals himself to be a callow lad, without passion or
presence. On screen, with his fires carefully banked, he can give a
plausible imitation of intelligent menace.  On stage, his thin, reedy,
adolescent voice conveys no power, no villainy and no torment.  The
proverbial wisdom is true:  An actor can't hide in the theatre, and a
stage is more pitiless than a camera.  A close-up can be a disguise; a
soliloquy is always an X-ray.

Angela ("What's Talent Got To Do With It?") Bassett is equally inept.
Sawing the air with her hands, strutting and bellowing like Tina Turner,
she makes one wonder if Nature's journeymen had fashioned her and
botched the job.  She and Baldwin have no chemistry and generate no
heat.  When Lady M grabs her husband's crotch on "screw your courage to
the sticking place", the moment has all the erotic charge of a housewife
shopping for cucumbers.

George Wolfe's staging couldn't be more routine, and the small cast
(only three guests at the banquet!) gives no sense of a society, let
alone a country.  None of the actors speak Shakespeare effectively; all
of them resort to the faux-British mid-Atlantic accent that I once
thought American actors had abandoned for good.  The performance is
peppered with "my lohrd"s and other phonemes that set the teeth on edge.

Are there any redeeming features?  Not on stage, but you might see some
celebrities in the audience.  Danny ("Lethal Weapon") Glover and little
Stephen Baldwin were there the night I saw it.  Who knows; if you're
lucky you might catch a glimpse of Kim Basinger.

But the performance itself is an amateurish bore, which I abandoned at
intermission, 2/3 of the way through.  The money isn't important, but
the waste of time and life is hard to forgive.

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