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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Jennings; Crabs; Odd Plays; Sandman; Iago; Herbal
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0470  Friday, 15 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Justin Bacon <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 May 1998 00:15:01 -0700
        Subj:   Jennings's Hamlet

[2]     From:   Keith Richards <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 May 1998 01:24:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Shk 9:0449 - Roasted Crabs

[3]     From:   Chris J. Fassler <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 May 1998 09:36:30 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Teaching Odd Plays

[4]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 May 1998 09:39:03 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0466  Re: Iago

[5]     From:   Tim Richards <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 May 1998 19:52:35 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0464  *The Sandman* Shakespeares

[6]     From:   Martin Jukovsky <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 May 1998 12:45:01 -0400
        Subj:   Review of The Herbal Bed


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Justin Bacon <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 May 1998 00:15:01 -0700
Subject:        Jennings's Hamlet

Linda Hobbet wrote [on Alex Jenning's Hamlet at the RSC ],

> This sounds like a fairly radical production of the play, so I was
> wondering if anyone who has seen it could give me advice on how to
> prepare them for it.

I had an opportunity to see the performance at the Barbican towards the
end of March and, honestly, it sent me cringing in my seat. The choice
to "sorta, kinda" do a rendition of the first quarto text, while
remaining largely with the wording of the second quarto/First Folio was
highly questionable. If you want to test the first quarto as a
theatrically viable text why not have the courage to actually do the
first quarto? Why cut such important scenes as the first appearance of
the ghost? Why remove everything in the play which gives tangible proof
that Hamlet is not insane (such as other people viewing the ghost, the
conclusiveness of the play-within-a-play in confirming Claudius'
guilt-they even, IIRC, changed a line to change a blatant confession of
guilt into a postulate)?

The result is a collage of mutually incompatible play texts, combined
with an outrageous series of choices by the director. Jennings
performance is excellent, but is marred by the fact that is must be
suited to such a poor interpretation of the play.

My personal suggestion is this: If your nieces have had no previous
experience with Hamlet, have them read the play or have them watch
Branagh's version.  Have them read the first quarto (or try to, it is
largely incomprehensible). Have them approach this experience as one of
observation and comparison.

If they truly approach this production as "their first Hamlet" it will
leave them with a horribly warped sense of the play, in my opinion.

Justin Bacon

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[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Keith Richards <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 May 1998 01:24:52 -0400
Subject:        Re: Shk 9:0449 - Roasted Crabs

On Friday, May 8th, Stanley Wells wrote:

>I wonder if those who have kindly responded to the enquiry about
>crab(apples)s have considered the possibility that, rather than
>answering the question, they might have been more genuinely helpful to
>the enquirer by pointing to the existence of annotated editions of the
>play.

While I see the point which is being made, I wonder if Stanley Wells
could not have some more delicately nuanced appreciation of the
challenges that scholars face in parts of the world where foreign
currency is incredibly hard to come by, and where books published in the
west cost more than an academic's total monthly salary. Quite frankly, I
don't think that "pointing to the existence of annotated editions of the
play" is what's needed, or "more genuinely helpful," here.

K. Richards

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris J. Fassler <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 May 1998 09:36:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Teaching Odd Plays

Colleagues,

Back in March, Ron Dweller asked for suggestions about incorporating
some of the less taught plays into his syllabus.  I didn't respond then
because I was teaching odd plays myself in my own first Shakespeare
course.  I've sent him a long description of the course and an
invitation to see the syllabus on my web page: www.shack.org/fasslerc

I invite you all to visit the site as well, and I welcome your comments,
questions, criticisms, and suggestions.

Here's a brief description of the course, an undergraduate honors
course, "'Good' Shakespeare, 'Bad' Shakespeare":  as a class, we read
ten plays (2 Gents, R2, Coriolanus, K John, Pericles, Lear, Titus, WT,
R3, and MoV), and groups of students also read and reported on 6 more
plays (2NK, Macbeth, 3H6, M4M, and Marlowe's E2 and Jew of Malta).  In
addition to discussing what has  made these plays appealing (or not) to
scholarly, theatrical, and popular tastes, we also discussed some of the
textual and performance challenges posed by the plays.

If I do say so myself (and I do), the course went remarkably well.

Cordially,
--Chris Fassler

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 May 1998 09:39:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0466  Re: Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0466  Re: Iago

In reference to the discussion of Iago's "motiveless malignancy," I
argued in the chapter on 'Othello' in my 'Shakespeare's Universal Wolf'
(1996) that Iago was replicating the dynamics of the value-free,
instrumental rationality that Horkheimer and Adorno had described as one
of the crucial components of modernity; in their analysis such
rationality presents itself as technical, only a means to (any possible)
end, but in fact carries an implied value of control and mastery. In a
partial conflation with Foucaultian power,  instrumental reason is
autonomous or reified, that is, acting out a logic independent of the
will of those utilizing it, who become in effect both its subject and
object. A very similar analysis is I believe, implied for Iago and
figured especially in the double meanings of the term "will" in his
language. A part of this analysis was made in Robert Heilman's 1956
'Magic in the Web,' another part in Terence Hawkes' 'Shakespeare and the
Reason' (1965), but both these earlier treatments tend to assume that
the opposite of instrumental reason is something like intuition or
Coleridgean imagination, whereas I think 'Othello' leaves us entrapped
in the problems of value-free rationality.

Best,
Hugh Grady

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tim Richards <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 May 1998 19:52:35 +1000
Subject: 9.0464  *The Sandman* Shakespeares
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0464  *The Sandman* Shakespeares

>This weekend I got the opportunity to visit one of the Washington, DC,
>area's Borders bookstores and was able to buy the two Sandman
>collections that contain the Shakespeare-related stories that we
>discussed last week.
>"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is included in the collection *A Dream
>Country* (ISBN 1-56389-016, $14.95 US) and "The Tempest is in *The Wake*
>(ISBN 1-56389-279-0, $19.95 US).

If people are interested in obtaining the original issues that contained
these two stories, here are the details:

The Sandman (published by DC Comics)
"A Midsummer Night's Dream"
#19, September 1990

"The Tempest"
#75, March 1996

If you contact your local comic shop they will be able to look for it,
but be aware that the issues may be difficult to find.

Tim Richards.

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Jukovsky <
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Date:           Friday, 15 May 1998 12:45:01 -0400
Subject:        Review of The Herbal Bed

There is a review, at the World Socialist Web Site, of a performance of
Peter Whelan's The Herbal Bed, a play about Susanna Hall, the eldest
daughter of WS.  You can read it at
<http://www.wsws.org/arts/1998/may1998/herb-m15.shtml>.

Martin Jukovsky
Cambridge, Mass.
 

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