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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Elizabethan Staging ("just plain wrong")
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0458  Tuesday, 12 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Jeffrey Myers <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 May 1998 13:24:44 -0400
        Subj:   "just plain wrong"; was Re: Elizabethan Staging

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 May 1998 02:31:01 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: Elizabethan Staging

[3]     From:   Stephen Longstaffe <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 May 1998 17:03:00 +0100
        Subj:   Elizabethan Staging


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeffrey Myers <
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Date:           Monday, 11 May 1998 13:24:44 -0400
Subject:        "just plain wrong"; was Re: Elizabethan Staging

> Mr. Egan's 'just plain wrong' sadly reflects someone who sets
> himself up
> as the --- 'be all and end all' --- expert on all things Folio

Isn't it a fascinating time in which we live?  It's wonderful that no
one can be "just plain wrong" anymore, and even more wonderful that
pointing out someone's error turns one into the "--- 'be all and end
all' --- expert" in the field.  If I were only the be all and end all
expert on things punctuational, I'd point out Mr. Tofteland's odd ---
use of the --- dash.  Alas, I am not such an expert.

> --- I
> doubt that Mr. Egan's research sources are any more valid than Mr.
> Tucker's ---

Do you base this conclusion on anything other than impression and
prejudice?

> since neither Egan or Tucker lived during Shakespeare's
> day, it is all open to interpretation

If this is the qualifying criterion for validity in interpretation, how
sad that we can never know anything about Shakespeare's theater.  And
one corollary of this argument must be that what a contemporary says
about the art of his time must be valid, since that subject is
presumably not open to interpretation.  Oh, wondrous!  I think I'll
begin writing a book tomorrow on the late 20th-century stage since
whatever I say will be correct.

> --- frankly, I
> personally put more
> stock in Mr. Tucker's instincts, being a practicing,
> professional man of
> the theatre rather than an arm chair quarterback . . .

And certainly these practicing, professional men of the theater have
never misled us.  Only three days ago I saw a production of Euripides'
_The Trojan Women_ that was set in the American South at the end of the
Civil War.  How insightful, to show Southern slave-holding women
lamenting their own slavery!  Of course, I never realized that these
women became slaves, but that just shows you how wrong an arm-chair
quarterback can be.  I had to conclude that this director thought
Lincoln was the equivalent of Agamemnon.  Who would have known?!  It
reminded me of the wonderful _Timon of Athens_ I once saw, which was set
in Japan.  Audiences sure are lucky to have people of the theater
providing such deeply significant insights!
With apologies to the rest of the theater people on the list,

Jeffrey Rayner Myers
Associate Professor of English and Arm-Chair Quarterback _par
excellence_
Department of English
Goucher College

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 May 1998 02:31:01 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Re: Elizabethan Staging

Leaping to one's own defence is never a dignified activity, but Curt L.
Tofteland's misunderstanding of the basis of my comments on Patrick
Tucker's ideas needs to be corrected:

> Mr. Egan's 'just plain wrong' sadly reflects someone
> who sets himself up as the --- 'be all and end all' ---
> expert on all things Folio --- I doubt that Mr. Egan's
> research sources are any more valid than Mr. Tucker's ---
> since neither Egan or Tucker lived during Shakespeare's
> day, it is all open to interpretation

The conflict is not between Tucker's theory and mine (I haven't got one
of my own), but between Tucker and the entire world of Shakespearian
bibliographical scholarship. Anybody with the slightest interest in how
the Folio came to be made should be aware that Tucker's ideas about it
were long ago discredited.

>  --- frankly, I personally put more
> stock in Mr. Tucker's instincts, being
> a practicing, professional man of
> the theatre rather than an arm chair quarterback . . .

Of course, Tofteland is at liberty to trust any authority he chooses.
But someone who works with actors should guide them away from theories
which can be exploded by just a glance at reputable works of
scholarship. (None of which are mine, alas.)

Gabriel Egan

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Longstaffe <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 May 1998 17:03:00 +0100
Subject:        Elizabethan Staging

When I played Petruchio some years back in the round, we made use of the
proximity of the audience  in a couple of interesting ways. The 2:1
encounter (I am he am born to tame you...) turned the middle square into
a kind of verbal wrestling ring, with the two circling one another. And
the Richard III-like 'thus have I politicly begun my reign...' became a
kind of seminar, with Petruchio picking on audience members for the
questions, 'And that is ... ? To watch her!' and 'He that knows better
how to tame a shrew, now let him speak'. The sense of how the play's
sexual politics was definitely affected by whose eye you caught during
these exercises and how much you tried to get the audience onto your
side.
 

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