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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Introductions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1262  Tuesday, 8 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 Dec 1998 20:22:23 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260 Introductions

[2]     From:   Simon Malloch <
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        Date:   Tue, 08 Dec 1998 10:06:48 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260 Introductions

[3]     From:   Sara Vandenberg <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Dec 1998 23:35:28 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260 Introductions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Monday, 07 Dec 1998 20:22:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.1260 Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260 Introductions

Jacob Baltuch enquires about the convention of introduction, citing
"Here comes.....the valiant Moor" and "Soft you now, the fair Ophelia."
In these two easy instances, we know first that the speaker either
believes in Othello's valour or is being ironic about it, and second
that Hamlet is of the present opinion that his beloved is fair; in each
case the description is useful to us in a way that "Here comes the Moor"
and "Soft you now-Ophelia" cannot be. So far, then, we can see that they
are introductions of perceptions as well as arrivals. The convention
itself dictates, as Una Ellis-Fermor pointed out in the forties, that
such indications of the textures of consciousness are essential in the
non-narrative form of the stage, where attitudes must be shown to be
explained.

For the actor, such presentations of their views of incoming persons are
excellent opportunities to create more 'character' in the role. Not all
playwrights are as adept at providing smaller roles with these fleshings
out. And in poetic drama, particularly with Shakespeare's work in which
(in Northrop Frye's words) the action really happens in "a natural
perspective" as opposed to the limiting and merely physical world of
bodily action, we are given inscapes of minds immeasurable in facial
expression and manual gesture.

The "introductions", then, strike one as more examples of an artist's
fullness.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <
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Date:           Tue, 08 Dec 1998 10:06:48 +0800
Subject: 9.1260 Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260 Introductions

> I have one simple question about the very widespread stage convention
> which consists in having one character "introduce" another that's just
> walked in (or just before he does?) [...]
> The actors are have just entered, what's the purpose of pointing it out
> when it's obvious to everyone?

I could be off the mark here as I am no expert in theatrical matters,
but in terms of an Elizabethan audience, watching a play staged for the
first time without the benefit of the Arden Shakespeare in their
pocket,  the identity of a character walking onto the stage may not
"obvious".  The convention might have just been a convenient way to
introduce characters. It is less useful in that regard nowadays when we
have the opportunity to know the play in the print beforehand; but,
still, for fans of the theatre who are unlikely to read the plays (I
won't say "or the undergraduate")it may be helpful.

Simon Malloch.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sara Vandenberg <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Dec 1998 23:35:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.1260 Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260 Introductions

It may be the easiest way to let the audience know the name of the
character.  This kind of introduction usually occurs only the first time
we see a character.

Sara van den Berg
 

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