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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Rhetoric
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1244  Sunday, 6 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Dec 1998 09:36:56 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1234  Re: Rhetoric

[2]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 Dec 1998 20:08:26 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1222 Rhetoric

[3]     From:   Catherine Fitzmaurice <cfk <
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        Date:   Sat, 5 Dec 1998 11:18:36 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: Rhetoric

[4]     From:   C. David Frankel  <
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        Date:   Saturday, 5 Dec 1998 13:43:27 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1234 Re: Rhetoric


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Friday, 04 Dec 1998 09:36:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.1234  Re: Rhetoric
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1234  Re: Rhetoric

Ros King is as right as Dale Lyles on the need for a grasp of pattern in
actors who would play Shakespeare. There is so much emphasis in
contemporary voice training on "the voice beautiful" [which Dorothy
Parker might have reviewed as "the performance ugly"], and on what has
come to be termed "rooting" and "centering" that vocabulary and
syntactical structure are thrown out with all that vocal bath water.

At the American Voice Association once I attended a workshop in an
air-conditioned Sheraton where to my astonishment many participants were
wearing scarves. When I enquired about this, two of them wailed "My
Instrument!!!". I wondered whether they had ever been inside a real
theatre, or investigated the workings of a real sentence. When John
Barton visited North America he spent most of his time asking his actors
the meanings of words.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Friday, 4 Dec 1998 20:08:26 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.1222 Rhetoric
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1222 Rhetoric

If by rhetoric you mean, a study of what is essentially an oral form of
presentation, then yes I think it is important.  My mentor (a mamber of
this list) will sit down with you and analyze the text for rhetorical
patterns as well as grammatical ones.  Frankly, people who downplay the
rhetorical in Shakespeare end up with performances that make musical
sense, or primitive, Stanislavskian "through-line" sense, but miss the
points of their speeches because they haven't bothered with the
rhetorical aspects.

But my sense of 'rhetoric' is a bit fuzzy, so I could be way off on
this.

Andy White
Arlington, VA

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Catherine Fitzmaurice <cfk <
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Date:           Sat, 5 Dec 1998 11:18:36 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Re: Rhetoric

Of course rhetoric (as well as what one writer perhaps disparagingly
calls "new-agy stuff") is part of actor-training. We just don't call it
that.  Balancing ideas and sound patterns is essential for clarity. But
it doesn't need to be imposed from above, or from a literary
perspective. I went through three years of actor training at the Central
School of Speech and Drama, and taught there for two years before coming
to the United States without ever hearing the word "scansion," let alone
"rhetoric." We worked on meaning (and let the post-modernists have their
field day with that assumption) in its complexity, and as informed by
thought, feeling, sound patterns, images, associations, verse structure
(such as the stychomathia between Mac and Lady M re the owl), intention,
character, and ALSO one's own nature in its rhythms of the "presentist"
moment. It's called acting. And voice work has always worked both the
"natural" voice and the voice in context of the demands of text, space,
and circumstances, taking into consideration the fact that the speaking
voice uses a breathing rhythm which is always DIFFERENT from a "natural"
breath. (I continue to argue endlessly about that one!)

Just some actors do all this better than others. (oops, value systems at
work.)

Catherine Fitzmaurice

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel  <
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Date:           Saturday, 5 Dec 1998 13:43:27 -0500
Subject: 9.1234 Re: Rhetoric
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1234 Re: Rhetoric

I certainly agree that recognizing rhetorical figures in language
(whether one learns the "official" names or not) is important and
helpful for actors and other readers of the text.  However, in my class
and when I direct Shakespeare (or any play, for that matter) the issue
of the play *as* rhetoric also becomes important. Furthermore, acting
itself contains a rhetorical component in that the actor makes use of
the available means (varied as they are in different circumstances) in
order to persuade an audience that he or she is such and such a
character in such and such a place.  Actors, therefore, benefit not only
from understanding the forms of rhetoric used by the characters in the
fictive world of the play, but also how the playwright and the
directors/actors/designers use rhetoric in the dramaturgical and
theatrical worlds.

cdf
 

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